Why Should I Volunteer Around the World?
There are an endless amount of reasons to travel; from the experiences you’ll gain to the people you’ll meet to the places you’ll see. But more important than personal fulfillment is giving back to the world you are so blessed to be a part of.
If you are fortunate enough to travel, consider spending at least a small portion of your time abroad giving back to a cause you feel is in need. There are many ways to give back, volunteering at orphanages, animal shelters, homeless shelters, ocean clean ups, and much, much more.
If you still need some inspiration to become a traveling volunteer, here are 8 reasons to convince you that your time will be well spent dedicated to those in need:
1.) You Can Truly Make a Difference
I recently volunteered at the Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand. There were over 80 volunteers rotating through the park on a weekly basis, most of them contributing to making elephant food, cutting corn stalks and cleaning up elephant dung. Though it might not seem like a huge impact, each person made such an incredible contribution to the overall success of the nature park, directly affecting the life of each elephant.
We also made a trip up to a hilltribe village and found that there is desperate need for English teachers to volunteer. This doesn’t mean only those with a degree. There is a need for anyone who speaks English fluently to contribute a small amount of their time and patience to teach these children how to survive in a quickly evolving world. The potential impact on a young Thai child’s life will be unmeasurable.
Regardless of how big or small your contribution is, you are making a difference.
2.) Your Life Will Change
Once you’ve seen the impact you can have by taking a paralyzed dog out for a walk, the smile light up on a child’s face when she learns to write her name, the tears from an old man’s eyes when he’s starving and you’ve given him a full meal, you will become a changed person.
You will never be able to go back to the person who was worried about material things.
You will never want to judge a person for their situation.
Suddenly, the things you used to think mattered, the fancy car, the boat, the white picket fence, will no longer remain on your bucket list.
You will evolve into a better version of yourself.
The kind that cares about wellbeing of others in our world.
The kind that roots for the underdog.
The kind that is the change he wants to see in the world.
You will become a better you.
3.) You Will Build Character
You will see things you’ve never seen before. Poverty that you didn’t know existed. Pain you didn’t know could go left untreated. Loss that you didn’t know could be experienced.
Witnessing this around the world will bring you out of your comfort zone, and you will be enlightened.
Suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.
You will come out of this a stronger person.
And you will enlighten and inspire those around you, naturally.
4.) You’ll Experience the Real Culture
Sure, when you travel for the purpose of traveling, you’ll see some culture that you won’t get to experience in your hometown.
But there is a level of culture you will receive only when you volunteer in their community.
In Thailand, I got to see firsthand how children were educated in the hilltribe villages.
I saw how animals were exploited for the tourism industry in Indonesia.
I witnessed the people’s perseverance to survive by the items they sold in the markets of Cambodia.
Some of the things I’d seen were wonderful, some were heartbreaking. But in the end it was a firsthand experience of their culture, something that is only gained through immersing yourself into their community or volunteering.
5.) You’ll Travel off the Beaten Path
There are opportunities to travel and volunteer all over the world, but most will be in places that are less targeted towards tourism.
You’ll get the opportunity to go off the grid, something most only dream of.
You will gain more than an alluring Instagram; you’ll experience what it’s like to live in another country, be a part of their community, and learn from the local people.
6.) You’ll Experience Reverse Culture Shock
This is a very real thing.
You will find out more about yourself and where you came from.
If you are an American, you should be proud to be.
But know when you come back home from your invigorating volunteer experience, you will be less enthusiastic and compassionate towards those who complain about first world problems when you’ve just witnessed a child or animal suffering from hunger, abuse and exploitation in another country.
Your empathy will lie with those who are thankful for the little things instead of those who are complaining about what they will wear or the he said - she said.
Your priorities will change.
7.) You’ll become an Activist
You won’t be able to help the urge to do even more once your trip is over.
Soon your social media will consist of posts and comments towards other causes that make a difference.
You’ll start tapping in to your network, talking with like-minded people and even inquire about some fundraising.
You will become a voice for a cause, and people will listen.
Because you are inspiring – you are special.
8.) It is the Definition of Work Hard, Play Hard
What better way to take a vacation than to volunteer your time to better the world?
You are working for something you believe in that produces an immediate return and that is an exhilarating feeling! Then when you are done with your hard day’s work, you get to play in a Deztination that you so eagerly wanted to travel to!
It’s a win-win!
You’ll feel better about yourself, your experience, your cause and the money that you spent.
You’ll come back a changed person.
And even better, you will inspire others to do it, too!
For more tips on becoming a traveling volunteer or recommendations for causes in need, visit my Volunteer page or send me a message!
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Watch My Latest Travel & Volunteer Videos!
Khamla, a baby at the Elephant Nature Park, is suffering from a form of the herpes virus that is almost always deadly in Asian Elephants.
Watch me and the veterinary team administer the medications that saved his life.