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Volunteering abroad- what, why and how?

Volunteering abroad! 

You’ve probably heard about it from friends, from social media or through other ways and now start thinking about doing it yourself.
I mean, who doesn’t want to live in another country for a while and at the same time having a positive impact?

I myself discovered my love for volunteering abroad during the past 3 years of traveling.
It has brought me so many unforgettable experiences and challenged me in a way that made me grow personally so much!
In this blog post, I want to explain everything you need to know about volunteering and show you why volunteering abroad is something you should do yourself!

Our volunteer experience in “Spicy Villa Eco Lodges” in the jungle of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

What exactly is Volunteering?

There is an important fact to know about volunteering first: volunteering is unpaid work.
You offer your skills and your help to others that need it in exchange for the experience of staying in the project and developing yourself.
Most projects include all the costs for accommodation and food.

So, short and on point: volunteering is considered as an activity where you provide your services for free. 

Certainly, there are some projects that also offer payments, but those are hard to find and are more common in regions of the world with emerging economies and a demand for physical and financial aid to improve community development offers.

We were helping with planting, cleaning, painting and cooking. In exchange we got amazing food and accommodation provided.


Why volunteer?

But if you don’t get paid for doing the work, what exactly is the point of doing it?
Oh, I can tell you! There are thousands of reasons why you should do it!

1. Personal growth

First of all, getting out of your comfort zone to work for a project means challenging yourself!
It’s a brave decision to say you go live abroad for a while to actually work.

Trust me, this will change you in a positive way! It’s perfect to widen your horizons, see life from a different perspective and let the experience develop yourself.

2. Having a positive impact

Second, you are actually helping where help is needed!

There are so many projects out there that are dependent on your help. By deciding to volunteer, you decide to help the local community, a part of the country, a family, animals or whatever it is that the project is about. It will make you feel good every single day to know that you are making someone else’s life better or easier.

3. Make a difference

Make a difference, if you already got the chance!

You are not only having a positive impact, but you are making a difference in this world!
Traveling is more than only being at a place and getting to know a country. It’s about actively being there to leave a sparkle of yourself!
Volunteering is the best way to help make things better and be more than only one traveller out of thousands.

4. Getting to know local life, the culture and the country

We all know the struggle- when we travel to one country we want to see and visit the most that we can and sometimes start more rushing through the country than actually enjoying it.

Volunteering abroad means that you decide to stay in the same place for a while. When you choose your project, most of the times you can freely decide how long you want to stay.
Minimum for most projects is at least 2-3 weeks though (it really depends on the kind of project).
That means you get the chance to really get to know a place in detail, it’s culture, meet local people and be part of the daily life! 

It’s probably the best way to really meet a country and all projects offer free time, so that you can really go and explore the place.

5. Develop a skill & improve yourself

Volunteering is also about widening your horizons, learning new things and improving yourself.

Take the chance and learn something new! This could be for example working as a bartender for a hostel and learning how to mix and shake cocktails in exchange for food and accommodation.

6. It’s exciting!

There are 195 countries in this world and in almost all of them you can freely choose to do a volunteer project. How exciting is that?!

The best thing is that there are so many opportunities out there and so many different ways of volunteering. You can choose to work with animals, children, local communities, hostels, construction, art and much more!
From so many options out there, choose what you’d love to do the most or what will challenge yourself.

Not to forget: you’ll meet amazing people on your way and make lots of memories.

6. It’s cheaper than just traveling!

I know you might wonder now: hoooow? Because usually volunteering programs are so expensive! That’s true! But not all of them. 😉

And this leads me to the next question.

Does it cost money to volunteer abroad?

Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

Most of you guys always ask me how I find the volunteer projects that I’ve been doing because all the projects on the internet would be so expensive. And unfortunately that’s true. Most of the projects cost a lot of money.
Some projects can get up to 500.00 USD per week or more than that. 
The price really depends on the kind of project that you want to do.

BUT for most travelers, that’s way too expensive and for me this also would not be an option for my travel wallet. 

That’s why I want to introduce WORKAWAY!

Workaway makes volunteering possible for everyone and all travel wallets, as the projects are for free!
It’s my absolute favourite way of finding volunteer projects and I enjoy it so much that I hope I can inspire you to use the platform. It simply is amazing!

Must Read: Volunteer for FREE with Workaway

What skills should you have to apply for volunteer projects?

That also depends on the project.
Some of them require previous experience in specific fields. This could be for example web development or film making.

Other projects don’t require certain skills or experience at all, which makes is very easy to apply. You will usually find this information in the project description.

Ville and me improving our creative painting skills during our volunteer experience. 😀

How can you find volunteer projects?

Like mentioned before, my number one choice is WORKAWAY! 

For only 44.00 USD per year for your account, this website is giving you access to thousands of free projects for all over the world!
In my eyes the best website to find good projects.

GOOD NEWS!
If you sign up through this link, you’ll get extra 3 months of FREE membership. 🙂 (you have to accept cookies before signing up)

But of course, that is not the only possibility how to find volunteer programs.

Another cheap option for volunteer programs: Worldpackers.
Being really similar to Workaway, this is an easy and reliable way to find good projects for all over the world for low budget travelers. The annual price for your account is 49.00 USD.

And then, there are websites like volunteerworld.com offering more expensive, but really awesome programs!
They offer many different choices of childcare, animal care or teaching projects all over the world.
This is also a good way to get some inspirations if you are not sure yet which kind of volunteer program you want to do. Just scroll through the many options and you’ll soon know what interests you the most.

Once you know what kind of volunteer project you want to do, you will find many organizations on the internet that are always looking for volunteers!

Which option you choose to be the best for you, is up to you!
Either way, I am sure that your volunteer experience will be amazing and you’ll be thanking yourself for that adventure!

How to choose the right project?

So, how are you supposed to choose the right project out of all the many options that exist?

To find the answer you should ask yourself this question: what does volunteering mean to you? What means making a positive difference in this world to you?

Look at your own skills and interests, how you can help with your talents or look which skills you want to improve.
With that, I’m sure you will decide on the project that suits you the best.

Part of our volunteer project in Thailand- feeding and washing rescued elephants! One of the best experiences in my life! So magical.

Start volunteering today!

Don’t wait for the right moment to go for your volunteer dream. The best moment is always now! 

It’s people like you that make the world a better place. Even if you only volunteer for a few hours or days, it can already make a huge difference to the lifes of others.

And don’t forget: Leave a sparkle wherever you go!


Let me know about your own volunteer experience and other good tips about volunteering abroad! I’d be super happy to hear your inputs about this topic in the comments below.

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