Travel is an amazing experience regardless of where you go. The adventure becomes even richer if you combine the joys of travel with the satisfaction of volunteering. Whether you’re a freelancer who works nomadically and are looking for something to do between clients or you’ve taken a break from your regular employment to go travelling, you can find plenty of opportunities to either volunteer or provide charitable support all over the world.
Volunteering will make a trip far more enjoyable. Researchers have found that planning a trip improves happiness, yet the heightened feeling of joy only lasts up to eight weeks after the trip is over if the journey goes well. Helping others, however, comes with a slew of benefits, from increased confidence to greater self-worth. Now imagine combining the fun of travel with the joy of volunteering.
If the idea of giving back while exploring new places sounds appealing, here are a few good places to start looking for opportunities.
Do you love the outdoors and not mind getting your hands dirty? Then WWOOF is perfect for you. The acronym is short for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, and this program pairs prospective volunteers with organic farms that need a helping hand. Opportunities can be found in dozens of countries throughout the world, so no matter where you are, you have a good chance of finding work.
Every farm differs, but in most cases you can expect to pay a nominal fee in order to receive food and a place to sleep. The conditions won’t be luxurious, but the work is often satisfying. Most farms are quite flexible, so you can stay for anywhere from a couple days to a couple years.
If you’re a professional, you might be able to put your skills to use by searching the volunteer listings on Idealist.org. It’s essentially an international job postings website for nonprofit organizations, so you might be able to find the perfect volunteer opportunity if you search it.
There’s always a demand for teachers, yet tech-savvy people with a laptop can also find work. Understaffed nonprofits often need marketing help, so you could do social media work or fundraising campaigns. This work can often be done remotely and you won’t have to be tied down to a single location in case you’re on the move or yet to leave your home country.
If you’re involved with a church, ask around for opportunities to serve abroad in mission trips or aid efforts. If your church doesn’t have anything planned, they might be able to point you to one in the region that’s planning a trip abroad.
You can also take the search into your own hands to see what opportunities are out there. Organizations like ABWE International post both short-term and long-term volunteering trips on their websites. In the case of ABWE International, projects vary from construction to working with children.
If you’re on the move and looking to volunteer, HelpX is an invaluable resource. Like WWOOF, the website has plenty of opportunities to volunteer at organic farms. If gardening isn’t your thing, then the site has plenty of other things to do. There are listings for hostels, ranches, homestays and other tourist-related ventures.
In most cases, you can expect to work several hours a day in exchange for a place to stay and some food.
Regardless of what your interests are, there are plenty of opportunities out there for travelers looking to help out. Whether you’re interesting in farming or teaching children, odds are you can find something to suit your skills.