Many of us have the urge to travel at some point in our lives, seeking an opportunity to experience the fascinating diversity of our unique world. It’s a tremendously rewarding pass time, allowing you to place yourself in challenging new situations, gain valuable insights into cultures and experience how others go about their day to day lives. For many, the chief advantage of travel is gaining distance, insight and motivation from our own lives.
Travel is not without costs though, and these can be quite diverse as well. Perhaps the most obvious is the financial one. Any extended trip is going to involve spending on air fairs, accommodation, food and general spending money. Unless it’s a working holiday, the cash flow is all going to be in one direction! Other considerations are ethical. All this jetting around from one country to another is going to grow your carbon footprint so much that you will need a bigger pair of boots. Tourism can also two edged blessing for those in your destination, bringing in hard needed cash, but fostering a dependence on these incomes at the cost of local self sufficiency.
Realising these dilemmas many people are choosing to include volunteering as one of their holiday options. This approach can achieve many peoples goals by providing a wealth of differing opportunities and allowing them to experience a range of cultures through direct interaction with people living there. It’s a great way to offset some of the ethical considerations when going on holiday, allowing you to enjoy the more frivolous times with a clearer conscience. For some this may be how they choose to spend their entire holidays. For others, especially those taking extended trips, a mix of relaxation and volunteering opportunities is the perfect combination.
Volunteering can also ease the financial burden of your trip. As you will be giving your time and skills towards a worthy cause, your food and lodging is often come at a subsidised cost. Companies like Original Volunteers Africa seek to match volunteers with volunteering opportunities around the world. For example, in Cameroon, after paying an administration fee, your stay is free. Volunteering in the remote town of Kumbo is a great opportunity to take in the local culture and help at a variety of projects including health clinics and community projects.
As many volunteering opportunities are within the reach of budgets airlines this type of adventure can be achieved cheaply these days. Morocco is a short hop from Europe and one of Africa’s most beautiful countries. Here, you can get involved with various street kids projects helping these disadvantaged children gain vital life skills.
Further afield Cambodia is a fantasy destination for many. You can learn about Cambodian life and culture whilst teaching helping organise activities. If that piques your interest, how about the truly exotic Nepal, where you can make a difference providing language lessons to those who need it most.
Volunteering is a great option to add to your travel list, offering some truly unique experiences whilst helping stretch your budget that bit further.