6 Reasons Why You Should Never Volunteer Abroad

written by local expert Anna Faustino

Anna is a co-founder of Adventure in You and has been traveling the world for the last 9 years. She has spent time living in Thailand, Mexico, Indonesia, and Spain and is our local expert in these areas. Her expertise on travel, gear, and building businesses have been featured on Foundr, Business Insider, Yahoo Travel, and more.

People ask us all the time about volunteering while traveling or volunteering abroad. Although we have not personally travelled for volunteer placements, we know tons of people who have. We have spoken to travelers, NGO directors, and even companies who offer placements and have found out that together, people can make a difference if they want to. Keeping an open mind, here are just a few reasons why you should never volunteer abroad.

1. Don’t Volunteer Abroad if You Don’t Want a Change of Perspective

Volunteering abroad will undoubtedly give you a change of perspective. Suddenly, it doesn’t matter if you can’t find anything to wear when you realize that halfway around the world, some people barely have enough to eat. It won’t matter if your wifi is slow and you can’t download a movie when some people don’t even have a roof over their heads.  Volunteering abroad will make you realize that your problems aren’t really problems if you look at it from a different perspective. When given a chance to help and actually make a difference in the lives of people who need it the most, your perspective on what is important in life will change. It helps you become more grateful for the simple things in life.

Read: 5 Things I Learned from Traveling

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2. Don’t Volunteer Abroad if You Don’t Want to Make Lifelong Friends

After speaking to so many people who have volunteered in different programs, one thing stands out. The people that they meet along the way become lifelong friends. Whether it is volunteering in an orphanage in Cambodia or a wildlife project in Costa Rica, more often than not, the people who are in the program with you will become lifelong friends. Why? Because you are bound to meet likeminded people who are interested in travel and are driven. I have met so many interesting people that have become dear friends, just by traveling alone. Now imagine sharing the same passion and drive about making a difference with the people you meet along the way?red cross volunteer

3. Don’t Volunteer Abroad if You Don’t Want to Travel to Exotic Destinations

Volunteering abroad is such a great way to both travel and make a difference. Not only do you get to work on different Passion projects but you also get to travel through unique destinations with the support of organizations who are familiar with the area. As soon as you receive placement in a destination, you will immediately get an insider’s perspective on the ins and outs of the place from the other people who are volunteering in the same organization. A cool website that we have been looking into for volunteer missions is Love Volunteers, as they have hundreds of community based projects in almost 40 countries! feeding elephants volunteer sanctuary

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4. Don’t Volunteer Abroad if You Don’t Want to Experience a Different Culture

One of the beautiful things about volunteering is the opportunity not just to learn about other cultures, but to also be able to share your own. Wherever you are, your daily interactions with the locals and the people around you allows you to immerse yourself in their language and culture. I have a friend who makes excellent Thai food because the local women in the school she was volunteering at taught her how to cook. In the same way, she taught them how to make traditional Filipino food. Volunteering is a great way to fully immerse yourself in another culture as unlike traveling, you really get to know the place, the culture, and the locals due to the amount of time that you spend there.

Read: Reasons Why Not to Visit the Philippines

volunteer refugees boy africa

5. Don’t Volunteer Abroad if You Don’t Want to Get Away from Your Comfort Zone

Volunteering is the perfect way to put yourself out there as you step out of your comfort zone. It is trying new things, going for new experiences, and continuously doing things out of your everyday life. When you volunteer abroad, you have the chance to challenge yourself on a daily basis by trying out new roles, activities, or even something as simple as trying out new food in the place you are volunteering in. It shapes character and makes you a better person through self-discovery.

Read: Why Traveling isn’t for Everyone

6. Don’t Volunteer Abroad ifYou Don’t Want to Make a Difference

The cynics often say that it is impossible to change the world. Yes, we agree it is, however, you can do your part to help make a difference. During our very first Wandergive Project in the slums of the Philippines, we knew that whatever we would do, it still wouldn’t be enough to make a change in the lives of the people in the community. We couldn’t change their situation, and no matter how much money we would be able to raise, they would still be living in trash. We did however know that we had the power to make an impact. Hopefully, that impact would be the beginning of a movement. Whatever you do, nothing is too big or too small to help make a difference.

Take: A Photo Walk through the Slums of Manila

In the end, volunteering abroad is a great way to travel while making a difference and it is something that we both can’t wait to try doing. It is a leap of faith, a way to explore, and a chance to make a difference.  volunteer refugees

Think About It

While volunteering abroad is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding experiences that you can have while traveling, make sure your intentions are right. Don’t volunteer just for the sake of it. A lot of thought needs to be placed in it. Make sure you research the organization you are going with and make sure that they are practicing responsible and ethical volunteering practices. It also might be worth reaching out to others who have done the program!

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4 thoughts on “6 Reasons Why You Should Never Volunteer Abroad”

  1. Great post! Working with volunteers on a daily basis I get to witness first hand the joy it can bring to both community and volunteer. If the project is well organised, informative and transparent it can ‘only’ be a positive impact. Yes there are critics, and in some cases deservedly so, but we will never give up just because of a few bad eggs. Thank you for sharing your support! It means the world to so many people!

    Co-Founder, The Bamboo Project

  2. The one thing that would make this post complete is by providing links to legitimate places where one could learn how to volunteer abroad.


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