A Travelers Guide to Volunteering Around the World
Since I began travelling in late 2010, I have discovered ways of life that I never knew existed nor dream would be possible. From what was to be only a twelve-month gap year turned into 18 months of absolute bliss (that was the 1st round the world trip). The second trip is still in progress with an approximate time of 2 years 6 months and 21 days and counting. How have I made this all possible you ask? well this is all thanks to the wonder world of not only volunteering but couch surfing and cash in hand jobs, to say the least. (there are many options, you just have to be open minded) Its not only about working but introducing yourself to other cultures, different ways of life and people, which is something beautiful and worth trying at least once in your life. Would you like to know what it would feel like living, working and sharing with others by simply trading, (offering someone something in exchange for something else) In this case I volunteered all around the world in exchange for food and accommodation (sometimes I received other incentives such as pocket money)
Volunteering: How It Works
Depending on where you’re travelling to and if you’re not on a time limit you could always look around in the place you are choosing to stay at. Some hostels, hotels or even BnBs advertise in their properties if they have any job/volunteer vacancies available or you could always walk around and speak to locals. (they will be the best option for up to date information on the destinations) Another option is volunteer in a place and ask your hosts if they know of anyone that might have cash work available e.g.: gardening, babysitting, maintenance work, animal care and so on, the possibilities are endless based on what kind of travelling you are doing.
There are various websites online where you can sign up for example : woofing, work away, helpx just to name a few but like I said there are many just google it, but all you need to do is research which one will benefit you the best, based on where you want to travel to and what things you would like to do. Each website will require a payment to create an account but it will roughly cost between $20 - $40 US for a year or two this is depending on what kind of profile you create. Set up your profile with up to date pictures and information about yourself and what kind of work you can do, your likes and your dislikes and a basic biography on yourself.
(To research places and jobs, it is free, once you want to contact the hosts that is when you must pay the registration fee).
Once you know where you’re going all you need to do is type in the city or town and a list of volunteer work will pop up in the desired location. Read through them save the ones you like then when you have a few in your favorite list, message the ones that you would like to volunteer at. Note: sometimes host may not respond quick or they might not have availability so try to message a couple of places, that way you have options. Tell the host what jobs you can do, how long you require to stay and ask if there is any other information you may need e.g.: how to get there, type of accommodation etc. that's it! your well on your way to becoming part of a worldwide community.
Note: All volunteer places are different: They will specify the hours they require, generally its between 20 to 25 hours of work a week in return for board and lodging, but if it is more they will let you know. Some places offer 3 meals a day some only offer 1, just read all through their profile so you know if it is something you might like. It is a referral based program: once you have volunteered, you write a review based on your experience and so does the host, that is how other host/volunteers determine what kind of person you are and helps them decide if they need your assistance. TIP: If you do have a bad experience the best way is to not write anything at all or keep it professional as it could backfire and tarnish your profile and effect your chances on getting accepted to other places.
Live like a Local
This is a great way to meet new people, help others and feel like your contributing to the community. the best part about it you get to experience first hand what is like to live like a local, explore areas you may not have been able to otherwise. For me I was lucky enough to some hosts take me to their local hotspots and I was able to discover and learn new things about their cultures history and tradicions.
I have accomplished things I had never done before from milking goats, assisting with construction and buildings, gardening and landscaping, looking after animals big and small from pigs, dogs , goats and even elephants. I have left my footprint all over this place we call home and that to be is one of the greatest gifts of all, knowing that I have helped people from all walks of life while doing the thing that I love most. TRAVELLING!
It feels amazing being a part of and contributing to the community, you walk away with a sense of self accomplishment knowing that you have left a piece of yourself all over.
My Volunteer Experiences
- Elephant Nature Park - Chiang Mai, Thailand – 1 week 2010
- Pink Palace Resort - Corfu Island, Greece - 1 week 2011
- Bed and Breakfast - Feltre, Italy – 3 weeks in 2011
- Randijk Bamboe & Hoveniers - Leusden, Holland – 5 weeks in 2011
- De Bereklauw - Lueven, Belgium – 3 months in 2011
- Dog Breeding place - Bavarian Forest, Germany - 1 week in 2011
- Novy Mlyn- Jihocesky Kraj, Czech Republic – 2 months in 2011/2012
- Home Maintenance - Vienna, Austria – 2 months in 2012
- Home/ Property - Normandie, France – 2 weeks in 2012
- Lefamous knight and Brewery work - Normandie, France – 2 weeks in 2012
- The Lavra - California, U.S.A – 10 days in 2014.
- Hostel Salento Estrella sin Fronteras - Salento, Colombia – 1 month in 2014/2015
- Chaqana Lodge - Salinas, Ecuador – 3 weeks in 2015
- Home / Property work - Jaen, Peru – 1 month in 2015
- Supertramp Hostel - Cusco, Peru – 5 weeks in 2015
IS VOLUNTEERING THE ONLY OPTION?
We live in the 21st century so there are many possibilities depending on what kind of traveler you are, what you budget is and how long you intend to travel. There are so many different ways to help save cash on your next trip.
Couch-surfing - Stay with locals and meet other travelers in your area. - short term stay in the desired location.
Google: Airbnb /country.com - is an online marketplace where your can rent homes, apartments and condominiums etc for short or long term stay.
Hitch Wiki - Hitch hikers guide to the galaxy! : Beneficial mainly all over Europe.
AU pair - basically a live in nanny from a foreign country so to speak, short and long term stay available
Seasonal work: fruit picking in France, trimming in California, Teach English in Asia. - Ask the Locals - you will never know how easy it is until you try!!!
Others ways to help save you money while travelling:
- Take local transportation - combi's and local buses
- Talk to locals about cheap hostels, hotels or rooms, Walk around
- Take a tent or hammock if your game! Stay at campgrounds, beaches or even hostels -
- Secluded beaches or parks : may require a lot of walking to find secluded areas but it is free. - Note: locals will say it is dangerous due to people that might rob you but use your own diligent and check online to see if other travelers have done it.
This is just a guideline based on my personal experiences, everyone will be different and have their own opinions however this blog is mainly focusing on long term travel but with little bits and pieces of things I have encountered whilst on my journeys.