Thinking of volunteering to travel, move abroad, try the nomadic lifestyle, or start seeing the world while creating a source of income?
The problem is that you don’t know what you’re going to face when volunteering or joining community service, the benefits and disadvantages (pros & cons), if it’s worth signing up, or what volunteer work is like today and the types that exist.
👉 Bellow, I tell you everything you need to finish deciding (both the negative aspects and the advantages), emphasizing the inconveniences and how to avoid them.
VOLUNTEER TO TRAVEL ABROAD
- Types of volunteer work & what it is
- Advantages of volunteering
- Disadvantages of being a volunteer
- How to avoid problems
- Super important
This is a little warning about volunteering: I want to make it very clear that it is all based on real events and I have seen it with my own eyes.
TYPES of voluntary services & WHAT it is
When choosing a volunteer to travel, you will realize that the offers are very varied. We can include them in two groups:
work with ANIMALS AND PEOPLE
It would be the type that first comes to mind when talking about volunteering.
There are very different kinds of volunteering and some of them have an adventurous side, such as scuba diving to plant corals or clean the seabed, or activities related to the animals of the Amazon jungle.
WORK IN A HOTEL/HOSTEL
You can occupy different positions, such as a waiter, doing the cleaning, taking care of marketing or web development, taking promotional photos and videos,…
They also look for people for related businesses such as dive shops or organized tours.
Both occupations are in exchange for room and food, although it has to be specified beforehand, since some only include breakfast and lunch.
ADVANTAGES OF being a VOLUNTEER (PROS)
Now it’s time to talk about the pros and cons of this kind of activity. Let’s name the advantages first, it will surely encourage you! For the following reasons you will want to start this adventure:
YOU WILL HELP AND LEARN
Volunteer programs can be great experiences to help others and discover a country more closely.
You can also learn new things about a topic that already interests you: turtle habits, how to build houses in poor areas, coffee making, etc…
You will gain WORK EXPERIENCE
Many times they look for people with knowledge in a certain sector (such as web design, economics or marketing, among others) to enhance the online presence of an organization or hotel/hostel and thus reach more people, or improve the operation and organization.
The good thing is that you can access the position even if you have no experience and gain practice in the world of work, to apply for more jobs later.
In addition, the environment in which you will learn will be more relaxing than in an office and the level of worries and stress will be lower.
What usually marks the volunteers the most is the human or social aspect, since they will help you to meet people and make new friends.
You will live a lot of moments surrounded by people with common ways of seeing life or preferences, and the memories that you will create together will surely be with you forever.
Voluntary work is an ideal way to learn languages, be it the language of the country you will visit or the language you have in common with your colleagues.
He thinks that normally the environment is very international. Whether you volunteer in another country or if you stay in your own, there will be people from very different places and you will have to communicate with them to work or organize activities.
Finding yourself in the middle of the action will help you improve your knowledge of a language or lose the fear of speaking it.
DISADVANTAGES YOU MAY ENCOUNTER (CONS)
Buuut all that glitters is not gold and, without expecting it, you can find yourself with the bitter face of volunteer work. I’m going to list everything they won’t tell you:
You may have to deal with poor living conditions in your room (most likely shared) and also detrimental to your health, such as fungus everywhere due to excess humidity, and having to sleep outdoors with the relevant animals / bugs that can sneak in / disease-transmitting mosquitoes.
Does it compensate you financially?
If you decide to volunteer in a hotel, you will be exchanging your time for accommodation + food based on the economy of the country, this means that you may be working for 1€/hour.
Depending on how much you’re used to charging, the trade-off may not be worth it to you.
If you are thinking of combining volunteering with creating your own source of income online, you need a schedule that allows you to do both, and you will see that in many exchanges you may have to work for 6 days a week 10h/day.
This gives you very little time for yourself and when you have free you will want to rest.
Meals can be few, repetitive or they end up giving you the cheapest they can buy (rice with more rice and a piece of carrot).
So you will have to end up feeding yourself and, in addition, the lack of variety in the diet is not good for health.
Voluntary help is NOT FREE
Something that most people do not know is that many volunteers with animals or people are NOT free, you will have to pay about €1,000 or €2,000 a month to be allowed to participate and you will probably live with zero comfort.
If you want to volunteer to travel, ask yourself if this option is better for you or save beforehand and go on your adventure peacefully.
NO ERES UN COMODÍN
Many times they count the exchange based on the hours worked, regardless of the work you are doing.
Let’s say for example that you are a photographer and they need you to take videos and photos to promote the place. If you calculate that you can end up spending 5 hours a day, but the person in charge considers that you should work 8 hours, the remaining 5 you will have to take care of the reception, cooking, cleaning rooms or whatever they need.
They will not take into account the real economic value of the work you are doing.
Do not trust when hiring or choosing a volunteer job through an agency; Although they give you a sense of security, you can still find everything I have told you.
HOW TO AVOID PROBLEMS
You can always look for ways to make your experience the best it can be. Here are my three tips:
THE PIGGY BANK
Given these possibilities, my best advice is to always have some money saved in case you want to leave it at any time (especially if you are volunteering in another country!).
Keep in mind that there are things that you cannot control and inconveniences that you may not even expect, so having a little corner just in case is absolutely essential, the economic freedom that these savings represent can really make a difference.
I have seen people having a hard time because they couldn’t leave volunteer work because they had run out of money and, under similar circumstances, the situation can become very unfair and uncomfortable.
Ask as much as you need
To avoid unwanted surprises, it is very important that you inform yourself well about the place: read all the opinions that you can find and make things clear with the contact person from the beginning.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions or you can even ask them to send you photos of the facilities, and don’t be embarrassed! It would be worse to go blind.
SLAVERY IS DEAD
You are not a slave to anyone. If you don’t like the conditions or the place, you pick up and leave without thinking twice.
I tell you the same about disrespect: traveling is great, but well-being and maintaining a healthy self-esteem is a priority.
If you really want to volunteer to travel, don’t be discouraged! In the same way that there are bad experiences, there are also people who have lived unforgettable moments and have learned a lot.
You have nothing to lose by signing up and finding out what the future holds; Either way, you’ll come home with plenty of interesting and fun stories to tell.
You learn from everything: both the good and the bad. Whatever happens to you, it will surely help you grow and improve.