The thought of traveling and volunteering alone can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before. You may worry that you’ll be bored and lonely or that you won’t have anyone to share all these great memories with.
But the truth is traveling and volunteering solo is one of the most rewarding experiences you’ll ever have. Here’s why:
You can spend your time how you want
Have you ever wanted to plan a trip but have it go nowhere because you couldn’t find someone to go with? Stop waiting for a travel partner and just go! When you travel and volunteer solo, you get to skip the headache of coordinating with other people for every decision. You get to decide how to spend your time, where to eat, what places to visit and more.
Sure, it can be great to travel and share your experiences with friends. But how cool is it to not have to skip someplace you really wanted to see because no one else was interested? Or to have to tag along for something you’re really not that excited about?
When you volunteer alone, you’re in control of how you spend your time — well, your free time, that is. You have complete flexibility to make or change plans at the last minute because there’s no one depending on you.
You’ll meet new people
If you’ve never traveled alone, you’re probably picturing a scene where you’re stuck by yourself while the rest of the world passes you by. Well, you couldn’t be more wrong.
You might arrive solo, but you’d be surprised how quickly you’ll make new friends. When you volunteer and live in a group setting like our volunteer dorms, you’ll naturally meet like-minded people. People who share your interest in travel and making the world a better place. People who are also in a new country and eager to make connections.
As a solo traveler, you’ll also naturally attract other people’s curiosity. Friendly locals will come up to you and ask you where you’re from and why you’re visiting. Without your friends by your side, you’ll be much more open to these conversations.
You’ll discover more about yourself
While you’ll meet people on your volunteer journey, you’ll also have plenty of time to yourself if you want it. At home, we often fill our free time with social media, TV, text messages and other distractions, but that’s not always possible while traveling.
Spending time alone with your thoughts doesn’t have to be scary. In fact, giving yourself quiet space to reflect on your dreams, fears, and desires can be life-changing. It might be one of the few chances you have to really discover who you are.
You will feel empowered
At the end of your trip, you’ll be so proud of yourself for taking this journey. You’ll realize the strength, confidence, and bravery it took to get you here, and you’ll see all the ways you’ve grown and changed for the better. Volunteering abroad in a country like Ghana, Costa Rica or Thailand isn’t for everyone and it takes a lot of courage to do it.
Whether it’s navigating complicated visas and travel requirements, figuring out how to communicate in a new language, or finding your way on public transportation for the first time, your trip will challenge you many times. There’s nothing more satisfying than rising to that challenge.
You’ll become a problem solver
When you don’t have your friends and family to fall back on, you’ll have to be so much more resourceful and aware of your surroundings. You’ll learn to spot shady situations and characters, deal with delays and setbacks, and creatively overcome language barriers.
All the mini-decisions you make while traveling will boost your confidence and your problem-solving skills. And those skills will make you more successful in your career and life, in general.
You will be forced to step outside your comfort zone.
Traveling with friends or family on a typical vacation can be fun, but chances are you’ll stay within your familiar bubble instead of really delving into a new culture and making connections with locals.
When you’re by yourself, you really don’t much of a choice but to try something new — whether it’s going up to someone to ask for directions or going to a restaurant alone.
Here’s the thing about comfort zones: they can be.. well, quite comfortable. But it’s only once you step outside of your comfort zone that the magic happens.
Sure, it can be scary to travel by yourself to a new country where you don’t speak the language and don’t know anyone. But when you step away from your routine and let yourself discover something new, you broaden your horizons a little. You meet great people and make a ton of great memories, and soon, you’ll never want to leave.