People volunteer for a number of different reasons, ranging from a desire to learn new skills, have fun or make a difference. Some are completely devoted to the cause, while others simply wish to do their bit where they can. In actual fact, many of the reasons for volunteering abroad are the same as those for volunteering at home but here there is the added bonus of getting to travel. However volunteering abroad is a much more meaningful experience, taking you further out of your comfort zone and offering far greater rewards. Give Something Back
One of the more obvious reasons why people volunteer is because they find something they are passionate about and want to do something good for others. People who volunteer in their community have a personal attachment to the area and want to make it a better place for themselves and for others. People who have themselves struggled with social issues usually have a certain empathy for those in a similar situation and will often wish to help out. Many people who volunteer think that they are very fortunate to live the way they do and want to give something back to society, as a way of balancing the scales. Unique Opportunities
As a regular tourist you don’t have the opportunity to see as much as you would as an insider. Particularly when working with animals or on conservation projects, being a volunteer has tremendous advantages. Unless you have a strong animal science background, you are unlikely to find a paid position caring for lion cubs in South Africa or turtles in Costa Rica and you certainly can’t get behind the scenes as a visitor! Volunteering abroad offers unique opportunities that are usually off-limits to travellers and that means they also offer a unique experience. View a Culture from the Inside
One of the greatest benefits of volunteering abroad is being able to spend an extended period of time in a new country. It's a truly unique learning experience that will see you interacting with new cultures, trying new food, speaking new languages and meeting new people. . As a volunteer you will get a real glimpse of the local culture, allowing you to become a traveller instead of just a tourist.
Many volunteer travel experiences offer the opportunity to stay with a local family, so you will have the chance to really get to know the local people and experience the traditional lifestyle for yourself. Tourists staying for a few days in the Holiday Inn barely scratch the surface but as a volunteer (living and working in the community, talking to locals and staying for months) you will have a real opportunity to experience your chosen destination from within. Personal Growth
Many people choose to volunteer because of the personal benefits that volunteering has on their character. Indeed, volunteers often say that the experience has made them a better person. In most cases, volunteers also become more concerned and aware of the problems facing the world and many feel that they were ignorant or narrow minded before. Volunteers returning from abroad are usually more independent, more adventurous and more courageous, especially if it was their first foray into independent ttravel.
A huge part of the personal growth of a volunteer is becoming more compassionate. People who have volunteered in the past often become emotionally involved and are more likely to volunteer again in the future, either on the same project or a new one. It is not uncommon for volunteers to return home with a determination to continue their good work in the local community as well. Personal Benefit
As well as offering travellers the opportunity to develop their skills, build up their CV and explore the world, volunteering can also offer personal benefits. Many volunteering organisations, including i-to-i, offer past volunteers a discount on their products, so their future travels can be a lot less expensive. In some cases volunteers offer their help because it is an...