Discovering volunteer travel opened a great source of learning for me. Learning about the world, about different cultures and people, about what works and what doesn’t,
what is true and what is not. And, of course, learning about myself! I had unique opportunities to experience professions and lifestyles I would never be able to try without volunteering. I’ve tried myself as a zookeeper, a graphic designer, a chef, hostess, wildlife rescuer, animal shelter worker, housekeeper, decorator, Zen gardener, dog trainer, volunteer coordinator, penguin counter, carpenter, a nun and more!
I’ve met many people from very different walks of life and parts of society and had a chance to observe what makes them happy, what do they believe and how these beliefs affect their life. I’ve been exposed to situations which triggered some reactions, dormant beliefs and judgements in me, some of them quite surprising! Observing these
reactions helped me to see the depth of my conditioning, the roots of delusions and their universal nature. Observe, understand, let go, and continue my travels, feeling lighter and happier with less and less of “emotional baggage”. Volunteering helped me to see the world from some surprising angles, quite different from what is possible through simply traveling: deeper, more, wider.
I travel on a budget, mostly I use free volunteer placements, where I work for free food and accommodation. There are plenty of opportunities! My favorite volunteering database is Workaway. It is well designed, updated, and it is possible to leave and read a feedback for both hosts and volunteers. HelpX is a similar one but has a lot of unresponsive and outdated hosts. WWOOF is by name about organic farming, but it is more diverse than that. I had one placement through Green Volunteers, although, they have mostly paid opportunities. If you have a particular interest, it is always possible to contact an
organisation or a person directly. Some NGOs and charities do not advertise, but might be happy to host someone who is enthusiastic and knowledgeable about their cause. Fellow volunteers are also an excellent source of information! The further you go the more becomes possible. You can never guess where the road will lead you, and this is the best part!
*head image (flowers) from FreeImages.com/Ananya S.