If you are looking for a Volunteer Vacation in an exciting destination abroad, contributing to a cause you are passionate about while having an amazing experience, you will be pleased to find that you are in good company and have many choices.
It is also great to know that there are many benefits to taking a vacation, and that a volunteer vacation abroad adds a bunch more benefits to ensure you have an amazing time on a vacation with more meaning and more adventure.
Benefits of Taking a Vacation
Everyone agrees that vacations are great – giving you a break from the hum-drum monotony of everyday routine. A vacation provides a mental and physical break from the stresses of work and daily life, allowing you to disconnect from the time constraints, rules and responsibilities, as well as the daily concerns and everyday worries that generate stress and fatigue and directly affect our physical and mental performance. There is a well-established direct link between stress and health conditions such as headaches, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, a weak immune system and burnout.
A vacation provides relief from stress and often gives a new perspective on personal problems and challenges that previously may have seemed unsurmountable. It boosts mental capacity, improves physical health and creates opportunities to meet new people and to do new things.
Taking a vacation will certainly also boost your mood if you have been feeling tired and uninspired. In fact, research shows that even just thinking about an upcoming vacation can significantly boost your mood and motivation.
Research studies show that vacations help people to rest and recharge their energy stores by creating the time and space for relaxation, play and adventure. As a result, most people are more motivated to achieve their goals after a vacation. In addition, most people return from vacation with a better life perspective. The good vibes you bring back from vacation also uplift those around you.
The Added Benefits of Volunteer Vacations
While the traditional notion of a vacation is sitting on the beach or next to the poolside sipping cocktails for long, lazy days, a new type of travel has gained popularity over the last ten years among those who prefer to avoid the usual tourist destinations with their crowds and endless queues; overpriced accommodation, food and drinks; and hollow, boring entertainment. In fact, volunteer vacations were named a top travel trend by Condé Nast Traveler in 2013 already.
Ever-more people want to enjoy a vacation with more meaning, more value and more adventure. People want to be more involved when they travel and they want to do something more unique and valuable. They want to travel with purpose, do their bit for a better world and gain experience and a fresh perspective.
It is not surprising, as vacations that involve physical movement and exercise — of which we get very little while working full-time — increase the benefits for your body and mind. In addition, discovering new things, meeting new people and doing something meaningful and adventurous outside of your normal day-to-day routine, gives your brain a blast of dopamine, the hormone and neurotransmitter that makes you feel good.
A volunteer vacation is also a great way to experience exotic destinations in a real way. Off the beaten track and away from the usual tourist traps, a volunteer vacation will take you to places few tourists ever see, while providing an opportunity to really immerse yourself in another culture and get to know the local people. Volunteer travel can also be a very cost-effective way of travelling, particularly when accommodation and meals are provided by host families or the projects themselves. It is also a great way to gain experience and learn new skills, perhaps even a new language.
Living, eating, working and playing with those from other cultures provides a new perspective on life and on the world, and many volunteers say that the cultural exchange that takes place is among the top benefits of a volunteer vacation. It is such an amazing experience that a great many volunteers take volunteer vacations again and again, some to experience new destinations, meet new people and contribute to other projects, while others – having become quite attached to the animals, the local community and the other volunteers they worked with – return to the same program year after year.
There is also no doubt that those on a volunteer vacation bring a great deal of benefits to the places they visit and the people who live there. Volunteers contribute countless manhours, as well as scare skills, to diverse projects that are constrained by few hands and limited budgets – making a real difference on the ground, whether they volunteer at an animal sanctuary, a wildlife conservation project or a community development undertaking. Volunteers also contribute much needed funds to projects and bring tourism spend directly into local economies that might not otherwise benefit from mainstream tourism spending. In addition, volunteers increase awareness of projects by sharing their experiences via social media and among their families and friends when returning home.
Volunteer Vacations Abroad – Working with Animals
Among the most popular locations for volunteer vacations is Africa and Central America, with South Africa, Ecuador and Mexico being the top three destinations in the world for Millennial travellers.
Volunteer vacations range from caring for endangered or orphaned animals to teaching English in a foreign country, and the volunteer projects that are most popular include wildlife conservation and education. A clear favourite is working with animals like elephants, lions and rhinos – experiencing an opportunity of a lifetime to get up close and personal with these exotic and endangered creatures and experience a more hands-on approach to contributing to wildlife conservation than writing a cheque.
How to Take a Volunteer Vacation
Volunteer vacations vary in length of time and price, depending on the destination, program type and costs. Different volunteer vacations also require varying skill sets and levels of fitness. Choose a volunteer vacation that not only allows you to work on a project you are passionate about but also allows you to contribute in the most effective way. Also ensure that during your down time – which also varies by program and trip – there is plenty of fun and adventurous activities you can enjoy. But most importantly, work through a reputable volunteer agency that puts your safety first.
There are many organizations that will help you through every step of planning your volunteer vacation. Volunteer Southern Africa specialises in first-time volunteer vacationers and we have hosted more than 9,500 volunteers from 25 countries over the last 10 years. Our volunteer vacationers have helped to rehabilitate more than 1,100 animals, donating countless manhours and contributing significant tourism spend to diverse wildlife conservation projects across Southern Africa, while enjoying a safe travel experience of a lifetime – as evidenced by the fact that more than 850 of our volunteers return again and again.
Over so many years, we have ironed out snags and built the best experience possible for our volunteers – with safety always being our top priority. If you would like to take a volunteer vacation on the spectacular continent of Africa, with its magnificent and unique animals, its breath-taking landscapes and its wonderful people, simply contact us for step-by-step assistance in every aspect of planning and enjoying a volunteer vacation.
Our team has worked hard with our international volunteer program partners to develop ethical and unforgettable volunteer vacations. Choosing a Volunteer Southern Africa volunteer program ensures that your volunteering efforts make a real impact, allow you to travel safely in the best, most beautiful parts of Africa, while gaining invaluable life skills, making memories to last a lifetime and having an amazing experience.
Simply Click Here and Tell Us When You’d Like to Volunteer and We’ll Find the Best Volunteering Experience Available for You!