27 Jul 6 Reasons Why You Should Volunteer
So you’ve just come home from backpacking and now you’re broke. You’re not quite ready to settle down just yet. All you have is your trusty backpack lying on the floor, the same clothes you’ve been traveling with for the past few months and strange looking currencies in your wallet you’ll never be able to use again.
You take a long look at your old room and as odd as it might seem, it has become unfamiliar territory. You realize you have sooo much stuff. But they’ve gotten all moldy. You wanna keep traveling but have no idea how you’re gonna pay for another trip when you’ve just wiped out your entire savings.
Resident Blue Osa pets Rama & Pete
“Should I take this new job or should I keep traveling?” You pause halfway through your home cooked meal, daydreaming of being on the road again. Asia, Europe, Latin America, the list goes on. There’s just so much more to see. Your mind wont stop wandering.
You’ve heard about volunteering but it sounds like a lot of work. “But, but I have a Business degree. I didn’t go to college just to pick vegetables.” You debate with the voices in your head for a little while, weighing out your options. If you give it a chance, you might discover a whole new world of possibilities.
¡Hola Costa Rica!
Here are 6 reasons why you should try volunteering:
A volunteer’s room at Blue Osa, home for 6 weeks
- You will save tons of money
Most places offer free accommodation to volunteers in exchange for 4-6 hours of work. Usually, you are provided with single or bunk beds and shared bathrooms, just like the hostels you’ve been used to. Meals are usually included in the arrangement as well. If they aren’t, there’s usually a communal kitchen you can access to prepare your own meals.
This will easily save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars every month. Now all you have to worry about is your transportation expenses which shouldn’t be a problem now that you’re used to taking public buses and trains.
Local bus ride from Playa Negra to Santa Cruz for $3
- Instant family and friends
After my six month Southeast Asian adventure, I was tired from backpacking. I transferred to a different hostel every few days and money was finding its way out of my wallet every couple of hours. Though I met A LOT of wonderful people from different parts of the globe, being always on the go made it difficult to have deeper connections and fulfilling relationships.
No matter how independent you are as a solo traveler who is determined to see the world, I realized that everyone needs to maintain these new friendships. I find more things in common with the people who I’ve met on the road than with people I grew up with back home.
Being able to stay in once place for weeks or months at a time will slow time down considerably, giving you a chance to actually remember people’s names and not having to say goodbye to them the next day. You’ll get to bond with fellow volunteers and people working in the same area.
Yoga teacher volunteers at Rancho Margot
- Tourist vs. Traveler
You will get the opportunity to really know the local people and develop some real friendships along the way. If you’re lucky enough, they might welcome you into their homes and treat you just like family. You’re no longer a tourist rushing through a pre-made itinerary or checking off bucket lists. You will understand their history, culture and traditions better thus giving you a better perspective into their lives. In no time, you’ll be speaking the local linggo as well.
Jona, a Costa Rican showing me around Guanacaste’s best spots
- A break from the usual routine
Backpacking: Catch the bus, pick a hostel, eat the local food, do the tours, meet fellow travelers, get drunk. Repeat. Same shi*t, different country. Let me be brutally honest, I think anything that is done repeatedly will get pretty boring in the long run. Sometimes, you just need a vacation from your vacation to learn something different or to feel a little bit more fulfilled.
Walking to Playa Negra with fellow Peace Retreat volunteers Tala & Natalie
Volunteering usually requires at least a week to a month commitment, depending on the place. When you have adjusted to your new surroundings, you will feel comfortable and right at home again, only you’re in a completely different country this time, speaking in another foreign language.
Chef Rafa serves us delicious meals at Blue Osa
- Do what you’re passionate about
Volunteering encourages you to enhance your skills in a whole different environment. It will teach you things you will never learn in your comfort zone. As I type this article, I am currently volunteering as a yoga teacher around various places in Costa Rica. I have the chance to improve my skills as I lead classes in a whole different continent, at the same time immersing myself in this beautiful country for as long as I want to (or at least until my next visa run).
Standing in the spray of a waterfall, Cascada Llanos de Cortes
- Learn other things
It will widen your interests and ultimately your perspective on life. Speaking from my own experience, each place I have volunteered at has taught me different things. In Rancho Margot, we were required to do 3 hours of gardening aside from teaching an hour of yoga a day. Now I can honestly say that if and when I settle down, I can plant my own vegetable garden and not have to buy from the market all the time.
Daily tasks for volunteers at Peace Retreats
At Peace Retreats, the maintenance schedule was strictly followed. Participating in the morning cleaning rituals gave me a lot of ideas on how I can one day run my own yoga retreat place, just by energy exchange and hosting volunteers from around the world. Blue Osa has given me time to reflect and write. Staying in this gorgeous seaside setting gave me the energy and space to rediscover my art process, something I thought I lost as a child. I also fulfilled my dream of becoming a pet sitter, having to watch over the property’s furry residents, 2 dogs and 4 cats.
Mirabella carefully watches me draw my mandalas
Check out the these websites for volunteering options that might interest you:
Find jobs from carpentry to managing guesthouses all over the world. Some jobs only require as little as 1 week commitment. There is a yearly fee of $29 for individuals and $38 for couples to register for two years.
If you are a yoga teacher, massage therapist, healer or have any other body work skills, you can easily find jobs here. Since most of the places registered with this website are into wellness, vegetarian or vegan chefs are also quite in demand. Registration is free.
If you are a digital nomad and have online responsibilities, being a house sitter is the perfect volunteering gig. Usually involves light maintenance and taking care of furry loved ones are part of the job while the owner is away. There is a monthly fee of $8 to register.
Dorctors, nurses, medical technicians, paramedics and other people qualified in healthcare are also able to immerse themselves in different cultures while saving lives around the world.
Volunteering as a yoga teacher in Costa Rica