Becoming a Global Explorer: Volunteer or Vagabond?

January 15, 2014

Female explorer.

If you are thinking about kicking the dust of Canada off of your feet for a while to make your way around the world, you’re not alone. Many have gone before you, caught up in wanderlust, eager to broaden their horizons. However, think about your options before you pack your bags. You can strike out and travel abroad or you can choose to volunteer. Consider the pros and cons for both before making your decision.

Travel Abroad: The Advantages

When you opt to travel abroad simply for the experience, you’ll be in for the adventure of a lifetime. This is a great opportunity for you to pick some key points of interest and start planning for your destination. If you choose European locations, you will find that it is extremely convenient to travel by rail, allowing you to see many countries in a brief period of time at an affordable price. If you are interested in saving on accommodations, you can stay at hostels that are scattered throughout the region. You’ll have a bed, bathroom facilities, and pay a low fee. You’ll have no obligations and can choose your own itinerary once you’re on your way.

Travel Abroad: The Disadvantages

While there are many ups with traveling abroad, it has its downs as well. You will need to make sure you have any necessary immunizations and that all of your traveling documents are in order. You’re going to be restricted by time and finances. You can only go as far as your bank account will allow you to go. You’ll find that your expenses add up quickly and there will always be more that you want to see. If you choose to stay in resorts or costly hotels, that will take up a major chunk of your budget. All good things must come to an end and you’ll find yourself heading home before you know it.

Volunteer Abroad: The Advantages

Choose to be a volunteer abroad and you will open up more doors for opportunities to experience the world beyond Canada’s borders. This is especially ideal if you are young and unattached. If you do not have obligations that are tying you down, you could choose to provide volunteer services on a long-term basis. Depending on your final destination, you could make your home in foreign lands for a lengthy period of time. If you’re fortunate, you can have room and board in exchange for your services. While not involved in your volunteer efforts, you could travel in your free time, providing you with many memorable experiences that will last a lifetime.

Volunteer Abroad: The Disadvantages

While being a volunteer is extremely admirable, you may find that it is stressful and draining as well. If you respond to a call for help in an area where a natural disaster has occurred, you will be put to the test as you assist others in a time of great need. Should you choose a situation where you are volunteering your services for a lengthy term, such as teaching English, you will have to deal with a lack of financial resources. You will need to think long and hard about how much you will need during your stay. If you run out of money for your own personal expenses, you will be restricted to one area, no longer able to explore.

Traveling or volunteering abroad both have perks and possible drawbacks. Consider your options, your obligations, and your goals before you make your final decision. No matter what your decision, make sure you pick up some travel insurance to keep your mind at ease when adventuring.  The world is at your doorstep. How much you see is up to you.