You’re never truly alone on a Global Volunteers volunteer program! Joining like-minded and compassionate people from all over the world on important community development projects can be one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of your life. Two-time Global Volunteer Jennifer explains why she believes solo volunteer travel is the best way to travel.
I just returned from India, my second trip as a solo volunteer – and it won’t be my last time. Only five years ago, I had never even been on a commercial plane. Since then, I’ve seen African villages and crossed streets in India as a Global Volunteer! But more importantly – I’ve made an impact on the lives of children that they will remember their whole lives through my volunteer travel abroad. Maybe not me alone, but the English I taught and our interactions. The realization of the universal truth that we as people are more alike than we are different.
When I tell people that I’ve visited “exotic” places like Tanzania or India alone, their look is often one of shock. I journeyed solo to those places, navigating multiple airports on layovers, eating mystery food on airplanes, and seeking the best exchange rates. While my time getting to the sites is alone, I have been far from alone once I arrive in the airport and begin my service with Global Volunteers. When I’m tired from travel and slightly confused by local customs, I’ve always found comfort in speaking with my teammates. These strangers become your quick allies in a new land that you navigate together, discovering the culture by each interaction or outing to the local store. Quick bonds are made with other volunteers, some which last beyond your term of service.
But you may be wondering – why do I choose solo volunteer travel? The short answer – I want to. It’s an inexplicable calling that there are lessons for me out in the world, and I want to learn those lessons. Often my friends are busy with life, getting married, having babies, going to graduate school, etc. My family members are not travelers. But I want to go and serve. So I do. And I learn far more than I believe I give on each trip. I learn not only how other people see the world (and America) but more about myself. I learn to trust my instincts, how I pick up new languages and test my tolerance both morally and physically (whew the Indian heat)! I think solo volunteer travel is challenging – in a good way!