20 Reasons to Volunteer on a Gap Year
Volunteering abroad on a gap year is an incredibly fulfilling and worthwhile experience both for the community and the participant.
The benefits are literally endless - it’s a fantastic way to help people who really need it, it looks great on your CV but most of all it brings a great sense of self fulfilment and positivity to the individuals volunteering.
Not too sure what volunteering is all about? Check out these top 20 reasons to pack up and go...
1. You'll Be Giving Something Back
One of the main reasons why people volunteer is because they want to do something good for others. On our websites you can find organisations who work with communities based all over the world focusing on the areas of development, childcare, wildlife and conservation.
2. You'll Have Unique Opportunities
Volunteering abroad offers unique opportunities that are usually off limits to a load of travellers. When it comes to working with animals or on conservation projects being a volunteer has some awesome benefits; unless you have a strong animal biology background you're unlikely to find a paid position where you'll be able to work with lions in South Africa or turtles in Costa Rica and you definitely wouldn't get the chance to go behind the scenes if you're just a passer-by!
3. Use Your Skills to Benefit Others
If there's anything you’re particularly good at then you can capitalise upon those skills to help others abroad. Some of Real Gap Experiences projects do require a specific skill set but in general all they ask for is the want to succeed and make a difference – you can always pick up new skills!
4. See a New Culture from the Inside
One of the best things about volunteering abroad is being able to spend an age of time in a new country. It's an amazing learning experience that will see you interacting with new cultures, trying out loads of wicked new food, speaking new languages and meeting loads of new people. As a volunteer you will get a glimpse into the local culture, allowing you to become a traveller, rather than a tourist.
5. Experience Personal Growth
Many volunteers come back from their experience and say they've grown as a person (it's a little cheesy, but it’s true!). In most cases volunteers become more concerned and aware of the problems facing the world and once they've returned from a trip are usually more independent, more adventurous and more courageous - especially if it's their first trip away from home.
6. Stand Out
If you're looking to stand out from the crowd, volunteering is a great talking point in future interviews with new employers to life stories down the pub - boom!
7. Recognition, A Sense of Achievement and Feedback
Recognition of your efforts is another thing that keeps volunteers coming back again and again. Telling someone that they are doing a good job inspires confidence and pride, and it's always great to see when you've completed building a house in Costa Rica for example, or helped save turtles in Sri Lanka! It reminds you that the work you are doing is important and that you are making a difference. All of Real Gap Experiences volunteering projects are aware of this and are genuinely grateful for the time and effort that volunteers contribute to their cause.
8. Learn New Things
Spending some time abroad allows you to learn about interesting cultural differences, like what Brazilians eat for breakfast or how South Africans greet their friends! The world is filled with unique experiences but it's easy to miss them if you're just passing by; try your hand at salsa, learn to scuba dive, explore local customs and see if you can learn a little bit of the language so you can impress when you get home. It's all part of the experience!
9. Friendships, a New Family and Belonging
Making new mates is one of the best reasons to volunteer abroad. Many volunteers make lifelong friends that come from working through difficulties and exploring new things together. Even on trips like the Thailand Experience you'll get the chance to volunteer for a week, which really adds to the adventure.
10. Skills and Experience
Want to gain a whole new host of skills? By getting stuck in on one of the Real Gap Experience volunteer projects you'll be picking up loads of handy new skill sets as you go, especially if you're helping out on a project which is a little out of your comfort zone!
11. You Could Learn a Foreign Language
The best way to develop your language skills is to use it in day to day scenarios, and volunteering provides the perfect opportunity to do this! (Ola!)
12. See the Difference You've Made
Stand back and take a look. Pausing to take a moment to see what you've achieved during your time away is an incredible experience!
13. Do something out of your comfort zone
Life is about challenging yourself, so why don't you try something a little different to what you're used to?
14. It'll Be Bags of Fun!
Trust us when we say that you're going to have THE BEST TIME.
15. Build Your CV
During your time away you'll find out so much about yourself. You'll learn new skills and build on your current experience, and all of that is great for padding out your CV.
16. Spend Quality Time Away From the Norm
Getting bored of your current 9-5? Take a break and volunteer. Not only will you be doing something worthwhile, but you'll get the chance to get focused about where you want your life to go and you'll have plenty of chances to explore and see a new place too!
17. Help the Environment
Do your bit to help the environment and take up your position as a conservation volunteer! (You could lend a hand in New Zealand for example).
18. Gain Confidence
Volunteering within a new community is sure to make sure your confidence properly soar. Get stuck in and speak to the locals, make new mates and most importantly - throw yourself in the deep end!
19. See and Do More
If you're looking to tick those countries off your bucket list, then volunteering is a great way to see a country from the inside and actually get to grips with the place. By the time you've volunteered within a couple of communities you'll be clocking up the volunteer hours in no time! The best thing is that everybody can make a difference.
20. Prepare for Your Life to Change!
Most volunteers come back and comment on how they see the world differently after their time away. Will you be one of them?
All of our featured projects are either established by locals or by non-governmental organisations; this ensures that all of the time volunteers spend at projects they will be benefiting the community in a sustainable and truly constructive way. So what are you waiting for?
Check out our featured full range of volunteer projects worldwide and take that first step on the road to the experience of a lifetime!