Top Reasons You Should Volunteer in Canada with Help X
As one of the most admired countries in the world Canada has a huge amount to offer any traveler: maple syrup, the Canucks, pristine wilderness, moose, grizzlies, the infamous Canadian mounties, the list goes on! Behind all of this is a Canada that not all tourists get to explore… the real Canada, real Canadians and the real way of life. Help X is a network that will give you access to all of this and more.
Help X was started back in 2001 by a guy called Rob Prince from England and is essentially a network connecting hosts with travellers looking to spend some time volunteering on their travels. For just 20 euros for a two year membership you will be able to connect with and make direct contact with hosts from all over the world and with its simple and easy to use website you will soon be on your way to organising the trip of a lifetime. So why should you volunteer in Canada with Help X?
You will be more than just a tourist
It was Ghandi who once said, “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others”, and Help X gives you the opportunity to do just that. Helping a homeless community on Vancouver Island; practicing yoga at a wellness centre in the forests of Quebec; supporting with tourists at an adventure ranch in northern Alberta; riding your heart out on a cattle drive in Calgary or going green at an organic farmstead in Manitoba are just a few of the placements available to you through Help X. Making the most of Canada’s rich culture, relentlessly spectacular scenery and awesome wildlife are an absolute given for any tourist lucky enough to travel here, but combining all of these things with the chance to live and work with the locals, live somewhere off the beaten track and away from the typical tourist hotspots is the perfect recipe for adventure.
The Help X website allows you to easily search for different types of hosts and you can readily search through all of the categories or filter for a specific interest you have. Whichever placement you choose it’s safe to say that meaningful travel is the best kind of travel and the opportunities available through Help X will unlock a door with thousands of meaningful travel opportunities behind it.
Take your pick of where to live
One of the beautiful things about choosing to volunteer through Help X is that you can have your pick of literally hundreds of placements currently spanning across nine of Canada’s mighty provinces. In BC spend time exploring the dramatic peaks of Whistler Blackcomb or if you are more of a city slicker embrace the multiculturalism and thriving culture in Ontario. Or perhaps you will decide to head even further East and savour the splendour of New Brunswick’s vast forests before being inspired by the high tides on the Fundy coast. If the rural life is more your scene it could be a placement in the wild, mountainous, ‘larger than life’ Yukon that you choose, perhaps you will admire the thrilling beauty of the Northern Lights or enjoy dog sled racing in Whitehorse, the choice really is all yours.
The Help X website helps you easily identify the different placements across the provinces and regions. You can run your search by clicking on the region name or there is a handy colour coded map showing all of the different locations you can volunteer. Alternatively you can run the search by typing in specific search terms. However you like to research, the website is simple and effective in helping you find the perfect host!
A season to suit every mood
Whatever time of the year you are planning on coming to Canada there will undoubtedly be Help X hosts looking for volunteers. Whether you want to sunbathe on the Acadian shores of Nova Scotia when Summer is at its peak, make the most of winter by snowboarding through the impressive mountain ranges of British Colombia, watch Autumn sunsets in the ‘big sky country’ that is Alberta or be mesmerised by the waterfalls and glacial fjords of Newfoundland during the Spring, there are so many delights for you to discover that you will be overwhelmed by choices of places to go.
Each host clearly indicates on their profile what time of year they need people, some hosts are looking for volunteers year round, others specific months of the year, but whenever you decide to make your Canadian dream a reality there will easily be a placement that fits with your travel plans. Another handy addition to the website is that you can clearly see when the host last logged in so you know how active they are on the site, another useful factor to consider when making your decision. Whatever your motivations are in coming to Canada, Help X is bound to have a placement that ticks all the boxes you are looking for regardless of when you want to travel.
Learn New Skills
A favourite quote amongst travel junkies is, “And then I realised adventures are the best way to learn”, and this without doubt embodies the Help X experience. Those with a thirst for new and unique experiences who aren’t afraid to work outside of their comfort zone could find themselves learning a huge number of exciting new skills. It could be anything from learning how to drive a tractor to working with guests at an adventure tourism hostel.
Picture this: it’s always been your dream to volunteer at a ranch in Canada and the images etched on your mind are of the great outdoors, wide open spaces, cattle, horses and western riding. When you arrive at your Help X placement your expectations are not only met but are far exceeded. You learn more new skills than you ever imagined possible in such a short space of time: driving a tractor, the art of wood splitting, baling hay and straw, operating a dozer, driving a cutter, driving an ATV, catching horses, saddling horses and riding western style to name just a few!
Finding a volunteer placement through Help X will give you the chance to explore Canada beneath the surface whilst at the same time challenging you to learn a whole array of new skills. The host profiles are suitably detailed to give you an idea of the different tasks you will be undertaking and new skills you be acquiring so you know what you are letting yourself in for! There is no better way to gain an appreciation for a country or culture than to get stuck in and master new skills.
See Canada on a Budget
Whilst you can’t put a price on the amazing experiences travelling in Canada will give you understandably money can be a barrier to many people wanting to explore a new country. The concept of Help X is that you are literally exchanging your help for free accommodation and food, which can be two of the most significant costs when you are travelling abroad. Saving your pennies in these two areas allows you to spend your hard earned cash on exploring your new surroundings and making unforgettable memories.
Perhaps you’ll use the money you save on going to the Canadian Finals Rodeo in Edmonton? Or maybe you will take the chance to rent some ski gear and do some cross-country skiing in Laurentians? For the sporty amongst you it may be tickets to see the Canucks in Vancouver or if you want to take some time to relax then maybe you will hit up the Hot Springs in Banff.
So for just a 20 euro membership for two whole years, whatever you are into the money you will save by volunteering with Help X will help you explore the many wonders of this magnificent country.
So what have you got to lose?!
By Victoria Gamble