Why I picked to volunteer instead of backpack alone

I remember the film that made me want to travel. Although it was quite a crazy film. I saw some real beauty in Thailand. We have all seen “The Beach” haven’t we? Well I didn’t go to Thailand, I was to worried about travelling on my own without knowing anybody. I wasn’t the best at starting conversations with random people, I use to always think they would think I was a weirdo if I started to talk to them. I started to get older and I began to suffer from social anxiety, my dream was over there was no way I could see the world on my own. I was wrong years passed and I hit 22, I had no idea of my career path at this point, but I knew I had a great opportunity to volunteer in a country I had never been to. Not only that but I would  be meeting people my age at the other side.

I did it, I booked on to my first trip away without my parents and siblings, for the money I had and the time I got i choose China, I was put in touch with other volunteers who were travelling the same time as me, and we managed to build up relationships via email, I felt like I knew the girls before I had even met them. We spent 4 amazing months teaching English to children in a village in Guilin,China.

From my first experience as a volunteer English teacher it made me grow as a person, my confidence grew huge amounts, and I found my anxiety began to pass. Volunteering abroad is not only a life changer for you the individual, but you touch and change so many life’s along the way. I have since traveled to over 32 countries (including Thailand) and each one of them has been incredible. If you are a shy person or suffer from anxiety’s, I would totally recommend your first step be to volunteer abroad.

 

Happy Travels Worldwide Volunteers

 

Miss H

Keep Calm & Take A Gap Year

Around 3 Million UK Students Are Planning Their 2014 Gap Year Right Now! So If You Are Seeking Gap Year Travel Advice & Inspiration…

Around 3 Million UK Students Are Planning Their 2014 Gap Year Right Now!

So If You Are Seeking Gap Year Travel Advice & Inspiration . . . Read On

That’s right, an estimated 3 million+ young Brits just like you are preparing to take the plunge and jet off into the excitement of the unknown: different continents; different cultures – in search of fun, knowledge, education, thrills and most of all . . . massive personal fulfilment.

Gap Year Travel Advice

When seeking gap year travel advice there are a number of dedicated online sources you can turn to.

The main priority is that you should look to an established gap year travel specialist, rather than a generalist travel agency, as they will have their finger on the pulse when it comes to detailed knowledge of a particular destination or territory. Even better if the company owners have visited the destinations they feature on their websites.

Ultimately, your chosen gap year specialist will have many local contacts in the region(s) you want to visit, so your travel experience will be more authentic and valid than if you went with a “bog-standard” travel agency.

And don’t take the term “gap year” too literally. These days, taking a gap year can mean spending anything from several weeks to several months away from home. “Snap Gaps” – mini-gap years designed to boost your CV – are all the rage just now.

Indeed, many students find that a well-designed itinerary means that they can cram oodles of unique experiences into a comparatively short space of time!

Whilst around 30% of gap year students will choose to travel alone, you may prefer to tag along with a friend or partner, particularly if this will be your first “long-haul” travel experience. Heading off with just your new boyfriend or girlfriend for company can seem like the ideal romantic scenario; however, unless you know someone well enough emotionally to be able to spend weeks on end in one-another’s company, some gap-goers may find they are better off having a long-term friend along for the ride instead.

Gap Year Travel Planner

Advanced planning is essential in order to make the most of every day you spend away and a gap year travel planner in the form of a notebook or notepad can prove useful when it comes to planning your itinerary. Or you could opt to use one of the many mind-mapping tools available online which will enable you to plan your trip in finite detail. XMind comes highly-recommended – what’s more it’s FREE!

Although when planning, be sure to factor in some extra time for unscheduled activities that may come your way and you will also need to allow yourself time to acclimatise and chill out in your new surroundings.

So then . . . where do you want to go on your gap year?

What do you want to do?

What will you want to see?

These three basic questions will form the “linchpin” for your travel itinerary. For clarity, it can be handy to plot out your proposed route on a map, so try Scribble Maps at http://scribblemaps.com. The basic service is free and you can draw out your map in as much detail as you wish, and share it with friends and via various social media platforms, as well as publish your “masterpiece” to your blog or website.

Gap Year Travel Essentials

We’re not suggesting for one second that you’ll leave for the airport minus your passport, unless of course you are a famous footballer, in which case it’s mandatory!

But what with all the excitement of your gap adventure drawing ever closer, it’s easy to overlook those gap year travel essentials that could make or break your trip. The guys over at Studential.com have put together a comprehensive list of all the things you’ll kick yourself later if you leave behind, as well as some sound advice on choosing a suitable backpack to carry it all in. Check out their latest info at: http://www.studential.com/gap-years/travelling/planning/travel-kit   – and you might want to sign up for their newsletter while you’re about it.

You can also find a wealth of great up-to-the-minute advice on all aspects of gap year travel on the GOV.UK website at: https://www.gov.uk/gap-year-foreign-travel-advice

Gap Year Travel Store

So now . . . you know exactly what stuff you’ll need for your chosen gap adventure . . . but where to buy it?

Googling: “Gap Year Travel Store” (in inverted commas) will return you around 33,200 results at the time of writing this article, and you may be lucky enough to find a store close to home so you can try on all those essentials.

Comfy shoes and clothing are a must, as is finding a well-fitting – yet sturdy – backpack to accompany you throughout every stretch of your itinerary. And without being sexist, (or patronising), it’s a fact that women are built differently to men physically and have therefore differing needs when it comes to what they need to take travelling with them.

With this in mind, it’s worth seeking out a gap year travel store that caters for both sexes individually – particularly if those products are tried and tested by seasoned gap year travellers themselves.

Gap Year Travel Insurance

Gap Year travel insurance is an essential requirement for anyone booking gap year travel. The best advice is to shop around the online price-comparison sites like MoneySupermarket.com http://www.moneysupermarket.com/travel-insurance/gap-year/ or Martin Lewis’s acclaimed MoneySavingExpert.com http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/insurance/cheap-travel-insurance

As Martin Lewis rightly advises: DON’T try to use standard policies if on a gap year / backpacking. Normal annual policies won’t do the job. These usually restrict you to 30 days per trip, meaning you have to return to the UK within that time limit.”

Before taking up any insurance quote, it is vital that you have your itinerary fully defined and that you will be covered for anything you plan to do whilst abroad.

For example, might you be planning to:

  • Pop home in the middle of your gap year; say for a wedding or an important family birthday?
  • Sign-up for unscheduled work or manual labour which might not be covered on a normal policy?
  • Go jungle-trekking or take part in hazardous sports like white-water rafting not generally supported by your policy?

Carefully check through all the small-print on your gap year travel insurance policy, (particularly the exclusion clauses), and ensure that your policy is as flexible as you will need it to be. And do be sure to query anything you are not clear on, well in advance of your travelling date.

 

Gap Year Travel Forums

Of course, travel guides from specialist publishers like Lonely Planet and Time Out are great for checking out your shortlist of prospective destinations, but nothing beats first-hand experience.

There are around a dozen active online gap year travel forums dedicated to providing help and advice for gap year students. Two of the most prominent are GapYear.com and TheStudentRoom.co.uk, where you can sign-up for free and chat about all manner of topics, including travel!

There’s also a gap year travel site dedicated to helping people find like-minded companions to travel with; (ok, “dates” if you prefer!) As always when you are online, exercise a degree of caution in your communications and avoid readily sharing your personal details with “faceless strangers.”

Gap Year Travel – “the gift that keeps on giving . . .”

There’s little doubt that a gap year will change your life for the better however you decide to spend it and wherever in the world your journey takes you.

So whether this article finds you frantically saving for your very own gap adventure or snap gap, or whether you are lucky enough to have friends or family pitching in, gap year travel really is the gift that keeps on giving.

And here’s why . . .

Wherever your wanderlust takes you, you are guaranteed to develop strong interpersonal skills, practical abilities and character-enhancing attributes that will surely last you a lifetime.

It’s also highly likely that you will return home completely inspired and full of ideas about what you want to do next – not only about the kind of work you want to do, but about the way to want to live your life in general.

And don’t be the tinniest bit surprised if you find yourself sitting down one weekend, huddled over your laptop or iPad, planning out your next HUGE gap year adventure.

Enjoy!

Hannah x

Gap year volunteering and travel

When a lot of people think about volunteering or travelling abroad…

When a lot of people think about volunteering or travelling abroad the continent that tends to jump out is Asia, the worlds largest continent. The faraway land includes gap year favorite Thailand which ranges from the vibrant landscapes of Bangkok to the tranquil Buddhist temples and remote style tropical islands. There really is something for everyone.

Perhaps though youd rather head to China and end your trip with a walk along the Great Wall of China. Maybe youd like to head off the beaten track in Laos, or perhaps youd like to explore some of the 17,000 islands which make up Indonesia.

When choosing to volunteer abroad a lot of people go into teaching, specifically teaching English to natives. The experience of teaching abroad can be incredibly rewarding as not only are you brushing up your own skills but you are imparting your wisdom onto others in order to enhance their lives.

To fully immerse you in the culture and livelihood of locals in Asia, volunteering is a fantastic option and many providers will include options within their packages. How about helping out at a wildlife conservation park with endangered species for a month before travelling through the wilderness on your own? Perhaps youd rather head to a remote village and help build schools and health centers for the locals? Whatever you want to get from your trip is possible in Asia and your volunteering options are endless.

If volunteering isnt exactly what youre thinking of and youre a medical student/ graduate, a medical internship might be more up your street. International internships are becoming increasingly more popular, but medical internships can be difficult to come by. If youre one of the lucky few who can add this exotic line to your CV then youre sure to have the upper hand against candidates for jobs when youre back home.

Few people can boast travelling halfway across the world to complete a medical internship in one of the fastest-growing wellness hubs within the world. Thailand is one of the most popular places to draw in medical students as one particular private hospital in Bangkok draws in more international patients than any other hospital across the world: so where better than to gain a medical internship?

Whether you want experience in nursing, public health or physical therapy youll stand the best chance at gaining transferable skills which can be used throughout your career both at home and abroad by doing a medical internship in Asia. Youll also gain a fantastic understanding of the culture from the other side of the world.

Whether you volunteer, complete a medical internship or just choose to travel when in Asia youll have the option of jungles, forests, mountains and beaches, what more could you want? You can choose to trek through a jungle to visit a traditional community, ride an elephant through the forests of India, balance on handmade bamboo rafts down lakes and rivers and ensure that your gap year trip is full of excitement and adventure.

Why Volunteering In Your Gap Year Will Change Your Life

Volunteering in your gap year is probably the best…

Volunteering in your gap year is probably the best adventure you could ever embark on. It’s simply the opportunity to change your reality and do something different, that probably you will never do otherwise. This experience takes you away from exams and University applications and puts you in a random place in the world, somewhere where you can make a difference and find ultimate purpose.

Before we talk about the benefits of a volunteer gap year and why it will change your life, let me ask you 3 questions:

  • Do you want your gap year to be the best story of your life?
  • Do you want to find true purpose and passion for your future?
  • Do you want to travel the world and have lots of fun?

If your answer is Yes to the questions above and you also want to make a difference to someone’s life, then a volunteer gap year is the best decision you will ever make.

How Volunteering In Your Gap Year Will Change Your Life

The purpose of a gap year is to give you a break from studies and a year to focus on you, your dreams and lust for adventure. During this time you can teach English in Asia or work on community development projects in Africa. You can go anywhere you want and do anything you want. Isn’t that alone the best part of it all?

However, a gap year will not only give you a great time, but will also help you for the future. Here are 5 ways a volunteer gap year will change your life:

  1. Help you discover your purpose and passion and guide you on the best career path for the future
  2. Make your CV rock! With the transferable skills from a volunteer gap year you will have plenty to talk about in any interview
  3. Give you the opportunity to make friends from around the world (lots of free travel opportunities for the future)
  4. Show you the world (what a better time in your life than now to explore and learn about new cultures?)
  5. Make you a better person (not only because you will make a difference is someone else’s life, but because you will step out of your comfort zone and make a difference in your own life)

Instead of telling you more about the benefits that volunteering in your gap year will bring to your life, I want to tell you the stories of 3 amazing girls that were in your shoes not long ago, when they decided to go on a gap year. See how their lives have changed:

Elaine M.

As part of her gap year, Elaine went to Tanzania where she helped to build a hybrid renewable energy system, working on wind and sunlight, to provide power for the local school in Kemgesi, Tanzania. See below a photo of Elaine with the students from the local school.


Elaine photo


Here is what Elaine told us about her volunteer gap year, and how it changed her life:

“Volunteering abroad made me appreciate what I have, for example the vast range of opportunities that are available to me (particularly as a native English speaker living in England). I gained an increase in motivation to work harder and make the most of my relatively fortunate position so that I can in turn help those less fortunate. I now feel like I have a much deeper purpose in life that helps to keep me going when I feel tired, fed up or frustrated.”

Volunteering Abroad

Whether you’re taking a career break, gap year or you just fancy going travelling; volunteering abroad…

Benefits of volunteering abroad

Whether you’re taking a career break, gap year or you just fancy going travelling; volunteering abroad won’t just help you travel to countries far away, but also provide you with employable skills to embellish your CV with. It is becoming harder as a student or graduate when applying for jobs as most people going for it will have similar levels of education and skills as you. By choosing to volunteer abroad you can gain the edge you need to broaden your horizons and expand your skills set.

If you’re thinking about jumping on a plane to become a volunteer abroad then find out some of the benefits you may gain from it. We may even be able to sway your decision:

 

  • Volunteering abroad can be a mind-opening experience exposing you to cultures and experiences far from your normal everyday life. If you end up travelling to a third world country you’ll learn to appreciate your life back home more; and lots of people come back home enlightened with a better feeling about their own lives. Having a chance to experience another way of life will allow you to learn more about yourself as a person.
  • Choosing to volunteer abroad is an altruistic act. Intrinsically volunteering allows you to give something back to a community or country without gain for yourself. By building schools in a remote village, helping out to conserve endangered animals, or teaching children about safe sex in countries with high HIV rates you’ll be making a difference to the society and area you’re in.
  • During your career break or gap year volunteering abroad you’ll be able to learn new skills which you can take forward in your further life. One of the most important (and employable) skills is speaking another language. Some countries or areas (especially in the third world) may not know English so you’ll need to pick up some phrases and bits of their language in order to communicate. A lot of volunteers who travel from English speaking countries are used to teach English to the local children which will require relearning some skills you already have furthering your abilities, and helping improve the abilities of others.
  • Volunteering abroad will do wonders for your professional life as choosing to do this shows that you are not afraid to be in a new environment and thrown in at the deep end; and this can tell future employers a lot about you. There are plenty of other employable skills which you gain from travelling and volunteering including team work skills, patience, the ability to think outside the box, and gaining a tolerance of others.
  • Sometimes the people who travel and volunteer are outgoing, confident people but others go in order to work on those exact skills. Being put in a situation where you’re with new people and having to communicate with others can help to build your confidence if you’re otherwise a shy person.
  • Volunteering abroad will give you the opportunity to build an audience and start a blog. Blogging is a big business and can provide you with a lot of skills including writing, social media, outreach and design. If you choose to blog about your travelling, volunteering and experience you could build a business from the other side of the world.

 

These are just a few of the benefits you can gain from volunteering abroad but if you’re still debating it then grab the opportunity with both hands because when you leave education, get a full time job and start building a life it can become harder and harder to just drop everything and jump on a plane. Do it while you can and develop yourself as a person.