There is no feeling more satisfying than knowing that the time and work you are selflessly putting into a project is going to improve the lives of others, and that your efforts will be appreciated for ages to come.
Well, almost. You can travel a lot by teaching English
If you combine the high of volunteerism with the thrill of an exotic location, both traveler and global citizen will be dancing a happy jig- and there’s no better feeling than that.
By taking your volunteer hours out of the local library and investing them in an off-the-travel-radar country, the effects of your involvement will shine all the brighter.
Whether it’s restoration work on a vampire’s castle or cassava harvests, the experience will be life-changing and the rewards eternal.
Pick the country that catches your breath, chose a line of work that makes your heart beat faster, and embark on a positive adventure with your next volunteer placement in one of these overlooked locations:
5 Cool Volunteer Destinations
Between slave rebellions, the Cold War, and the current communist regime, life in Cuba hasn’t just been sandy beaches and piña coladas (although there is no shortage of either).
There is a need for teachers and green thumbs, both of which can enjoy the fascinating backdrop of history and culture of this island.
Take a long volunteer vacation in one of the most intriguing and unique countries in the Caribbean.
Prevalently placed in the urban centers, education opportunities form a major part of volunteering programs in Cuba.
Whether it is to teach English or expose citizens to international viewpoints, volunteers are needed to bring the best of the world into this island nation.
cultural awareness and facilitate communications, while making friends and joining in on a couple of salsa classes.
With an increasing tourist industry, land and animal conservation projects are on the rise.
In the midst of sugar cane plantations, among tobacco fields, or along the coast, the current question of ecological work is torn between preservation and increasing revenue.
The issue of sustainability is also growing, with most efforts needed alongside small, local farmers who provide the food necessary to keep this self-sustainable country fed and running.
Landlocked and rugged, Bolivia’s inadequate infrastructure leads to no shortage of great volunteering opportunities.
It also has no lack of attractions to amuse when not working:
the tranquil vastness of Lake Titicaca, the mirrored magic of the Uyuni Salt Flats, the colorful parades at the Ororu Festival, “Death Road” and the hospitality of its indigenous people- many of them with two long braids and a bowler hat on top.
Like in most Latin American countries, there has been an increase in the rural-urban migration rate in recent years.
This leads to a variety of problems, such as overcrowding, a lack of services to its people, and the negative effects of slums on the environment.
Jump into the heart of this growing epidemic with an English teaching position, where you will be able to inspire future leaders with effective land management ideas and make that dream a reality with the language skills required for global cooperation.
If you’re not into playtime with kiddos, lend a helping hand at a hospital or with administration work at the many under-staffed health care centers.
Both La Paz and Sucre offer plenty of opportunities in either field, and will reward you with national parks, cultural festivals, unique museums, and cafes catering to internationals.
Romania isn’t just Count Dracula and Transylvania.
It’s also small, traditional villages scattered throughout the majestic Carpathian Mountains, shining seas, and a whole lot of brown bears that need your saving.
Between volunteer assignments, explore the wealth of culture that Romania will present you with in return:
churches built out of bones, the largest rock sculpture in Europe (it’s 55 meters high, dedicated to the last king of Dacia, and can only be reached by boat), and the happiest cemetery in the world.
With long years of seclusion behind the Iron Curtain, Romania is still combating challenges of geographic and mental isolation.
Helping out in an orphanage is a common volunteering placement in Romania, and the children will be quick to steal your heart with their hands sticky from papnasi.
Likewise, community development is a volunteer hotspot, with plenty of infrastructure that could use your help.
If you prefer nature to people, Romania will keep you on your toes while you put your hands to work.
Historic preservation and animal conservation are calling your name; there are more than 7 UNESCO sights and more than half of Europe’s black bear population in Romania.
Why wouldn’t you want to go help out in a country that will welcome you with a glass of ruou ran (rice wine with a pickled snake inside) and where potbelly pigs are considered pets?
There’s also a god dedicated to the kitchen and a lot of motorbikes to hop onto, if that first couple of facts didn’t grab your attention.
On top of the above (and a lot of cashews and coffee beans), there’s plenty of chances to experience this slice of Asian paradise as you make a positive difference.
From education to infrastructure, Vietnam is a prime candidate for hard work and easy relaxation.
We’re not sure if the “S” shape of Vietnam stands for Super, Spellbinding, or Sensational, but any pick is a good guess.
Social development is a particularly active field, with the disabled needing most of your attention.
The aftermath of Agent Orange’s mental and physical destruction are still seen daily, and there are plenty of options to get involved.
The country’s rapid social growth and increase of Street Kids also leads to a need of volunteers in orphanages and classrooms, where a friend is even better than a teacher.
With low wages and without a free education system, your participation in a community school project will offer a future to children that otherwise wouldn’t have the chance to leave the house with a backpack every morning.
Also known as “Little Africa,” Cameroon is a microcosm of the continent, bustling with life, smells, and colors.
Gang up with pygmies as you participate in a tug-of-war competition or go canoe racing, then pound your feet to the rhythm of makossa.
During the day, make Cameroon a better place by volunteering in a number of possible projects, while continuing your cultural (and culinary) explorations.
With agriculture accounting for a large part of its economy, Cameroon never has too many hands working in the fields.
Become a part of coffee, cocoa, yam, or banana harvests (yum!), and help with rural innovations as this fertile country is put to good use.
If you prefer mammals to cotton balls, volunteer with a wildlife conservation project.
Having some of the most diverse flora and fauna of Africa, you can take part of anything from counting butterflies in rainforests to monkeying around with chimpanzees.
With seven national parks, you can document, preserve, and multiply current species to your heart’s delight.
Youth development opportunities are available in both urban and rural areas; your presence will have a lasting impact in both settings.
Children need positive mentors to teach fresh mentalities, inspire new problem-solving strategies, or simply offer a good heart-to-heart conversation.
Learn while you teach, and gain while you give, with a camp or youth counseling placement.
If the above list didn’t satisfy your volunteer cravings, check out these 12 other great volunteering opportunities abroad.
From voodoo and reggaeton to moose and maple syrup, there’s bound to be something just for you.
Regardless of where you end up, and in which field you find yourself working in, you will be able to combine some good ol’ philanthropy with fascinating landscapes, memorable people, and a new stamp in your passport.
Hop on the volunteering train with the license plate that most sticks out at you!
Packing Possessions Eco-Friendly
Like a lot of people, I have become much more environmentally conscious in the last several years.
I wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without my reusable water bottle, I work hard to recycle whenever it’s possible, and I Green Travel as best that I can.
I happily made the switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs.
I’ve even started a compost pile in my yard.
Accordingly, when it came time to move, I wanted to be as environmentally responsible as possible.
It’s easy to lose sight of eco-friendly practices in the midst of such a monumental event as moving households and possessions eco-friendly.
However, just thinking about all of the irresponsible mistakes I could make gave me pause.
Surely there were steps I could take that would help to preserve the environment and still allow for an efficient, relatively stress free move.
A little forethought was definitely in order.
I began by going through my possessions, making rather ruthless decisions regarding what I would keep and what wouldn’t make it onto the moving van.
This is important for a number of reasons.
First, whittling down the number of my possessions means I can move into a smaller, more energy efficient home.
Second, it means I would need fewer packing supplies.
Third, I would be able to utilize a smaller moving van.
Finally, keeping fewer items meant being able to donate a number of things and save the best ‘Green’ there is MONEY!
While it was tempting to just chuck everything I wouldn’t be keeping, I think the idea of donating is a smart one.
It keeps things out of the landfill and gives items a second life.
Just because I haven’t used a certain thing in more than a year doesn’t mean that someone else wouldn’t find it useful.
Even if things could not be donated, I went the extra mile to recycle things like electronics.
I was already ensuring a more environmentally friendly move.
Next, I needed to acquire packing materials.
Going with good quality cardboard boxes seemed like the ideal way to go.
I deliberately set out to find cardboard boxes made from a good percentage of recycled material.
Luckily, that isn’t hard to do in this day and age.
Determined to save some money and be environmentally responsible, I decided to gather as many previously used cartons as possible.
I asked some friends who had recently moved to give their boxes to me.
Other boxes I picked up just by asking at the grocery store.
I did end up buying a few boxes, but they were all constructed with recycled material.
At the end of my move, I’ll reuse or recycle all of the boxes.
Packing material to protect delicate items was another major environmental concern.
No way was I going to use Styrofoam packing peanuts.
I also didn’t want to use newspapers.
Although it’s a responsible way to reuse an item, newsprint can transfer onto the items it’s packed with.
The solution was to make use of blankets and towels I already owned.
They are ideal for protecting even my most precious pieces.
I didn’t have quite enough packing material, so I invested in some packing peanuts that were made from recycled newspaper without the pesky ink.
Peanuts can also be made from environmentally friendly cornstarch, and those are a good alternative as well.
Storing Possessions Eco-Friendly at Self-Storage Facility
I knew that I was going to need some self-storage space for at least a little while after my move.
That’s one of the reasons why I used good quality boxes.
I didn’t want to take a chance with them disintegrating and possibly ruining my possessions, which might mean they would end up in a landfill.
Of course, good boxes are just the beginning.
I also had some pretty tough rules for the self-storage facility I chose.
The facility needed to be insulated.
Unlike an unfinished basement or an outdoor shed, I wanted my self-storage unit to be fully protected from the elements.
Again, this protects my items and ensures that they don’t clutter up the landfill.
I was also choosy about the lighting in the facility.
I wanted to not only make certain that they used energy efficient bulbs, but also that they were on some kind of timer or motion sensor device.
Even better, I was hoping to find a facility that featured solar power or some other kind of alternative energy source.
These useful precautions save tons of energy every year and waste as little as possible.
Before moving items into the facility, I carefully reviewed the rules about prohibited items.
I wanted to make certain that I didn’t store anything that might be hazardous and potentially harm the other things I was storing.
While moving is rarely headache free, I felt like this move went smoothly.
Fina a highly experienced and knowledgeable international removal and storage company that was vital in assisting me with my eco-friendly goal.
I’m glad I took the time to be environmentally conscious, especially as I believe it saved me time and money as well.