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Can I volunteer for charities when traveling or on vacation?

Can I volunteer while traveling?

The simple answer – Yes! See how you can make your vacation a blessing to others, as well as yourself . . .

I’m often asked “can I volunteer while traveling?” and I’m always overwhelmed with sincere joy when I am. Why? Because in the Western world we have a very bad habit: we consider vacations “me” time first and foremost. Time to relax, recharge and spend some money and time on ourselves. And that’s ok, for the most part. But if you approach traveling in such a linear way, you could be missing out on one of the most inspring and rewarding aspects of “wanderlust”.

Traveling is the perfect time to volunteer. I’ve done so several times myself. And I plan on doing it even more in the future. “Why should I spend my vacation helping others?” Simple, by helping others your also help yourself – and your health! And the Mayo Clinic agrees.

Why helping others, helps you

Volunteering to serve others instantly breathes life into a key part of our humanity – our spirit. That’s why it should be considered a spiritual gift. I also refer to it as bearing a servant’s heart and it can quickly overtake your heart and psyche. It is also sacrificial. And having a sacrifical heart with the true intent of helping others is a cornerstone of a rewarding life.

We were blessed to provide a warm meal, rest, and a message of hope to 100 homeless in downtown Bangkok, Thailand.
We were blessed to provide a warm meal, rest, and a message of hope to 100 homeless in downtown Bangkok, Thailand.
We purchased hygeine, clothing, and food items to package and give to 100 persons in need during our volunteer travel in Bangkok Thailand.
We purchased hygeine, clothing, and food items to package and give to 100 persons in need during our volunteer travel.

For people of faith, volunteering while on vacation strengthens and renews the spirit in ways nothing else can. It provides a great sense of belonging to the greater community, especially if doing so outside your native country. In that instance, it can even provide a behind the scenes look at the local culture, attitudes, and traditions you could never gain any other way. And it can bind you tightly to a group of people by letting you experience the world from their perspective. It can even result in lifetime friendships.

A servant’s heart results in a rewarding life. It is an approach to life that can rekindle a positive attitude towards work after burning out 40+ hours the past six months, bring new life to old friendships, and even add a sparkle or two to marriage.

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How do I volunteer while on vacation?

Volunteering can take many forms. It can be a simple thing you do on your own or it can be part of an organized group or event. I’ve found both approaches equally rewarding. It’s really about what your skillset, destination, schedule, and personal situation guide you towards. I’ve found the following process to be helpful when searching for volunteer opportunities on vacation.

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Things to be aware of when volunteering

However, as a wise wanderer who has been around the world several times (literally) and seen a thing or two (firsthand), I must provide some cautions:

Wanderlust = servant’s heart

As wanderers, we must actively seek ways to serve others during our travels. The world calls it karma, but the truth is it is much deeper than that. It is a spiritual gift, one that honors the Creator. Bearing a servant’s heart during your journies is a very loving way to let Him know that you understand the mercy He has shown you. And, to extend that same compassion to others.

BTW, I encourage you to read my blog on Cisco.com about my experience volunteering with homeless in Bangkok, Thailand. Just ignore the tech talk 🙂

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