Footprints Around The Globe

So you’re feeling philanthropic, like to get your hands dirty, and are feeling a gap year coming on. Check out one girl’s way of volunteering around the world with the help of Woofing and Workaway. Note: you may have to milk a goat or two.

Since I began travelling in late 2010, I have discovered ways of life that I never knew existed. What was supposed to be only a 12 month gap year turned into 18 months of absolute bliss (that was the 1st round the world trip). The second trip is still in progress with an approximate time of 2 years 6 months and 21 days and counting. How have I made this all possible you ask? Well, this is all thanks to the wonder world of not only volunteering but couch surfing and cash in hand jobs, to say the least. It’s not only about working but introducing yourself to other cultures, different ways of life and people, which is something beautiful and worth trying at least once in your life. Would you like to know what it would feel like living, working and sharing with others by simply trading, (offering someone something in exchange for something else)? In this case I volunteered all around the world in exchange for food and accommodation. Sometimes I received other incentives such as pocket money).

Volunteering: How It Works

Depending on where you’re travelling to and if you’re not on a time limit you could always look around in the place you are choosing to stay at. Some hostels, hotels or even BnBs advertise in their properties if they have any job/volunteer vacancies available or you could always walk around and speak to locals.

Another option is volunteer in a place and ask your hosts if they know of anyone that might have cash work available e.g.: gardening, babysitting, maintenance work, animal care and so on, the possibilities are endless based on what kind of travelling you are doing.

There are various websites online where you can sign up for example: Woofing, Work Away, Helpx just to name a few but like I said there are many just google it, but all you need to do is research which one will benefit you the best, based on where you want to travel to and what things you would like to do. Each website will require a payment to create an account but it will roughly cost between $20 - $40 US for a year or two, this is depending on what kind of profile you create. Set up your profile with up to date pictures and information about yourself and what kind of work you can do, your likes and dislikes, and a basic biography on yourself.

Although it is free to research places and jobs, you will usually have to pay a one-time registration fee to contact the hosts.

Once you know where you’re going all you need to do is type in the city or town and a list of volunteer work will pop up in the desired location. Read through them save the ones you like. Then, when you have a few in your favorite list, message the ones that you would like to volunteer at. Note: sometimes host may not respond quick or they might not have availability so try to message a couple of places, that way you have options. Tell the host what jobs you can do, how long you require to stay and ask if there is any other information you may need e.g.: how to get there, type of accommodation etc. that's it! You’re well on your way to becoming part of a worldwide community.

Note: All volunteer places are different: They will specify the hours they require, generally it’s between 20 to 25 hours of work a week in return for board and lodging, but if it is more they will let you know. Some places offer 3 meals a day, some only offer one, just read all through their profiles so you know if it is something you might like. It is a referral based program: once you have volunteered, you write a review based on your experience and so does the host. That is how other host/volunteers determine what kind of person you are and helps them decide if they need your assistance. TIP: If you do have a bad experience the best way is to not write anything at all or keep it professional as it could backfire and tarnish your profile, and affect your chances on getting accepted to other places.

Live like a Local

This is a great way to meet new people, help others and feel like your contributing to the community. The best part about it you get to experience first-hand what is like to live like a local, and explore areas you may not have been able to otherwise. I was lucky enough for some hosts to take me to their local hotspots and I was able to discover and learn new things about their cultures, history, and traditions.

I have accomplished things I had never done before from milking goats, assisting with construction and buildings, gardening and landscaping, looking after animals big and small from pigs, dogs , goats and even elephants. I have left my footprint all over this place we call home and that, to me, is one of the greatest gifts of all, knowing that I have helped people from all walks of life while doing the thing that I love most. TRAVELLING!

It feels amazing being a part of a community in more ways than one. You walk away with a sense of accomplishment knowing that you have left a piece of yourself all over the world.

Originally written by Tahnee Shanks via