How to Be Motivated While Volunteering Abroad & Avoid Burnout

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We know that it’s not easy to travel abroad for a considerable period of time and give your valuable time & energy towards improving the lives of others. Stepping out of the comfort zone and trying to adapt to a new land needs a lot of mental effort while working for a volunteer program requires some physical workout as well.

Beyond your dedication and willingness to help the underprivileged ones in a different part of the world, you also need a considerable amount of motivation that’d help you keep going. A genuine act of altruism is only possible if the interest does not fade away with time. To make sure that your interest remains intact and you get to contribute significantly to your project, we thought to point out a few tips that might be helpful.

1# Before you sign up for the project, make sure to do your research well.

We always suggest you to travel to a destination of your choice and choose a project that aligns with your interests and preferences. Whether it’s about working for a wildlife conservation program in South Africa or teaching kids in Peru, Volunteering Solutions provides various kinds of projects and each of them has different requirements as well as varied ways of functioning. So it’s advisable that you do your research well, find out the kind of work you’ll have to engage on a daily basis, and feel free to get in touch with our Program Advisors to consult.

2# Design a daily schedule and follow it religiously.

Once you are there in your host country, our local coordinator will provide an elaborate Orientation Session, where you’ll be informed about the program in detail, as well as the basic ways of life in the country. Of course, it will take you a couple of days to understand the routine work for a day and figure out how you can make a difference. But as and when you get a knack of it, you can take the initiative to design a schedule for yourself, giving yourself ample space to do other things (like exploring the neighborhood, or going for weekend trips) apart from volunteer work. You can write about simple goals that you’d like to achieve while volunteering and eventually, you’ll realize that no matter how small your steps are, you are capable of actually making an impact.

teaching volunteer in Ghana

3# Try and make the project work exciting and enjoyable.

So you are working under a Teaching Program abroad and have to take classes with kids, every day. Who said you’ll have to read out chapters from the textbooks or solve calculations for them on the board? We, at Volunteering Solutions, never tell you about any specific way to work, for we believe that the volunteers have an amazing quality to innovate and implement newer methods of work, adding more values to every project which they’re a part of.

If you choose to teach, then make learning fun by including play-way methods. Turn the open grounds into your classroom, or bunk the classes and take the kids out for an excursion to the museum or zoo, maybe. That way, you’ll also get to explore a new place.

4# Make friends out of strangers!

While traveling abroad to volunteer, you will get the opportunity to meet a number of new people from different parts of the world. Your fellow volunteer mates, your project coordinators, the locals you’ll get to work with as well as your host family – you’ll meet so many people, spend quality time with them, know more about their lives and get to bond with them. What can be better than finding like-minded friends who’re so diverse from you?

Trust me when I say this, during my volunteering trip to Kenya, I met a bunch of amazing people and really bonded with these 2 girls, Valeria from Columbia and Grace, a local student who used to accompany us. Now when I look back, I feel happy to think of the ways in which they made my volunteering journey so memorable.

5# Make wise choices regarding your food and keep yourself well hydrated.

You are in a new country and trying the level of tolerance of your taste palates is understood. Having said that, you must always keep a check on your dietary habits while volunteering abroad. Take a good time to let your gastronomical senses get adapted to the local spices and flavors. It’s absolutely fine to hop out and binge on the local delicacies, but choose wisely the place you eat/drink and, of course, the amount you take in. Also, a very commonly given advice; drink a lot of water and make sure to keep yourself well hydrated.

6# Use your free time in the best possible manner!

Most of the project work will be over by evening and you can head back to the accommodation once you are done with the day’s work. This opens up the window to familiarizing yourself with the neighborhood. You can take a walk back to the accommodation, or head off to the local market. Taking a quiet walk not only calms down your mind but also provides complete rejuvenation. Choose an activity that will refresh your brain cells in order to avoid stress. Plan your evenings in a way so that you enjoy your destination but are not too fatigued for the next day’s work.

7# Make some plans for weekends, to explore the nearby places and tick thing off your travel bucket list 🙂

Usually, all the volunteer programs offered by Volunteering Solutions run for 5 days a week, leaving the weekends off to explore the country. You can also choose to explore the city where you are living, by visiting historical monuments and heritage sites to learn about the history and culture of that country. You can also head off to the nearby beach town or a hill station, to soak in some freshness and have fun before you get back to work on Monday.

8# Don’t rush into things. Go slow, be patient and enjoy your volunteering journey.

This may be coming down as the last step, but is one of the most effective and essential ways to avoid volunteer burnout. Enjoy every moment of your volunteer trip abroad and focus on the changes that you wish to bring about. Like I’ve mentioned before, it’s not an easy journey and you won’t see the results instantly, but believe in yourself and keep being strong as you take the steps of making a difference. In the end, it’ll all accumulate to weave a happy memory!

Volunteering Solutions has placed close to 15,000 volunteers so far under different projects and we understand the key for a meaningful & interesting volunteering trip. In case you need to know more about our programs, you can get in touch with our Program Advisors at [email protected] & they’ll guide you in every possible way.


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