Why I Took The Plunge And Volunteered Solo
Why I travel solo…
Traveling solo allows me to learn more about myself and what I am capable of. Some people think traveling solo is the boring option but I think if you are capable of being happy traveling by yourself, you will be happy for life! Not only will you never have to depend on others to make you content but when you travel solo you also give yourself the chance to pursue what you want, to step out of your comfort zone and meet other people from all sorts of walks of life.
Volunteering is the perfect option for a solo traveler
This was my first time volunteering abroad. I felt that this experience would challenge me and let me positively help others while exploring and meeting new people. I am always curious about how other people live. The best way to learn to become more accepting and understanding of other cultures is to experience different lifestyles and put myself in their shoes. I chose to volunteer in Lovina specifically because it’s far from the central crowd in Bali and I wanted an immersive insight into village life.
I had no troubles traveling and volunteering solo, the IVHQ team were really helpful. The website has all the steps that you need to complete before you start to prepare you for your trip. Also, the online training was really helpful and all information that I needed to know about Bali was in the guidebook. Whenever I had a question or concern, the team were easy to communicate with and they made everything easy. Having that extra level of support puts your mind at ease when you set off and lets you travel with confidence.
My advice to other females traveling solo…
As long as you know you will be safe and be street smart, there is no harm in traveling by yourself and there is nothing to worry about. Keep in mind things like knowing where you are staying and not going out late at night by yourself. The more you travel solo, the easier it gets and you learn how to deal with any situations that do arise, all while becoming more independent.
The program details…
The location is nearly three hours drive from the airport. Depending on the traffic, sometimes it can take more; however, I knew it would be worth the extra effort because I wanted to experience rural Balinese life. I stayed in Ubud for one full day to rest before heading to Lovina then the local team arranged transport to Lovina and I arrived safely at the accommodation one day before the program started.
From the moment the local team picked me up at the airport, I was struck by how amazing and friendly they were. The accommodation was very comfortable. The room, of course, wasn’t the same as what I am used to, but it was clean and had everything I needed. After all, I volunteered abroad and chose Lovina because I wanted to grow as a person and experience a life different to mine and letting go of those comforts means you learn and become stronger.
Meeting volunteers from all around the world and getting to spend time with them every day is a core part of the volunteer experience. Everyone was incredibly friendly and we all respected our differences. I guess that is because we all came for the same purpose and were bound by our common desire to help and learn. But at first, it was slightly difficult to be living in a house with people I had never met before. It took time for all of us to adjust but I tried my best to take this opportunity to learn. I naturally get along with people easily but you have to break the barriers and try to start a conversation yourself. I would advise volunteers to be accepting and to not judge anyone before getting to know them. I would also suggest they be prepared and read more about the culture of the destination that they are visiting to be responsible and aware.
On the first day, we learned about Bali’s culture. We went on a tour around Lovina, walking and discovering the village. I just loved the simplicity of life and peacefulness in this village. We also received guidance on how to lead our projects and prepare for our lessons beforehand. I loved that the local team supported us to teach in our own way and bring our skills to the classroom. We were able to include a lot of activities, games, and songs with the kids, which made learning and teaching fun. The kids were very polite and excited to learn.
Four things you need to do to maximize your impact while volunteering in Lovina…
- Be accepting
- Be ready to experience something new
- Understand the culture
- Be friendly
The best thing to do before volunteering abroad is to understand that you may not have what you are used to at home and you might not be as comfortable as you feel in your home but that is one of the biggest parts of your experience - you are putting yourself in others shoes, letting go of your ego and experiencing something different. When you look back to this experience, you will be proud of yourself and what you achieved as a volunteer.