You don’t have to be “religious” in any way to appreciate the benefits of volunteering for the soul. Volunteer travel is just one of the way you can help others while traveling. Volunteer travel will change your life and those of others. Nothing feels better or brings instant joy to the heart than showing up fully for someone who is hurting. There is no doubt that the very best of us comes out in times of need. Plus we get to shine the love and light that is truly our own. Besides, these days a smiling face and an open heart is a special gift to anyone in need.
The Benefits of Volunteer Traveling
Volunteering can be a challenging experience you risk opening up deeply in a way that might shock you. Most of us walk through life with a shield up protecting us from the onslaught of fear-based media, constant bad news on TV, and useless gossip in our magazines. But when you are faced with a child who is terribly ill and hungry – who is smiling and finding happiness even in the most adverse conditions – how can your heart not crack open for that little being?
When we feel deep sorrow and pain in our souls for someone who is suffering we have an overwhelming desire to relieve that suffering. That is the definition of compassion. In our everyday society, finding compassion is difficult when we have been spending most of our time cultivating a negative or sardonic viewpoint. It’s imperative for us to find ways to counteract those feelings so that we don’t become angry, cranky people.
Gandhi once said: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” And I agree, when you let go of your armor you delve into who you are spiritually. To be able to effectively help someone, you must show up 100% without judgment. Be ready to give what they need, not what you feel is best for them according to your belief system. That’s why I consider volunteering to be unconditional love in action. To be in service is to let your ego go and allow the spirit to work through you for the benefit of the other person.
This summer, think about putting your vacation time towards helping other! But remember that volunteer travel is a risky business! You might come home realizing that you have been living a lie and have to change your whole personal dream. Or you might receive confirmation that your life is exactly where it needs to be. In the end, you’ll have a stronger sense of who you are in the world. It will also help you to realize your purpose and direction – and that is a very powerful gift!
Every year a company, created by one of my good friends, called Journeys of the Spirit, runs a couple of volunteer trips. You can find more information here. If you’ve never experienced this type of travel – perhaps this is the time. Rest assured that you will receive much more than you can possibly give.
A couple of other companies that offer these types of volunteer travel are i-to-i and Cross Cultural Solutions Another option is attending the Appalachian Trail Conference, USA. At over 2,000 miles long, the Appalachian Trail is the classic trail in the Eastern US and home to almost 2,000 endangered or threatened species. Volunteers help year-round with trail building and maintenance in return for food and (usually very basic) accommodations. Whatever you choose, you won’t return the same person!