volunteer in an orphanage

Everybody has their own reasons for choosing to volunteer abroad. Some people want to travel to exotic locations. Others want to learn a new language. Or there are those who simply want to spend their time doing work that benefits people in need. If you are considering volunteering abroad, you will no doubt have your own reasons for wanting to make the commitment. The truth is, there are countless benefits of volunteering abroad, and countless reasons why you should choose to do it.

This article attempts to break down some of the biggest benefits to volunteering abroad, which is to say the reasons why people choose to participate in volunteer projects abroad. You are probably wondering what your particular role is – what it is that you can give, and what it is that you will gain. After reading through these top ten points, you will have a clearer understanding of why volunteer abroad is a worthwhile life choice. Why do you want to volunteer abroad?

Here are some of the biggest reasons why you should volunteer abroad:

1. You experience a different culture

Volunteer abroad gives you the opportunity to live life outside of your comfort zone by experiencing a culture different from what you are used to. It’s important to be able to see the world through different perspectives and cultivate an open mind, which is why travelling abroad, and especially living abroad, is such an important thing to do. When you volunteer abroad, you observe and participate in alternative lifestyles, you meet people that have grown up differently from you, and you exchange ideas, skills, and so much more.

2. You are exposed to new languages

Volunteering abroad is the perfect way to learn a new language, because you are exposed to it every single day. You will have the opportunity to interact with locals and oftentimes live with a host family, which will force you to have to communicate using their language. Many volunteer programs also include an orientation period, which includes intensive language training for that respective country.

3. You are helping others

Volunteering abroad means giving your time and energy to help someone else in need. Most volunteer organizations take place in developing or third world countries, which means there is limitless work that needs to be done. When you volunteer, you are agreeing to use your special set of skills to help improve conditions – without expecting anything in return. Today, many young people in the western world feel the desire to do more meaningful work, which is why volunteering abroad has become such a popular choice.

4. You gain new skills:

Whether you are teaching English to young children, working in a monastery, or helping to rebuild houses, you will come back from your volunteer experience with a whole new set of skills. Most volunteer projects do not require any previous experience, so you will have the opportunity to learn by doing, and to be taught by locals and those more experienced. Volunteering abroad often means you’ll be getting to do work that you never thought you’d be doing, which means you gain new skills that you never thought you’d have.

5. You become more marketable

With all the new skills and experiences you will have gained from volunteering abroad, you become a much more desirable and unique candidate in the job market. Your resume will stand out from others because you’ll be able to say you did meaningful work in a foreign country. Knowing another language is also always beneficial when applying for jobs.

6. You become a more interesting person

It is not surprising that people are most drawn to those who have taken a more unconventional path. When you volunteer abroad, you are essentially deviating from the norm. You are choosing to do something that most people do not do, even with the rise in popularity of volunteering abroad. This makes you a more interesting and attractive person in general, because you have unique experiences and perspectives to share with others.

7. You make lifelong friendships

During your time abroad, you’ll meet many other people, from all ages and backgrounds, who will become your friends. They may be locals, other volunteers, or just fellow travellers. When you are taken out of your comfort zone and placed in a foreign location, you tend to create unique and lasting bonds with those around you because they are experiencing the same mix of emotions as you. This is especially true when interacting with other volunteers – together you are sharing totally new experiences, learning things about yourself, and learning things about each other.

8. You get to travel

When you volunteer abroad, you are oftentimes not just spending your days working. You also have many opportunities to travel around the country. This can be in the form of shorter day trips to nearby destinations, or longer weekend excursions to faraway places. Most volunteers work 4-6 hours per day, which leaves the rest of the day free to explore. Weekends are usually completely free for travel.

9. You can explore a field you know little about

Volunteering abroad is the perfect opportunity to gain practical, hands-on experience in a field that you may know nothing or little about. You’ll be taught by knowledgeable individuals and end your volunteer experience feeling confident about a new subject. If there’s something you’ve always wanted to try doing, volunteering abroad is the perfect way to do it!

10. You are making a difference on both an individual level and a community level

The work you do as a volunteer will have a great impact on the people you interact with on a day-to-day basis, but also will impact the community in general. For instance, teaching English to children not only benefits the children, but also benefits the community because those children will take what they have learned back into the community.


There are countless reasons for volunteering abroad that extend far beyond this list. Some are personal, while some are more practical. Take some time to think – why do you want to volunteer abroad? Make your own list and compare with others.