Traveling solo can be a scary thought. Especially, if you have a hard time making friends. However, what are you going to do if you really want to travel and no one you know can go with you?
Something I did last year to remedy my situation was to volunteer at a sanctuary in South Africa. Going into it, I knew that most volunteers were solo travelers and we would be staying in a big group. This made it so much easier to make friends, plus I had a the chance to interact with animals at a reputable sanctuary.
If you’re in this predicament, you should volunteer at a sanctuary to get those solo travel nerves out of the way and get your feet wet. Here is a list of three websites that work with sanctuaries around the world.
Volunteer Southern Africa
VSA gives volunteers the opportunity to interact with some of the most endangered, dangerous, and adorable animals in Africa! But don’t worry as you will never be put in danger. VSA currently offers 9 programs where you can volunteer to work with lions, rhinos, marine life, and orphaned children. I can’t speak for all programs, but some programs will offer extra curricular activities outside the sanctuary, which will give you more of a sense of travel than otherwise being in one location the entire time.
Some of you may have heard about facilities posing as sanctuaries who raise cubs for canned hunting. You don’t have to worry about that with VSA. At one time they had such a sanctuary as a program, but got rid of them as soon as they found out about the facility’s actual doings. Rest assured you will be making the right choice volunteering for VSA.
Global Vision International
As where VSA covers only Southern Africa, GVI has partners globally. So, you can travel several parts of the world and help with all kinds of wildlife. GVI has been running since 1998, and offers not only volunteer programs but also educational, career development, and youth programs. They have won many awards for their work, and have had over 25,000 participants. I have a friend that has worked with GVI and done several of their programs. She absolutely loves them and has had great experiences.
One day, I intend on volunteering at a program in Asia through GVI. Maybe I’ll meet you there.
In my research for programs in the Amazon Rainforest, I ran into this gem. Global Teer is a UK registered non-charity that offers volunteer programs in Southeast Asia and Latin America, in particular Peru, my mother country. With the continued decrease of rainforests for farming land, these programs are an opportunity for you to help put a stop to the disappearance to the Earth’s “lungs” and it’s magnificent creatures.
Global Teer also works with travel agencies that can help you experience Lake Titicaca or Machu Picchu, for example if you’re in the Amazon program. You could kill two bucket list items with one trip. I hope you visit my homeland and enjoy it very much.
There you have three trustworthy volunteering websites that will help your solo travels go smoothly.
Some of you will see the price of certain programs and think why would you pay that much to work in a foreign country. The matter of the fact is, that it is not just work (from my experience minimal work), your payment should cover accommodations, food, and extra curricular activities. Ask yourself where else will you be able to have hands on experience with wildlife knowing first hand the great treatment of the animals. Your payment also goes back to the program to help keep the sanctuary running. I implore you to try a volunteer program and help raise awareness. Also, wouldn’t it be great to make your friends jealous for not going on a trip with you by posting a picture of yourself with Bailey the cheetah from Living with Big Cats (VSA).