Volunteering abroad with your best friend is the single greatest decision you can make this year. As we celebrate International Day of Friendship, why not grab your bestie and embark on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure? Pack away the guide books for a predictable Eurotrip and spend time, with one of the people you care about most in the world, caring for others. Find a project or cause you’re both passionate about, a locale you can both agree on, grab your backpacks and passports, and hit the road!
Your friendship will be stronger for it and you’ll both get to make new friends and wonderful memories together, while helping communities in need around the world. Maybe it can bring you and your bestie back together if work, school, or other circumstances have pushed you apart or lead you to live in different cities. Take that girls (or bros) trip to the next level!
Encourage sitting down with your BFF to read reviews and alumni interviews, and find a program that fulfills both of your goals and needs; bonus points if you find one with a friend discount. Here are a few reasons we think you should grab your bestie and volunteer abroad:
Learn New Things About Yourself - And Your Best Friend
When is the last time you learned something new about yourself? What about your best friend? You’ve likely known this person for awhile now and can probably easily rattle off a list of his or her favorite movies, snacks, place to buy jeans, or their latest crush. But when was the last time you were surprised at their generous heart or saw with your own eyes the way they selflessly interacted with someone they had never met? How do you think your bestie will react when they are placed in a completely new environment, likely in a developing country where they don’t speak the same language?
Stop imagining what it would be like to volunteer abroad with your best friend and start looking for a project to pursue together! Check out community development or renewable energy projects to learn something new about your best friend and to also learn a new skill.
When planning for your adventure, you and your bestie might decide to head to a specific country, Thailand, or volunteer for a cause that is close to your hearts, like animal welfare. Wherever you go and whatever cause you choose to support, remember to keep your eyes and ears out for opportunities to learn something new about your friend, and yourself!
Someone Else Will Remember The Details You Forget
We all know the one question you should ask your well traveled friends. But the question most commonly asked when someone returns from time abroad is - how was your trip? If you volunteer abroad with your bestie, from supporting eco-tourism projects to small business development, you’re bound to forget a few details. That’s just one of the benefits of having your bestie close by! What was the name of the woman who helped you learn vocabulary words related to your project? What were some of the wildest things you saw for sale in the weekly market? How did you handle the adjustment to such a different way of life?
While the details of your experience may be fresh in your mind immediately after your trip and you will say to yourself, how could I ever forget the details of something so impactful; believe us, the details will fade. That’s where your bestie comes in! When you can’t remember a specific detail or how a story ended, he or she will be there to pick up where you left off - and vice versa. It’s also an opportunity for you to share a different side of a story or to remember an event from a different perspective. What better way to rehash your time abroad than with someone who knows you almost better than you know yourself!
Bring Half As Many Toiletries
Deciding what to pack for your volunteer abroad experience is no easy feat. You will likely be able to bring no more than two suitcases, which can start to feel small as you go through your list of essentials: clothes, appropriate shoes, electronics, and gifts for your host family, new friends, and colleagues. Lucky for you, volunteering abroad with your bestie means you can free up some precious suitcase real estate by splitting who brings what for toiletry items. Bulky tubes of toothpaste and unwieldy bottles of body wash are no match for best friends traveling together!
After you and your bestie make the difficult and exciting decision of deciding where to volunteer together, then you can decide who will pack what essentials. While you won’t be freeing up enough room to make a huge difference, splitting the toiletries between yourselves will give you the space to pack another gift for a friend you haven’t yet met and to make room for your journal so you can write down the details of your adventure together.
Share Experiences - Not Just Tan Lines!
As consumers, and especially millennials, increasingly seek out experiences rather than simply buying more stuff, we should also anticipate a wave of consumers seeking out more meaningful experiences. Jump on the do-good bandwagon now and choose a volunteer abroad adventure to share in with your closest pal!
How can you celebrate the person in your life who has arguably taught you the most about relationships? Your best friend is the one who has shown you what it means to be there for someone when they’re in a time of need and also how to celebrate all the joys, big and small, that you’ve encountered. When you volunteer abroad together, you will take this dimension of your relationship to the next level as you expand what it means to be a friend in the global sense of the word.
Best friends spend an inordinate amount of time together enjoying the present, remembering the past, and dreaming about the future. When you and your best friend look back at your friendship in 30 years, how do you want to remember it? Will it be enough to laugh about nights out at the bar or lounging poolside at a hotel? Wouldn’t it be incredible to look back and know that the strength of your friendship helped support a community or cause, and made a difference not only in your life but in someone else’s?
Volunteering abroad isn’t a zero-sum game when it comes to what you do with your best-friend. It’s an add-on to the wild and wonderful dynamic of your friendship, and can only bring you closer together!
What’s great about sharing a volunteer abroad experience with your bestie is that all durations will be impactful. Whether you can spare one to two weeks or one to two months, the depth of your friendship will only grow as you learn about yourself and your friend while deepening your understanding of the global community and how can make the world a better place.
For International Day of Friendship, isn’t it time you took your friendship international?