So you’ve been sitting at your desk all week daydreaming about what it would be like to throw Western conventionalities into the trash, pack up, and spend your life volunteering abroad. You need a change of scenery and an outlet for your passion to help others and are seriously considering abandoning all your responsibilities to make it happen. But before you throw caution to the wind, realize that rare is the person who can afford the costs and time commitments required to live the long-term volunteering dream. A more logical option that accommodates the schedules and demands of altruistic folks like you save the day in the form of 1-2 week short-term volunteer trips abroad!
Why Volunteer Abroad for 1-2 weeks?
It’s extremely discouraging and vexing when people tell you only long-term volunteering can give you the chance to make a real impact. Before you kindly show them the door, here are some saucy little reasons that stand up in the name of 1-2 week volunteer programs abroad.
Maybe you’ve never really been abroad (unless you count that one college spring break resort in Cancun…) and you’re super nervy about going off the beaten path. Or maybe you’re sitting on a couple weeks of vacation time or have an upcoming school break you were about to spend binge watching Grey’s Anatomy for a third time. Instead, give a look to 1-2 week volunteer programs. They are the perfect way to get your feet wet and set you up for success in future travels and volunteering endeavors and provide an alternative outlet for such precious time off.
The struggle is real when it comes to jetlag. So don’t set yourself up for failure and travel all the way across the world just to sleep through half of your volunteer program abroad. Ideal locations for volunteering abroad for 1-2 weeks are close enough that the time difference won’t get the best of you, but far enough that you get some much need breathing room.
Mexico. Mexico has a genuine need for volunteers in just about every capacity you can think of, making it the perfect place for a short-term volunteer program abroad. No matter how long you can lend a helping hand, it will not go unappreciated. Not to mention you get to take advantage of palm-fringed, beautiful beaches as well as a fiesta of flavors with every meal.
Costa Rica. Costa Rica is great location for first-time meaningful travelers to experience volunteering abroad. Because it is such a progressive nation and popular destination, there are tons of opportunities to volunteer abroad in Costa Rica doing a wide range of short-term work. Many volunteer programs in Costa Rica are in environmentally oriented areas. Costa Rica is one of the most sustainable countries on earth thanks to all the upkeep from a hard working, committed, and revolving volunteer force!
Belize. For such a tiny place, Belize packs a big punch. Few countries fill so much fun into such a small area, making Belize a great all-in-one destination not only for scenery and adventure, but also for opportunities to contribute something meaningful during a short-term stay. After you spend a week or two volunteering abroad in Belize, you’re sure to leave a part of yourself behind to live forever in this beautiful country.
Types of 1-2 Week Volunteer Abroad Programs
There are countless projects out there that could use an extra set of hands for a couple weeks. Check out some of the most popular 1-2 week volunteer abroad programs:
Construction. You don’t need to be a licensed contractor to join in on construction or building volunteer project abroad. Even if you only don the hard hat for a week or two, these projects make a physical impact in a community that will last for years to come. Not to mention the tangible sense of accomplishment you will reap from a hard day’s work.
Sustainability. When you lend a hand on a sustainability project, you will undoubtedly be leaving the place, better than you found it. Whether it’s helping dig an irrigation system so a farmer can grow crops or bringing light to a home so a child can do homework after nightfall, much of the world still lacks essentials, like electricity and clean water, so sustainability volunteer projects can literally change lives overnight.
Conservation. Wildlife and environmental conservation is one of the most popular areas for volunteering abroad. There are a huge amount of conservation volunteer opportunities out there for compassionate volunteers who strive to preserve the world’s ecological diversity, no matter how much time they have to give. So get on the ground with other volunteers continuously being placed volunteers all over the globe to ensure the preservation and conservation of the world’s future.
GoAbroad’s Inside Scoop
Get your feet wet. Instead of holding a funeral for your savings account and running full speed and cannonballing into a lengthy volunteer commitment, 1-2 week volunteer programs abroad allow you to start by dipping your toe in and testing the waters. Then eventually you’ll be wading around a little. And before you know it you’ll be fully immersed!
Hit the ground running. You’ve got only a week or two to complete a project, get into the flow of things, and hit all the tourist sites. It can feel rushed, and you may need to plan some debrief time for yourself when you return home. And just when you are beginning to feel at home where you are, you’re suddenly preparing yourself for some seriously heart-wrenching goodbyes.
Souvenirs. When you return from your 1-2 week volunteer program abroad you will have more than a new passport stamp, killer tan, and touristy trinkets to show for your time abroad. Short-term volunteer programs gift you with intangible souvenirs that will always be a reminder of that time you took a leap of faith (and lived!).
No matter what the haters say, you can absolutely have a meaningful and effective volunteer experience in a week or two. Not only will you learn to live outside your comfort zone, this kind of meaningful travel will impart a level of cultural insight that is not possible for tourists to achieve and creates an impact that will last once you leave.