(Note: This article was written last February 2015, we’re slowly changing our lifestyle from monkey backpackers to luxury travelers after we decided to become full time travel bloggers in 2015 and at the same time saving money for our future Yoga and Ayurveda resort. Yipee!)
In this article, I will explain here why volunteering is not the best way to travel the world long-term.
Before you pack your bags and leave for an indefinite time to travel the world, think about how you see yourself when you grow older. Of course, I know HAPPY. But seriously, what will happen next, after travelling?
This is what most of our parents and friends are being worried about, oh she has a great job but she decided to quit so she doesn’t have a future anymore! She’ll be well-traveled but poor and unstable – don’t forget to buy a Travel Insurance before pursuing your traveling lifestyle!
Well, after being on the road since April 2013, Jonathan and I discovered a great way to build up our future while travelling. So it’s not just like we are just wasting our lives and not thinking about the future – we are building a SUSTAINABLE TRAVELLING LIFESTYLE WHILE LIVING OUR LIFE TO THE FULLEST.
I want to talk about the difference between Volunteering and the Sustainable travelling lifestyle and why volunteering is great for a definite time but not for your future life goals (aside from the happiness and fulfillment it gives you!)
As I’ve mentioned in another article, before you go on a volunteering travelling journey – ask yourself why you want to do it.
To change the world? Then volunteer and teach children.
To learn new skills? Then volunteer in different organic farms or cottage industries.
To meet new people? Then volunteer in a hostel, restaurant or a bar.
But most of you must agree that long term travelers like to volunteer to save money while travelling because we already know that if you want to give your awesome energy and time for something you should NEVER PAY those exorbitant volunteering fees (you can donate if you want) but when you volunteer – it should always be an exchange deal where they will give you ACCOMMODATION & FOOD, sometimes they might even give you tours, transportation or allowance.
I’m not against volunteering as Jon and I have volunteered a lot while backpacking and we still do it from time to time, but if you’re only dependent on volunteering while backpacking then that’s something different- unless you’re only planning to travel for several months or 1 year and you plan to get back to your corporate life, then this is probably your best option during your journey.
Okay, just imagine yourself when you’re 50 years old, of course you have amazing stories to share to the younger generation about where you went during your 20s… but can you still imagine yourself working in a hostel, cleaning a dorm room for free in exchange for your accommodation and food?
Volunteering is great experience, you will learn skills, you will meet people, it can sustain your short term travel lifestyle, but you will never earn a lot of money and you will never sustain it long term (unless you work for Volunteering Organization where they pay you allowance and provide you with everything). How about your future?
SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL LIFESTYLE
To be honest, I’ve learned this while on the road, I didn’t know that this was even possible before. I grew up in the Philippines and what I knew was that those Filipinos who do go abroad just work as OFW’s, (Expat as westerners say) but NO, there are a lot of ways for us to travel around the world, living your life to the fullest and still preparing for your future when you finally decide to settle down.
When I quit my job, my parents’ greatest frustration and thoughts were like: “What happened to your ambition? What happened to your dreams? I thought you want to be rich and successful but how will it happen now that you quit your stable, corporate job? YOU ARE RUINING YOUR LIFE!”
I didn’t know how to defend my choices, all I knew at that time was that I wanted FREEDOM and to find TRUE HAPPINESS. So, before you embark to your journey – tell your parents and friends about THE SUSTAINABLE TRAVEL LIFESTYLE that you want to build. The lifestyle that you’re building if you want to make travelling the world your long term goal and at the same time build a future for yourself.
So, what is a Sustainable Travel Lifestyle? It comes from the word “sustain” which means to keep things going, so travel wherever you want, whenever you want and for as long as you want! How will you do this? Before embarking on a journey then you must invest in your skills or certifications, so you can work whenever and wherever you want.
Okay, here’s our experience. Westerners already know that when they leave their country they can teach English in any country where it is not the first language – they can teach all over the world, some do it for a career and stay in the same place for years, some do it just for fun (backpackers working for a month) but Jonathan and I do it as our main source of income and for our FUTURE but we still move around. Jonathan already left the UK armed with a TEFL certificate while I only learned about it when we already started dating in Vietnam – oh YES, we FILIPINOs CAN TEACH ENGLISH ABROAD TOO! For the Filipino visa experience, here’s my article. If you decide to work then you have to apply for business visa or work visa.
Before embarking on this big backpacking trip around the world, Jonathan and I already talked about our future life and how we eventually want to go back and settle down in the Philippines! We plan to build our Yoga and Wellness Resort and at the same time teach children. How would we do this? We needed to invest in the skills required to run a Yoga and Wellness Resort. Jonathan already has an Architectural background so he can design and build it, my background is Managerial so I will do those parts of our future resort but how can we do it if we don’t have experience and savings?
We then decided to invest some of our savings from Teaching in Vietnam into our Yoga Teacher’s certification course and Ayurveda Massage Therapy course in India. After studying and travelling around India, we left the country armed with our NEW CERTIFICATIONS AND SKILLS that can let us travel the world and save up for our FUTURE YOGA and AYURVEDA RESORT . Here’s the article on how we manage our finances while travelling (we don’t have credit cards!)
So now, while backpacking around South America – we teach English, teach Yoga and practice Ayurveda Massage Therapy. It supports our daily lifestyle, it funds our big trips and even some gadgets and we still have money saved up for our FUTURE plans.
You don’t necessary have to be in your early 20s to do this, we’ve met Sustainable Travellers who quit their job at the AGE of 37 to start a new life on the road. So don’t think that when you quit your stable corporate job at 32 then you’re ruining your future because the SUSTAINABLE travel Lifestyle is the best way for you to explore the world, it’s a not a sabbatical leave from work where you travel for a year then you have to get back into a cubicle. THIS IS A LIFESTYLE!
There are different practical jobs you can do – TEFL teacher, Massage Therapist, Yoga Teacher, Jewelry Maker and a lot more. However, if you already have skills and you know how the internet world works then try out professional blogging, programming or some other digital nomad work. It may not be easy to earn money at the beginning but you will get there… but remember CHOOSE SOMETHING THAT YOU’LL ENJOY DOING IN THE FUTURE AND NOT JUST SOMETHING THAT PAYS!
Alright, let’s start a new community of people and change the old image of backpackers who don’t seem to think or care about their future, because we are the new wave of backpackers who ARE thinking about the future and at the same time we are LIVING OUR LIVES to the FULLEST!
PS Don’t forget to ask your parents read this! HA! I’m not saying that you’re not living your life to the fullest if you decide to stick with your corporate job, just do what makes you happy! My corporate job taught me a lot of lessons in life but I wasn’t happy. So, it’s always your choice.
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