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Sustainable Travel Lifestyle vs Volunteering

(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?

More TEFL country guides coming soon!

Sustainable Travel Lifestyle vs Volunteering
Photo by sanchez jalapeno CC BY-SA 2.0

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.

things to do in sacred valley peru - Two Monkeys Travel 14

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?


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.

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Photo by Philip McMasterCC BY-NC 2.0



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.

Sustainable Travel Lifestyle vs Volunteering
Photo by Philip McMaster CC BY-NC 2.0

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!)

Sustainable Travel Lifestyle vs Volunteering
Photo by /a>CC BY-ND 2.0

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 Travelers 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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Sustainable Travel Lifestyle vs Volunteering
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22 thoughts on “Sustainable Travel Lifestyle vs Volunteering

  1. Hi Kach, may I ask which course/program did you took at Agama Yoga and Shri Kali Ashram. Thank you in advance and God bless you and Jonathan! 🙂

  2. Kach and Jonathan, wow! I love your articles. Kach, do you have recommended websites to get certificates for teaching and practicing yoga? I’m currently in Middle East and my English boyfriend is in Africa. In future we want to be together and we want to earn while we travel.

    Thanks in advance

    1. Hello Jozelle, I studied in 2 different schools – 1 Agama Yoga in Thailand and another one is Shri Kali Ashram in Goa, India. Please note that teaching yoga won’t make you a lot of money that could sustain your traveling long term. It’s great if you love volunteering and just enhancing your yoga practice but if you want to travel non stop then you need to invest in other more skills aside from yoga.

  3. I admire you Ate Kach for being “masipag”. I love your determination. Thanks for inspiring many people. I hope that I can do that too. Will look forward on your blogs. Teach me please. Thank you. :*

    P.S I can’t add you on facebook ate. Please add me. Here’s my facebook name- Stef Vinalon. Thanky ate. You’re great!! :*

  4. Just read the whole article Kach! This piece is very inspiring. I feel like I needed this. I’ve been working so hard all my life well I’m just 28 hehe, I mean, working here in Saudi Arabia is hard. I don’t enjoy my life here. workplace, home, workplace, home lol that’s kinda boring. No outdoors, may have but twice a year only. I feel unhappy, incomplete. I can’t do those things that makes me happy. I’m all about nature, nature, and nature ^_^ ☺… I will make this article as my drive, to pursue things that makes me happy. Travelling! Lol ?.. God bless you Kach, and Jonathan.. Someday I’m going to have a gwapong pag-ibig too just like you, doing things together..

  5. Ouah ! Thank you for this article, I needed to read that.

    I am planning to travel all around Asia while volounteering, and I don’t want to forget my future in the same time. I am french, and I can have debates and conversations in english but I am not enough confident to teach to others that’s why I think volunteering is better for me now.
    I hope I can find a way to earn money and learn in the same time while travelling keep building my future (I am 27 ).
    Anyway, I just discover your blog and this article i a real boost for me !

    Keep going 🙂

  6. Hey guys! Love your articles. Right now I am gunning for a job as an online English teacher to save up for my TEFL certificate from myTEFL and to jumpstart my travels in Southeast Asia. I’m 24 and helping my brother run several of his businesses here in our city, but I know there’s so much more out there and I can’t wait to make the world my oyster! Thanks for continuously inspiring us dreamers to start doing. More power!

  7. Hi Kach,

    I love to read your articles. Made me think that i want to travel more. I even envy the places u have been travelled. But now, when i do travel half of my thoughts left behind, because i have a gorgeous 8 years old daughter. I always think how is she? Does she eat properly? Does she go to school? etc.. Those motherly questions. I know, u don’t have any ideas about these… (coz u are not yet a mother) 🙂 maybe u had friends who are mother as well, around the globe have same thoughts about mine, maybe they could help me out how to ease this feeling of guilt.

    God Bless and continue to inspire us! xoxo

  8. Your blog is just what I needed right now! I’m super happy to stumbled upon it while looking for information on job opportunities outside the Philippines.
    I’ve been working in Singapore for 8 years.. and yes, I’m no longer happy working in the office and want’s to travel. I can totally relate to your story.

    I’m 30 and still single. Do you think you can do all these if you’re not with Jon?
    I did travel alone to several countries but I feel that this is something different.

    I would love to hear your thoughts.

    Thank you! 🙂

    1. Hello Tania, thanks for this message! To be honest, I was actually the one who is looking for working opportunities for both of us, I inlfuenced Jonathan to do the yoga and massage certification and I initiated the travel blogging. I think Pinays are more madiskarte so even if Im not with Jonathan I know I can do this but having a life partner is awesome.

  9. I am chuckling… because I am an ‘ancient’ 52 year old who does volunteer exchanges around the world, including shoveling manure and washing dishes but also supporting nomadic women in exploring education and coaching healthy living at weight loss clinics in central America. Yes, I am always open to earning cash which stretches the transportation budget; but I’d like to point out that if it is in your heart to be of service in this world, then sustenance does find its way to you. There are NGOs looking for reliable volunteers to implement their programs and who are also willing to “fund” you. The key is awareness and commitment to serving… leading with the heart and traveling through life unfettered by those who’ve not experienced this lifestyle. There’s a whole subculture of us in the world and we come in a variety of ages. We support and encourage each other to continue. Birds of a feather…
    My message is to be aware of costs but don’t let it consume your energy. Travel on!

  10. Great advice. Volunteering definitely extends travel money if you do it right, but it’s not sustainable and some people pay so much money to do it too!

  11. Guys I think you should also write an article on how you do contraception as a traveling couple? Or how do you avoid the temptation of the opposite sex when traveling? 😀

    1. Hello Chuck, that’s actually a brilliant idea! I can write about – traveling jealousy etc and maybe on how to avoid not getting pregnant! hahaha! =) I will write that! Om and love!

  12. Great article Kach… sharing your life and also providing step by step advice for people to make their dreams come true (of travelling) while preparing for the future. 🙂 This the answer to the hanging question of What to do Next After Touring the World. A point to ponder upon before embarking the road.

    Just one thing I wanna well emphasize a little and that is just bcoz we sit in our cubicle then we are not living our lives to the fullest ( i know it’s nowhere in your article but in an introspect it is the another side of the coin:) It’s different for every person, their passions, their dreams and their purpose. As for me,I have hobbies and things I wanna do (one of them is to travel) but at the same time I love my job too (sitting in cubicle for 12 to 15 hours a day, IKR?!!!? Nerd Lifestyle) but I enjoy it putting the stress aside. So yeah that’s something I just wanna make a point at that work can be passion and play too.

    Till then from the other side of the coin,

    1. Hello Kea,

      Oops, I already noted above that if your corporate job makes you happy then do it – just do what makes you happy! I’m so glad you found a job that makes you enjoy life! After few years of looking, I found mine just NOW!.

      Thank you for your insight, reading comments like this makes me more motivated to write! Thank you Kea!!

      Om and love,


  13. Ate! love this article! Thank you so much for sharing this, I hope someday I can do the same. good luck 🙂

    1. Thank you so much for reading Raisa! Of course, you can do it! Start investing on your skills and certifications na! <3

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Written by Kach Umandap

Founder of Two Monkeys Travel Group. Since 2013, Kach has visited all the 7 continents (including Antarctica) and 151 countries using her Philippines Passport. In 2016, she bought a sailboat and went on sailing adventures with her two cats - Captain Ahab & Little Zissou in the Caribbean for 2 years. She now lives in Herceg Novi, Montenegro where she's enjoying her expat life and living on a gorgeous Stonehouse. She writes about her experiences traveling as a Filipina traveler with a PHL Passport. Also tips on backpacking trips, luxury hotel experiences, product reviews, sailing & adventure travel.