Are you considering a one-of-a-kind trip abroad — perhaps to volunteer for an amazing cause — but traveling alone is outside your comfort zone? Take a deep breath…and relax. Solo travel is easier and safer than you think, and it can be a profound experience!
Too often, women are discouraged from traveling solo by well-meaning friends or worried family members. It’s a normal reaction, but their concern can enhance your anxiety — especially if this is your first trip abroad on your own. Worse, it can be the reason for canceling an extraordinary and life-changing adventure. My advice? Do your research, stay connected, and be realistic and smart about choosing your destination.
Benefits of Solo Travel
If you’re planning a trip abroad — whether it’s for a gap year, a semester overseas, or even just a week or two — and you’re worried you might get lonely, consider the benefits of traveling solo before coaxing someone into joining you: for starters, you won’t have to let someone else’s bucket list hold you back. You can plan the trip you want, visit all the sites you want, take part in the volunteer program you want, all without having to wait for others or sacrifice any of your plans for theirs.
Other benefits of traveling solo? You decide when you want to sightsee or shop. You can seize the day with a hike, linger in a museum, or spend a decadent afternoon reading at a beach. Be adventurous! Go snorkeling or zip lining with a local tour group. Try new cafes and restaurants. Dinner for one may be disconcerting the first night, but you’ll soon learn to relax, enjoy the food, and be at peace. And that’s just the time you’ll spend outside of volunteering for a cause that’s near and dear to your heart!
Traveling solo can also give you the opportunity to meet wonderful new people — whether they’re friendly locals or fellow travelers. If you’re worried about meeting the wrong people (really that’s the biggest fear our friends and family have when we travel alone), read on to see how volunteering or interning abroad with the right organization can open you up to adventure, build lifelong friendships, and give you invaluable support to ensure you can make the most of your solo trip!
Volunteering Solo with International Organizations
Volunteering or interning abroad with the right organization can alleviate so many of your concerns as a solo female traveler. Safety is often a major concern for those planning solo trips, so finding an organization that has robust volunteer safety practices in place is critical. International Volunteer HQ is a great example: with a focus on safety before and during your volunteer abroad program, online safety training, onsite Risk Management Policy, emergency response, and lots of other resources, IVHQ is here to ensure a safe and fun trip abroad.
As well, Maximo Nivel — a leader in international education, study abroad, and travel — will work with you to arrange airport pickup, housing, meals, embassy relations, and emergency plans. They also constantly monitor their in-field conditions to ensure you’re safe and contributing to a meaningful project at each of their Latin American program locations.
Love Volunteers is another great example: this organization excels at providing transparent and cost-effective volunteer and intern opportunities and places travelers on programs that have been fully audited for safety, social responsibility, and impact. Love Volunteers also assigns a staff member to be your point of contact throughout your placement, so if at any time you need further assistance, it’s available. If you start your journey with trusted organizations like these, you can travel the world on your own and with confidence.
Agape Volunteers is another awesome charity to check out. Based in the UK, Agape Volunteers was founded by graduates from Oxford University and King’s College London. They’re among the most affordable volunteering options in Africa and are unique in that they offer free comprehensive travel insurance and don’t charge a separate registration fee. They’re really great for those seeking adventure into addition to volunteering since Agape organizes free weekend side-trips such as city tours and also additional adventure trips such as climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Check out the 13 amazing and low-cost volunteer projects here.
Solo travel can be an amazing adventure if you choose your destination wisely, learn about local customs, trust your intuition, and be aware of your surroundings. If you want to travel with an organization that offers round-the-clock security, consider Global Vision International. GVI has more than 200 trained staff members supporting 150 different volunteer projects in 10 countries worldwide. With its robust infrastructure, GVI offers pre-departure advice, documents outlining travel and safety, airport pickup, local orientation, housing arrangements, and a 24-hour emergency phone line. Bottom line: you have a safety net.
As a solo traveler, you can decide how much freedom you want or need. By setting your own agenda, you can enroll in classes and learn new skills, take salsa dancing lessons, try your hand at cooking local dishes, and even tackle a foreign language.
Are you ready for an amazing solo travel experience? Take a look at some of the opportunities below and let’s get started!