Thursday, 8 September 2011 8:22 AM
You might have dreamt of travelling around the world, taking in new sights and experiencing new cultures. But something that will make your time more rewarding is to volunteer for a charity during your expedition.
Being able to give back to those who are less fortunate than you is sure to be an enjoyable experience – and one that you'll remember for a lifetime!
There are plenty of opportunities to do volunteer work abroad as part of your adventure, whether you've thought about helping communities build new homes, want to protect wildlife or are keen to teach children how to speak English.
Giving your help and assistance will surely be appreciated wherever you go and especially by the charity you choose to represent.
It is also one of the best ways to enjoy a holiday abroad, as you can immerse yourself in foreign cultures and find out what life is like for small communities.
As you'll be working and living in close quarters with locals, you'll not only be able to help them, but it is also a great opportunity to build a rapport with them. You'll struggle to find a better chance to get so involved with another culture and way of life.
This is sure to be one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of your adventure, whether you decide to stay in the area after your volunteering project has finished or you continue your travels elsewhere.
If you are considering becoming a volunteer, there are many options for you to choose from. Sports fans could get involved with coaching children who share your passion for their favourite pastime, whether it is teaching football in Argentina or surfing in Bali.
Or you could put your efforts into conservation initiatives, such as protecting Costa Rica's ecology or South Africa's marine life.
Wildlife enthusiasts are bound to love an opportunity to get close to some of the world's most endangered species and you could help creatures on the Galapagos Islands, monitor great white sharks in South Africa or encourage turtle breeding in Central America.
You could also have close encounters with big cats such as cheetahs and lions if you take part in programmes in Africa – a rare opportunity that your friends are sure to be in awe of!
Many people who choose to head overseas to assist others opt to volunteer with children by helping out in orphanages, looking after those who are ill or teaching them English and other useful skills.
Working with youngsters is popular as projects of this kind are available in most places around the world, so you are most likely to find one in the destination you want to go to.
This means that you can pick a project after you have chosen where you would like to visit first. People who have been dreaming of heading abroad for a long time may appreciate this flexibility as you might already have a location in mind.
Perhaps working in India has been your ambition, or maybe you want to see the sights of Africa; you're sure to find a voluntary project that you will enjoy once you have picked where you would like to be.
But make sure you think about what you want to do after you finish volunteering because you might be tempted to stay on. After finding it so rewarding to assist others, you could choose to put your other travel plans on hold and continue helping those who need it most.