Volunteering is one of the best ways to have an in-depth African experience – to stay in one place and immerse yourself in the culture of the community and learn about the wildlife around you. If you are a solo traveller, volunteering is an organised, safe, yet exciting way to experience Africa, have a life-changing experience, and meet new people.
So, what are the benefits of solo travel and volunteering? Here are our top five reasons why volunteering in Africa is perfect for solo travellers.
1. It’s safe
Africa has an unfair reputation for being a ‘scary’ place to travel to alone, particularly for women, and a mention that you’re thinking of going there may be met with horrified faces. Staying safe comes down to a bit of planning and being sensible, and this is where volunteering comes into its own.
Volunteering is the perfect way to travel solo to Africa, especially if you are a first-time Africa traveller, or even a first-time volunteer. Perhaps it’s your first solo adventure or the first time you’ve been away without your parents. It’s a big step, and can be a daunting thought. You know you want to go away by yourself, to do something you’ve always wanted to do, but you’re a bit nervous. All completely understandable reactions to something outside your comfort zone.
There are plenty of safe ways to travel solo, and volunteering is a great combination of adventure, culture and wildlife, where you will meet like-minded independent travellers, all working on a common project.
How to stay safe while travelling solo
On our projects you will always be met at a pre-arranged spot, usually the airport on your arrival, and then transferred to the programme location by vehicle, with a project coordinator or driver. There’s no need to organise night buses, find out train times or worry about finding a reliable driver with a roadworthy vehicle!
All our programmes have been vetted by us for their safety procedures, first aid training, access to emergency medical care and on-site supervision and training. You will be given a comprehensive pre-departure pack well in advance of travel, and we have people on hand 24 hours to answer any questions you might have before you leave home.
2. Complete freedom to do what you want
Whether you’re planning a gap year, career break or if you’re a bit older and this is the first ‘you’ adventure that you’ve had, consider the benefits of travelling on your own before being held back by the lack of a travel partner. You can plan the exact trip you want, take part in any programme you want, for however long suits you.
3. Meet new people
When you travel with a partner or friend, usually it means you make less of an effort to make new friends. Travelling solo and volunteering gives you the opportunity to meet wonderful new people, build lifelong friendships with fellow volunteers of all ages, backgrounds and nationalities, all the while knowing you are expanding your knowledge and contributing to a worthwhile programme. The unique benefits of volunteering abroad mean that your meals are shared (so no scary dinners for one), your accommodation is all organised for you, and you can choose to socialise or not as you want.
4. Try new things
Always had a secret yearning to scuba dive, ride horses on safari or visit rural communities? Now’s the chance to do all the things you’ve dreamed of, in your own time, exactly how you want to do it. Whether you want to camp, stay in a dormitory or in a volunteer house, volunteering on your own will allow you to choose the exact program that fits with what you want to do.
5. Build confidence and become empowered
If you’re a shy or anxious person, the thought of solo travel can be mind-numbingly terrifying, but travel is one of the best environments to work on your own sense of self, to become comfortable being with you. More than half of our volunteers are solo travellers, so you can guarantee there will be other people in the same boat, receptive to conversations and company.
Africa is a life-changing experience and a journey of discovery, and it would be a pity to miss it just because you don’t have anyone to travel with. You will receive a warm welcome almost universally wherever you travel to in Africa, and you’ll see why so many people fall in love with it and go back again and again.
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