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9 Benefits of Volunteering Abroad for You, Your Career & the World

What are the Benefits of Volunteering?

What you gain from volunteering abroad is hard to put into words for a number of reasons. Primarily, there are so many projects, places, and roles to pick from that no two people will have the same trip. Secondly, two volunteers at the same project, at the same time, would still have different experiences because they’d be bringing something of their own to it. Most of all though, the experience is simply beyond words.

Broadly speaking, the benefits of volunteering can be described in three groups: how it benefits you, your career, and the world. In this blog, we’ll run through each of these groups and what they entail, and make sure you’re not overlooking any of the advantages of volunteering.


Benefits of Volunteering for You as a Person

The chance to make new friends, to try out different jobs, to visit Costa Rica. People volunteer abroad for all sorts of reasons and there are programs that cater to all needs. Besides all the fun you’ll have, volunteering abroad is a chance to grow, discover new things and even reduce your risk of heart disease — really, it is.

In all seriousness, the fun you’ll have shouldn’t be discounted as a benefit. There is no experience like it, and one of the greatest benefits of volunteering abroad is the memories you’ll make. You are young but once and life is for living!

Personal Growth

Sometimes cliches ring true. Truly, there is no better way to challenge, develop, and get to know yourself (even discover yourself) than volunteering abroad.

Traveling of any kind can be beneficial to personal growth. As you navigate foreign cultures and encounter different ways of life you will inevitably develop interpersonal skills and self awareness, but volunteering benefits interpersonal skills tenfold.

Moreover, what you gain from volunteering specifically is the chance to work on leadership, taking initiative, mental resilience, and the chance to be part of something bigger than yourself. Not only will you meet new people from different corners of the world, you will live alongside them, play a role in their community, and be part of something bigger than yourself.

Health and Wellbeing

The health benefits of volunteering are long-known and well documented. Volunteering has been shown to benefit mental health (reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and stress), physical health (lowering risk of heart disease and stroke), and general wellbeing (data suggests volunteering makes people happier).

Really, this is unsurprising. When you consider the active lifestyles volunteers lead, the meaningful connections they build with people around the world, and the purposes they work towards, it’s only surprising more don’t do it.

Discovering New Interest and Passions

There is literally a world of opportunity out there. In an exotic country, working exciting jobs, meeting new people, encountering different ways of life, who knows what you might discover. A new career path, hobby, country to live in…The possibilities are endless.

Another thing to account for is the personal development you’ll experience volunteering abroad. When you return home, you will have skills, stories, and parts of your personality that you didn’t know about before. So you’ll come back to all kinds of new and exciting opportunities and prospects.

Benefits of Volunteering for Your Career

Likely, if you’ve discussed this trip with parents or a teacher, one of the first things they mentioned is the benefits of volunteering for your career. Well, they’re not wrong.

Volunteering abroad is a fantastic thing to add to your personal statement or CV, a great way to develop employable skills and traits, all whilst growing an international network of contacts.

CV or Personal statement booster

Volunteering looks great on your CV or personal statement. Full stop. One bullet point detailing a volunteer project indicates to university admissions and employers a philanthropic mindset, a go-getter attitude, and a belief in your own ability to make an impact.

Of course, if you’re planning a career in education, sustainability, or the nonprofit sector, volunteering is the best place to start. Really though, there are very few employers who don’t respect the confidence building, skill developing, enriching experience a volunteer benefits from.


Beyond the CV boost, volunteering abroad will make you a better prospect to employers and university admissions. You’ll gain a deep arsenal of skills, insights into different industries, roles and organizations, and the kind of confidence and self-assurance that only volunteering can provide.

On a personal note, first jobs can be scary and first days at any job are scary. The chance to practice what it’s like to join a new company, to find out how you work best and what roles you fit best is truly one of the greatest advantages of volunteering

Network builder

Between the communities you’ll live with, the organizations you’ll work with, and your fellow volunteers there is a bounty of potential connections for you to make. These could be future employers, colleagues, or the contact that you can use as leverage for a new job.

If you were to volunteer with Raleigh, you’d be joining a global community of over 55,000 alumni and supporters from over 100 countries, who have worked alongside 198 rural communities.

Benefits of Volunteering for Your World

This is what it’s all about. When people volunteer abroad, they want to make an impact for a meaningful cause. Good news is, as long as you pick the right volunteer program, that’s exactly what you’ll do.

Through the connections you make, you’ll share skills and knowledge, through your work, uplift communities, and with the money you spend as you do it, you’ll bolster local economies.

Skill share and Cultural exchange

So far we’ve discussed how the volunteer benefits cultural exchange and skills share, but this is a two way street. As valuable a learning experience this is for you, it is equally valuable to the communities you’ll be working with.

You could equip an organization with new software, teach a class a new game to play, give a child their new favorite book, or any number of other things. It is inevitable that you will have something of value to offer, and your contribution doesn’t have to be big to make a world of difference.

Community development and uplift

There are often discussions of how much going overseas to volunteer benefits the places you visit. Alas, many volunteer programs that don’t get it quite right. Either the work is insignificant, and the only contribution volunteers make is the money they spend, or it’s not well integrated with local communities and encourages dependence on outside help.

However with the right organization, you can make a huge impact and in a sustainable, respectful way. For instance, our Costa Rica community projects place you work alongside indigenous communities, working to increase their access to education, so supporting the next generation to build their own successes in life.

Local Economy

It’s not the most romantic aspect of volunteering abroad, but money does make the world go around. When spent wisely, the money paid for things like food, travel, and accommodation can make such a difference for local communities.

When tourists who stay at international hotel chains, buy globalized products they recognise, travel with companies who employ foreign employers, all the money they spend gets funneled out of the country.

One of the biggest benefits of volunteering abroad for the world is that volunteers live locally. This means you get to try local cuisine, find the best local hangouts, and all in the knowledge that your money is helping these places develop.

Start Planning a Volunteer Expedition

So there are the many benefits of volunteering abroad, and this list is by no means exhaustive. However, there is at least one drawback, it can be difficult to plan. Our tip, get the best help possible and get in touch with us at Raleigh to plan your volunteer expedition.

Check out our latest expeditions. Or if you still in the research stage of planning, you can read all about planning a gap year expedition in our blog.


Need more information about Expedition?

Consultation call

Whether you have a specific question or want to discuss which Expedition is right for you, schedule a call with a member of the team at a time convenient to you. 

Join an info event

On our monthly online info events, we’ll tell you all about Expedition. Have your questions answered, meet other volunteers and find out what Expedition is really like from an alumni.

Download a guide

Find out all about Raleigh International and Expedition in our helpful information guide.