If you’re an aspiring travel blogger looking for something to help you get some experience that gives you that all important edge over all the other talented writers out there, then you need experience. There are no two ways about it – you will need to do some traveling, and start to write about your adventures.
Getting real, practical, hands-on experience is, and will always be, the most effective way to develop your writing style, inspire yourself, and most importantly of all, enjoy what you do.
Backpacking around is all well and good, and you can get some great stories that way, but if you’re looking for something that will really define you above everybody else then you should consider volunteering working abroad.
On the surface, this may not seem like the best way of building your blogging career. After all, you will be too busy volunteering to spend time blogging, right?
Wrong. While of course it’s true that you will spend a good deal of your time working on your chosen project – and that the primary reason for volunteering should always be to help people – it also gives you excellent and unique opportunities to further yourself.
Volunteering gives you something to talk about, and can provide you with inspiration in ways you would never expect, and would struggle to find at home or as a regular traveler.
The people you will meet, places you will see, and things you will do, all contribute to your stories, and help you to develop as a person, as well as a writer.
Here are just a few of the reasons that volunteering abroad can be the perfect entry into the world of travel blogging.
Record your trip
Contrary to what you might think, joining a volunteer project can be the ideal motivation to develop your travel blogging skills.
It can be difficult to stick to a schedule when starting out as a blogger, so use the structure of the volunteer program to your advantage.
Try to treat the project as a story, split into different sections, beginning with you departure from home, and ending with you returning. Do your best to document everything of interest from start to finish. This could be anything from things you see, to people you meet and thoughts you’re having.
These records will provide you with invaluable inspiration further down the line, and help you to develop good habits that are essential to successful blogging, such as discipline, and staying interested in your work.
Meet new people
Meeting new, interesting people in abundance is one of the greatest things about traveling. Volunteering makes it even easier, and exposes you to a far more diverse range of people with different personalities and from a variety of backgrounds. For a blogger, this is perfect, as it can provide you with more material, and gives you inspiration for your work.
As a regular traveler, you get the opportunity to meet huge amounts of other travelers, but it can be a real challenge to connect with locals in the same way.
As a volunteer, you will be working alongside other volunteers and travelers, making it easy to build friendships with them. You will also be working among, living close to, and interacting with locals every day.
By spending so much time in their company, and by being there with the purpose of helping their communities, you will be warmly welcomed. This can facilitate much deeper connections with local people, on a level not easily achievable as a normal backpacker.
You won’t have to worry about the little things
It might seem like with all the volunteering and meeting new people, you won’t have any time or energy to spend on building your blogging skills. Well, that’s not the case at all.
As I’ve mentioned, giving yourself a volunteer project to focus on can actually help give you structure, which can in turn help you to be disciplined with your work.
On top of this, a good volunteer organization will provide you with everything you need, meaning you won’t have to worry about the little things.
Basics like food, accommodation, and people to talk to are already set up for you, as well as a support network should you need any assistance with anything. Even your internet access – something almost as crucial as food and water to any travel blogger – will be set up for you, ready and waiting.
Volunteering is about improving yourself as much as helping others
As a volunteer, you should always remember that you are there to help others. But don’t think that means you can’t improve yourself at the same time.
Volunteering can broaden your mind, expose you to a new kind of traveling, and provide you with inspiration for years to come.
Nicoleta is the resident content blogger for uVolunteer. Nicoleta is an avid linguist, speaks fluent English, Chinese, French, Spanish and native Romanian. She spent a decade working in China in the education sector and working with major international development institutions and currently lives in Vancouver, Canada. She is passionate about volunteering, sustainable travel and has a soft spot for ethnic food.