Do you ever wake up wondering what is the true meaning of life? Or simply wondering what kind of difference you can make in this world? Sometimes it can be frustrating to no exactly know the path we are supposed to take and what exactly we are supposed to accomplish.
We all have our own ways of getting closer to the answers to those questions. For me, every trip and adventure abroad make me grow, learn more about myself and I strongly believe that learning about ourselves, is the first step to the path of finding the answers to those questions.
Why did I jump on the Worldpackers adventure?
I see the volunteering ⁄ work exchange experiences as one of the best way to travel and accelerate the process of knowing ourselves. It gives you the opportunity to understand how you deal with situations while being out of your comfort zone.
You also get the chance to save money, meet loads of people (locals and travellers), live in other countries, give back, and experience moments that you would never experience back home.
The main purpose of my volunteering ⁄ work exchange experiences is to give a meaning to my trips. One thing that I learned about myself is how important it is for me to constantly be challenged.
Travelling for months without a goal can do the opposite effect of what it is actually supposed to do, but when you have those challenges, you keep on having the feeling of accomplishment while being abroad and that’s what’s going to make you go through the hardest days of your adventures.
To come back to the “why I jumped on the Worldpackers adventure” question, I would just answer why no? If those experiences give me the opportunity to grow and learn more about my path, why not take advantage of them?
Before my Worldpacker experience
Since I was young, I always knew that volunteering somewhere was something that I really wanted to do. Growing up I was searching for the best ways to do it, and that’s when I realized that most of the volunteering experiences through non-profit organizations were really expensive.
One day I ended up on Worldpackers website and I guess I just found it at a moment when I really needed it in my life. From the day I found the platform, I knew that I wanted to try it, so I never really hesitated about doing it. I was already planning a trip to Europe; so I told myself why not try it while I am there.
I started researching for a place that matched the dates of my trip and the places I wanted to visit. I was amazed to realize how easy it was to find opportunities in almost every place I was going to.
For my first experience, I ended up choosing a hostel called Backpackers Club in Dubrovnik Croatia. Since I was just staying in Europe for one month before heading to Asia, I only spent two weeks there, but the day I was leaving, I really wished I could have stayed longer.
During my Worldpacker experience
The day I arrived to Dubrovnik, Ive, the owner of the hostel, was kind enough to pick me up from the bus station. When we finally arrived to the hostel, I realized that the Backpackers Club wasn’t like any kind of hostel.
Ive and his family managed it, so it really felt like home. I got the chance to meet Ive’s brothers Nikola and Jozip, his father and also his mother Milka, who I spent a lot of time with during those two weeks. They all welcomed me with food and drinks and we spent the afternoon talking.
The second day Ive told me that I could have the day off to explore the city, so I visited the old Dubrovnik and walked the famous wall.
The next day, I started working and met the other volunteers, Paco and Richard, who I spent a lot of afternoons with during my time in Dubrovnik. That day, I didn’t exactly know what my tasks in the hostel were, so I spent it mainly in the first floor, trying to help Milka in the kitchen.
She showed me how to cook her amazing zucchini galettes that I actually really miss every time I think about it. Milka was like a mother to me during my time in the hostel, and I am really thankful that I had the chance to meet her.
The fourth day I finally understood that I mainly had to take care of the first floor and the boys had to take care of the main floor. Once I was done, I had the rest of my day to relax, meet other backpackers and enjoy Dubrovnik.
The moment I understood my tasks in the hostel was the moment I really started to enjoy my experience.
The rest of the two weeks went by way faster than I thought they would. Saying goodbye to everyone, especially to Milka, was really hard. I never thought I would get attached to Ive’s family, Paco and Richard that fast.
Backpackers Club Hostel was a special place. During those two weeks, most people who arrived in that hostel for two or three days ended up staying longer. Ive’s family was full of hospitality and that place never felt just like a hostel to anyone.
Scared of leaving?
I can totally understand how volunteering in other countries might sound scary to some people. My answer to that is that Worldpackers is a platform with a lot of resources, and that’s a big advantage for a first experience. You have the chance to communicate and get to know your host before getting there, read reviews about the place and ask questions to people that were there previously.
Also, during your trip, Worldpackers team is always there for you if you have any questions or concerns. So my first recommendation is to get to know the place, that’s going to reassure you about the trip.
My second recommendation is to not overthink it. If you want to live a volunteering experience, just do it. By overthinking it, you’re just going to keep finding excuses and push it to another moment. There will always be something keeping us from leaving. The moment is never going to seem right, so you kind of just have to jump on it and create the perfect moment.
My last recommendation is simply to enjoy it. No matter how many volunteering or work exchange experiences you will do, none of them is going to be the same, so just enjoy each one of them while you are there, because those moments are unique.