Have you ever thought about volunteering with travel? No? Well let me introduce you to Mig who has lots of experience of travel and volunteering.
What is your name?
Which country do you come from/call home?
Are you a backpacker/long term traveller/business traveller/live and work abroad?
At this moment, I’m mixing up backpacking, long term travel, and living abroad. I find a place to call home for a bit to get immersed into the culture.
How do you fund your travel (savings/work whilst travelling/other)?
Prior to setting off on this trip, I worked for several years, lived minimally, paid off all my credit card debt, and saved money to be on the road for a year. Now I’m pursuing opportunities to work remotely.
What is the first trip you remember taking and how old were you?
My first trip abroad was with my family to the Philippines when I was three. One fond childhood memory was running around a department store and I smashed my face into a glass window. Not cool.
Have you been anywhere which turned out to be totally different to how you imagined? If so, how?
When I travel I don’t have set expectations on what a place will be like, I just show up with an open mind to see what surprises will come my way.
Why does volunteering appeal so much to you?
When I first started traveling, I did a lot of touristy things like trying to see everything, checking off places from my sightseeing list, and raging at electronic music festivals. And, it’s okay to do this. I still do once in a while cause it’s fun, but now I’m looking for opportunities to give back and get deep into a culture. It’s just the next evolution of my travel style.
Also, volunteering enables me to be part of something bigger than myself by serving others, which is one of the ingredients to living a happy and fulfilled life.
I believe that every one of us regardless of money, has the power to make a difference in others lives.
What volunteer projects have you been involved in?
Since I started doing more voluntourism like this several months ago, I’ve built homes with Habitat for Humanity and did market research project for Rising Minds, both in Guatemala. At the time of this interview, I’m in Colombia evaluating a volunteer project to teach kids computers and English.
I focus on projects that either helps alleviate poverty and hunger or improve primary education.
Do volunteering projects end up costing you a lot of money to take part in? Do you have to be wealthy to fund your way through a volunteer project?
Great questions which I plan to cover more on Curious Nomad. I’d like to put some transparency in volunteering opportunities and share details about experiences, costs, good, bad, ugly, and impact.
I don’t think volunteering has to cost a lot of money, just time. On my first project, I was able to fundraise over 78% of the program fee from friends and former colleagues using social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, and Fundly. There was one I paid for all the expenses on my own. Some projects may cover housing, food, local transportation, and a small stipend. It all depends.
So to sum up in answering your questions, it doesn’t have to cost a lot if you can fundraise. There are organizations that do not charge a program fee and are just looking for help. The only thing you have to be wealthy of in volunteering that has the most impact is giving time.
Have you had any bad experiences whilst travelling?
Yes. Many. I’ve been mugged, scammed, gotten sick, almost drowned, had problems with my ATM cards, but that’s all part of the adventure. It hasn’t stopped me from exploring. Luckily, I haven’t missed a flight yet.
Do you have any funny travel stories?
One of my funny moments was sliding in donkey crap several times on the trail to the Lost City in Colombia since it rained a lot. Maybe this is more of disgusting than funny, but I did bath in a river to clean off several times during the trek.
Which is the worst place you’ve been to and why?
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It was too touristy for me personally.
Please tell us about your bike tour to Panama City?
I cycled through Costa Rica and Panama with no prior experience or training just to see if I could do it. It wasn’t part of my initial travel plans, but I met a friend’s friend during this trip that wanted to do this too, so I was down. Long story short, they ended up bailing. Another friend who I met on a volunteer project flew to Costa Rica to join, but we discovered shortly after that we had different travel styles so we split up. I continued the journey alone. I learned everything on the tour like how to shift gears and fix my bike. There was always someone I met along the way who taught me something I needed to know or who pointed me to the next destination. It was quite an adventure not always knowing where I would sleep or eat everyday. I became comfortable dealing with the unknown. I wasn’t in the most athletic shape either, but I lost a lot of weight by the end of the tour. It was an amazing sense of accomplishment to cross The Bridge of the Americas.
If you want to do something, just do it and figure it all out along the way.
Where is your favourite place in the world?
So far it’s Colombia, which is why I’m back here for the second time.
Do you have a bucket list? If so what is on it?
I do. A few things on it are as simple as learn how to make ceviche, go on a NYC pizza tour, or do a fasting diet. I also put bigger goals like run a marathon or something crazy like take the Virgin Galactic flight to space. I put goals that are beyond what I can achieve, but still realistic to attain in a lifetime. The only time we can grow is when we stretch ourselves beyond our comfort levels. See the full list here.
Can you imagine life without travel?
No. I think even when I’m not able to travel, I would still seek adventure by always trying new things, eating at ethnic restaurants, watching foreign films, and hosting travelers via Couch Surfing to keep the spirit alive.
If you were not travelling what would you be doing instead?
I would be working Monday through Friday from 9 – 5 at a job I hate, binge drink on the weekends, and buy stuff I don’t need to impress people I don’t like to make myself happy.
I would work to save up for the next trip and still volunteer.
As I mentioned in the response to the previous question, as long as I live according to what I value with seeking adventure and learning about cultures I’d still be personally fulfilled.
What is the name of your travel blog and the url?
Curious Nomad www.curiousnomad.com
When did you begin your website?
Why do you write (for money/connecting with people/therapeutic/fun)?
I want to share stories and ideas to inspire others to step out of their comfort zone and make a difference. If I can monetize my site that would be a bonus, but my focus is to help people do awesome things.
What makes your site so unique and why should people read it?
My site is unique just like everyone else’s. 😉 Seriously…
Curious Nomad is about personal development, adventure travel, and making a difference. People should read it if they are looking for inspiration and a different perspective on solo travel, work, and life.
What has been your most successful blog post to date and what was it about?
What is your favourite mode of transport? (plane/train/boat/car)
I like taking subway trains because they’re a great way to explore a city like a local.
Do you have any advice or tips for aspiring travellers?
Dream. Save money. Make it happen.
What has travel taught you?
Independence, how to deal with risk and uncertainty, cross-cultural communication, how to be human.
Quick fire questions:-
Favourite airline? Spirit, it’s cheap, and it gets me there.
Favourite country? Colombia
Favourite city? Barcelona
Favourite beach? Ipanema
Favourite food? Toss up between sushi and Italian.
Favourite language? Portuguese
Please provide the following:-
Website url? www.curiousnomad.com
Twitter handle? @curiousnomad
Facebook page? www.facebook.com/curiousnomadtravel
Google+ profile/page? https://plus.google.com/104076219816399673009/posts
Curious Nomad is about personal development, adventure travel, and volunteering. Find inspiration to save money, step out of the comfort zone, travel the world, and give back.