Volunteering abroad is one of the most rewarding things you will ever do, and it’s an experience you’ll never forget. You’re helping others but at the same time helping yourself grow and learn, providing services that will change not just the community’s life but yours too.

Our gap year page offers a bunch of different overseas volunteering experiences, but if you need a little extra convincing, here are the top eight reasons why volunteering is always a good idea.

1. Life experience

Volunteering programs give you a unique opportunities that normally wouldn’t be available to ordinary travellers. Whether it be working with elephants in Thailandteaching kids in Cambodia or helping to build communities across the world, you’ll get much more out of your trip and experience so much more than just the tacky tourist spots and the ground of every bar in the district.

2. Give back

Probably the most important reason to volunteer is because you want to help people, or help do some good for the world. You’ve heard that the elephant’s in Thailand are often used for tourists but are in actuality mistreated, and you want to do something to help care for them – you can! You can help build communities for people who need them, and take care of children who need care.

3. Make friends

Volunteering unites people from all walks of life. Working together in a new and challenging environment provides the perfect opportunity to make lifelong friends with other volunteers as well as the people in the communities you’re living in. Nothing brings people together like overcoming obstacles hand in hand (just ask Harry, Ron and Hermione).

4. Challenge yourself

You’ll be throwing yourself into the unknown head first, and who knows what challenges you might face? There will be awkward getting to know you phases, language barriers, actual real life elephants (elephants are actually really huge, in case you forgot). Chances are you’ll be out of your comfort zone, and you’re going to have to make the absolute most of it.

5. Learn new things

That language barrier? You’ll be breaking it down over the course of your work bit by bit, as you pick up the local language and they pick up yours. You’ll be learning so many new skills you won’t know what to do with them all.

6. Opportunity to travel

It sounds obvious, but volunteering overseas will give you the opportunity to travel to places you might not ever have thought of on your own, as well as truly immersing yourself in the experience. You’ll be able to explore the country with new eyes.

7. Experience cultures

You’ll be spending an extended period of time interacting with new cultures, people, languages. You’ll be able to witness the local culture from the inside. Try new foods, live like a local, and don’t let your precious time there go to waste!

8. Sense of accomplishment

Most importantly, you’ll be able to look back at the work you’ve done, the people and animals you’ve helped, and think: Yeah. I’m proud of myself.