Traveling With Friends Is Fun;

Traveling with strangers is even better. 

By Jessica Hilk

Past Volunteer: Nicaragua ’16, Southeast Asia ’18
Some of you may have talked to past volunteers, scrolled through the GIVE Volunteers website, or seen posts on social media and thought to yourself, “Yeah it would be cool to volunteer abroad with GIVE, but I don’t want to travel solo.” You know what I have to say to that? Who cares! You don’t need a friend. Because when you go on a GIVE trip you will be with the most amazing people you’ll ever meet and you will be more than happy you decided to go by yourself.

GIVE in general is one of the best volunteer organizations to travel with because your group will become your family. How do I know that? I traveled solo with GIVE Volunteers and I have never felt so welcomed on a group trip. And amazed how much each of these volunteers want to make the world a better place. We connected so easily because we are all like-minded travelers with the same goals.

I was in the middle of my sophomore year of college when I decided to sign up for a GIVE trip. I signed up to go a week after school ended to venture off to Nicaragua and stay for a month with the SCUBA diving add-on. I hadn’t met anyone else in the group and I had no clue what to expect. I barely knew how to pronounce the village we were staying in, but I had the opportunity to go and I wasn’t going to give it up just because I was alone. I was going to be scuba diving, teaching English and building houses, all with people who cared about the same things I did. But I was beyond nervous that everyone would already have friends they were going with or I would feel uncomfortable if I was alone. I was so wrong.

Before leaving for Nicaragua, GIVE did a great job of connecting us in a Facebook group where we could ask questions and get acquainted with other volunteers before we met in-country. I still hadn’t met anyone before arriving at the Nicaragua airport, but as soon as I did I made strong connections with everyone right away. It was so easy to have something in common with these amazing people. We either went to the same school or went on the trip for the same reasons. Each one of the volunteers were there to experience something new.

Solo travel gives you an opportunity to make your own decisions about what you see and become the world traveler you want to be. Seeing the world with these amazing strangers gives you whole new perspectives. GIVErs come from all over the world and have all different thoughts and ideas. Traveling with people from different places can make you see the world in a diverse way and you have the opportunity to learn so much more. Sometimes traveling with people you know can influence your decisions or thoughts on your experience. This GIVE trip taught me so much and shaped me into a completely new person. Not only that, but I had a freaking BLAST. Your group has a bond that can’t be broken. From mingling with the locals, to working on the worksites, to playing games and hanging out after dinner, to the epic adventures you have like volcano boarding or bungee jumping; the whole experience makes you a family.

If you’ve been debating whether or not to sign up, DO IT. It is so worth it. You will make friends to have chats about sustainability with, buddies to travel with, and friends to reminisce with you always about all the great experiences you had together.

Not to mention, those strangers I met in Nicaragua became my favorite travel pals and four of us just got back from having another unforgettable trip in Thailand and Laos together! I’m not lying when I say that I met the most amazing people I could’ve ever imagined. And I know you will too.