Volunteering on a luxury holiday? Sounds like an oxymoron? Whilst the majority of overseas volunteer trips are geared around GAP year students who are OK with basic accommodation, they don’t need to have all the fun. It makes perfect sense that, if you have worked hard during the day, you have more than earned a luxurious hotel room to recharge in, perhaps a spa treatment to accentuate the positive.
But why give back on your luxury holiday, even for a few days?
When you help others, it’s not just for the benefit of the recipient but there is a multitude of advantages for you, too. To quote Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” Here are some of the benefits you get by compassionately helping others:
1. You become happier. Helping others will make you feel great. When we volunteer we find a deeper purpose in life and that leads to greater happiness. Studies show that when you volunteer services, the mesolimbic pathway, also known as the reward pathway (this is the portion of the brain responsible for reward feelings) is activated. The brain releases feel-good chemicals and prompts you to perform more acts of kindness – psychologists call it “helper’s high”.
“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” – Sir Winston Churchill
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller
2. Giving back reduces stress and will help you find calmness and peace. Volunteering lowers your blood pressure and it’s a great pain reliever. If you have a lot that’s stressing you, giving back could help clear your head and regain your sanity and inner peace.
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
3. Volunteering helps our kids appreciate how fortunate they are, and learn the value of contentment. Kids also become inspired to be world changers, and you can all bond closer together – enriching family life.
Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they have the heart.”– Elizabeth Andrew
4. And because you become healthier, a longer lifespan is achievable. Volunteering can add years to your life and studies suggest that a regular commitment to volunteering for 25 hours per year is helpful. That’s definitely achievable!
“We cannot live only for ourselves. A thousand fibers connect us with our fellow men.” – Herman Melville
5. It reduces depression. In many cases, depression is linked to isolation. Volunteering helps to keep a person in regular contact with others and establish a social support system.
“I urge young people to consider public service, whether they do it now by volunteering in their community or prepare for public service as an adult.”– John Walters
6. Volunteering can boost your self-esteem. People who give back tend to have higher self-esteem. Experts say that as feelings of social interactions increase, so does your self-esteem. It’s the feeling that you can do something to make this world a better place. It also depends on the frequency and your consistency. So, the more frequent you volunteer, the more confident you become.
“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands — one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” — Audrey Hepburn
7. It benefits your career. Volunteering for the right reasons can change your life significantly that the benefits will carry on to your work and boost your career. When you involve yourself in a worthy cause, the result is always good. After fulfilling volunteer work, you return to your regular job refreshed and instead of feeling tired or unsatisfied at work, you will feel happier, purposeful, and alive!
“Volunteering is an act of heroism on a grand scale. And it matters profoundly. It does more than help people beat the odds; it changes the odds.” – Bill Clinton
8. You will be grateful. Helping others gives you understanding and appreciation of your own situation, and teaches you to be thankful for everything that you have.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
9. You will have a positive outlook on life. Helping others changes your own perception and attitude. Experts say that doing acts of kindness enhances your mood and will transform you to be more positive.
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” – Muhammad Ali
10. You will build stronger friendships. When you lend a helping hand, experts say, you emit positive vibes which become visible and eventually improve your friendships.
“Every person can make a difference, and every person should try.”– John F. Kennedy
11. Lastly, helping people compels us to pay it forward and keep the cycle of service and kindness going. When we see someone helps another, it gives us a different feeling and encourages us to go out there and do the same. It is contagious.
Truth be told, serving others serves us in a great many ways.
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” – Kahlil Gibran
You can be the change, and by being the change, not only do you make a difference, you benefit as well.
Christopher Hill is Founder and CEO at Hands Up Holidays. Hands Up Holidays is an award-winning travel company specialising in tailor-made luxury family trips that combine sightseeing with hands-on service projects.