Could it be that I have travelled too much? Have I become spoilt? Spoilt in travel experiences, food, adventure, plane tickets, love, comfort, luxury, education and opportunity. I think maybe, I have. And this is why I volunteered in the Philippines during my solo travel adventure.
That’s not to say I get any of the above handed to me on a plate. I’ve worked outright for everything I have and own, but I still know I’m very fortunate to be in the position I am.
Having travelled non-stop now for over 18 months, I am proud of the world I have created and the career I have bought to life. However, upon arrival in the Philippines (a life long dream of mine) I wasn’t anywhere near as excited as I wanted to be. I couldn’t work out why.
The thought of a month lying on white beaches and beneath palm trees whilst drinking cocktails from coconuts, just wasn’t getting me excited. I know, madness. Perhaps it’s because when I arrived in the Philippines, I was already over three months into an already tropical adventure where I had done plenty of all of that.
As ridiculous as that sounds, I’m being totally honest with you and that’s how I felt.
When you repeat anything enough, be it an office job, a dog walk, a song on the radio or creating beach content in my case, you begin to desire a change of scenery.
I desired a total change of scenery and I couldn’t shake the feeling. I was bored of beaches, fed up of tourist traps and craved more substance from my adventures.
When entering a new destination as a travel blogger, I always research what content has already been curated in that destination in order to pinpoint and identify the direction in which I wish to take my content. Within this research, I was reading article upon article about whale sharks in Oslob, beaches in Boracay and lagoons in El Nido. These places are all outstanding areas of beauty and most high on peoples bucket lists… So why wasn’t I getting excited? As I sat there curating my rough itinerary I sat looking at what would be, in most peoples eyes, a dream itinerary. However I just couldn’t help but feel lost between emotions.
Whenever I feel confused, unhappy, lost or unmotivated, I sit down and try to understand exactly why I’m feeling like that, and then work out what I need to do about it.
Here’s why I chose to volunteer during my solo adventure…
So 3 months into my big solo adventure, I sat in the Philippines and I felt…
- bored of beaches and taking photos of them
- tired of being in the really ‘touristy’ areas, of being looked at and spoken to for my ‘western’ money rather than as a tourist looking to dive and immerse into a new culture.
- sad that I’d had a couple of experiences in which I’d totally wanted to invest in the culture and been rejected again just looked at for my money.
- unhappy that I wanted to get ‘that photo’ with the whale sharks because people expected it and because it would be good for my Philippines imagery. At the same time though, I didn’t actually want to participate in the unnatural and overcrowded environment in which it happens.
- confused that here were lots of beautiful places and things to do but I didn’t want to go and experience them alone. I hadn’t met any solo travellers and only a few couples and travelling europeans in the first week of being in the Philippines.
Based on the above, I decided to move forward:
- Stop doing things for a picture and for other peoples benefit. My blog and social media are an honest representation of who I am and what I love, so I must stay true to myself and where I am at.
- Search for substance and ways I can obtain it.
- Surround myself with positive people.
- Research alternative adventures until something gets me excited again.
After concluding the above whilst sat in a little cafe in Nusa Lembongan, I made note of the alternative adventures that were getting me excited and begun a bit of research into them.
One travel avenue I hadn’t actually explored yet or even actually considered up to this point was volunteering.
All of a sudden the idea came into my mind and it simply felt like timing was perfect. I let the idea sit in my mind for a couple of days to make sure it was the right choice. This is something I like to do to make sure any decision I make is based on passion and not emotion. The excitement to dive into the deep end and dig deep beneath the beaches of the Philippines was real and so it was set.
I googled volunteering in Cebu and clicked through to the first charity that popped up.
I found the Rise Above Foundation website, emailed Elizabet (one of the owners) and just two emails and one day later it was decided. I’d head to their care centre in Guadalupe for 5 days.
Immediately my excitement was back, my heart felt alive again and 2 weeks later I turned up in the slums of Guadalajara.
Volunteering here in Cebu City ended up being the best travel decision I have ever made. One I cannot wait to share with you. Click here to read all about me volunteering in the Philippines!
Have you volunteered?
Why did you choose to volunteer? I’d love to know!
Love as always and happy adventuring,