Guest Post: The Pros And Cons Of Volunteering Abroad Solo Or With A Group

December 31, 1969

Today’s article is brought to you by Tom Hopkins. Tom is Editor in Chief for Minds Abroad, your informed counselor for study abroad and travel programs in China. Learn Mandarin in China and enrich your cross-cultural experience. For more posts and information on places of cultural and historical interest that we take our students to, visit

Volunteering overseas has been a popular part of gap year programs and student travel for years. You can travel individually or in groups to countries to help with volunteer projects, and of late, China in particular has been a popular destination both for study abroad and gap year programs.

When planning a trip abroad for a gap year or for academic credit, students usually opt for volunteering worldwide. These programs help students interact with locals and get an immersive perspective of culture and lifestyle. But the big question remains: should you travel alone or in a group?

The answer depends entirely on the individual or group traveling—the following points highlight the benefits of both!

Solo Travel BenefitsAirport - volunteer global - solo travel versus group travel

There are many factors to take into account before you opt for an individual trip or group tour to China or other volunteer destinations. Someone who has traveled to foreign countries alone may be confident enough to volunteer abroad in a new place on his own—therefore, those with the adventurous spirit can easily sign up for volunteering programs individually.

While traveling with a group, there can be many constraints as the whole group manages projects assigned collectively. An individual trip, however, would allow more control over your day-to-day activities. You can plan daily outings after work, weekly trips, and more—entirely depending on your own needs.

During free time, you can explore the city you are in at your own pace. Depending on your social skills, there are opportunities to interact with locals and help understand the lifestyle and culture better. Such unbridled exploration is otherwise not possible with a group.

And finally, of the most important factors of individual travel is that the trip can be customized entirely in accordance to your needs. You can take up tasks that are best suited to your own volunteering skills. As well, for individual volunteers, you get to work in a team that in all likelihood will comprise of people from different nations or states. Therefore, the global interaction possibility widens considerably.

Group Travel Benefits

Group tours have other benefits that can’t be gained from individual travel experiences. Those planning to go on volunteer abroad trips for the first time would benefit from group travel.

These trips are well structured and, with reputable organizations, optimized in accordance to the needs of the group. So, there are no surprises in store and the group can handle any minor unforeseen circumstances easily. This is a perfect solution for school students who are travelling together.

For those who cannot handle a lot of stress, group travel easily allows division of labor, and all tasks become relatively easier. You can work comfortably with people you know, and sharing your experiences becomes easy.

Usually group trips comprise of people from the same institution or community—therefore you get to bond with people you might not have known well earlier and continue to socialize, forming long-term relationships and lasting friendships.

It can be clearly seen that volunteering abroad can be a great learning opportunity both for novices and experienced students—now, how do you prefer to travel?

Photo courtesy of khalzuri.