Three of Lindsay's students while volunteering in Costa Rica.

Three of Lindsay’s students while volunteer teaching ESL in Costa Rica.

Teaching Traveling: Is it worth it to spend money to volunteer abroad? Learn from teacher and fashion travel blogger, Lindsay Carreiro about her great experience doing it!

Lindsay, tell us about your background.

Lindsay: My name is Lindsay and I’ve been teaching and working with children for 9 years. I recently just turned 30 and I have lived in Rhode Island all my life. Mostly my background is in education but for the past 3 years I have been the sassy-pants behind Fashionista’s Travel. Writing has become such a huge part of my life and I would ultimately like it to become a full time career. Currently I am an Assistant Teacher with the Providence, Rhode Island Public Schools.

TT: Wonderful! Tell us about your travels.

L: My most recent trip was to Costa Rica where I spent two weeks volunteering by teaching ESL to middle school students. Visiting Costa Rica was hands down the best trip I have ever been on. Between the culture, food, and new friends it simply could not have been any better.

Lindsay with her host family in Costa Rica.

Lindsay (far right) with her host family in Costa Rica.

TT: How did you find this travel opportunity?

L: After a recent breakup, I realized that I wasn’t doing enough in my life that I felt proud of. Sure I was working with children but I really wanted to extend myself to other opportunities. I spent one day figuring out how I could travel and make a difference as well. So of course many volunteer organizations popped up but the one that I chose was International Volunteer.

TT: How did you find the money to fund this travel?

L: Funding this trip came in several parts. First I put together my savings from income tax and booked my flight. I then had to fundraise (asking family and friends) to help me pay for my housing while I was down there. Lastly I resorted to my credit card (not ideal) but it was a last resort.

The class in Costa Rica where Lindsay volunteered.

The class in Costa Rica where Lindsay volunteered.

TT: But it got the job done! Tell us one moment from your travels that was particularly
powerful.

L: My “ah hah” moment came on my last day volunteering. My students had decided to throw me a going away party or a fiesta in their words. Not only was it filled with delicious homemade foods but they had also taken the time to write me letters (in Spanish) to tell me how much they appreciated me teaching them English. It was then that I knew that maxing out my credit card for this trip really was the best thing I could have done with that money.

TT: Beautiful How have your travels impacted you as a person?

L: Besides becoming more grateful for what I have here in my own country, traveling to Costa Rica really opened my eyes to a new culture. I am much more aware of the Spanish culture, especially when I am at work. You can’t really say you know how someone else feels until you walk a mile in their shoes, so visiting another country and staying right in the environment is the closest thing you will get to that. I am very grateful for being able to experience that.

Lindsay on a beach in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica with her housemates, on a break from volunteering.

Lindsay on a beach in Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica with her housemates, on a break from volunteering.

TT: What advice do you have for teachers who are dreaming of travel, or travelers dreaming of teaching?

L: I would highly recommend volunteering abroad for anyone looking to try something new and make a difference while they do it. Not only does it open your eyes to new and different surroundings but lasting impression it will leave on your soul is priceless. Yes that might sound cheesy but for anyone who has volunteered abroad you will know what I’m talking about. If you are thinking about volunteering abroad you should take into account that even though this is a mostly volunteer trip, there will be ample opportunity for sightseeing and mini-vacations. You will want to plan your finances accordingly. I would also recommend doing research on the company that you choose to work with. I had nothing but a great experience when it came to working with the organization International Volunteer. It truly is a great experience.

TT: Excellent advice. Readers, what comments or questions do you have for Lindsay?

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Posted by Lillie

Lillie started TeachingTraveling.com in 2010 to share the infinite ways to combine education and world exploration. Lillie has been a Boston teacher since 2003, and chronicles her own travels at AroundTheWorldL.com.

5 Comments

  1. I love your blog, great read….quick qestion did you need a visa to volunteer in Costa Rica, I’m a UK citizen and I want to volunteer in Costa Rica next year, only the embassy and websites have been no use in my finding out if I needa visa? Some say you can do it on a tourist visa as long as you don’t get paid…its so confusing :/

    Reply

  2. I am glad you got to experience the joy in the natural beauty of Costa Rica and the kindness of her people.

    We have lived here just over a year now and are constantly amazed with acts of kindness. Thanks for giving back.

    Reply

  3. Be careful..it started as a little experience abroad and it will turn in your next 30 years! Costa Rica is dangerous, you could fall in love with it and never go back (like me!)

    Reply

  4. When I initially commented I clicked the -Notify me when new feedback are added- checkbox and now every time a comment is added I get 4 emails with the identical comment. Is there any manner you’ll be able to take away me from that service? Thanks!

    Reply

    1. Yes, it is very easy. Open one of those emails and at the bottom there is link to click to unsubscribe and stop getting updates for replies.

      Reply

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