5 Reasons to Get Travel Advice From Peace Corps Volunteers
So it’s no secret, and I talk about it all the time, that I am a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer or RPCV, of China. I talk a lot about Peace Corps and all that I learned while I was there because I feel like it is important work to be done not only for the world but for ourselves and our own personal growth. I also have a ton of travel advice I am just giving away.
One thing about Peace Corps that I don’t always mention is the people and how close-knit the Peace Corps Family is. I don’t think I have ever met a group of people so tight in their friendships and bonds.
Living in China, and having a rather nice apartment close to many things “posh,” my home was a hub for the PCVs who spent their time traveling and making their stops in Chongqing. In Peace Corps, it’s incredibly common to look up the person in the city you were traveling to and ask for a night’s stay at their home while they visited the city. If they’re a good host, they’ll make dinner for or with you, grab a beer, and spend some time showing them around your area.
To be honest. I loved having people at my house. It was absolutely wonderful and I loved making them breakfast and dinner.
Not once did I ever witness someone who didn’t welcome another volunteer into their home, unless they had a very good reason. I loved this about volunteers.
I loved that “my home is your home” mentality.
It’s also a common trend as volunteers learn to integrate into their new home abroad.
After leaving Peace Corps and being a part of SO many Facebook groups, I discovered there were a reasonable amount of people traveling abroad who were either RPCVs or friends of RPCVs who needed advice on traveling to an area.
I am forever astonished at how welcoming RPCVs are to people interested in traveling to their former country of service.
To them, it’s a knowledge you can pass on to people. Most Peace Corps Volunteers have lived in the area you’re traveling to for 3 months to a year and a half. They know the ins and outs of the area, they are the local tour guide, and they are the resident.
That’s why I think getting in touch with Peace Corps Volunteers, past and present, is a great way to get inside knowledge of the destinations you’re traveling to, and my reasons are right here, below this sentence.
They Have a Buttload of Travel Advice and Info to Share
I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me, I didn’t have anyone visit me in China, but I always wanted to just so I could show them what I knew. So I had all this pent-up travel advice, hence my creating this blog. I wanted to take them to places to eat, teach them tidbits of language, and share my understanding of the people. You’ll find that this may be a common trait if you ever encounter a Peace Corps Volunteer. Most of us are eager to share our experiences and expert knowledge on the area and the culture we live in.
If you happen to encounter a volunteer, whether it be in person or online, there is no doubt they are willing to answer any questions you have about the place you’re traveling to.
They Know the Attractions You Should Visit
Peace Corps Volunteers have an advantage that your average 2-week traveler just doesn’t have. Their travel advice is great, but I prefer learning from the locals. Peace Corps Volunteers have lived in the place you’re traveling to for so long, that they could advise you to visit the hidden gems and less traveled places of your destination.
They are basically a resident and are likely to be well integrated into the culture. They’ve spoken with locals who know the best places to eat, visit, and stay. You can get most of this advice on any one of the Peace Corps volunteer Facebook groups, or search out those avid bloggers for more info.
They Could Be of Great Help if You’re in a Jam
Each country of service is likely to have a headquarters where the staff of the country operates out of. If you are in a situation, God forbid, searching for your nearest Peace Corps headquarters may be a good option for safety if it is needed. They won’t be able to provide you with assistance to help get back a stolen passport, wallet, or someone who has wronged you, but they can be a safe place to be while you try and figure out your situation.
You can also let people know through Facebook if you’re in-country and need a hand. They may or may not come, but you never know until you try!
They May Offer You A Place To Stay
You are in essence a stranger to them, but we are pretty nice and accommodating people, duh, we’re volunteers. This can be tricky, and it will take building friendships. Don’t just randomly ask a person to stay at their house, unless it’s offered, that’s just weird.
Chat us up for a while and hey, you never know, we may offer you a place to stay while you make a connection from one city to the other. It may not happen, but again, you never know.
If you’re a friend of a friend who knows a volunteer, that may be an option for you as well! You just never know.
Most volunteers are very welcoming and supportive, so, if by some magical chance they offer you to stay for the evening, please make sure to be a good guest and do not, by any means, abuse their kindness and hospitality.
Careful, You May Fall in Love With The Peace Corps Lifestyle
I’m going to be honest, being a Peace Corps Volunteer is pretty sweet. You are fully insured, have a free apartment, support of your peers/locals, get a steady stipend pay, freedom to travel in-country and to neighboring countries, and work like 20 hours a week. With perks like that, you may just join Peace Corps yourself! It’s the best way to get worldly experiences at little cost.
Meet up with a Peace Corps Volunteer for coffee or tea, talk about your travels and ask for their advice. You won’t go wrong. And if you are even the slightest bit interested in the Peace Corps life, visit PeaceCorps.Gov to learn more about programs you can be involved in across the globe.
For more travel advice and stories on my experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in China, go here! If you like what you’ve read, leave a comment below!