My First Time Solo Travelling
And It Was So

An incredible time travelling & volunteering in Sri Lanka

In April 2023, I went to Sri Lanka on the two-week Travel and Volunteer experience and had the BEST time! The Travel and Volunteer Experience was the perfect idea as it meant I could take part in a meaningful project while still getting to explore the beautiful country of Sri Lanka on my holiday from work.

"If you're in any doubt of going on a trip with TMR, this is your sign to do it! I'm so grateful to the whole team who gave me this incredible experience. "

The first week of the trip was based in Akurala, on the coast. Literally just across the road from the beach, the accommodation was lovely and welcoming, with all volunteers staying together and eating and socialising in a big communal space. The staff - Ayomi, Charith, Mammu and everyone else - were on hand the whole time for anything we needed.

I did the sea turtle conservation volunteering and it was a bucket-list activity that I absolutely loved. Releasing gorgeous baby turtles into the sea on a starry night was beautiful and surreal, and getting to snorkel with adult turtles in the sea was one of the (many) highlights of the whole trip. Beach cleans were hard but rewarding work, really emphasising how important it is that we continue jobs like these that help the natural world. We had spare time each day too, in which we could relax, swim in the sea or take a tuk-tuk to the nearby town of Hikkaduwa.

Not only that, but the local TMR team swapped a day of volunteering for us to create a simulated Sri Lankan New Year’s day of celebrations, together with the rest of the village. Sri Lankan New Year was the following week in reality so I felt very lucky to be a part of this spontaneous experience and it really shows how the local team will personalise the trip for you. The day consisted of a fun run - with locals hilariously drenching you in water as you went past - followed by games in a beautiful clearing in the jungle with the local community (I very proudly came third in the lime and spoon race). The evening then closed the day with a disco, with lots of laughing and dancing. That day was another highlight of the trip and it was such a privilege to be involved in a day of celebrating Sri Lankan culture with the lovely locals.

After the week volunteering in Akurala, the travel part of the experience began. Together with the others also booked on, we set off in a mini bus, touring to lots of different locations across the country, both along the coast and up in the hills. With our Spotify playlist going as we went (with lots of sing-alongs), we visited famous places like Kandy, Ella, Sigiriya, Udawalawe National Park and Galle (among many others). A road trip of fantastic activities and cultural sites, I particularly loved the elephant safari in Udawalawe, climbing up the steps to the top of Lion's Rock (Sigiriya) to enjoy the stunning views, the early-morning hike to the Nine Arch Bridge, exploring beautiful temples like the Dambulla Cave and trekking up Little Adam's Peak (which turned out to be three peaks!).

While my two weeks in Sri Lanka had come to an end, I had then booked on to the TMR weekend trip to the Maldives. It was the easiest trip - TMR arranged the flights and accommodation so all we had to do was turn up! Just an hour's flight from Sri Lanka, the Maldives weekend was the perfect finale to my time away. We had free time to do whatever we wanted, staying on a local island rather than one of the resorts so it felt like we got a more 'real' experience of the country. We were on Maafushi island and the hotel had a beautiful pool, was a two-minute walk (if that) from the beach and had day trips that you could book. Of the latter, I ticked even more off the bucket list, getting to snorkel with dolphins and nurse sharks, feed manta rays, eat lunch on a sand bank in the middle of the ocean, jet skiing and parasailing. It was absolute paradise!

I look back on my time with TMR in Sri Lanka and the Maldives with absolute delight, happy memories and pride. It was my first time travelling completely by myself and the team, both in the UK and in Sri Lanka, made it really easy for me. I got to meet loads of fellow solo travellers and push myself out of my comfort zone while in a welcoming and safe environment. If you're in any doubt of going on a trip with TMR, this is your sign to do it! I'm so grateful to the whole team who gave me this incredible experience. 

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