Volunteering abroad is increasing in popularity. It not only makes you feel warm and fuzzy inside, but also allows you to see a new country from the inside out, learn a new skill and make new lifelong friends! Volunteering abroad can be the experience of a lifetime!
If you’re interested in building and developing a community abroad, then this is the guide for you! Follow these steps to maximise your chances of falling in love with volunteering abroad:
Think About The Budget
Many different factors will affect how much volunteering abroad costs. From flights and accommodation to where you choose to eat of an evening. There are many different ways to save money whilst travelling abroad, check out four tips and tricks for travelling on a budget here.
How far you can stretch your budget can affect where you travel to, flights to countries further away are typically more expensive than short haul flight to countries close by. Likewise, your budget may dictate your accommodation, budget travellers are less likely to stay in a five-star hotel. If you are choosing to volunteer with an organisation, accommodation is often provided, included in the programme fees which can vary from under a hundred to over a thousand a week.
The main difference between expensive and cheaper projects offered by an organisation is the accommodation provided. Affordable projects tend to have more basic accommodation.
If you are struggling with funding your trip, many volunteers fundraise online, apply for travel grants or ask their employer.
Choose A Destination
Volunteering doesn’t require previous experience and there are no end of organisations seeking help from volunteers all over the globe. Wherever you want to visit, you can combine seeing a new country with helping others.
The destination of your project will affect the type of volunteer jobs available. For example: English speaking countries will result in few volunteer jobs teaching English, less developed countries will need more help with building projects and you’ll struggle to find marine conservation projects in landlocked countries!
Choose A Volunteer Job
Before choosing how you want to volunteer consider what interests and excites you! Also consider the skills you have and how you could put them to use, benefiting and developing a community abroad.
Volunteering abroad is about adjusting to the need of the people around you. Upon arrival you may find your skills are better used in another way. For example: teaching your own class rather than acting as a teaching assistant or building public toilets for the school children and local families to use instead of building another classroom. Being flexible and open minded will help you make the biggest impact.
Search on the internet for volunteer projects in the country and field you wish to help, nowadays it is easier than ever to find a charity and apply directly. However, first time and nervous volunteers may prefer to travel with the support of an organisation who can put you in contact with other volunteers, help you book flights, provide details on the project and what you will be doing as a volunteer.
It is common for volunteers to get carried away when buying presents to take over for the local community with bags full of: toys, clothes, books, food, sweets and shoes. There may be other much needed supplies and donations that will be greatly appreciated and help develop the community.
Check with your volunteer sending organisation about what is limited or hard to get in the local area and what you should bring from home.
Typical needs, especially in underdeveloped countries:
Schools – Different coloured pens, pencils and arts and craft materials. Marker pens and white board pens are also useful. Printed worksheets suitable for various ages.
Hospitals – Disposable gloves, disposable aprons, syringes, wound dressings, any medical supplies or equipment.
Communities – Water filters and biodegradable sanitation products can be donated, as they are not easily available in poorer countries. When helping to build, it can be cost effective to hire tools over there, rather than bringing them in luggage.
This rule also applies for packing clothes. Typically, volunteers have one go to outfit that they wear the most and leave the majority of their clothes unpacked in their bag. Be sure to pack clothes which are suitable for the weather.
Throw caution to the wind and go, you won’t regret it!