Travel advice for volunteering abroad

It is often said that volunteering is one of the most rewarding things that a person can do with their spare time. Helping out those less fortunate, often in areas of the world which are less developed or stable than their home countries, it is a way to give something meaningful and life changing to people in need which goes beyond sending small monthly donations.

Despite popular belief, it is not just people from developed countries who offer their support by volunteering abroad. In recent years there has been a huge increase in the number of volunteers coming from other struggling or less developed countries.

One of the main attractions of volunteering and travelling for that matter is that it removes you from your current surroundings and throws you into a completely different world full of cultural differences and life changing situations which no other experience can give you.

One of the resounding statements you hear from people who have volunteered abroad or are looking too is that there is a lot of confusing information around which can make planning your trip difficult, we have a few tips to help you on your way on your new adventure.

Pick the right destination for you

Volunteering is not simply about sacrificing your own enjoyment to help others, the rise of “voluntourism” have shown us that more and more people are heading abroad to help those in need and enjoy themselves in the process.

Every volunteering program is different, while some offer high standards of accommodation and home comforts including hot showers and internet access, others will give you a much more basic and accurate representation of life in that area. Depending on the length of your trip this is something which is very important and you should consider what you want to get out of the experience.

There are lots of places in the world which benefit from economic aid, and volunteering is a big part of helping the people of those countries achieve a better quality of life. Unfortunately many of these countries can be very dangerous places, often affected by conflict or disease and should be researched extensively before making your decision.

Pack light and pack smart

Where ever you end up on your travels, chances are you will be doing a lot of walking. The last thing you want to do is drag a huge amount of luggage with you, especially if you are in rural areas.

What you pack will obviously depend on your destination and what time of year you are going, some countries climates vary dramatically throughout the year so be prepared.

Pack the essentials and a few changes of clothes and buy the rest when you are out there, you will usually find that it will be much less expensive and means you can save on valuable souvenir space!

With all this walking you will want to make sure you have a good pair of shoes which are up for the task, this is one item which you should not take for granted, if you are travelling to rural areas or plan to get out on some good walks then this is most certainly an investment.

Have access to emergency funds and cover

Emergencies rarely happen at a convenient time, and can eat into your funds and cut your travelling short. To avoid this it is always a good idea to have some amount of emergency money you can access should the worst happen.

In an ideal world you should have enough to cover a short notice flight from anywhere in the world, this may not always be possible but anything you can save will definitely help.

Things can get even more complicated if you lose your wallet or credit cards while travelling, ringing your bank and cancelling the card should be the first step. Most banks nowadays have steps in place to help those that have lost cards abroad and are able to forward emergency money to your account.

Any medical emergencies can be very expensive, travel insurance is designed to cover you for these kinds of accidents so you don’t have to pay for treatment yourself. It’s important to remember that any medical attention you require from emergency dentist appointment, to broken bones or sickness will cost you if you are travelling outside of the UK.

The most important part of volunteering is simply the experience, you get to offer something meaningful back to people who are really in need and you get to have an incredible experience in the process. Make the most of your time and see what the world has to offer.

Image by Frontierofficial on Flickr