The Do’s and Don’ts of Travelling for Volunteer Work Abroad
Have you considered volunteer work abroad? Traveling is not only done for leisure; some travel abroad to volunteer themselves. And some organizations offer meals and accommodation for volunteers who are willing to help them in their cause.
Preparing for Volunteer work abroad
It may sound exciting and rewarding. However, before you accept any offer and jump on a plane, familiarize yourself first with the do’s and don’ts listed below.
Do your research first
The best way to get ready is to come prepared. Before you confirm anything with the company, read about the organization you wish to volunteer on.
Understand their cause and internalize if it’s something you wanted to spend your time on. Read about the place where you will be relocated and somehow study the culture and their way of living.
Do ask your family and close friends about their opinion on this new opportunity you will soon embark on. Be open to feedback, suggestions, and even discouragement. After all, if you have decided to go, nothing or no one can stop you anymore.
But then again, always be proactive on other things you should know. Expect to be surprised as to how one culture can be completely different from another. Equip yourself with things such as what to do when a local comes up to you and starts acting rude.
Remember that when you do volunteer work abroad you are a foreigner to someone else’s country, and a lot could happen.
Do evaluate the costs
To volunteer means you will not get paid regularly.
There are times that some organizations that provide meals, accommodations, and other basic needs to their volunteers. While some do not give anything at all, therefore all expenses will have to be covered by you. This may include your airfare.
If you feel like you have enough saved up for this trip, then that is fine. But, always make sure you have extra and that you will never run out while abroad.
Asking family or close friends for help as a donation can be one of the ways to raise enough funds depending on how long you will be away. The point here is, save up the right amount based on your estimate before leaving.
Do know what to pack
After evaluating the cost, the next thing you have to think about are the essential items you have to bring with you. As much as possible, make sure that you pack light and just bring carry-on luggage.
When doing volunteer work abroad, chances are you will be out and about most of the time.
Avoid packing your expensive watches or too much jewelry or accessories. Remember that when you get to your destination, you are expected to be one with the locals. Do not isolate yourself to them by dressing over the top.
Bring comfortable tops with you and 3-4 pairs of dark-colored jeans and trainers. Do not forget to bring jackets too or cardigans if going to colder places.
And of course, your own set of toiletries. Going to a secluded area means, sanitation most of the time is not expected.
Therefore, rather than hassle yourself in finding stores on where to buy shampoo, for example, make sure to bring your own which would last for the whole duration of your stay.
Do use time wisely
Before selecting a project, you want to support; surely, you have already set up your goals. If one of your objectives is to explore the place you’re at, that’s fine.
Sometimes, to better understand the people and culture of a specific area, you have to study and familiarize yourself with it too. In doing so, it is crucial to make use of your time wisely.
Remember that exploration of the place is just secondary to what it is you are supposed to do. Have open communication with your leader as well before making any plans of doing something outside work.
If it is possible to have a copy of your weekly schedule so you can plan, then do so. There are places, such as the Amazon, where you can do so much but so little time is available.
Don’t volunteer just for the trip
There are people who travel overseas and volunteer at the same time. The idea of helping other people and offering their time and energy is there.
However, it is during these times that some go for volunteer work abroad and get pre-occupied with something else. Some of them would arrive in the area without any preparation at all ? for the job that is. Nor any comfortable clothes.
What they’re after, and this is not to generalize, is the travel or trip after the project. Therefore you get cold volunteers who don’t even know how to empathize or don’t have any idea how their activities could have an impact on someone.
Don’t worry if things don’t work as expected
A lot of things could happen every day. Good or bad, don’t let it discourage you, especially if it is your first time to do volunteer work.
The world has a lot of social, cultural, and even political problems you can still tackle. In one way or another, someone out there is needing your help.
If one project didn’t end well, search for another one that interests you. Or maybe start volunteering locally in your area first, for example.
Don’t say no to new experiences
If you feel like you’ve been inside your comfort zone all your life, then it is high time to stay out of it once in a while.
Volunteer works are not permanent jobs. These experiences are the ones that come knocking only once ? twice if you’re lucky.
The point is, the first time you got invited to take part in a cleaning brigade in your area grab it. It’s the little things that ignite that drive in you.
Who knows, maybe after that, you are already on your way to Peru to clean up the aftermath of flooding in 2017.
To do volunteer work abroad for a particular cause, whatever that is, is a noble job. That kind of opportunity is not given to everyone, and not everyone has that drive.
So if at one point you feel like you wanted to help in your own way, then do so. Once you offered your time and expertise to somehow alleviate one of the growing social problems of the world, you are already doing a lot.