Volunteering abroad is becoming more and more popular as people are looking for more meaningful holiday options but aren’t sure how to go about organising it all. This guide should help with volunteering abroad.
- How old should I be?
Some volunteering hosts and organisations have age restrictions on accepting volunteers, depending on who you are travelling with, where and when.
The best way to find out is to contact a host or organisation and ask!
- Choose your country
People travel and help in different countries for many different reasons, perhaps a volunteer has always wanted to visit a certain country, others may want to help in a specific way and will travel to any country to a project that fits their needs.
Asia is popular for long stay travellers because of the affordability of the continent. Living costs can be as little as $5 a day.
- How do you want to volunteer?
Countries need help in all different ways, from teaching at a local school which is underfunded and understaffed to helping at an animal sanctuary.
Other ways of volunteering maybe helping in the form of unpaid work, at a bar in a hostel or au-pairing for a family.
- How long do you want to volunteer?
How long can you spare? Working professionals can sometimes only offer a week or two to travel and help abroad, whereas people taking a year off may have more time to offer and can volunteer for a couple of months.
Various programmes and destinations are suited for different lengths of stay. It’s probably best not to volunteer for a week at a destination that’s a 24-hour flight away as you will have no time to settle before you turn around to come home again.
- When do you want to go?
Flight prices vary throughout the year, the most expensive time to fly is usually June through to August. Avoiding this time period should make flights more affordable.
Consider the weather conditions and the seasons for the region and time you plan on volunteering. Remember that seasons in the southern hemisphere are opposite to those in the north. It could be snowing in July in Argentina!
- Find your volunteering work
There are many ways to organise volunteering abroad, the main two are: contacting a host before you go or volunteering through an organisation.
A volunteer sending organisation will offer the most support, both before you go and during your stay. They can help with visas, flights and airport pick-ups whereas a host would expect volunteers to be more independent.
Some useful websites:
- Original Volunteers (https://www.originalvolunteers.co.uk/)
- TeachAway (https://www.teachaway.com/)
- com (https://teflgraduate.com/)
- How much should I pay?
Volunteering itself is free; however, you should expect to pay for your accommodation, the support received during your stay and donations if you’re volunteering at a charity.
Costs will vary for each host and organisation. Some organisations charge thousands of dollars per week but there are more affordable hosts and organisations as well. They may be harder to find as they aren’t charging high fees to cover extensive marketing to advertise all over the internet.
- Find a travel Buddy
Ask either your host or organisation if anyone is travelling around the same time as yourself and ask to be put in contact with them! Look at flying over together, if you plan ahead of time!
It’s nice to have a few familiar faces or names when you get over there.
- Get the right Visa
Ask your organisation or host which visa is best for the work you will be doing. Some visas activate soon as they’re issued, and some take time to come back.
A quick online search will bring up the best times to apply for a visa.
- Last Minute
Check you have everything for your trip: important travel documents, supplies for the project you’re visiting, suitable clothes and anything else you need.
Make sure you have appropriate clothing for the weather at your destination and pay attention to night time temperatures too.
Some countries can be warm during the day, but you’ll need to take layers to throw on in the evening.