Before you leave home for your trip to help and change humanity, there’s a few things to know before volunteering abroad.
Here are things you should look into to make sure you are not caught unawares. For inexperienced travelers these are very important and should not be taken lightly. As an experienced traveler you know some of these tips but also you need to be reminded of the basics.
Related Read: The Complete Guide to Volunteering Abroad
What to know before volunteering abroad: Questions to ask
Here’s what to know before volunteering abroad, including the important questions to ask when deciding what volunteer work to do abroad.
Also, don’t forget about getting volunteer abroad travel insurance!
1. How much time do you have available to volunteer or travel?
Many volunteers don’t plan their time well before they leave for their trip. Some plan too little time and feel like they are not effective. Or feel like their impact was not felt like it should have.
Some volunteers are people who are working and they use their vacation period to go. Depending on your employer and how much time they give you. You should plan your time well so that you can leave as soon as you can and be back early also. So that you will not be burnt out by the time you are going to work. Also the vacation should be too short for you to leave an impact. Gap year travelers are the lucky ones here as they don’t have a time limit. And they are able to start and finish a project.
2. What kind of work do you want to do?
Many companies out there offer great programs and projects for volunteers. The packages available are good too but the programs are mainly generalized for the public. There are a list and a whole number of programs available but if you are to decide to something you want to make sure you like what you are going to do and be good at it.
The work you pick to do should be something you like to do and it should play to your strengths. For example if you like to play with kids then orphanage work would be good for you. Also if you are used to teaching your peers, then teaching would come naturally for you.
Check out our guide to volunteering abroad for more details on the types of volunteer abroad programs that you can do and how to choose one.
3. What kind of work would you prefer to avoid?
Like the previous paragraph, this is very important. You don’t want to feel burdened or overworked in your vacation. Also, sometimes when you choose to be involve in some program there are duties that you would like to avoid.
For example if you work in an orphanage and they ask you to wash clothes and you are not comfortable with that. You should talk to the organization that you are using to make sure you avoid things you are not comfortable with.
If the work you choose has certain areas you are not ok with, explain to them that you can’t do it most companies will work with you and will change to suit your preferences.
4. What skills and talents can you bring to the group?
One of the hardest questions to answer is what are your talents? Most of us don’t know what we are good at. There are few of us who are lucky to know our talents early. If you are in the first group, then use a series of guided questions to help you find the things you can bring to the volunteer program.
Look for things you like to do. For example if you love playing video games it doesn’t mean you can’t help with your skills. This means you could come up with games that people enjoy like monopoly, chess or scrabble.
5. What locations are you most interested in?
Many organizations offer a multitude of locations. The problem comes when you are overwhelmed with the choices and you are not sure where to go. In some they give you the option of which continent to apply your volunteer trip or where to start your gap year. In some they you can choose whether you want to be in the cities or in the rural areas.
You should look at your options and find the ones which are more appropriate for you. For example if you choose to go and live in the rural areas in a third world country. You will find the conditions there to be basic, no running water or electricity.
Global Work and Travel offers volunteer opportunities in South Africa, Costa Rica, Tanzania, Thailand, Peru, Nepal, Myanmar, Namibia, Ecuador, and Argentina.
Related Read: Reasons to Volunteer in Cambodia