If you’re hoping to become an international volunteer and work among local communities, you’ll probably have a fair few questions about how to get started with planning your trip. Below, you’ll find a brief overview of the steps you need to take to bring your adventure to life.
Work out your budget
The starting point for organising virtually any kind of jaunt overseas is, of course, working out a budget. If you’re planning to join a community project, you will probably be booking with a company that specialises in volunteer travel. So, you should begin by checking out the average prices of trips that interest you.
Make sure you take into consideration all elements of your journey, like how long you will be away for, what will be included in the price of your chosen tour, your everyday living costs while you are there and emergency funds you will need. It’s also worth factoring in any additional costs that might crop up before your trip – things like purchasing any necessary clothing or equipment you don’t already own.
Got your budget? Good, let’s get on with your planning!
Consider your goals
Ok, so we’ve established you want to volunteer, and we know how much money you have to play with. The next step is to consider any other goals you have in mind.
Initially, you might think volunteering is the one and only thing you want to achieve – but give it some careful thought. Are there any particular experiences you are keen to have, or, if you are organising your trip as part of a gap year or career break, do you want it to have an impact on your future prospects?
One of the most obvious aims that virtually all of us will have is, unsurprisingly, seeing a little bit more of the world. So, you should also decide whether you plan to spend a few weeks volunteering in a single place or if you’d like to explore multiple destinations. This brings us nicely to our next step.
Where to go and what to do
If you already have a country and a community volunteering scheme in mind, this step will be nice and simple. If not, it’s a good idea to chat to friends and family who have been on similar trips, or specialist tour operators who can help you pick something that suits you.
Community work can take many forms, from working in local schools and taking care of orphans to organising theatre groups and building housing. Your choice of destinations will be similarly varied – India, Peru, Zanzibar and Nepal are just some of your options.
If you’re happy to be flexible about what you work on and where you do it, seek out projects that are really short of volunteers. This is a nice – and simple, since most companies should be able to tell you which of their schemes are most in need at any one time – way to make sure your actions have a positive impact.
Find a tour operator
Next on your to-do list should be finding a tour operator. Of course, considering the research involved in the above, you may already have found one, but it always pays to look around. Some of the things you should keep an eye out for include decent reviews from people who have actually been on the tours, as well as things like ethical practices.
Last, but certainly not least, you can book your tour! Once you’ve got those all-important tickets stashed away, you’ll be able to start working out practical details like insurance, inoculations, and whether to pack your favourite teddy bear.