1. Choose a volunteer abroad program in a field you’re passionate about
Whatever your interests may be, make sure you apply to a volunteer abroad program in a field you’re interested in – there will most likely be a charity out there looking for abroad volunteers in your interested field.
By choosing to volunteer in a program you’re passionate, you’re more likely to get stuck in, immerse yourself in a new culture and get the most out of your trip.
Over the Christmas holidays, my friend spent a month volunteering at Morocco Animal Aid as he loves dogs, he came back having had the best time in a sunny climate doing something he loved!
Getting to put it on his CV was just a bonus.
2. Research the organisation or charity
As well as following your passions, you also have to be mindful in thoroughly researching individual organisations that offer volunteering roles.
Be wary of any organisations that may appear more profit-oriented than charitable, as you might end up doing more harm than good in giving your time to them.
This is particularly relevant if you want to volunteer with children abroad, as you will need to take into consideration any potential risks or safeguarding issues in your research.
3. Familiarise yourself with the country you’re visiting’s laws and customs
If you’ve done your research and found a particular charity you want to volunteer abroad for, it is also essential that you familiarise yourself with the country, including its entry requirements, local laws and customs.
The Foreign Office’s foreign travel advice page is a great resource for this, it has advice tailored to 225 countries, as well as specific volunteering advice.
Further advice and specific volunteering opportunities can be found through VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas).
These resources are great to use when planning your trip, to ensure you volunteer abroad cheap, safely and smoothly!
At the time of Covid-19 volunteering abroad might be challenging but not impossible!
For this reason, on top of heeding your travel country’s laws and customs, make sure that you are keeping track and well aware of their travel restrictions as well.
4. Stay safe and keep in touch
No matter how long you’re volunteering for, make sure you can keep in regular contact with your friends and family, and tell them your plans before you leave.
Your days will most likely be jam-packed, but your loved ones will feel reassured if you check in with them when you can
As with any trip abroad, it’s vital to get travel insurance that will cover you in the event of any accidents or injuries, be sure to leave a copy of your travel documents and itinerary with a friend or family member at home.
It’s really worth spending a bit of time organising documents before you leave, so your volunteering project will be as enjoyable as possible.
5. Have fun and get stuck in!
While the inevitable feeling of homesickness may creep in, and it can be daunting to meet a range of new people (especially if you’re planning on volunteering abroad solo), it is important to get stuck in, immerse yourself in your projects and enjoy it!
Volunteering abroad is an incredible opportunity to make a real difference both in communities and individual lives, and you’ll meet some fascinating people and friends for life that you definitely wouldn’t have met otherwise.
If you enjoy your experience, then word of mouth will also help the charity get more future volunteers and raise awareness for their cause!