How To Volunteer Abroad // Guest post from Astrid Halliday

Today’s guest post is brought to you by lovely Astrid Halliday who has some nice tips that can help anyone that is thinking about voulnteering abroad. I am really happy that she decided to get in touch and write this post for you all so I really hope that you will all enjoy it as much as I did!

Volunteering overseas is a great opportunity. Do some good in the world and see a new land whilst exploring another culture. Whether combining it in a gap year or choosing an alternative holiday, you need to know how to organize volunteering abroad.

Budget

The first thing to do when you are preparing a volunteer trip to figure out how much you can afford to spend. Unfortunately volunteering abroad is not free, while the volunteering itself often doesn’t cost, expenses include: flights, transport, accommodation, food, things to do and any gifts or souvenirs you want to buy.

Decide how much you can afford to spend and research online to gain a better understanding of the average cost of living, so you know how much you can expect to spend every day. The website Sky Scanner is useful to get an understanding of how much flights are likely to cost.

It is possible to volunteer abroad with for around £400 for one week including a low cost short haul flight, however opportunities can be hard to find. Typical programme costs will be in the region of £700 – £1000 for a one-week trip. If you are on a tight budget, you may need to scroll to page two or three of the search results. Alternatively, search for ‘cheap/low cost/volunteering abroad’ to save scrolling.

Location

Depending on where you choose to volunteer can really affect the budget. Consider all aspects when travelling abroad, cities are much more expensive than villages, but airport pick-ups are often more affordable when volunteering in the city.

Asia is full of affordable countries and there are many low-cost airlines which operate on the continent making it possible for volunteers to visit more than one county during their visit.

South America has some affordable countries such as Paraguay and Bolivia. However, the lack of tourism visiting this part of the world means there is little competition between airlines, accommodation and things to do, this along with the expensive flights to get over there make it a less affordable destination.

Africa is a very popular destination among volunteers and more travelers visit this continent each year. Some volunteers are shocked by the prices when they arrive, much of the accommodation, cafes and restaurants and things to do have two price lists, one for locals accompanied by non-negotiable tourist prices which can be up to ten times more.

Europe has affordable flights over to the continent, perfect for short stay volunteers. However, the expensive living costs may deter any long stay volunteers.

Type Of Project

Where you choose to volunteer will affect the different projects available. Landlocked countries have little to no marine conservation, English speaking countries have less teaching work and building projects are mostly found in less developed countries.

Teaching English and building schools are two very traditional ways of volunteering abroad, however with more and more opportunities popping up every day, more unique projects include searching for big foot, volunteering with sharks, being cast in a Bollywood film and much more. There are projects to fit everyone!

Organisation or Independent

There are many different ways to organize volunteering abroad, the main two are choosing to volunteer through an organisation or volunteering directly through a charity. There are benefits of both, volunteering independently is typically more affordable whereas volunteering through an organisation provided more support and assistance before and throughout your stay.

Volunteer organisations often have pre-departure support teams whose jobs are to help volunteers with any questions they have, help with booking flights, visas, jabs, what to pack, everything and anything to do with the trip before they go. There is often also an in-country support team to arrange airport pick-ups, organize transport to and from the projects, help volunteers settle in, organizing all volunteering, translate anything and much more.

First time travelers and especially nervous travelers often prefer volunteering through an organisation as contacting a charity direct and volunteering through them requires much more independence such as: making your own way to the project from the airport, organizing your own accommodation, food and transport. It may also mean being the only volunteer there at the time.

Here are some useful websites for planning a volunteer:

Original Volunteers – affordable volunteer sending organisation

Trip Advisor – for information and advice on local tours at your destination

Sky Scanner – probably the easiest site to find cheap flights worldwide

World Packers – independent, unstructured volunteer opportunities.

FCO – government travel safety information with country-specific updates

Fit For Travel – NHS site lists immunizations needed before travel

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