If you are looking for something different to do with your holiday, it's always about the amount of adventure you put into it. While something like a trekking holiday puts you through your paces in a physical sense, a volunteer trip is going to do that, and then some! Not only will you feel physically exhausted, but you'll feel emotionally exhausted. Now, this isn't to put people off, but it's a worthwhile experience for anybody to have in life. But when preparing for a volunteer trip, what do you need to have in store physically in your backpack, but mentally, in your mind?
Decide On The Volunteer Project
There are so many volunteer options out there, that it can be confusing to pick the right one. But when it comes to picking one that suits you, you need to think about your own needs and desires, and where you will feel best suited. There are projects that range from youth development and education, where you would be teaching medicine and healthcare, where are you could provide health education or work in a medicinal capacity, developing communities, disaster relief, as well as the agricultural side of things or even building houses and schools. This is the very tip of the iceberg when it comes to what options are out there when choosing a project, it's best to have it as close to the professional skills you know you can do. As far as the task itself is concerned, if you can do it with ease, this is going to benefit you better in the long run, because everything else will be a considerable challenge.
After you've decided on your project, you need to decide how long you'd like to volunteer for. If you want to volunteer in the middle of a travel expedition, there are volunteer programs that have a minimum commitment of one week, but the usual amount ranges from two weeks up to six months. Depending on the type of projects you would like, the opportunity could be during a specific time of year. For example, teaching would revolve around an academic schedule. The location of volunteering can be literally anywhere in the world but are mainly centred on Africa, Asia and Latin America.
And when you are looking for a specific project, you need to make sure that it is reputable and has had previous positive feedback. If you plan on working with children, ensuring that they look for background checks and are fully compliant is essential. But also, you need to know that they will support you throughout your time there. It's important not to go into this blindly, especially if you sign up for a long tenure.
Preparing The Essentials Before You Go
As soon as you've decided what you want to do and when you're going to do it, preparing everything before taking your flight out there requires a lot of personal and professional preparation. As well as your passport and your visa, and making sure that your flights are booked, you need to visit with a doctor to ensure that you have a clean bill of health before entering a specific country. Some countries require you to have specific vaccinations to go there. If you were entering South Africa, you would need to have proof of having a vaccination against yellow fever. As well as this, you would need some specific medications, such as malaria prevention, especially in South African countries, but it's important to speak to a travel doctor to get as much information as possible. It's also important to conduct the relevant research, especially if you plan on volunteering as part of a longer holiday. If you end up travelling through many different countries, this results in a lot more vaccinations required.
In addition to these, it's important to have the relevant documents, such as travel insurance. If you are volunteering, some programme providers include travel insurance in their fees. If this is not the case, it's vital you have travel insurance to cover for any issues in loss of luggage, electrical equipment, or if there is a delay in the journey, or even an evacuation or a medical emergency.
And on the money side of things, you should notify your bank and credit card companies where you are going, just in case they see a charge from a foreign country. But when it comes to budgeting, it's always the best to think a little bit more in terms of what you would realistically spend, just in case there is a discrepancy in costs. It's much better to over-budget than to under-budget.
Making The Most Of Your Time Out There
And while the idea of volunteering abroad may sound full-on, in fact, you will have a lot of free time. So while you're busy during the days, you may want to think about what to do with your evenings. Whether you have wanted to learn an instrument or wanted to catch up on your reading, this is the perfect opportunity for you to do these things. But to make the most of your time out there, you need to ensure that you are sensitive to the culture you are in. So, be sure to learn the language as best as you can, take an active interest in the needs of the community, and also, if you're looking to save money, living with a local family is not just a great way to cut back on the expenses, but it's a way of seeing the country from an authentic perspective. You'll have a much more genuine appreciation of everything this way. But on top of everything, remember to have fun. You are there to open your mind to another world, but you are also there to explore who you are.
If you've been on numerous backpacking holidays and seen the world, and you're looking for a new way to broaden your horizons, a volunteering holiday could be the best solution for you. Because it can be a real eye-opener to the struggles of other countries and cultures, you can make a big difference. So if you're looking for another angle to the standard holiday experience, a volunteer holiday should be on the cards.