Volunteering abroad is one of the most rewarding and inspiring ways to travel. It adds another, deeper, layer to your experience and provides you with incredible memories, as well as the chance to give something back as you travel the world.
While there maybe a huge amount your presence and support can provide to others, there’s also a lot you can gain from the experience, so choose your project wisely.
Here are 7 things to consider when deciding to volunteer, and questions to ask yourself when deciding which project would be right for you.
7 Questions to Ask Yourself to Help you Choose the Perfect Volunteer Project
How Long Do I Have?
Consider how long you have for your trip. The good news is that you how long you volunteer is up to you, you can stay for just one week or two months if you like.
One massive plus point is that the majority of the cost of the volunteering projects comes from the initial induction and training. Once you’re up and running it costs much less to stay a bit longer so you get more value for money. For example, Goa Beach and Volunteer is £575 for 2 weeks, but then only £166 per each additional week after that. Meaning the longer you stay the better value it is for you, and the bigger impact you’ll make to the community you’re working with.
What’s my Budget?
The choice of projects is huge, and with experiences such as Volunteering with Children in Guatemala starting from as little as £288, it’s extremely likely that you’ll a project that you really want to support in your price range.
I’d say the best thing to do would be to consider your budget first, and then search for a project you love that fits within that.
Where do I Want to Travel?
Volunteers are needed for projects all over the world. Think about somewhere you’ve always wanted to travel to and explore the possibilities within that country.
For example, if you’ve always wanted to visit Thailand, start with that as a destination then consider the many opportunities offered within it, for example, helping in an elephant sanctuary, teaching Thai children, or rebuilding communities.
Volunteering in the place you’ve always wanted to visit will give you the opportunity to mix, and become friends, with the local people and help you gain a deeper understanding of what make the community, and the project itself, tick.
Can This Help my Career?
Depending on what you want to do, taking part in a volunteering project could provide an outstanding contribution to your future employability.
If you want to work in teaching, conservation, politics, medicine or even construction then there’s a direct and obvious advantage from volunteering in projects which deal directly with this type of work.
However, even if the career you want has no obvious coloration to the volunteering project you’d like to support, consider just think how experiencing something like this could help you sell yourself to a future employer. Words like ‘dedication’, ‘pro activity’, and ‘awareness’ spring to mind.
What do I Really Care About?
Ask yourself what issues are important to you personally and where your passions lie.
Do you believe in saving endangered species? Then consider a trip helping care for Pandas in China. Do you feel strongly about education for all? Then look into teaching English to children in Cambodia. Do you want to give something back and help those less fortunate? Then help at an orphanage in South Africa.
There are a huge amount of projects available, each one offering you a chance to make a real difference to the lives of real people around the world.
What Will I be Able to Take Away from the Experience?
While giving back is great, and so important, don’t forget this is your experience. Think about what you want to take away from this. Do you want to push yourself out of your comfort zone? Then what about a trip helping to protect Great White sharks in Cape Town, South Africa? Yep, that’ll do it – comfort zone well and truly pushed!
How can I think ‘Outside the Box’.
While the opportunities and benefits of the more ‘traditional’ volunteering projects like conservation, construction and teaching are well documented and vital. That doesn’t mean that those once in a lifetime opportunities to do something completely different aren’t available too. For example, what about learning to be a game ranger or working at the Grand Canyon?
How Can This Fit in With my Wider Travel Plans?
If you’re taking off on a big round the world adventure, a volunteering stint can add a very special element to your trip and can be easily slotted in to your plans anywhere along your route.
Similarly, even if you’re going away for two weeks, you could spend 1 week volunteering and 1 week ‘holidaying’ giving you the opportunity to fuse what is essentially two very different travel experiences into one amazing trip.
The possibilities are endless and the opportunities are amazing.