Volunteering overseas can open your mind, (and heart) and allow you to experience the beauty of different cultures from all over the world, while satisfying the urge to help others. Instead of heading down to Bali or Australia, with nothing but a map and a tightly packed backpack, take a look at these simple tips that will help you organize a trip that satisfies your need to support a cause you hold dear to your heart, and enjoy traveling on a very different level. It just might change your life!
Choose A Destination And Setting
It sounds selfish, but if you’re going on a charitable getaway, you might as well enjoy it by picking a destination you’ve always wanted to visit. It’s a win-win situation, and you’ll also get to explore and wander around once your shifts and time with this organization is over. If you choose Southeast Asia, for example, then help with the reforestation in Bali by getting involved with the Bali Spirit Festival organization. Afterwards, you can enjoy a stroll down their amazing beaches.
Bali Spirit Festival: http://www.balispiritfestival.com/community-outreach/bali-regreen
Support A Personal Cause
Find a cause that’s close to your heart and your trip will be more worthwhile, and it’ll be forever treasured for incredible reasons, like traveling to South Africa to work in healthcare clinics and centers throughout Cape Town and its surrounding areas. VolunteeringSolutions.com is a great medical volunteer program that you can apply for. But there’s so much love to give! You can teach English in impoverished areas, and many programs include anything from support, language exchange, to even building houses. Or, join IVHQ and international volunteer program that provides affordable, safe and responsible volunteer abroad programs in 35 countries or join Elephant Nature Park in Northern Thailand to learn more on how they rescue and rehabilitate elephants.
Volunteering Solutions: https://www.volunteeringsolutions.com/south-africa/medical-volunteer-program
Elephant Nature Park: https://www.elephantnaturepark.org
Ask The Right Questions
The More you know, the more successful your trip will be! So don’t be afraid to ask the right questions. For starters, you need to know how much of your expenses will be covered on this volunteering trip. Ask if the cost of volunteering vacation will include meals, accommodations, and transportation. Also, inquire about the sleeping situation and how many hours of work per day you’ll be required to provide. Will you get any days off? Will you share your room with other volunteers? Etc. Don’t leave anything to chance.
Work With Credible Charities
Charity Navigator is an excellent watchdog for U.S. charities. We at TFAP have a list of reliable and well respected charity programs we work with. But if you’re looking to go abroad, then stick to well-respected worldwide volunteering organizations like GivingWay, International Volunteer HQ, Volunteers For Peace, Global Works Travel, or Global Leadership Adventures. But do your research first, and always contact them directly.
International Volunteer HQ: www.volunteerhq.org
Volunteers For Peace: https://vfp.org/
Global Works Travel: www.globalworkstravel.com
Global Leadership Adventures: www.experiencegla.com
Marwa Fayed Toy’s run: https://www.facebook.com/marwafayedstoyrun/
Sumba Foundation in Indonesia: www.sumbafoundation.org
Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya: www.olpejetaconservancy.org
Establish How Much Time You Can Give
Is volunteering the sole purpose of your trip, or do you want to embark on a personal journey as well? If so, decide how much time you want to give to a cause before you choose your destination. There’s nothing wrong with exploring the beauty of a country, their people, and their language while you go on a personal quest of self-discovery. You can definitely help out while you get to know yourself a bit better, and there’s no need to choose one over the other, unless you want to. If your trip is based on volunteering, then look for organizations like these ones.
Volunteer World: www.volunteerworld.com
Peace Corps Link: www.peacecorps.gov
Match Your Expertise With A Cause
Use volunteer-oriented job boards such as Idealist, or VSO to match your expertise with the right volunteer opportunity. Are you looking to teach English abroad? Then first you’ll need to get certified here www.teflcertificationabroad.com and then look for work on Go Abroad. You may already have the skills someone’s in desperate need of.
Go Abroad: www.goabroad.com
What Are Your Interests?
Are you looking to travel to a specific country or work on a specific issue? If that’s the case, then Change By Doing is a great resource to find the latest worldwide volunteer opportunities. You certainly don’t want to travel thousands of miles to work with animals, teach, or offer medical aid if you’re going to hate it. Explore what it is that you really love doing, and find out, (Google is your friend!) if you’d be a good fit at a charitable organization that focuses on that.
Change By Doing link: www.changebydoing.com
Like any trip, the cost can make your “do good, feel good” endeavor feel impossible if the price is too high. So do the math because even organized volunteer trips don’t come cheap! Volunteer organizations won’t pay for your air fare, but you can get up to 30 percent off on sites like Fly for Good. Research is your new best friend! If anything fails, save a little extra each month and anticipate to spend around 30% more than you visualized. It’ll save unwelcoming surprises!
Fly For Good link: www.flyforgood.com
Consider DIY Volunteer Travel
This can significantly cut travel costs, and you don’t even have to leave your own country. A lot of volunteering opportunities can be right next door. Volunteering at home is much easier to organize, it’s cheaper, and you speak the same language. So give sites like Volunteer Match or HandsOn Network a shot. You might be able to satisfy your craving to do good easily, and locally.
Volunteer Match link: www.volunteermatch.org
HandsOn Network: www.handsonnetwork.org
Take A Deep Breath
You’re about to experience the world and how you can help in a completely different way. So once you’ve picked your volunteer experience, stop and think before tackling the planning phase. When you’re ready, the anticipation of what you’re about to face will very rewarding in ways you can’t imagine. But don’t let the stress get to you. It’s just a matter of sitting down, doing your research, contacting every organization you have your eye on, and relaxing. You’re about to embark in a different journey, and it’s time to enjoy it!
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