Did you miss part 1? Make sure you head on over there first to ensure you know everything you need to know before your first volunteer project.
Here are more things you need to know before your first volunteer project abroad…
10. You will make friends
Myself and Jess will always cherish being able to experience these projects as a couple but we realised that we were the anomaly and 99% of the other volunteers were solo who had made the jump to head out into the big scary world alone.
Making friends is very important as you will hear stories of their hometowns, learn about other cultures and it will ensure you have a memorable time. This will happen if you open up and enjoy yourself.
11. You won’t make friends with everyone
There is also a flip side to making friends. During our experience we found that the majority of volunteers were young and straight out of high school. Immaturity and cliques are present where ever you go so just move on and accept not everyone will like you.
12. This will stand out on your resume
Partying it up in Ibiza just won’t look the same as making a difference in Africa on your resume. Alongside the benefit of having international travel, your potential employer could spark up a conversation about your time volunteering.
13. Buy wet weather gear and a good pair of shoes
Although we never worked in situations that could cause harm (such as a hail or thunderstorm) we have worked in rainy conditions – and remember all the animals still need to get feed every single day, rain or shine. There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear so put some money aside to get a good pair of shoes and wet weather gear.
14. Use a backpack
The majority of projects we went to include transportation on public buses. On top of that the projects can be seen as working farms, so there wont be nicely paved roads for you to pull your bag along. You do not want to be wheeling your luggage through dirt – just buy a backpack you will thank us later.
15. Learn the local medical system
Once again, as previously mentioned if booked through an organisation this can be brought up during your research stage, however if we hope you take anything away from this post it would be to plan ahead and research yourself. What would happen if you had a medical emergency? Where do you go? How do you buy prescriptions or even basic drugs for anything as common as a headache?
16.Where is your money going?
Will your fee include your transportation to and from the airport? What about meals? Accommodation? Though we have yet to come across a project that did not include all of this we have learnt from other volunteers that this is not always the case.
In our experience we have been to a project where more than one organisation sends through volunteers. Upon discussion and research one organisation offered the same experience for a cheaper cost, whereas the other included day trips, WiFi and more. Add the costs vs benefits as the premium may be what you are after.
Some may take your money and leave you to figure the rest out, make sure you do your research and ask questions.
17.Will your money benefit the project?
This is a tough one to find out but an important one. Booking through an organisation will automatically remove a cut, so what are their mission statements? Are they there to ensure the projects benefit or are they there to just make a dime off of you.
18. Is the project ethical?
There are some projects which unfortunately aren’t completely ethical. From canned lion farming (being straight out unethical) to breeding farms which may just disagree with your personal ethical views.
You need to ask yourself wether you agree with what is going on, on a personal level.
19. Buy a good camera
You’ve spent all this money on flights and on the project, why skimp on the gear that will allow you to capture these incredible moments. At the same time we see many travellers spending cheap on a camera that takes worse photos than their brand new iPhone. Check the specs and if don’t think you would use it when you get home, sell it to a friend and make back the difference you would’ve spent on that cheaper version.
20. Speaking of money – bring it
From optional activities to enjoying a beer whilst watching the sun set in the distance as giraffes walk past – these are generally additional and can sometimes be an afterthought. Many think that being in a remote part of the world will prevent you from spending, but trust us when you eat rice and beans for most of your meals you start to crave some chocolate.
Not just optional activities, what about medical emergencies? Most insurance policies (which we won’t put as a point because that should obviously already be at the back of your mind) will require you to pay out first then claim back later.
If you have any questions about volunteering, leave them below.