Conscious travel

How to prepare for volunteering abroad

Deciding to volunteer abroad could very well be the best decision you ever make, with the opportunity to explore a different culture with locals as well as the chance to make a real difference to a country. Not to mention the fantastic memories that will stay with you for a lifetime.

However, it can also be a daunting experience, especially for first-timers, as you will be putting yourself in a hugely unfamiliar situation, most likely without any hands-on help or support from friends and family.

Do not let this put you off, though. If you are prepared to take the risk and dive into the unknown, then the rewards can be unsurpassable.

Furthermore, with a little planning, you can make your volunteering adventure even more enriching.

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Think about what you want from volunteering

The first step to planning your perfect volunteering expedition is to think about what you want from the experience.

  • Do you have a particular country that you want to help?
  • Or is there a specific cause that means something to you personally?
  • Do you have any set goals you would like to achieve while you are volunteering?

As much as volunteering is about helping a community abroad, you should not lose sight of what you want to get from it, or you risk not following through with it or quitting halfway.

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Make sure you have something to offer

You may think that you are doing something selfless and giving when volunteering abroad, and you are, but you are also gaining a lot from this type of experience; cultural immersion, personal improvement, and you may even learn a whole new set of skills.

However, have you thought about what you can bring to the table? Other than your time, that is. 

  • Do you have any specific skills that would make your act of volunteering more worthwhile to the community you have chosen to help?

Perhaps, you could consider taking a course before you plan your volunteering trip. For example, a product design degree would teach you about social responsibility, global design, and sustainability; all of which could be beneficial to undeveloped communities.  

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Plan, plan and plan some more

If you think about how much planning is required for a trip abroad and then multiply it by about ten, then you will have a good idea of what is involved in the organization of volunteering abroad.

You will need to research destinations and community projects, set yourself a realistic budget (not to mention, raise funds to go), organize time off work, and maybe even rent out your home depending on how long you are planning to volunteer for.

Photo by Brian Yurasits on Unsplash

Organize fundraising events

The chances are that you will not have the funds needed to volunteer just sitting idly in your bank account and that you will need to raise the cash for yourself before being able to venture abroad.

Organizing local fundraising events are a great way to raise awareness of what you are planning to do and to make money to fund your trip. People will be more willing to support you if they feel personally involved in your journey, so consider setting up an Instagram or blogging platform so that can keep your supporters updated on the work you are carrying out abroad.

Crowdfunding is another way to go, but be warned, the competition is fierce, and you may not make enough money to fund your trip; however, if you do want to take this route, try and find a way to stand out from the crowd.

Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash

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