Traveling abroad is an exciting experience in all possible ways. Whether you are traveling with family for holidays, or with friends on an adventure trip, or even with your partner for a romantic getaway, you always want your journey to be the most memorable and a perfect one.
Volunteering abroad, on the other hand, is a kind of traveling abroad which itself is highly enticing and experiential. Plus, the fact that it is practiced mainly by high school and college students on their gap year, to help make a difference in underprivileged lives and gain international hands-on experience to enhance their future career prospects, it becomes all the more important that nothing goes off the track.
Traveling safely, when volunteering abroad, is highly important and is something that many miss out preparing for. Today, I am sharing some very simple tips and tricks to make sure of having a great and safe volunteer abroad experience. Notepad ready!?
Know Your Travel Destination
Research! This is one thing that I always stress upon when giving suggestions for how to prepare for a volunteering trip abroad. One of the best ways to travel safe is to be aware of the destination you have chosen to volunteer at. Learn everything you can about the place; such as current issues (if any), crime rate, language, cultural nuances, etc. Thankfully, volunteers get a detailed orientation session on arrival to their destination by a local coordinator appointed by the volunteer organization they have registered through. Still, it’s always good to know a thing or two beforehand.
Never Leave The Group
The trends have shown that either a volunteer is traveling solo or with a friend to volunteer abroad during their gap year; mostly they travel solo. In either of the cases and since the destination is an entirely new/unknown country, one must make sure that they always stick to the rest of the group of volunteers at that destination. While moving around alone is not an unsafe option, it is always better to have a few like-minded companions, especially during late hours.
Consult the Local Coordinator
There are a number of volunteering organizations that provide placements under different projects across the globe. One of the key services, along with accommodation/meal/etc., that they provide is a dedicated resource to help and guide the volunteers locally throughout their sojourn. This resource is a local representative of the placement organization who coordinates with the volunteers and the placement staff and make sure that volunteers experience a smooth journey. So, it is always a good idea to consult the coordinator when in doubt for something.
Save All the Emergency Numbers on Speed Dial
While most of the volunteer programs are located in remote areas of underdeveloped or developing countries, each of them does have emergency contact numbers where one can contact as and when required. Again, while doing your research before leaving for the destination, look out for all the emergency contact numbers, and double confirm them from the local coordinator and keep them on your speed dial. Other contact numbers to be kept on speed dial could be anyone from your family, the local coordinator, and any of your volunteer mate.
Keep All Your Travel Documents at One Place
Whether to volunteer abroad or otherwise, traveling to a different country requires a lot of paperwork and documentation. And the role of all these documents doesn’t simply end at the immigration desk of the destination you have arrived to volunteer at; in fact, they are now more important to have than ever. They are the license of your travel in this foreign land and by no means should you be careless about your documents. Make sure to keep them collectively at one place which is only accessible by you, and that you remember.
Do Not Carry Heavy Amount in Cash
This one goes without saying. While volunteering abroad, it is the public transport that you’d be taking most of the time to commute intracity. Even while exploring the destination, especially the market areas, one should remain extremely cautious of their belongings when realize that the area is heavily crowded. One of the best ways to shed off all the worries of getting pickpocketed while in public places is to carry as less cash as possible.
Make Sure of Having a Travel Insurance
This is one of the most important aspects of traveling safely while volunteering abroad; and a must. It’s absolutely necessary no matter where you go. Often it happens that no matter how cautious we remain regarding our assets and other safety practices, something might just go wrong anyway (murphy’s law!); leaving us in dismay. It could be a canceled flight, theft, medical emergency, etc. Having a proper travel insurance makes sure that you are covered to face these situations. If something goes wrong, even if it’s a small issue, you want to travel with the assurance that you’ll be covered and prepared in the case of an emergency. Never underestimate the importance of a travel insurance!
You can also refer to some of these websites to know more about the Where, What, and How of volunteering abroad;
At the end of it all, the one thing that would really help you have a great volunteer abroad experience enjoying every moment of your travel; just have fun. If you have any questions please feel free to share them in the comment box below and I’ll be glad to help. Keep Traveling… Safely!