Volunteering abroad could be the most memorable experience of your life. If you have a passion for helping others and seeing the world, volunteering abroad can give you the best of both worlds.
You don’t have to know exactly what you want to do, or where you want to go. The most important part of volunteering abroad is committing to it. Here is a beginner’s guide to volunteering abroad.
Find a Placement Company or Plan Your Own Trip
Two options for volunteering abroad are going through a placement company or planning your own trip.
For a fee, you can have a placement company match you with a specific type of volunteer project in the location of your choosing. Through placement companies, you can choose to volunteer alone or with a group of friends.
The length of your trip can vary based on how long you wish to volunteer. Some people only stay for a couple weeks, while some volunteer for many months. Some of the most reputable volunteer abroad programs today are Volunteer HQ, Plan My Gap Year, and Volunteering Solutions, among many others.
Each of these organizations offers a variety of volunteer experiences, including internships, across the globe. First, choose if you’d prefer to volunteer in healthcare, childcare, conservation, wildlife care, human rights, construction or any number of other fields. If there is a specific destination you have in mind, you can search for volunteer opportunities in that country or region.
Another option is independent volunteering. With this option, you’ll work directly with your chosen project or organization. For a long-term traveler with a flexible schedule, independent volunteering could be ideal. If you volunteer independently, there is little to no facilitation, so you must arrange all travel, accommodation and food. The independent route has little to no fees, but it will require more work on your part to make sure the organization you’re volunteering for is a reputable one.
By definition, volunteering your time means you will not be getting paid for the amount of time you’re volunteering. Even if housing is included in your deal, you will still want extra cash for emergencies or special occasions. You will also need money before your trip to pay the fee if you choose to volunteer through a placement company.
If you don’t have the means to save enough money on your own, you could try asking family and friends for donations to your trip. Asking for money is never easy, but you might be surprised with how many people are willing to financially support your desire to volunteer your time and energy in another country.
Volunteering abroad is a noble way to spend your time and use your expertise. It can give you a personal sense of accomplishment while building your resume. You can walk away from the experience with lifelong friends and a story you’ll be proud to tell for years to come.