Volunteering abroad is an exciting opportunity, but it can be nerve-wracking if it’s your first time. Managing your expectations is important in order to get the most out of the trip, and to do that you need to ask the right questions.
But beyond your own personal expectations, it’s also important that you have the right information to choose a project which makes a genuine difference to the community and society as a whole.
Any good volunteer organisation should be happy to answer anything you want to know, so don’t be shy about asking. And if the answers you’re getting back are evasive or not fully transparent, you may need to consider a new project.
We chatted with volunteer sending organisation Original Volunteers for insight into some of the most important questions you should ask before volunteering abroad.
A quick Google search (or scanning of JK Rowling’s Twitter account) makes it clear that ethical volunteer tourism is a hot topic in today’s travel climate—and for good reason.
It’s important that we, as individuals who want to spend our time and resources in international service, are doing so in a way that is effective, productive, and sustainable. After all, no one “wants to become that volunteer who has just built a bridge where no bridge was needed.” —Lonely Planet.
So, should we write off all volunteer tourism as the wrong way to spend your vacation or extended periods living abroad?
Guatemala is a hidden gem among tourists, and a perfect destination for those interested in an authentic cultural immersion experience. While gaping at the expansive landscapes, exploring volcanoes, and becoming entranced by the colorful artisan crafts of the Mayans, volunteering in Guatemala has become another point of interest for those seeking a more fulfilling travel experience.
It is no secret that Guatemala’s government struggles to provide adequate resources to their citizens. Being the biggest country in Central America, with the largest economy, it’s baffling to realize that over half of the people live in poverty. While the tourist industry booms, the common people suffer.
So if you are looking to volunteer abroad, Guatemala is a great place to start. There are projects for every type of personality, skill, and interest, so knowing your options is a great starting point. Check out these top volunteer projects in Guatemala, and make your next trip a reason to get involved.
This is our category page which lists all posts on Volunteer Travel. Learn more via travel tips, personal stories, photos, videos, and guest posts, as well as anything we have written which makes mention to the topic.
Combining volunteerism with travel is one of our favorite ways to explore the globe, though it’s absolutely vital to choose a project which makes a genuine difference to the community and society as a whole.
And while every country needs volunteers equally, there are a number of countries that are notoriously resource strapped, and often overlooked by international volunteers who opt for more popular destinations when choosing their placements.
As such, the following are countries we recommend considering for a volunteer placement in 2016. These choices may mean branching out to a perhaps previously unthought-of destination, though each offers the opportunity to affect real change and impact local lives where help is desperately needed.
When you’re planning your first trip abroad as an international volunteer, there are many considerations to think about beyond making a list of what you should pack. For instance, is the program an ethical one? How much will it cost? What is that money paying for? Who will the program truly benefit? Do you have the right skills?
Combining volunteerism with travel is one of our favorite ways to explore the globe, though it’s absolutely vital to choose a project which makes a genuine difference to the community and society as a whole. While investing in your personal development and growth as well.
When structured correctly, volunteer placements can be mutually beneficial to both the volunteer and the local community, though how can we as travelers know which programs are responsible and which are not? What are the signs of an ethical volunteer program?
As a leader in the field of ethical volunteering, we reached out to Mark Horoszowski from Moving Worlds about tips for first time prospective international volunteers, and the things every international volunteer needs to know before they go.
Combining volunteerism with travel is one of our favorite ways to explore the globe, though it’s absolutely vital to choose a project which makes a genuine difference to the community and society as a whole.
Realizing that this is now an industry which can turn a profit, some companies and organizations are ignoring the long-term effects of volunteering on host communities, and as such there is now a lot of cynicism about those who want to become an international volunteer to “do good”.
We speak to Stephen Knight today about volunteering in Latin America, and the importance of ethical volunteerism.
I’ve long since been an advocate that volunteering abroad is one of the best ways to travel – not only are there a large number of placement opportunities which enable volunteers to travel and live overseas for free, but it genuinely does shape you as a person. And it’s not a cliché to say so.
You would think volunteering abroad should be about the desire to help others and the want to contribute to creating a better world, however I believe these are both merely byproducts of the personal development which takes center stage as the most beneficial aspect of volunteerism.
Step on Jean Gab, a cutter built in 1930, and dive into the blue world of whales and dolphins!
The first time I decided to do just that was in 2009- a daytrip with a wonderful crew and a handful of nice volunteers. We encountered a large pod of striped dolphins and I was instantly hooked!
I’ve been travelling around the world for 4 years now and I don’t think I could have done any of it without volunteering. Furthermore, I don’t think I would have had half the amazing experiences that I have had if it weren’t for volunteering.
From learning how to make cheese in Canada, to helping fight the problem of street dogs in Peru, volunteering has taken me on some incredible journeys.
Volunteering has a lot advantages. It’s a great way to travel on budget, a perfect way to meet new people, a fantastic way to cope with language barriers. Each and every angle of volunteering might be a reason for someone to embark on a such an adventure; for me however I volunteer as a way of gaining new skills.
I had my first volunteering experience back in 2007. I was a 19-year-old Polish girl, who wanted to travel solo and who went to volunteer in Ukraine without even learning a local alphabet. Silly, right? I decided to apply and go because I wanted to explore the country, meet new people and do something “different”. Back then I didn’t think about one particular aspect of volunteering; something which seems to be very crucial to me in 2013.
That’s right ladies and gentleman; gaining new skills!
Our time volunteering in Costa Rica during January 2012, allowed us to take part in animal welfare projects around the country. Here is a brief overview of our project as put together by filmmaker Keira Austin. The benefit of volunteering as an International Student Volunteer was that at the end of our two week conservation project we were treated to a two week adventure tour of the country!
Click here to watch a full 15 minute documentary of our time as environmental conservationists.
Traveling when you’re single is an exicting time; you’re not only experiencing different cultures and lands, you’re also opening your dating options to include foreign locals with intriguing looks, and sexy accents.
If you’ve ever fantasized about a holiday romance, we don’t blame you. Our one night stand in Tanzania ended in a long distance relationship, a wedding in Hawaii, and now 11 years later we’ve just had our first child.
But whether you’re after a one night stand, or a fling which will end in true love, you have to know where to meet them first.
Cancun is known for it’s wild vacations; typically for its tequila-feuled days, and dancing on table tops by night; the nightlife and party resorts have long drawn crowds looking for a loose time.
Though for those who aren’t sleeping off a hangover during the day, Mexico’s biggest party destination is an ecotourism delight; surrounded by lush parks, verdant jungles, and waters teeming with life, Cancun is a fantastic base for encountering actual wildlife.
Part of the Riviera Maya / Yucatán Peninsula, prolific for mammals, repitiles and amphibians, Cancun has a rich variety of animals which live throughout its surrounding jungles, savannahs, coral reefs, and coastal lagoons. From turtles nesting on the white sand beaches, to iguanas sunbathing on the rocks, and whale sharks swimming offshore, you might think of Cancun as a party destination, but nature tourists can have a wild time too!
Travel is supposed to be about relaxing and getting away from your normal daily stress and anxiety, which makes it quite surprising that recent surveys have shown nearly 90% of people consider travel these days to be stressful.
So is there any hope of escaping stress on your next escape and hopefully enjoying a sense of happiness?
The sad truth is that we only have ourselves to blame for being stressed while traveling, whether it’s trying to tick a long list of experiences off we feel we need to have or not giving ourselves enough flexibility to deal with unforeseen events or circumstances.
Thankfully, there are adjustments you can make to enjoy happier and less stressful travel and it often starts simply with changing your perspective and getting rid of expectations. No matter the destination or your budget, any vacation can be a successful and rewarding experience if you want it to be.
Travel has become the new currency of status. No longer are Jimmy Choo shoes or a shiny Rolex enough to turn heads among the elite. Today it’s about where you’ve been and what you’ve experienced, whether it’s swimming with whale sharks in the Maldives or conquering Everest.
When you’re ultra wealthy, the world really is your oyster; travel becomes a whole lot less stressful and there is no end to how luxurious your holidays can be.
Whether you’ve just won the lottery, scored a massive inheritance, or earned your fortune through years of hard work and dedication, chances are you’re looking to tap into your bank accounts to enjoy some world travel.
From world-class ski resorts to private beaches, there are countless luxury destinations that cater to the elite, and the rich aren’t booking an economy plane ticket to get there.
From sailing the seas on a superyacht to solely dining at Michelin-starred restaurants, the wealthy know how to splurge on travel. Here are seven ways you can enjoy a luxury vacation like the rich and famous.
Covid-19 has impacted nearly every industry including the gambling industry. Many of the world’s top casinos have been forced to close intermittently as countries go in and out of lockdowns.
While things started to look promising for gambling tourism to return in 2021, the more serious Delta variant has forced many casinos to find alternative ways to appease their customers’ urge to gamble. One of these ways has included the increase of online live casinos.
Over half the world’s population gambles at least once a year, many of those choosing to do so in casinos while traveling. As the gambling industry has grown, it has become an integral part of tourism and the economy of many nations.
Casinos of course employ a great deal of people themselves, but it’s also the flow-on effect of drawing millions of international tourists and having them support local restaurants, hotels, and attractions that really impacts the local economy.
The pandemic has forced casinos around the world to take their gaming floors online, inventing new ways to enhance the experience to make it as close to the real thing as possible.
While online casinos may never fully replace real-life physical casinos, they have definitely found their place and are likely to stay given that there remains uncertainty of when many countries will open up their borders and restrictions will be eased enough to allow famous gaming floors to open to tourists once again.
Whether you find yourself moving to another country for work, school, volunteering, or to be with your international love, it’s common to feel a sense of homesickness at some point.
Despite the excitement of moving abroad, it’s common to feel a sense of loss being away from home and anxiety from trying to adjust to your new surroundings.
While many expats experience homesickness, the causes and emotional / physical impacts are different for each person; from acute emotional distress all the way to an almost debilitating depression which can impact your health.
Whether you’re taking up a lucrative employment offer in London or Dubai or simply researched incredible Bangkok condos for rent, understand that no one is fully immune to homesickness.
The key to dealing with homesickness is to be able to recognize the feelings and work through them, rather than trying to ignore or prevent them.
Feeling homesick is completely normal and nothing to be ashamed of, and there are a number of strategies that will help you to better cope with the various effects of homesickness.
Travel is much more than escaping the demands of work and home while we relax on a beach somewhere. There are many life lessons to be had while traveling, many of which you can pick up quite easily without much effort.
Travel exposes you to new cultures and ideas, while often presenting you with many new and unique situations, all of which can collectively help you grow as an individual.
Whether positive or negative, your travel experiences are likely to stay with you a long time and have the ability to shape who you become.
If you found learning in a classroom difficult, fear not, because not all lessons are taught within four walls by a teacher that just doesn’t seem to get you.
Travel may just be one of the world’s greatest teachers, educating you in some of life’s most important lessons. Here are the top 8 life lessons you can gain through traveling the world.
As far as budget accommodation goes in Sydney, you can’t find a hostel with a better reputation than the Sydney Harbour YHA.
With a killer location, killer facilities, and that million dollar view (think sushi from a rooftop terrace directly overlooking the Bridge and Opera House), booking a room is the best choice you’ll make.
But not only is the hostel clean, affordable, friendly, with spacious, stylish communal areas and all the amenities you’d expect from a modern hostel, it also wraps around the archaeological remains of colonial Sydney.
The Big Dig Archaeological Site is an area of land with archaeological remains from the late 18th century, the time of Australia’s first European settlement. The excavations are part of the hostel itself, and this remains one of the largest urban archaeological dig sites in Australia.
With rooms built around the excavated foundations of over 30 homes and shops from 1795, and artifacts on display throughout it’s halls, this is one of few opportunities in the world to spend the night on an archaeological dig site.
Most people love to travel, but it’s often not until we retire where we finally get the time and financial freedom to travel more freely. If you’re approaching retirement age and are looking to travel, there are some important factors to keep in mind.
Nothing beats the feeling of not having to go to work another single day in your life, but many people can feel a loss of purpose or become bored shortly after they retire. One sure fire way to feel alive again after retiring is through travel.
We often think of retirees as older seniors but people of all ages can find themselves not needing to work. If you’re not interested in knitting sweaters in your recliner or working on jigsaws all day, why not consider reinventing yourself through travel.
Are you looking to enjoy more travel but finding money is a bit tight? There are a number of ways you can learn to simplify your life by reducing your daily expenses in order to help you save up for travel.
By learning how to differentiate between essential expenses and unnecessary purchases, along with changing what you put value on, you may be able to enjoy more travel without having to find a second job or sell everything you’ve worked hard for.
We’ve all read those articles about individuals or couples selling their homes and nearly all their belongings in order to travel the world. While the notion may seem romantic and adventurous, for many people it just isn’t realistic and does come with obvious drawbacks and challenges.
Sure, saving can be difficult, but you don’t have to sell everything you own in order to afford taking a holiday. There are many things you can do in your daily life that will help you cut your everyday expenses and allow you to save for the travel you desire.
By setting goals and learning how to budget, along with tracking your spending and cutting costs in certain areas, you too can free up some of your income to allocate to travel. Here are some of the best ways that will allow you to save money for your yearly travel fund.
Needless to say, many of us are a bit on edge when it comes to the pandemic and travel. Travel can always prove to be a bit stressful, especially as security lines have grown longer and overtourism has taken hold of many of the world’s most popular destinations.
With the added restrictions and travel requirements enacted by nations around the world due to COVID, it’s now more important than ever to find ways to make travel as enjoyable as possible.
As the travel industry begins to hopefully get moving again this year, many of us are eager to start planning trips again. After many of us have been forced to remain locked down within our home states or countries the past year, a satisfying vacation is long overdue.
To ensure your first holiday post-COVID lockdown lives up to your expectations, I have outlined some of the top ways you make traveling more rewarding and successful. Whether it’s choosing the right destination, knowing when the best time to travel is, or who you should travel with, there are many things you can personally do to make your next vacation more fun.
It remains to be seen if and how the pandemic will affect Ibiza’s upcoming summer clubbing season which runs from roughly the end of May through early October. Most people think of packed nightclubs and giant beach crowds when they think of Ibiza, which doesn’t exactly adhere to the whole social distancing concept.
Thankfully, Ibiza is much more than parties and music. There’s a natural and relaxing side to the island which may now be just what travelers need for planning a stay in Ibiza.
Ibiza is home to many protected natural areas including natural parks like Ses Salines and Amunts as well as the Ses Feixes Wetlands which attracts a great deal of birdlife. There are secret coves to explore, deserted beaches to seek out, and hiking trails to help you get off the beaten trail.
Sections of the island are also historically significant such as the Renaissance walls of Ibiza City’s Old Town and the remnants of early Phoenician settlements. Parts of Ibiza are actually recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of their significance.
Experience the Ibiza you may not have known as I introduce you to some of the island’s relaxing natural locations where you’ll be far removed from the pulsating beats puts out by DJs which will allow you to actually tune in to your own heartbeat.
With fierce competition for the same jobs these days, it’s very easy to get swept up in the mindset of “I’ll travel later”, not wanting to leave a gap in your resume.
It’s long been thought that a large gap in your resume will mean being treated unfavorably by a prospective employer – especially if your explanation for the gap is “I was traveling the world”.
Though here’s some news – travel may actually boost your employability. As long as you can explain the benefits of your travel experience to a potential employer it could actually help your resume stand out, and improve your chances of being shortlisted for an interview.
But travel isn’t as novel as it used to be, so how can you properly market your time abroad to make your skills and experiences look good?
Screenshot of my actual personal resume, after traveling for 7 years, is at the end of the post.