Tips for Volunteering Abroad

Posted on the 14th February 2019

Volunteering abroad can be an amazing experience. Not only does it allow you to meet and impact people of all different backgrounds, but it also helps you stretch your comfort zone and learn from new experiences.

It’s important, however, to keep in mind that you’ll be travelling to a new place and culture. You’ll need to make sure you’re taking the proper steps in planning and execution to ensure that you get the most out of your experience. Here are some tips to keep in mind in order to have the best time while volunteering abroad.

Study up

It’s important to understand the community and culture you’ll be entering once you leave home. While you’re likely to pick up the most information solely through first-hand experience, some research on the area and culture will make the cultural transition and your understanding of the people just a bit easier. Basic language and vocabulary skills, cultural faux-pas, and history are all important to understand before entering and interacting within a community.

Fundraise to cover costs

Many programs, including Lattitude’s, have fees for their volunteer placements abroad. These cover program staff salaries, as well as pre-departure, orientation and host costs. If you can’t finance the trip by yourself, however, it’s always helpful to ask your own community for support. Consider going door to door, coordinating a cake sale, or planning a fundraiser online to organise your community behind a common cause. You might be surprised by how much your friends and family want to help and could even inspire others to follow your lead.

Fundraise For Your Lattitude Gap Year

Pack smartly

Make sure you’re packing the types of items that you’ll need for your specific program. Along with the basics, certain items will be especially beneficial for your work. Whether it be hiking boots, books, or work gloves, make sure you’re figuring out the essentials you’ll need to perform your job well. Additionally, pack your clothing based on the conditions of the area. Will you need a coat? Sunscreen? Does the culture require certain types of clothing? There are a lot of things to consider when packing, so make sure you’re doing the necessary research.

 Tips For Packing For Your Gap Year

Recognize your strengths and weaknesses

When planning your trip, be sure you’re signing up for work that you’re able to do and want to do. While we do train volunteers for their projects, we are always looking to match volunteers with projects that best match their talents and passions. Are you great with kids? Do you like physical work? Consider these choices before signing up so you’re well-matched with programs that interest you and provide the most benefit to the community.

Try something new

With that said, make sure you’re still putting yourself outside of your comfort zone. Volunteering overseas is a great opportunity to try new things and learn about unfamiliar cultures! Consider travelling to a country you’ve never visited, or an area where they speak a different language. Embracing the uncomfortable will allow you to experience and learn the most and leave you with lifelong memories.

You will get the most from the experiences that demand a lot; the harder you work, the larger the impact you’ll have on the community, and the more fulfilling the trip will be. Use these tips to ensure you have an impactful abroad volunteering experience that you’ll never forget!

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