Volunteering to Travel

March 19, 2014 2 Comments


Volunteering 2

So you want to travel the world but don’t know the best way to do it?!?

We have all been there so let’s explore the volunteering route.

Sadly I have not been in the position to get out there and try this myself but I have found some reliable resources and recommendations from some of my Twitter followers.

As I am no expert I decided to try to pull some of the more useful information together in an attempt to bring you something useful that could help guide you through the volunteering route if that’s something you want to do.

I am very sure I won’t do this justice and this is why I strongly recommend that you take some time out to look at these websites below:

A Little Adrift
A Nomadic Matt – blog post
Grass Roots Volunteering

The information provided here is very thorough and really helps you understand some of the things you should consider before you embark on the volunteer route.


I have no financial affiliation with these websites or authors.

We share a mutual interest in travelling, Twitter and in wanting to provide people with the most reliable and helpful information we can on a given topic although I have sort permission to add the links.


Volunteering In General

It is easy to decide that you want to be a volunteer, the harder thing to understand is why.
This may sound like a silly question but if you don’t know why you want to volunteer who can you possible know where, when or how to go about it.

For me it seems very import to understand more about you before you even decide to research and plan your trip.

If you understand a little more about yourself the chances are you will be able to find a more suitable opportunity or decide that volunteering may not be for you.

Understanding you as a volunteer

If you have a clear understanding about your reasons for volunteering then that’s a great start even if you don’t at this point in time perhaps considering what is to follow will help you.

    What motivates you?
    What skills you can bring to the table?
    What kind of benefit will you bring to the cause?
    How well do you understand the complex cultural & ethical implications & responsibilities?
    What is the purpose of your trip?
    How much time to you have to offer?
    Are you really going to be happy working hard for the cause?
    What happens if it wasn’t what you expected?

Also it is very important to identify what you want to get from the experience yourself.



I never realised how serious this volunteering topic could or should have been or the implications that could become of the actions you take.

This seems to be a very interesting and highly important when considering becoming a volunteer.
So where do you begin?!?

When it comes to the research you would think that some of the basics are pretty straight forward but reading up on it more I am not so sure I agree.

If you can find a project, organisation or local initiative that interests you and offers volunteering opportunities that is a pretty good start and once you have that the real research starts.

Research is subtly different from planning your trip and research falls into the “why” category.

Why would I want to volunteer there?

These factors can help determine why you would or wouldn’t want to volunteer for a particular project

    Is the service we are going to provide needed?
    Does the project or organiser meet with my ethical and moral beliefs?
    Can I trust that the work I am going to be doing fits in with the beliefs of the people I am helping?
    Will the project provide a benefit to the community or an ongoing reliance on aid and support?
    Would I be comfortable doing what will be expected of me?
    Is there going to be a culture shock and if so how will you deal with that?

This is far from an exhaustive list but gives you an idea of some of the things you need to research thoroughly.

Here is a quote from an article by Shannon O’Donnell from A Little Adrift which will help you to understand how important this research phase can be:

“Not all organizations—even non-profits—are doing good, necessary work that ethically develops the communities and eco-systems where we volunteer our time.”

Could you imaging spending 6 months volunteering only to find out that the organisation you worked for ripped off the local people, provided something that was against their beliefs and forced the community to live in an environment /situation they didn’t want to be in when you thought you were there to help?

Planning for a volunteering trip

Planning has its own serious considerations when it comes to volunteering

If you don’t plan it right you could do all the research under the sun but you still may not be able to do what you wanted to do.

You need to know some things first and this is even more important than in planning a more regular trip.

    What country should I go to?
    Is it dangerous, are there sanctions or VISA requirements?
    What time of the year / when?
    Is the project even operating at the time of year you want to go?
    Volunteering 3
    What is my budget?
    There is no use wanting to volunteer half way across the world if you don’t have the budget for the air fare for example
    What equipment do I need?
    You turn up raring to go and you find out there is no equipment and you have no budget, now what do you do?
    What is included?
    If I work for free do I need to pay out for other costs such as accommodation or food or does some of these things come with the territory and even if it does do I want to take advantage of that when I am there to help?
    What about the local language?
    How can I help if I don’t understand what is being asked of me?
    Am I going to be happy doing what is asked of me?
    What if you are expected to do something you “didn’t sign up for”? – Plan this before you go and you should find this a much more enjoyable experience.
    Insurance – Backpacking
    If not this could be a risk and so you should consider the right insurance package.
    Do I need Jabs?
    This is something you can consider once you have done a bit of research and decided on your destination(s)
    How easy is it to get back home?
    If you are volunteering on a mission with only 1 way in and out and are committed to a long stint without contact to the outside world you may be stuck where you are for a while.

The list could go on and I think you get the point by now.

I hope this article has helped to give you an idea of where to begin and within the links above a place to start.

Pick a great cause one you truly believe in and are passionate about and GOOD LUCK, we would love to hear more about your volunteering trips and could even feature you as a guess blogger.

For more information check out the contact us page (link to conta

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.