Planning Tips For Your Volunteering Trip Abroad
Are you unsure where to start? Not sure how to choose the project that’s right for you? No idea what to pack? Don’t worry, we’re here to help you make the right decisions and give you plenty of advice on packing for your volunteering trip abroad.
We know packing can be a challenge – that’s where we can help! As your volunteer trip draws closer, filling your suitcase with all the essentials becomes an increasingly daunting task. Will I need more jeans? Should I pack a scarf, hat, mittens?
How do I respect the local culture as a visitor while being comfortable enough to work with kids or on conservation activities? Volunteering can mean working hard and quite often you’ll wear the same clothes over and over. Our project bases all have laundry services or facilities so rather pack less and wash often.
Having less luggage also makes getting through airports a lot easier. We’ve got plenty of tips and tricks for how to pack for your volunteer trip, including a list of must-have gadgets.
We recommend packing environmentally-friendly items where possible e.g. cloth shopping bags, reusable water bottles and eco-friendly toiletries.
If you’d like to bring any extra items to donate to the project or community, we can send you a wish-list for your chosen project – this includes items that are requested and used by local community members all year round.
Across our projects we have banned balloons and glitter, and we ask volunteers to refrain from bringing such items.
When working in foreign countries it is respectful to wear suitable clothing and be sensitive to their cultural beliefs. Some of our projects have very strict dress codes so be prepared for what’s appropriate to wear.
Many countries in East and Southern Africa do not require visas or vaccinations; however, there are a few exemptions you must be aware of. Countries such as Zambia and South Africa will provide most visitors with a visa and adequate documents upon arrival, but for others you may need to apply for your visa before you leave home.
Our Destination Managers can help you with extra information but you are still encouraged to check your requirements with the nearest consulate or embassy of the country you’re intending to visit.
Consult with your doctor about other recommended vaccinations such as hepatitis and tetanus as precautionary measures.
Just because you’re volunteering in Africa doesn’t mean you have to leave all your electronics behind! SIM cards for your phone are readily available in most towns near our project locations, so you can keep in touch with family at home. Getting a 5G enabled eSIM is a great option if you are going to more than one country or you want to be sure you will have coverage during your trip.
Keep in mind to bring extra memory cards for your camera, as well as a USB, which may come in handy for exchanging photos with your fellow volunteers. There are also some great gadgets on the market that we recommend you consider, which might make your volunteering stay just that much more of a success.
Many international airlines have weekly and sometimes daily flights to many destinations in Africa. Popular airlines include KLM, British Airways, South African Airways, Etihad Airways, Emirates and Lufthansa.
There are even flights directly to some African destinations from the USA, Australia, the Middle East and Asia, although many cheaper flights will take travelers through major European airports such as Heathrow (London) and Schiphol (Amsterdam).
Don’t be alarmed if your flight to Zimbabwe or Zambia goes through Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport. This airport is a hub for many flights to other destinations in southern Africa and flights such as these are commonplace. Make sure you check whether a transit visa is required.
Once you arrive at the airport designated for your project, you will no longer have to worry about transport as we will meet you at the airport and provide all transportation while you’re on project!
Prior to your trip you will need to arrange travel insurance that will also give you full cover for any medical requirements that may arise during your trip, including cover for full air evacuation in the unlikely event that this is necessary. Your medical cover also needs to include repatriation.
Travel insurance is also good to have in case anything happens to your camera equipment or other belongings. We suggest World Nomads but you are welcome to use whichever provider you find suitable.
If you are working on a conservation or research project and will be working with wild animals please ensure that your insurance covers you adequately.