Have it clear in your mind why you want to go abroad: We all like to help – whether it’s with animals, people or nature, we want to leave a mark on the area we visit.
Travel Tips: Nuts and bolts behind travelling on a programme abroad
01 November 2012
To take part in a volunteering or work programme abroad, you shouldn’t just read the information given to you. You need to ask the right questions and be aware of all the issues surrounding your decision.
Embarking on a project abroad is an amazing experience, so whether you choose to travel with Twin Work & Volunteer or another similar organisation it is important that you prepare yourself the best possible way you can. Here are a few tips that we feel will help you throughout the entire process:
- Have it clear in your mind why you want to go abroad: We all like to help – whether it’s with animals, people or nature, we want to leave a mark on the area we visit. However, it is important that in addition to these altruistic motivations there be other motives behind your decision. We say this because you will get a whole lot more out of the experience if you are de-mystified – you can’t change the world in one trip. Assess what you want to achieve and why. Is it a break from your career that you need? Perhaps you want to practice your skills/knowledge? or need some time to discover what you want to study at university.
- Knowing why you want to go, will make the ‘what you want to do‘ question much easier to answer.
We’re not asking you to look deep into your subconscious – your motivations may simply be that ‘it is the right time to do something worthwhile’.
The activities, location and the costs involved, are much easier to assess once you know the reasons you are going!
- Inform the organisation you are talking to about your motivations and the main reasons why you want to get involved with a programme abroad – this will enable your Travel Advisor to adequately assess your needs and properly match you to the appropriate project. Being able to responsibly match participants to programmes overseas is a skill that many Travel Advisors employ.
Once you make it clear what you want, they will be able to make the best suggestions.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Find out what the booking procedure is, what’s included in the programme fee, the number of organisations involved in your placement process and their roles, health and safety procedures, what are the quality control mechanisms. As the traveller, you have every right to enquire about all the intricacies involved in your chosen programme – ask to speak to the in-country partner or to get in touch with other volunteers/participants who have taken part in the same programme. And, most importantly find out if there is a staff travel plan – has anyone in the organisation you’re using actually visited the programme before?
- Do a bit of research about the ways of life in your host country. Usually there are Pre-departure information packs and/or Pre-departure Briefings (if available) that help you to prepare for your trips.
But please understand that these documents are created just to help you – they don’t take away from you doing your own research into the area.
- Once you’re booked, help them, help you: make sure that you deliver all the necessary documents in time (insurance, flight details, your CV and your motivational letter if requested).
All the particulars are laid out to make your application process run smoothly, and it will avoid unnecessary confusions.