Deciding to invest in a volunteer abroad experience is incredibly exciting, but taking some time to think through your decision is a crucial first step. Before you commit to a program make sure to ask yourself these vital questions!
1. Why do you want to volunteer abroad?
The most important question that you will ask throughout this entire process! Discovering your true intentions for volunteering will help you find a programme that best matches your goals.
For example, community projects are good for volunteers wanting to gain a more global perspective and perhaps improve their language skills. Whereas a conservation project would be good for someone wanting to dive further into the academic side of ecology and the environment.
2. Do you want to try something new or develop a skill that you already have?
Volunteering is exciting in that it lets you continue further with your education or go down a completely new path of exploration. Most organisations hold orientation on site and support their volunteers throughout the entire project. This means that even if you have never tried scuba diving before you can join a program and give it a go!
3. Where do you want to go?
Sometimes it might be the draw of the particular volunteer opportunity that pulls you in, or it might be the travel opportunity that accompanies it.
If you are looking to slow things down and spend some time reflecting a South East Asian country such as Laos might be a good option. If you want to get away from the material world for a while a remote marine based experience in Fiji might be the right choice. Take our fun quiz to find out which GVI location is perfect for you!
4. What is your volunteering abroad budget?
How much you have to spend will dictate a few factors of your volunteer experience. Programmes vary in cost if your budget is a factor than you might want to look into teaching or childcare projects as they tend to be some of the cheaper options.
Another budget friendly tip is to look for programmes that are closer to home, meaning that you will spend less on airfare. Similarly, think about how long you can go for, obviously the shorter your stay the less it will cost.
To save on budget think about:
• The type of programme: Childcare and Teaching tend to be cheaper
• How close the project is to your home
• The duration of the project
5. Who do you want to go with?
Volunteering with a friend or your partner versus on your own will create a very different experience. Think about what you want to get out of your time volunteering and which social dynamic will most enhance those goals.
Most people do end up volunteering abroad on their own. This is because there is already an established social group to jump into once at the project site, meaning that the experience will be far from lonely!
6. What soft skills do you want to develop?
Of course, there will be the goals of the project that you will be assisting with, but it is also important to think about what personal development you want to dedicate time to while abroad.
• If you want to improve your writing skills why not start a blog?
• If you want to test out your leadership wings why not take charge of a project at your volunteer site?
• If you want to improve your communication skills make sure to reach out to as many people outside of the volunteering sphere as you can!
7. Do you want to travel before or after?
After traveling, sometimes halfway around the world, to volunteer it might make sense to look into further travel explorations. If you can afford to tack on some extra time in the country you might want to plan on this when you are booking your tickets.
Travel can be a solo venture, you might want to meet up with family and show them around, or link up with fellow volunteers and go exploring with them!
Now that you’ve taken the time to figure out what type of volunteer experience will be the best match for you, it’s time to start looking into options! Find out more about GVI’s international, award-winning volunteering programmes and internships! Choose from over 150 community development, animal care, teaching, women’s empowerment and conservation projects worldwide!