Preparing for your volunteer trip!
So you’ve picked a volunteering experience, and you are over-the-moon excited about it. Now what? There are plenty of things you’ll need to do before your trip abroad, and getting a head start on planning is the best way to avoid becoming a frantic mess at the last minute. Here’s a complete breakdown of tasks to prepare for your volunteering trip.
Book your volunteer project
The first thing you need to do is book your volunteering project. We recommend that you do this at least 3 months in advance so that you have plenty of time to sort out all your travel arrangements.
To get started, send us an enquiry through the Fronteering website with any questions you have about the experience, then fill in our application form. Once you’ve been accepted into the volunteer program, it’s time to pay the trip fee and secure your spot!
Make travel arrangements
After you’ve booked your volunteer project, you can start making other travel arrangements such as international flights and accommodations at your destination. Make sure you tell us of your flight details so that we can make arrangements for your arrival. If you’re unsure about what you will need to book, please contact us with any questions.
It’s important to organize travel insurance as soon as you have paid money towards your trip. This will cover you for any unexpected situations that may come up such as flight delays, cancellations, medical costs, and lost luggage.
Check visa requirements
You may or may not need a visa for your volunteering trip - it depends on your country of citizenship and the destination you’ll be travelling to. To check whether you will need a visa, use a visa check website or ask us directly. It’s best to get this sorted as early as possible as visa applications can take some time. If you discover that you do need a visa for your trip, get in contact with your closest embassy or consulate to start the application process.
Depending on your destination, you may need to get travel vaccinations or special medications. Consult a doctor or travel clinic about what immunisations you might need for your destination, and listen to any advice they give on how to stay healthy during your time abroad.
Sort out your finances
You may need spending money for meals and activities during your volunteering project or for extending your travels afterwards. Make sure your bank account has enough (plus extra) funds so that you don’t run out of money while abroad.
It’s also a good idea to get a small amount of foreign currency before you fly out to use on arrival at your destination. You can do this in some banks or exchange cash at a currency service desk at the airport.
Acquiring a travel debit card or credit card that will work overseas is also useful for making incidental purchases and withdrawing cash overseas. Your volunteer project may not have access to an ATM or credit card facilities - it’s best to check this with us and we’ll let you know what to expect on arrival.
Consider phone and internet access
If this is your first time travelling abroad, you may feel more comfortable knowing that you can speak to your friends and family back home if you start feeling homesick. Your volunteer project may or may not have phone signal or an internet connection available, so read through the project details to find out what to expect in regards to cell service and online access.
If you’d like to use your mobile device, contact your service provider to find out whether you will be able to make and receive international phone calls and use data in your destination country. This may be available at an increased cost, or it may not be available at all - if this is the case, you can consider getting a special travel SIM card or picking up a local SIM card on arrival into the country.
Pack your bags
What you pack into your suitcase will depend on what’s awaiting you at your destination. Are you heading into the jungles of South America? Fill your bag with items like insect repellant, hiking boots, and a lightweight waterproof jacket. Will you be taking a winter trip to the Canadian wilderness? Take some appropriate winter gear like a jacket and snow boots.
Look up the climate in your destination before you start packing, and plan accordingly. You may discover that need to go out and buy a few items for your trip. It’s best to be prepared for anything!
Read next: What to do after your volunteering project