How To Get The Most Out Of A Volunteering Trip

How To Get The Most Out Of A Volunteering Trip

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Hello and welcome to 2016! I love the new year as its a chance to make a fresh start and plan loads of new stuff! There is a lot coming up this year in this blog so stay tuned for more adventures and travel stories. For now here’s my Top Tips on ‘How To Get The Most Out Of A Volunteering Trip!’ Why not do something great this year and give something back, Enjoy!

Volunteering is one of the best ways you can get the opportunity to interact with locals and help make a positive impact on your travels. Once you’ve got your destination and project it’s time to get prepared for your life changing trip! If you haven’t chosen yet then read my review of my experience with IVHQ for some inspiration! I’ll give my advice on how best to prepare for it and what to expect to gain from embarking on a volunteering project.

Pre-Departure

  1. Before you go research. Research everything you can find through blog posts, articles, videos and reviews of the place your staying at and what it has to offer along with all the possible problem areas to look out for.
  2. Get your visas sorted! It’s something that is often overlooked in the planning process but it is a vital part to be able to enter the country: find out where you need one for, for how long, the price, how long it takes to get approved approx. before you go, wether you’ll need to renew it if your staying longer than the ‘normal’ amount of time ( for example visas for Australia are free to apply for online as a tourist for up to a month, after that you’ll need to renew it or get a different visa category) 
  3. Check what/if you need vaccinations for the place your staying at, a great resource is fitfortravel also make an appointment to see your local travel nurse to make sure your covered.
  4. Collect all contact numbers for in country support and out of country support. i.e. support officer, government, host-family, immigration office, airport, taxis, family. 
  5. Get your travel insurance sorted. I would definitely recommend getting some cover especially if your heading to more rural, high risk areas. Also if your planning on taking valuables such as cameras/laptops then get them covered just in case! 
  6. Try and find out if the host-family/project your involved need any resources that you could take out with you to help. 
  7. Look into setting up a fundraising page for your trip – also look at doing some sponsored races, events or collections to help raise some money for your chosen project. I use www.gofundme.com 
  8. Make at least 4 copies of all your documents (passport, money cards, project info, visas, vaccinations, contacts, travel insurance) Give a copy to someone at home, keep one copy in your bag, give another copy to a program coordinator if you have one. This is a great way to make sure you always have someone with a back up of all your important info if anything happens. Its also a good idea to create a new folder in your email account and store all this digitally as well so you can access it via a computer if needs be or you need to email a document. 
  9. Change a small amount ( enough for a couple of nights stay in a hotel/food) into the destinations currency just in case your unable to get your money travel card up and running straight away – tip. check this works before you even leave for the airport in an atm in your own country so you can check everything in order. 
  10. Give your parents/guradian a list of all possible numbers/ emails they may need whilst your away or in case of emergency 
  11. Check social media for any links to your chosen project and see if there is anyway you can make contact with any other volunteers before you go. It’ll help you introduce yourself before you have even left and probably calm your nerves or get you more excited about your chosen project! Social media is such a powerful tool these days which you can take full advantage of before you trip! 
  12. Find out the basic phrases and vocabulary in the local language ( hello, goodbye, please, thank you) before you go to give yourself a head start in greeting and interacting with locals – tip learning the numbers 1-10 is also quite useful!! 

Now all the important stuff is planned and sorted, you can focus on packing!

13. Pack what clothes you want to take. Now unpack it and take half of them out, you won’t need that much! If you get stuck whilst your out there, you can usually pick up a few new t-shirts cheap or just hand wash them!

14. Include practical items such as a hand torch, head torch, batteries, swiss army knife (multitool), plastic bags, padlocks, universal plug adapter.tip take a throw away camera, no need for charging and great fun as a surprise to wait and see what the snaps look like when you come back!

15. Pack some medication i.e. paracetamol, ibuprofen, dehydration tablets, water-purifying tablets, insect repellent.

Once you bag is packed your ready to take to the airport!

Fast-forward the nervous, excited and sleepless flight to your volunteering project.

It’s overwhelming, especially if this is your first experience abroad or in a developing country. Just remember your here for a short amount of time and you will be heading home so make the most of the time you have. Take in as much as possible from the sights, smells, people, lifestyle, language and culture. Be open and accepting that you’re in a different country with different values/views to your own. They may not be what you are used but be respectful and embrace it.

Be Open

Be Respectful

Throw Yourself Into It!

Enjoy your experience of a lifetime and thanks to your well planned pre-departure you know everything is in place, so your able to just enjoy it and help out! Make sure you write down and take loads of photographs to remember your trip by!

Lastly my biggest tip for getting the most out of your volunteering experience or any experience is to just open yourself to it fully. Embrace every opportunity to learn and discover something your not used to, everything that challenges you helps you to grow.

Happy travels!

If you’d like to see what A Day in the Life of a Volunteer is like or Teaching in Kenya then check out my experiences!

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Travel. Create, Be Nice!

 

What do you travel for? | I travel for…

What do you travel for? | I travel for…

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I travel for many reasons and one of them is to create long lasting bonds with people or places I come into contact with. Every place I’ve visited I have been helped, looked after and taught about the kinds of things text books could never compete with. Theres nothing quite like the feeling of interacting with someone who is from a completely different walk of life to you, its refreshing and you can learn a lot. If your finding yourself doing the same repetitive routines and getting frustrated with the constant monotonous goings on you go through each day – then change it. No one else can do it for you, work hard, save up and just go somewhere different – I don’t mean the kind of ‘relaxing 5 star tanning retreat in the Algarve’ (unless this is what does it for you) I mean the kind of place you’d never have considered before. Be sensible about it. Be free. Be happy.

‘The biggest adventure is outside of your comfort zone.’

The biggest leap out of my ‘comfort box’ I ever took was signing up to help in Nepal for over 2 months. To go live with a nepali family in a village on the side of a mountain. To embrace a culture on the polar opposite spectrum to my own. To open myself to a completely different way of living. To learn so much more than any study had ever taught by people I couldn’t verbally communicate with.

As my bro Rahul would say “pinky promise you’ll be happy uncle ; make that promise to yourself – don’t settle for anything less.

 

Kenya | Travel Talk Pt.1

Kenya | Travel Talk Pt.1

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I love to travel. I’ve thought about how I can incorporate this into my new site and blog – and so ‘travel talk’ was born. I’ll be giving a brief review and sharing my experiences in a series of posts around the places I have explored. And so here is the first of the bunch…Kenya pt.1

When I think of Africa i think wild, untamed, a country rich in culture and The Lion King. Since a very young age it has been somewhere I have always dreamt of seeing myself. When the opportunity came up in 2009 to visit a school and go on safari I couldn’t get on the plane quick enough.

We flew into Nairobi airport full of excitement and anxiousness. This was it, I had finally made it to a country and experience I had dreamt about. The adventure begins.

Fresh from the arrivals lounge we jumped straight into a truck and headed off to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust. Now it’s important to note that elephants are number one on my list of animals to see so heading straight to an elephant orphanage was the best possible start to the trip I could have asked for.

One Man & His Elephant by Jack Gunns on 500px.com

 

The David Sheldrick wildlife trust was an amazing place and the work they do there for young orphaned animals like elephants and rhinos is outstanding. The keepers themselves are assigned an animal to look after on a 1-1 24hr basis. I would definitely recommend popping into this place if you are planning a trip as you can get real close to the elephants and watch them play, feed and even put them to bed; we adopted an elephant named Kibo!

Baby Elelphant by Jack Gunns on 500px.com

 

Elephants by Jack Gunns on 500px.com

 

#tb to this little guy 👋 #rhino #travels #africa 🌍

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

We headed straight to our new home for the next few weeks in Malindi – got settled, met the garden monkeys, checked out the pool and went straight to the local beach bar – as you do! The Driftwood was an amazing beach hut bar with incredible ocean views! You can go camel riding (on George) along the beach and book various diving boat trips as well – a must do!

Paradise Cove by Jack Gunns on 500px.com

 

George

Whilst we were there we took the chance to go to a crocodile farm where you get to get pretty close to all sorts of reptiles and lizards. We watched a feeding frenzy in the crocodile pit and got to hold a massive python! The farm was really well run and was a great experience to hold a baby croc and python.

Feeding Frenzy

What's For Dinner?

Once we had settled into life in Malindi and had our first few encounters with wildlife we ventured to our first big project which was to go see and teach at Marafa school. When we first entered the school we were surrounded by a sea of smiling curious faces that followed us everywhere. Once the initial shock wore off we relaxed into our teaching roles. On a rotation of 25+ children in each group we began a week of lessons. It was a fantastic experience and incredibly rewarding to see the kids listening and interested in what we had brought with us. They especially had fun with my camera – which gave me some great photos!

Creative Culture

#africa #mask #tbt #instadaily #insta #instahub

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

After a week of teaching the school put on a traditional tribal dance for us – I was pulled up to bust a move or two.

#tbt #dance #travels #happy

A photo posted by Jack Gunns (@jackgunns) on

With an incredible first week and introduction to Kenya, we packed up our teaching bags and got ready for the next adventure – safari!

Kenya pt.2 coming soon…

If you’d like to keep up with my adventures and get social;

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Travel. Create, Be Nice!