Originally from Canada, Coralie has been living in Germany for the past 7 years. Passionate about women’s issues, social equality, and human rights, she has been volunteering and interning internationally on related projects while finishing her sociology degree. Now having launched her online business and “Years of Change”, she has been working day and night to build herself an exciting future.
Although Youtube travel vlogs and Instagram posts may make you think that a trip is simple and easily organised, for any trip, especially a volunteering-oriented one, a good amount of preparation is required. Here are five Do’s and Don’ts in the preparation of your next trip.
- Do: give yourself heaps of time to prepare.
Will you need to apply for a visa? Get yourself a criminal record before engaging in volunteer work? Will you need to buy a mosquito net from Amazon that may take a few days to arrive? If you ticked yes to all of these, make sure to do so in advance– do not wait until the day of travel to freak out and realise that your criminal record must be translated to English to be valid, or that your visa application has not been accepted yet. Make to-do lists to remember all that there is to do! Travelling and volunteering are exhausting– avoid any extra stress to ensure that you enjoy the experience.
- Do: Consult websites to know what to bring abroad depending on your location.
Are you travelling to Asia or to Iceland? What is the weather like there? Will it be sunny? Will it rain? Take it from someone who spent two weeks camping in rainy Emmen (Holland) with no waterproof shoes, having the proper gear to remain comfortable is necessary. Especially for volunteering trips– one cannot be an efficient and productive volunteer if one’s basic needs are not met– that includes staying healthy, warm or cool enough and getting enough sleep among others.
- Don’t: take the cheapest route possible if it means that you will arrive at the destination too exhausted to do anything.
To volunteer, you need to be at your very best. Flying for over 30 hours and having huge layovers will tire you out. I understand that travelling is expensive, however, that is something you may want to invest in. Paying a couple extra bucks might be worth it if it means that you can invest yourself completely in your work once you are there!
- Don’t: expect the culture to be the same there as it is back home.
When I researched the culture and the customs of Uganda, I found that it is very conservative and that women do not tend to wear short pants or skirts. Considering the intense heat, I was really worried about this! However, when one is in another culture, one must fit the customs there. You do not want to be the person getting stared at by all the locals, believe me, you will already stand out enough!
5: Do: Research, read, and learn.
Do not come to the placement unaware of the work that has been done before you, or unaware of the work you will have to do. Get in contact with past volunteers on your organisation’s Facebook page, ask for tips and tricks, of donations that may be needed, and so on. Search what the local needs are, inform yourself on the history of the country you are travelling to– arrive there fully prepared for a (somewhat) stress-free experience.
Those are my five tips for the preparation. Check out my tips on making sure you are ready to volunteer!
Also read: ARE YOU READY TO VOLUNTEER?