Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Volunteer abroad: pre-trip planning
There are around 1.6 million volunteers who have left home to go and volunteer in different parts of the world. Some of them planned as early as two years in advance on when they are going to volunteer and what they would do. While for some of them it took less than two weeks to plan and leave home. Depending on the individual, early planner or late planner, it is advisable to plan in advance for a volunteer abroad trip. Advance preparation helps the volunteer to: make everything ready before leaving; taking advantage of budget deals; get time to sort out finances; have more options and avoid last minute problems. Volunteers who use volunteer travel organizations don’t have to plan much as they are helped by the organizations and they oversee everything. However volunteers who are travelling independently will be forced to plan in advance so as to make the most of their trip. Here are a couple of more reasons to plan in advance:
Every country has travel advisories on various destinations. The countries use their embassies to get information of the country they are in. The embassies provide their governments with regular advice about travelling in that country. These regular updates are used by the governments to warn its citizens about traveling in a particular country. They warn about the safety of travelling in a country. They warn against terrorism threats, government being overthrown and natural disasters. Volunteers should pay attention to these warnings especially during these times when many of the governments in Arab nations are being over thrown. The travel warnings also help avoid natural disasters like the one in Japan and New Zealand. With these warnings the volunteer could have adequate time to change the country in which they are planning to go to.
When the volunteer has picked a program months in advance of their departure date they can find out as much as possible about the volunteer abroad program. They can talk directly to the organization that is providing the program. They can find out exactly what they will be doing; the expectations; rules and regulations; dress code; and what they can bring. There will be adequate time to find out about the country. During this time they could research about the country find out about: currency; culture; national language; norms and population. They can time to read through guide books and look at maps to know how to move around.
During pre-trip planning the volunteers will look at where they will be staying. They can find out about the accommodation that will be available to them, form homestay, hotel, hostel, dormitories and group homes. They can also decide which option is the best accommodation that will fit in their budget. If they are going to stay in a homestay they can communicate directly to the host and find out if the home is a perfect fit for them. During this time they can find out what is being provided in each hotel, hostel and group home.
Pre-trip check list
The checklist is prepared to make sure the volunteer will have gotten everything they require for their trip. The list could include: things to buy; vaccination required; passports visas and flight insurance; air tickets and many more. Making a list will help be organized and help them to prepare for everything in a timely manner. This way they will be able to deal with unexpected issues that could crop up on the way.