Volunteering overseas often conjures up images of traipsing through jungles to remote island villages and hammering tooth and nail to help build schools. While those are both definitely options, you might not have realised you could also teach disadvantaged kids how to surf or hand-rear baby lion cubs in South Africa or helping out with Panda conservation in China. Volunteering overseas can involve a wide range of work, you could find yourself helping to build the health of communities in Peru to working on conservation projects in Costa Rica and joining community projects in India, Africa or Ecuador. What it’s really about is doing a little good in the world – ultimately though, you’ll get just as much back as you give, if not more in the grand scheme of things.
Whether you want to work with kids, animals or help with building and conversation – there’s a variety of options all over the globe – from helping teach kids in Cambodia to feeding elephants breakfast in Chang Mai. Whatever your calling, we can help sort out packages, visa, travel, insurance and accommodation details so you can start making a difference, sooner.
You can volunteer from two weeks to a month or more. What’s different about travelling as volunteer as opposed to a regular tourist is you get to know the local people and you get an insider view – it’s a big deal you’ve come out of our way and are giving your time, and your gesture won’t go unnoticed. In most cases, when volunteering overseas, your meals and accommodation will be sorted and any additional expenses will be left up to you – it’s a good idea to have some extra savings to travel after your volunteering endeavours come to an end.
Travel Confessions: Cynthia Tan on volunteering in Laos
How to travel mindfully
What to pack for an epic overseas trip of 6 months (or more!)
Travel Confessions: Monique Ledger on teaching English in South Africa
The travel stuff
- Visa appropriate for the country in which you will be teaching
- Passport with at least 6 months validity
- Travel insurance
- Let AEC (Australian Electoral Commission) know you’re leaving the country so you don’t get wacked with fines for not voting if there’s a local or national election on the horizon
- Make sure your Drivers licence is valid for awhile or apply for an international drivers licence
- Make copies of your documentation (i.e., passport, visas, birth certificate, etc.)
- Photocopy all documents including insurance particulars, record the numbers of your credit cards, passport, and airline tickets and give to a responsible family member or friend at home.
- Additional passport photos to ease the process of replacing a lost or stolen passport, or if other official documents are required once you are in your destination country.
- Medical – do you have you have all the drug prescriptions you need, including your glasses/ contact lens prescription if you wear them
- A spare pair of glasses and contact lenses (if you wear them)
- Have you had all the relevant shots / immunizations for the region you’re travelling to? And pack a list of the injections you’ve had just in case
- Visit your dentist to have a clean and check-up
- Details you need to set up a bank account in the country your headed
- How to apply to social security in that country (i.e. in the UK you’ll need an National Insurance N.I number)
- Tax – let the ATO know you’re leaving the country
- Credit and debit cards for travel
- Notify your bank and close any accounts that might charge you fees while you’re away
- Money – take approximately $200 with you as universal currency.
- Pay off any debts you have with friends, family or financial intuitions
- Cancel any automatic withdrawals you have from your bank account
- Camera, batteries & chargers
- Pack an extra memory card for your camera
- International power adaptors
- Invest in a good backpack
- All your electronic chargers
- All insurance and emergency numbers
- Pack an extra memory card for your camera
- Address of the Australian embassy in the country your travelling to
The not so obvious
- Foam earplugs (to block out noisy travel buddies or offer to others if you’re the noisy one!)
- A good book – or if you’re really smart a novel which is based somewhere you’re travelling to - it adds an interesting perspective when you explore these destinations.
- If you have more than one credit card, separate them. Perhaps store one in your wallet and the other in your luggage. That way if you lose one or the other you’ll still have access to cash.
- Collect Australian souvenirs (those little clip-on koalas go down a treat) to give out to your students
- Purchase a few educational games or children’s word association games.
- Collect glossy catalogues and magazines with lots of pictures; these are hard to find in most developing countries and students love them!
- Find out what is considered to be proper attire in your classroom, including shoes, as well as weather appropriate clothing for your destination country.
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