When the volunteer work is done, what’s next?
If you’re taking a trip abroad you are going to want to see it all! Aside from the rewarding experience of giving back, being able to experience the culture of the community you are volunteering in will complete your travel experience.
When choosing your volunteer program, it is important to look at the amount of time you will be working vs the amount of time that you will have free. Everyone is different, but typically you will not want to be volunteering for an 8 hour day. Something shorter (4-6 hours) tends to be much better. For one, it allows you to have more free time in the evenings to see the surrounding area, but also, it allows you to have a little more energy for the weekends. An 8 hour day can be very draining, especially if you are doing a physically demanding volunteer project such as construction.
Weekends are key
It is important to make sure that you have free time over the weekend. Being able to use your weekends to travel is key, especially for the short term volunteer. More often than not, excursions are limited to the weekend because the big volcanos, ruins, beaches, etc are not in the towns that need the most help.
When choosing a volunteer program, the type of excursions and nearby activities will most likely be a big factor in finding what is right for you. The world is a big place, and as you start doing research, you will find countless opportunities out there. To help narrow it down, start to think about what types of things you enjoy.
A few questions to get you started
Do you like cities or rural environments?
Do you like hiking or other physical activities or would you rather relax on a beach?
Do you like history and culture, or does that stuff not do it for you?
Do you like Architecture?
Do you like warm environments or cold?
These simple questions will start to narrow down the options and help you find a good excursion that is perfect for you.
Although a memorable excursion is a big factor, you might have a volunteer location booked before you go shopping for weekend activities. If that is the case, you should start planning some of your activities before your flight. The internet is a great place to start. You can find out what other people have done, read reviews, etc. This will give you a good foundation when you get in country, and you will find wifi at home to be much quicker than speeds on your volunteer trip.
By the time you get into country, you should have a good idea of what you want for excursions. If you still have questions, your group leaders will be a great tool. They know the area best and will be able to direct you to the best spots. Also, don’t forget to talk to your fellow volunteers. A trip with new friends will most likely be fun than a trip alone!