Have you been considering a volunteer placement for some time but keep putting it off due to work commitments, lack of funds or even fear of the unknown? As they say, there is no time like the present, which is why you should stop making excuses and volunteer now! The longer you wait, the less likely you are to go, and as life gets busier and new study/career options present themselves, there will always be a reason to postpone.
Some people are naturally spontaneous and like to do things on the spur of the moment, while others prefer careful planning and deliberation before making bookings. But there are some real advantages to taking the plunge and deciding to travel at the last minute, particularly when it comes to finances.
Save on Last Minute Bookings
You can take advantage of some incredible savings by booking flights, tours and even volunteer abroad placements at the last minute. With organizations aiming to fill placements and airlines trying to get people in seats, prices often drop considerably as the dates approach. Always check the “sales” or “deals” page of volunteer abroad operators to see what current discounts are on offer and if you’re not sure where you want to volunteer, it might even help you make a decision!
Most travel booking websites like Last Minute, Expedia and Wotif have dedicated pages where last minute flight and tour deals are listed. But you can also search for cheap last minute flights through search engines like Momondo and Skyscanner. Keep in mind that sometimes the opposite occurs and flight prices can soar in the final days (particularly during peak travel seasons), so always check before you set your heart on a particular volunteer abroad destination.
A Great Excuse to Travel
If you’re after an excuse to get away for a week or two and escape life back home, there’s no better reason than to volunteer now. Rather than indulging at an all-inclusive resort, a volunteer abroad placement is a culturally-immersive experience that will help you grow as an individual and look great on your resume. You don’t need to feel guilty about the money you’re spending on travel, as you know it’s going to help improve the lives of others and benefit you in the long term.
A volunteer abroad placement will connect you with like-minded individuals and may help you network in your chosen field of study, as well as expand your skills and career options. Think of it as an investment in your future, with the added bonus of getting to see the world at the same time.
Get Paid to Travel
Worried that your boss might not be happy about you suddenly taking time off to travel? Or perhaps you’re concerned that you don’t have the funds to go? Many companies are now actually encouraging their employees to volunteer with paid time off. So check what your company’s policy is on taking vacations and particularly volunteer abroad placements, as they might help you foot some of the costs.
Community engagement and giving back is central to the ethos of many companies and some understand the benefits volunteering can have on their employees’ energy, productivity and career satisfaction. By giving their employees paid time off to participate in volunteer programs, they’re not only rewarding their staff and showing they value their work, but also boosting their image in the greater community.
Volunteering Abroad May Be Cheaper Than You Think
Forget five-star hotel price tags and expensive restaurant meals, heading off to volunteer can actually be far cheaper than you think. Vacations are often thought of as an annual splurge to reward ourselves and we want to splash out on the most indulgent experience we can afford. But volunteer abroad programs are an opportunity to get back to basics, stay in local accommodations and have a lot of fun while getting your hands dirty.
The cost of placements reflects this, being just enough to cover your living costs and administration requirements, while also injecting some funds into the local communities or conservation programs. So no matter what your budget is, you can find volunteer placements to suit and the longer you stay, the cheaper they work out. For the price of a one-week vacation at an upmarket resort, you can stay multiple weeks in an off-the-beaten-track destination and have the adventure of a lifetime.
Things to Keep in Mind When Deciding to Volunteer Now
Because of logistical requirements and visa application processing times, some volunteer abroad placements need to be booked well in advance. Some consulates take up to six weeks to issue visas, which might limit where you can go if you want to volunteer now. You can find estimate visa processing times on most consulate websites and always take into consideration the postal times to get your application there.
Volunteer abroad organizations will do their best to arrange programs at short notice, but you’ll need to be flexible in your plans and responsive for them to get it done! If you’re thinking about traveling during the summer period, keep in mind that many programs fill up quickly as this is the peak travel time for students on high school or university breaks. If you really want to travel in June, July and August, try and book ahead to get a position on the placement of your choice. If you’re not sure what you want to do and are happy to go with the flow, you should be able to find last-minute placements even during the summer months.
When completing last-minute volunteer abroad placements, make sure you fill in all parts of the form and attach any required documentation. This will ensure your application is processed as quickly as possible and you won’t waste valuable time sending it back and forth. If the organization requires a deposit, make sure you send it in a prompt manner as many won’t even begin processing your application without it. Always get in touch with one of their team members if you’ve got questions or if you’re not sure which program is right for you. Chances are they’ve got first hand experience and can offer sound advice to help you make a decision.