Know These Answers Before You Volunteer

Hospital LogoOne of the more daunting aspects of international volunteering is the idea that you are in an unknown location and I know there is a fear that will not know the protocol to help yourself. The length of volunteering may vary, and many of these bullet points apply to placements in remote locations, but have a read and share anything else you prepare before you head out on a volunteer trip.

  • Who you will be volunteering with, and what is your organization’s typical volunteer like. How many volunteers do they use, and are you placed in close proximity?
  • The closest hospital and the course of action if you’re ill.
  • Language basics before you leave, and then keep a notebook handy for writing down new the phrases you learn.
  • How to get internet access.
  • The common scams and regional issues that prey on tourists.
  • Name and address of your organization, as well as a local contact phone number.
  • The local currency and how far it should get you.
  • The availability of ATMs near your placement.
  • If you will have electricity, and which chargers and adapters you should bring.
  • After hours entertainment; should you bring books, CDs, movies, or a deck of cards to keep yourself entertained?
  • Special regional medications and precautions like: malaria medicine, DEET, mosquito nets, water purification.
  • The local weather patterns. Is it monsoon season, dry, cool, high altitude, water nearby, etc? (For Asia travel, this handy chart is a wonderful way to prepare expectations).

I am prone to spontaneous travel, and to that end I make sure I have these facts covered and leave the rest to chance. To feel safe and comfortable you may need more or less information before you leave. My advice is always that you should prepare just enough to feel confident.