Childcare volunteer sits with her class in Fiji during her volunteer project abroad

Volunteering abroad? 7 things you can expect!

Learn more about volunteering abroad and what you should prepare for.

By Isabel Silva | 02nd May, 2019

Do you remember the first time you heard about the possibility of volunteering abroad? Maybe it was from a friend, your mom, or a news article you stumbled across online. But what exactly does volunteering abroad entail, and what do you need to know?

As a international volunteer, you’ll travel to another country to help where it’s needed. You’ll give your time and skills to contribute to impactful, long-term goals. Although you aren’t paid for your volunteer efforts, you’ll gain something greater while abroad: the satisfaction of supporting others while you explore the world.

That’s volunteering abroad in a nutshell, but we’re sure you’d like a bit more detail. Prepare to:

#1 Travel to a different country

Travelling the world is great. But, travelling with a purpose is even better. It’s one of the many reasons to volunteer abroad.

You’ll have the chance to explore and immerse yourself in a new country. You’ll experience a different place and culture firsthand: its tastes, sounds, and sights, all through the eyes of a local. This is one of the reasons why volunteering abroad is so vastly different to local projects, where you already know your surroundings.

Forget about being like the average tourist − volunteering overseas is one of the better ways to see the world from a different perspective.

Volunteers travel around Vietnam during their trip abroad

#2 Live with the locals

Accommodation is always important when travelling abroad. One question that’ll cross your mind is definitely, “Where will I live as a volunteer abroad?”. You need to know where it is located, whether it’s safe, if you’ll be sharing, and more.

We believe that the best way to get to know a different culture is to live with the locals. That’s why, with most of our projects, you’ll get to live with host families. All of our families are thoroughly vetted and often become your family away from home. They’ll provide you with a safe place to stay and daily meals. You may even learn how to make a few local dishes of your own.

Spend time getting to know them and where they are from. You can swap stories, learn some of their home language, or get involved in their cultural activities.

Volunteers take a group photo with a local family during their time abroad

#3 Help communities

As a volunteer, you’ll contribute your skills and effort to positively impact communities. However, you should always be sure that the projects you join are responsible and sustainable.

We plan, monitor, and evaluate all our projects in close consultation with local communities. This allows us to set long-term goals and redirect your efforts and our resources towards areas that need it most.

This also means, that during your project, you’ll continue the work of previous volunteers and that others will continue your work after you.

Healthcare volunteers checking the blood pressure of children in Sri Lanka during their time abroad

#4 Discover what you’re capable of

You may be wondering if you need skills or qualifications to volunteer abroad. And the short answer is no.

The majority of our projects don’t require you to have any previous experience or skills. It’s important to note that you’ll play a supporting role as a volunteer abroad. You’ll work alongside professionals in the field and they’ll guide you through any task you may be given. You might even leave your volunteer project abroad having gained a new skill or two!

As part of your training, we also run regular workshops. These workshops teach you the skills you need to contribute. These workshops mean that you can volunteer overseas without experience, because you’ll learn the skills once you’re on the project.

Volunteers prepare for a workshop during their volunteer project abroad

#5 Work with local staff and international volunteers

You’ll never be alone as a volunteer abroad. You’ll always be surrounded by people, whether it’s our staff, other volunteers, or the people you’re helping.

Many international volunteers join our volunteer projects daily. This means you’ll have the chance to meet volunteers from all over the world. Prepare to work with passionate people, just like you!

Our staff are also there to guide you on your project and support you when needed. They’re only a phone call away if you ever need their assistance, both at your project or after hours.

Volunteers take a group photo after their work day abroad in Madagascar

#6 Exchange cultures

On our projects, you’ll experience cultural exchange in a unique way. You’ll have the opportunity to truly embrace different traditions not only by living and working with the locals, but also by meeting volunteers from all over the world.

There is plenty to learn from your new friends. Take the time to exchange stories, share your backgrounds, and ask questions. Are you ready to become a global citizen?

Volunteers visit a traditional village in Kenya during their volunteer trip abroad

#7 Take care of your own expenses

A question we hear a lot is, “Why do I have to pay to volunteer abroad?”. But think about it. If you don’t pay for your expenses, who will shoulder the cost?

Most independent organisations like Projects Abroad don’t receive funding from governments, companies, and partner organisations. We can't function and provide sustainable, long-term assistance without the fees that you pay.

Your fees go towards the costs of your trip, long-term support for the project you work on, and the resources needed to make sure projects around the world are sustainable and successful.

We charge you a fee to take part in our projects but, in return, we provide you with:

  • A world-class support network, before, during, and after your trip
  • A hassle-free project where everything is taken care of for you
  • A project where you can be confident that you’ll make a real impact

In short, you are paying for an option you can trust.

Volunteers get picked up at the airport by Projects Abroad staff after arriving in Nepal

Are you ready to be a volunteer abroad?

Now that you have a clearer idea of what to expect as a volunteer abroad, are you ready to take the next step? No matter your reason for volunteering abroad, we’ll make sure you are prepared and leave a positive impact.

Check out our Destinations and Projects to choose a programme. And pack your bags, because your volunteer adventure awaits!

Volunteer gives a thumbs up during her Conservation Project abroad

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Want to know more about what you can expect as a volunteer abroad?

Get in touch with our Projects Experts. They'll be happy to answer any questions you may have.

01273 007 230

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