Voluntourism is a new and popular solution for people who want to explore the world on a budget, while giving something back to a cause that they consider to be worthwhile or important. With your traveler’s belt, or travel security wallet keeping your valuables secure, you can learn new skills, discover a new community, and place yourself in the ideal position to grow as a person – all while enjoying the adventure of a cheap vacation.
The definition of a volunteer vacation is anything that combines travel with volunteer work. You can choose whether you’d like to offer the skills you already have to those that are less fortunate, or learn to do something new on your vacation – such as discovering how to build new houses from scratch or care for animals. Either way, today we’re going to take a look at some of the tips you should keep in mind when planning your volunteering vacation. After all, you’re still taking a vacation, so there’s still plenty of opportunities to enjoy yourself!
Tip 1: Do Your Research
First things first, it’s important to learn as much as you can about the options that are available to you in the form of a volunteer vacation. For instance, look into the program that you’re considering signing up with and find out what’s going to be expected of you, compared to what you can expect from the people or organization that are offering the experience. At the same time, you might also want to research the destination that you’ll be visiting to determine whether it’s really safe enough to go. At the end of the day, you need to look after yourself, whether you’ve got your traveler’s belt handy or not.
It may be worth verifying the organization’s status as a nonprofit with the IRS too, on publication 78 – this will help to make sure that you can access any tax benefits that will be available to you, a matter we’ll cover a little further into this article.
Tip 2: Ask Plenty of Questions
While getting as much information as you can might seem like an obvious thing to do when you’re preparing for a volunteer vacation – it’s something that’s frequently disregarded by many people who are eager to jump into the experience head first. Remember, you’re probably going to place yourself into a position where you’ll be spending a lot of time with strangers in an unfamiliar location. As such, you need to know exactly what you’re getting yourself into.
Once you have a general idea of which programs you might like to apply for, it’s a good idea to ask at least some of the following questions:
- What will I be expected to do each day?
- What should I put in my traveler’s belt, or travel security wallet?
- How much free time will I have to enjoy myself?
- Does your organization have foreign liability insurance?
- Will I be given a place to sleep?
- Are there any emergency services available on site?
- Can my family and friends contact me during my stay?
Tip 3: Be Prepared with your traveler’s belt
If the work that you’re taking on is outside of the country, then you might need to think about things like passports, medicines, and immunizations that could otherwise be unavailable during your stay. If you’ll be working with locals, remember to learn as much about the language and culture before you go as possible, as this will help you to blend in and enjoy your experience. At the same time, however, keep your traveler’s belt with you at all times to keep your valuables secure.
Sometimes, learning some simple and essential phrases like “Thank you” will be enough to ensure that you get along with the people that you encounter during your trip. At the same time, finding out as much as you can about the local customs of a particular place will help you to avoid offending anyone during your stay.
Tip 4: Be Open to Learning
One of the most significant benefits of devoting your spare time to volunteer work, is that you’ll have a great chance to learn some new skills. Because you’ll be expected to take on jobs and generally jump into your role instantly, you’ll have to learn on the job, and that means that you’ll often walk away with a selection of skills that you didn’t have before you got there.
With that in mind, it’s important to make sure that the tasks you decide to take on are within your realistic bounds mentally and physically. If you attempt to tackle a challenge that is far too unrealistic, you won’t do anything good for yourself, or your volunteer group. Remember that there are still plenty of low-impact jobs out there that you can take on as part of voluntourism, so do your research and pick something that’s most appealing to you.
Tip 5: Consider Tax Breaks
While you might be volunteering, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you shouldn’t get anything financial out of your hard work. Although you might have to pay for part of your trip and your stay, provided that you’re working for at least forty hours a week, you will also be able to write off a large number of your expenses.
If, as we suggested above, you’ve already done the research that you need to into your chosen organization, you will know for certain whether it’s a non-profit. As long as it is qualified as a non-profit group, then you should be able to write off everything from your travel expenses, to your plane ticket, and any boarding expenses that you incur too. Just keep your receipt in your traveler’s belt
Tip 6: Have a Budget
Finally, creating a budget might seem like a strange way to start planning your volunteer vacation, but it’s worth remembering that you need to be careful with your cash no matter where you go. Though some of your expenses will be covered – not all of them will be tax deductible.
While you’re planning your budget, remember to think carefully about how long you can afford to stay, as some volunteer vacations can range from a few days to a number of months. As long as you keep a budget, and the tips mentioned above in mind, you should have no trouble when it comes to planning your volunteer vacation, and enjoying it too!