6 Common Travel Challenges You Should Overcome While Volunteering Abroad

calendar_today September 23, 2015
schedule min read


“Challenges are what makes life interesting, and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful”. These lines by Joshua Marine are to keep us reminding that life has its challenges and we need to face them no matter what. Being one of the most beautiful, enthralling, and experiential parts of our lives, traveling, too, has its challenges and an ardent traveler will always learn ways to overcome them.

Volunteering Solutions respects such enthusiastic travelers who travel to volunteer abroad and understand that they carry certain common concerns. Here is a genuine effort to help all volunteer travelers to overcome their travel challenges:

Alice Sommer & Michelle Koomen during summer volunteering in Kenya with volsol
Alice Sommer & Michelle Koomen during summer volunteering in Kenya with VolSol

#1. Keeping up with the confidence

A lot of gap year travelers and young batch of backpackers have been observed taking up volunteering abroad. While it includes traveling abroad for a limited period of time, it certainly isn’t the generic kind of travel. Traveling to volunteer abroad requires positive thinking, active participation, and self-confidence. And when you decide to volunteer, you need to make sure you not only have, but maintain these qualities throughout your program.

The Problem: Losing your self-confidence

The Solution: To stay confident about your decision of traveling abroad to volunteer, and about the program, you will be working under, all you need to do is to keep the fact in mind that it is not as tough a task as it looks. You need to remember that your travel is for a purpose and that you are traveling to gain unparallel experience in life.


#2. Missing your family back home

One of the most common challenges one face while traveling abroad; homesickness! It is only obvious to miss your parents, siblings, friends, and mostly the pet when you are away; on a different soil. At times volunteers are placed under programs that are located in remote areas, with no or limited mobile and internet connectivity.

The Problem: Getting homesick

The Solution: As a traveler, one leaves the home and reaches the turf individually, but as a volunteer, one works for a team. The team that comprises of other similar minded volunteers, local coordinators, and in-house staff at the project. The team with which you live, eat, travel, and of course, work, is your new family abroad.


#3. Opening up with the new faces

Communication is a vital aspect of life. It is only through some or the other form of communication that information passes on and spreads across. Knowledge and learning come from effective communication. When volunteering abroad, it is the communication factor that can help dearly in making your sojourn more interesting and successful.

The Problem: Being Reticent

The Solution: The entire volunteer abroad concept is designed in such a manner that it will prompt you to bring out the genial side of yours.  With all the volunteering sessions and excursion with your fellow volunteers, as well as the orientation sessions with the in-country support staff; all this includes a lot of interaction, group discussions, team meetings, and more. Soon you will lose the habit of restraining yourself from approaching a stranger.  


#4. Being within your budget

Are you in a habit of making a travel checklist? Many travelers do. And, one of the most important parts of any travel checklist is the estimated cost of the entire expedition. Since, it is mostly the students that are fresh out of high school or the students still under graduation, who take up gap year travel, the expenses make for a significant factor.

The Problem: Running low on cash

The Solution: Volunteering abroad itself is a great option for budget traveling. The major part of traveling cost, i.e., accommodation and meals, is covered under the fee that a volunteer pay for a program. This leaves them with only the personal expenses to plan for, viz., shopping, eating out, and weekend excursions. Also, most of the volunteering destinations are either underdeveloped or developing nation, with moderate economies, making it a much more cost effective sojourn.


#5. Ticking off all safety measures

Another important point in a traveler’s checklist; safety. Being a very legit concern for a foreign traveler, safety issues are always on the minds of volunteers. This includes, but is not limited to, health safety, travel safety (appropriate documents), domestic security (local crimes), etc.

The Problem: Safety concern

The Solution: As a responsible volunteer placement organization, Volunteering Solutions make sure of a safe and comfortable stay for all of its overseas volunteers. The accommodations that are allotted to the volunteers are either volunteer homes or with a local host family. In both the cases, the locality of the accommodation is been considered, a thorough background check on the host family is done, and in-country support staff is designated with the volunteers for any kind of help or clarification. Also, along with all this, a basic stream of cautiousness is expected from all volunteers; which counts for a general travel ethic.


#6. Getting acclimatized with the new environment

Traveling abroad simply means, flying miles away from your home country and into a different atmosphere altogether. The breeze feels different, the food tastes different, the air smells different; it’s akin to an entire tropospheric shift. But this, however, remains for an initial couple of days.

The Problem: Adjusting with geographical changes

The Solution: This is one of the common problems, that any overseas traveler faces. All it needs is that you give yourself some time to blend in with this atmospheric change. Read about the climatic conditions of the destination you will be volunteering at; before you leave.

Yes! This might be a solo travel (unless you are traveling in a group to volunteer abroad), but only up till the point when you land at your volunteering destination. Once you reach your place of accommodation, you have a new family of sorts waiting to start an interesting sojourn for coming few weeks.

Do you have any other concern about a volunteering abroad trip? Share it with us in the comment box and let our experts help you with it.

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