10 Common Mistakes To Avoid While Volunteering Abroad

calendar_today September 17, 2015
schedule min read


Making mistakes is a common human tendency, and it is from our mistakes that we are supposed to learn the lessons of life. It has been seen that volunteers commit certain common mistakes that could have been easily avoided, had they been aware of few general processes.

Volunteering Solutions has been in the segment of volunteer traveling for over a decade now and has observed volunteers committing certain common mistakes. In order to make sure you don’t fall prey to these mistakes, Volunteering Solutions suggests that you must the pointers mentioned below.


1. Avoid overpacking

It’s a common tendency to pack humongous amount of clothes and making your backpack heavy for no reason! While on a volunteer trip, you should avoid carrying too many clothes. For your project, take clothes in which you’ll be comfortable to work as most of it would include a physically active schedule. For traveling purposes, do a proper study of the weather conditions and pack accordingly. You don’t need to show off your party wears and thus you can leave them behind at home!

2. Avoid running out of cash

Money management is something you start learning from a tender age when you keep saving whatever little you can in your piggy bank. The form of saving may change with age, but not the process. Especially, when you are on your own, away from your family, traveling abroad to volunteer under a program, do keep a habit of saving money wherever you can. It gives you the bracket to face emergencies (if and when they arrive). And you certainly would not want to ask for monetary help from your fellow volunteer mates, not that it is something disgraceful, but it reflects your mismanagement.

3. Avoid being an ‘All Solo Traveler’

Going for solo excursions has been highly into practice from a long time now. But you need to remember that this is not like any other regular holiday. Volunteering abroad is a team effort, where you live, eat, volunteer, and even travel together in a group. This is an opportunity to know people from different parts of the world and understand their traditions and culture and tell them about yours. It is always advised to avoid wandering alone, rather travel and explore the destinations together. It is beneficial in terms of safety as well.

4. Avoid getting too inebriated

Of course! When you work hard, you can always party harder. But that must not let you lose yourself too much into the ‘high spirits’. You should always remember that you are there, in a foreign country, for a purpose. Also, being too tipsy makes you vulnerable to robbery and theft, which you certainly would want to avoid.

5. Avoid hesitation in taking initiatives

Anybody can be a boss, but only the wiser can be a leader. While volunteering abroad under a program, there will be times when you would require to take some prompt decisions that must be in adherence to the benefit of the project. Take this as an opportunity to break the shackles of being an introvert and lead from the front. Never hesitate to take initiatives during your program, no matter what the requirements are. You can always figure out a way, just have the will.

6. Avoid forgetting to keep all your travel documents in a safe place

This is one of the most important factors that any volunteer traveler must keep a note of. All your travel documents, including your visa, passport, insurance, medical prescriptions, and any other important document that you are carrying with you, must be kept intact. Make sure you remember very well where you have kept all your documents. Prefer using a document holder wherein you can keep your important paper so that they remain in a single place.

7. Avoid being culturally insensitive

When you travel to a new destination for volunteering, mostly your host community will belong to the underprivileged society having an orthodox set of rules and living a life that’s completely new to you. Try to accept the fact that they are different and hasn’t received the privileges of being progressive enough. The more culturally sensitive you will be, the more they’ll accept you and respect you. Remember that you are the representative of your community in their land, and therefore you should avoid being culturally insensitive.

8. Avoid having unrealistic expectations

To remind you again, a volunteer trip is absolutely different from a regular holiday and it would be better for you to not have unrealistic expectations. Volunteering Solutions will definitely provide you with comfortable accommodation and healthy food, but you shouldn’t except enough luxury that you get at home. You are traveling for a cause that is beyond those unrealistic expectations. And the idea of this trip is to engage in philanthropic work, rather than cribbing for petty expectations!

9. Avoid getting over excited on the first and the last day of your work

It is very obvious to get all the adrenaline rush when leaving for the volunteer trip abroad; especially, if it’s your first one. Notably, it is the first day of your work that seems most exciting, and the last day of your sojourn that makes you the most depressed, as you are leaving the place, the people and your new friends. However, it must be understood that as a volunteer traveler in a foreign country, you are too vulnerable on your first day, and highly stressed on your last day. So, just take things easy and let it all sink in gradually.

10. Avoid ignoring your coordinator’s advice

In most cases, your host community might not be well versed in English and therefore, you’ll have to communicate through actions and emotions. Your country coordinator will play a crucial role during your volunteering journey and you should abide by his/her advice. The country coordinator will be there to help you out in any difficult situation and will be at your service 24/7. He/She will guide you about the project, the work, the places to visit and everything else.


We hope the picture is clear to you, now that you are aware of what to avoid doing and how to approach a particular situation when volunteering abroad under a program. It is no crime to make mistakes, but why fall prey to it when you can get complete guidance for it.

For more information regarding volunteering abroad, speak to our experts at [email protected]

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