Remember These Safety Tips While Volunteering Abroad
Volunteering, studying, or even just visiting abroad is always an exciting venture. Especially straight out of school, or newly graduated, traveling as a young adult is an inevitable learning experience, an eye-opener, and more than anything it will provide you with memories that you’ll never forget. Volunteering abroad, especially, helps you attain this experience most significantly. But, sometimes things go wrong, and no matter how safe the place you are visiting is, there are always dangers when you’re somewhere foreign, and even more so when you don’t speak the language.
When you plan for your volunteering journey abroad, one natural question that’ll surely strike you is – “Will I be safe?”
While volunteer trips can be incredible on the one hand, they can be quite dangerous if the correct safety measures aren’t followed. Moreover, when you choose to embark on your journey through Volunteering Solutions, we make sure that you are absolutely safe in whichever part of the world you go to. Our in-country coordinators are there at every project location to take care of the volunteers and guide them whenever required.
In spite of that, we would like to mention some safety tips that you should keep in mind while you are traveling abroad for volunteer work.
1. Prepare yourself
Yes, this is quite self-explanatory. But preparation doesn’t just mean packing warm clothes for cooler weather. Instead, jump online and have a look at where you’re visiting. Does it have a stable political situation? Are there any extremists? What is the crime rate like? These are just a few, yet, highly important questions you should be asking. Even in highly westernized countries such as England, there are going to be hazards, so just make sure you have a look at where you’re going.
2. Keep an eye on your belongings
We always warn volunteers not to bring any valuable items with them. Most of the volunteering placements are located in areas where people are less privileged and don’t have much exposure to the otherwise luxurious world. Naturally, they have a tendency to sneak out for things that intrigue their interest. Also, while you take local transportation, you need to be careful about your wallet and money. It is best not to carry much cash with you. When people understand that you are from the Western world, you easily become a target of pickpocketing. Therefore, it is extremely necessary to be careful about what you are carrying.
3. Scan your important documents
Yes – scan and keep photocopies of your Passport, Visa, Medical Insurance and all other important documents that you are carrying. After all, we are human beings, and things might get misplaced. While it would be easier to get these retrieved in your home country, in a foreign land things would become worse if you don’t have these essential docs.
4. Get a health check-up done
Before you set sail, do check once with your doctor. Do proper research about the climatic conditions of the place where you’ll travel to, and ask your doctor if you need to follow any particular diet. For example, if you are from a country with a moderately colder climate and you are traveling to a tropical region, your body might not get adapted to the heat easily. There are chances that you can get sunburn or rashes. Follow your doctor’s advice in this regard. Also, get all the necessary vaccinations.
5. Dress properly
The clothes you wear back home might not be suitable for your volunteering site. Many countries say, for example, India, are very particular when it comes to clothing and it is advisable that you wear clothes that fully cover your body. Also, avoid wearing clothes that are too skimpy. While at work, you’ll need to be comfortable in whatever you are wearing. Do proper research on what’s acceptable in your host country and be respectful toward their customs. We are sure that following local customs will help you avoid any unwanted attention.
6. Don’t go out alone at night
No matter in which country you are, we would advise you not to go out alone at night. If you want to explore the nightlife or attend parties, ask you, fellow mates, to accompany you. Also, inform your in-country coordinator about the place where you want to go, so that he/she can reach you in the case of any emergency. As a general rule, avoid walking at the late hours of the night by yourself, and avoid very isolated areas where you might easily be approached by a stranger. We are not saying that all strangers would have the mindset to cause you harm, but it’s just a safety measure that you should follow while you are in a foreign land.
7. Don’t indulge yourself in too much alcohol consumption
It can be extremely tempting to relax and sip in some alcohol while you are traveling abroad. But, remember that you become extremely vulnerable when you are drunk. A little bit of drinking with your teammates can be fine, but make sure not to get so drunk that you lose all your consciousness and allow people to take advantage of you.
8. Keep in touch with your friends and family back home
It’s always good to be in touch with the near and dear ones, even when you are traveling abroad. While international calls are expensive, you can stay connected through Skype or Whatsapp. Tell them where you are, how you are living and who you are with. Also, give them some contact details where they can contact if you are directly unreachable. This will lessen their worries, and ensure your safety.
Never underestimate the importance of getting proper travel insurance! It’s absolutely necessary no matter where you go; often, travel insurance will cover aspects such as canceled flights, accommodation refunds, and ticket cancellations. If something goes wrong, even if it’s a small issue, you want to travel with the assurance that you’ll be covered and prepared in the case of an emergency.
And my final tip for you? Have fun!
Traveling in anxiety isn’t fun at all. Just make sure that you’re prepared in case something goes wrong. If you choose to take up volunteering work while traveling abroad then you don’t have to worry about anything as it is, since a dedicated local coordinator will always be there to guide and support you.
The volunteering vacation will absolutely change your way to look at life. It’ll make you a much stronger and confident human being and you’ll cherish these memories forever. But all this will only be possible when you are safe while traveling. And as the famous saying goes, “It’s better to be safe than sorry”.
For any other safety tips, you can always reach out to your in-country coordinator who can guide you about your moves. Also, follow the Pre-Departure Booklet that you’ll receive once you book your program with Volunteering Solutions. And of course, our Program Advisors are always there to help you out at any given point in time – just drop a mail at [email protected] and someone will get back to you!
We hope that you’ll have an amazing and safe journey.