While the excitement of traveling abroad to volunteer will keep you on your toes, you need to do mindful planning about packing the stuff before setting out for your journey. While certain things would be available at your destination, it is advisable to not take a risk and carry things from home. The trick is to accommodate all the necessary items in a way that you can still travel light, and don’t feel any burden on your shoulders!
Here’s a checklist of 15 essential things that would definitely help you while packing for your next volunteering journey:
Carrying a suitcase for a volunteer trip is not much advisable. It’ll be much easier for your to pack your things in a big rucksack (preferably a 60-70 liter one), and a day pack inside the rucksack, which you can carry while you go for work every day. Rucksacks usually come with several compartments, so you can arrange your documents, toiletries, and other necessities separately in one bag.
Before you start packing anything else, organize your travel documents. Passport and Visa, Credit/Debit cards, travel insurance documents, health related documents, your pre-departure booklet, a printout of reservation documents, and all other necessary papers should be arranged and you can get a travel document organizer if you feel you require one!
Try not to take too many clothes, as it’s not a luxury holiday! Do a research about the weather conditions of your destination, and pack comfortable clothes accordingly. Your clothes can get dirty easily since you’ll be at work on the grassroots level, so make sure you carry those which can be washed and dried without much hassle. If you are traveling to a monsoon climatic region, do carry your rain-poncho/umbrella.
Wear shoes that’ll cover your feet properly, and don’t forget to pack your slippers. Since there might be a lot of walking involved, getting comfortable shoes is essential. Carry a few pairs of socks as well.
You shouldn’t leave your sunglasses behind, as it would protect your eyes, and give you better visibility during daytime. Also, if you are traveling to a place with enough pollution, then putting the scarf to cover your nose would help you breathe. It can also help you cover your head and protect you from direct sun rays. While carrying a hat would occupy a lot of space in the rucksack, a scarf can fit in any corner!
If you are traveling to a tropical country, then be sure that there will be too many mosquitoes to irritate you. Keep your mosquito repellent handy always! Most of the volunteering destinations don’t have proper sanitation, and hence, bugs and insects are quite common. Carrying a bug spray is advisable, as you might need it anytime.
You will have to go out during the day, and in order to protect yourself from the UV rays, you need to carry a sunscreen lotion that suits your skin. Wet wipes will help you to clean your face, and also give you a refreshing feeling, especially if you’re heading to a warm climatic region, you will have many hot and sweaty days.
Traveling abroad to volunteer with the natives of a distant land will definitely be one of the best events of your life, and you surely wouldn’t want to miss out on anything. Carrying a good camera is a must in that case – as it will enable you to capture the best moments and the smiles that you’ll spread. You will also get to explore the exotic locations and the markets and monuments of the country you’ll travel to, and therefore, clicking pictures is a must!
A torchlight/ flashlight is also an essential item to be packed, as it would help you in the darkness. Some places might have electricity issues, and if you are adventurous enough to go for camping during the weekends, this will surely be of immense help.
There are certain phones that have a specific lock guard, which can’t be accessed in another country. Make sure that you have a cell phone that can be used in the country you are traveling to. A cell phone will be needed at every step, to get connected to your coordinators, as well as help you to search any information required. Don’t forget to take your charger and power-bank with you.
Pack your favorite snacks in your rucksack! Some energy bars, chocolates, cookies, nuts, and crackers would be a treat in need, and you might not always get these in the volunteering destination.
Moreover, if you have these handy, you can also save money from spending on junk food!
Pack all your necessary toiletries in a pouch, so that you can access them easily.
Make a medical kit and put the first aid items like antiseptic lotion, band aids, hand sanitizer, cotton etc.
Check with your doctor before setting out, and do get the medicines prescribed.
Before you land up for your project, do make some preparations. If you have opted for a teaching project, you can carry colors, charts, puzzles, fun booklets etc., that can help you create a favorable ambiance in your classroom. You can roll up some color papers if you know origami, or your mouth organ if you know how to play it! If you are going for a medical volunteering, don’t forget your scrubs or lab coat.
We all know the famous saying -‘All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy’ – and it’s applicable for all of us!
While you’ll have to commit 5-6 hours during the weekdays for your volunteering service, you can carry your earphones or a comic book in your day pack, and take 5-10 mins break to unwind yourself. Listening to music, or making a doodle might lift your mood and make you all charged up for the next session of work. Carrying your diary will also help you to keep a note of the incidents that makes an impact on you.
These listed things would be required for any destination you travel to, and there can be only minor changes in these. However, I would suggest you to Google about your destination, and check if there’s any other thing that you require at that particular location.
Your travel documents are a must, and for the rest, if you miss out anything then you always have the option to share with other volunteers.
Try to pack only those things that you’ll need, and avoid unnecessary things – go casual, simple and pack as light as possible.
You’re about to create the most beautiful chapter of experiences.
Riyanka is a traveler who is keen on exploring different parts of the world. She’s a travel blogger who’s equally passionate about photography. Her quest is to turn all her journeys into beautiful stories. Being a die-hard ‘mountain-aholic‘, her favorite destinations are all around the Himalayas! She can spend days gazing at the snow-capped mountains, binge on Maggi and lemon-honey-ginger tea, and reading Ruskin Bond books.
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