How To Volunteer Abroad - Volunteer Hacks
Here at IVHQ, we’re committed to providing the world’s best volunteer abroad programs through affordable fees, sustainable programs, superior pre-departure support and in-country services.
To ensure you’re as ready as you could be for your upcoming volunteer program, we’ve pulled together this list of volunteer hacks for our future IVHQers!
Pick our brains
Because that’s what we’re here for! Whether you want to know which volunteer project will be best for you, or whether to pack sneakers or sandals (or both), the IVHQ Crew is always only a phone call, email, or tweet away! So contact us already!
Photo: @ivhq via Instagram
Pick the brains of our alumni
Jump on board the International Volunteer HQ Facebook group and join the convos - from packing tips to program recommendations, our IVHQers are an endless source of inspiration and support! Don’t go forgetting Instagram for inspiration either - just search for #IVHQ to uncover thousands of images from IVHQers on our programs around the world!
Photo: @gustavoalvesbaptista via Instagram
Learn the local lingo
If you’re volunteering abroad in a country where English isn’t the official language, you should officially start learning the lingo! Even the basics can help you out immensely in country and smartphone apps like DuoLingo are ideal for language-learning in your down-time, or on the go! Registered IVHQers can also refer to their trusty Information Booklets via My IVHQ for handy vocab and phrases to help out in country.
Photo: @jackgunns via Instagram
Get schooled in TEFL
Planning on Teaching abroad? Awesome! To help equip our volunteers with the skills to excel in teaching English as a foreign language, we’ve partnered with a world-leading TEFL provider, giving you exclusive access to an online TEFL course at a discounted rate. This doubles as a life hack, equipping you with a qualification to gain paid teaching opportunities abroad!
Photo: @mclambert via Instagram
Clue up on the culture
You know how it goes, when you’ve read the book, you’re able to absorb so much more of the movie. The same goes for volunteering abroad - the more you can research about the local culture, the more you are able to understand and appreciate about your host country and your new-found local friends.
Photo: @s_kat233 via Instagram
Whether you want to save yourself from carrying around print-outs of flight bookings, or bulky translation dictionaries, don’t forget to download a collection of handy travel apps before leaving home! Mobile messaging apps like What’s App and Viber are awesome for keeping in touch with friends and family and sparing yourself a hefty mobile bill when you return home!
Photo: @el_jarrrrboe via Instagram
Save the donations
We understand that many IVHQers want to bring donations from home for their volunteer placements and we also understand that suitcase space is limited! That’s why we recommend waiting until you arrive in country to assess the needs of your placement and to purchase the needed-items locally. As a result, you’re supporting the local economy and providing donations that are genuinely needed - dream result!
Photo: @jamesbitmead via Instagram
Come armed with a spare pair
Although I like to be optimistic, sometimes it pays to prepare for the event that your luggage could get lost in transit (touch wood). Just ask our New Program Development Team, who spent a week without luggage in our newsest (and soon-to-be revealed) program destination! Always pop a spare pair of clothing in your hand luggage to be on the safe side!
Photo: @elizabeth49521 via Instagram
Research the climate
Light cotton clothing is perfect for hot and humid climates and woolen layers are ideal for padding up in cooler temperatures.
Photo: @sui_ka via Instagram
Bring treats from home
If you’re anything like our Aussie volunteers, being away from the motherland can result in withdrawal symptoms from some staples back home, namely Vegemite! These kinds of treats are great for sharing with your local hosts and fellow international volunteers, and no doubt you’ll have a few laughs over a Vegemite tasting session!
Photo: @amyloo via Instagram
Source ideas for childcare
Keeping kids entertained and educationally stimulated can be a challenge in any country, however IVHQ provides you with plenty of ideas for class planning - see our Volunteer Abroad Resources page for inspiration! Many IVHQers take the opportunity to explore local markets and pick up supplies for classroom activities, such as Abby’s mask-making initiative below!
Photo: @abbyawwsome via Instagram
Toss the tech
As the golden rule of travel goes, don’t pack too many clothes… Likewise, go easy on the gadgets!
Photo: @ienieu via Instagram
Plan for the best
With your weekends free to go exploring, have a think about which sites you’re interested in checking out, so when you arrive in country, you can make travel plans with your fellow volunteers! If the timing’s right, you could even tie in one of these World Festivals Worth Traveling For to your volunteer program! Search for #IVHQweekends on Instagram for some weekendspiration.
Photo: @houjingwen via Instagram
To pick up more tips for your IVHQ trip, check out our Volunteer Abroad Tips and Articles!
Latest Blog Posts
IVHQ has thousands of volunteers aged over 30 join our programs each year. Made up of Grown-up Gappers, Career Breakers and Retired volunteers. So instead of asking yourself, am I too old to volunteer? Ask yourself which destination you’d like to volunteer in most…
Explore the best marine conservation volunteer programs, ranging from scuba diving volunteer opportunities to protecting endangered sea turtles and marine ecosystems.