How To Volunteer Abroad As A Couple
When volunteering abroad as a couple, together you’ll face a life changing and challenging experience while learning so much more about each other than you’d ever learn in the comfort of your own home.
In 2009, my girlfriend and I decided to volunteer as a couple in a Maasai Village in Kenya with IVHQ. Our journey was one that we’ll both never forget…
We discovered (and re-discovered) all the attributes that we were attracted to when we first met each other. We felt safe together, we avoided feeling homesick, and we shared the travel costs. Having a volunteer partner also gave us a confidence boost in times of need, and we always had someone to rely on, while becoming someone to rely on! We pushed each other to meet new people, try new foods and experience all we could. From our experience, together we worked through any challenges, while at the same time making life-long memories and friends!
Before we started our journey, I remember being told that if we were able to travel and volunteer together, then our relationship was meant to be - kind of like the ultimate relationship test.
Fast forward to today, we’ve been married for 5 years and have 2 children together, so I’m thinking that advice was right.
So How Do We Volunteer Abroad As A Couple?
Communicate. Work together on choosing a country and culture you’re both interested in. What skills and interests do you both have? What activities do you want to fill your IVHQ weekends with? What level of comfort do you want to experience as you volunteer and travel abroad together? Following the below steps should lead you in the right direction:
Step One: What Countries and Cultures Appear On Your Bucket Lists?
It’s normal for you to have a different set of countries that you want to explore from your partner. Each write down your top five volunteer abroad destinations, and include details of which weekend activities and tours interest you. Then compare your lists. There’s a high chance you’ll find lots of similarities which should help narrow your choices down!
Step Two: What Are Your Skills And Interests?
IVHQ’s volunteer abroad programs offer multiple projects ranging from Teaching to Elderly Care, Childcare to Conservation. Now you’ll decide to either choose a project together, or split up during the volunteer day onto different projects. Both options has it advantages and disadvantages, all dependent on whether you both crave a bit of independence, or whether you want to experience volunteering abroad together. We chose the latter, and were both placed in a small school in the heart of Maasai land, working together every day.
If you decide to take on different projects, just note that you may be required to live close by to the project location, meaning you may be based in separate accommodation.
Start your selection process together by browsing our volunteering destinations and discover which projects are available in each country.
Step Three: What Living Arrangements Do You Prefer?
Are you both happy to sleep in mixed dormitory-style volunteer houses? Or are you more interested in a room within a home-stay with a local family, or even the guarantee of a private room together?
The living arrangements differ between all IVHQ programs, and this can become a factor when choosing your programs.
We find most couples like the experience of being hosted in a local home stay, with many home stays able to accommodate a couple sharing one private room. When applying, ensure you make a note of your preferred sleeping arrangements.
The programs that offer home stay accommodation are: Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Guatemala, India - Delhi, India - Dharamsala, Kenya, Morocco, Nepal, Peru - Lima, Peru - Cusco, Sri Lanka and Tanzania.
For couples that require an extra level of comfort, numerous IVHQ programs also offer accommodation upgrades to either a private room, options of a hotel close to the volunteer accommodation, or in the case of Bali, a private villa!
The IVHQ volunteer programs that offer accommodation upgrades are: China, Colombia - Bogota, Colombia - Cartagena, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Argentina, Guatemala, Bali, Mexico, Peru - Cusco, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Victoria Falls, Vietnam - Hanoi, Vietnam - Ho Chi Minh and Zambia.
From here you should be ready to apply and begin your adventure! Remember that communication is key. Keeping talking with each other, keep motivating each other and keep enjoying yourselves.
You never know where the volunteering journey will take you as a couple… If it’s anything like my experience you could soon find yourselves volunteering as a family with IVHQ!
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