How To Volunteer Abroad As A Couple
Volunteering abroad as a couple means you’ll face life changing and challenging experiences together while learning so much more about each other than you’d ever learn in the comfort of your own home. Whether you are interested in honeyteering (think volunteer honeymoon), or just looking for volunteer ideas for couples, we’ve got your #relationshipgoals covered. I can tell you it’s an experience like no other. I volunteered abroad with my girlfriend on the Kenya program with IVHQ and our volunteer journey was one that we’ll both never forget. Here’s what we learnt:
Why You Should Volunteer Abroad As a Couple?
- 1) You’ll See The Best In Each Other: We discovered (and re-discovered) all the attributes that we were attracted to when we first met each other. Volunteering exposes you to situations that demand compassion and empathy - all things you want to see in your partner!
- 2) You’ll Realize You Are Stronger Together: 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!
- 3) You’ll Push Each Other Outside Your Comfort Zones: We encouraged each other to meet new people, try new foods and experience all we could. Volunteering abroad as a couple meant we had to work through any challenges, while at the same time making life-long memories and friends!
- 4) Communication Will Seem A Breeze After Traveling Together: You’ve tackled coordinating dinners, synced social calendars and battled over who will do the dishes but that’s nothing on traveling and volunteering abroad as a duo! Try navigating unknown streets when you have the most basic understanding of the spoken language and naturally one of you will think you should go right, the other left! It’ll test your grasp on the building blocks of communication - listening is key, as is being honest about your feelings and communicating them clearly! But don’t worry somehow it all works out, you’ll laugh about the moments where you had epic fails.
- 5) Couples That Volunteer Together, Stay Together: 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 five years and have two children together, so I’m thinking that advice was right.
So How Do We Volunteer Abroad As A Couple?
Choosing a volunteer program is the first step, and an important one to get right as it will impact your overall experience. It’s also your first test. It’ll test how you work together, communicate and highlight the importance of the give-take attitude that is a must when traveling with someone else. Work together on choosing a country and culture you’re both interested in. Consider what skills and interests 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? Figuring out these things will help guide your research and support you in finding a program that will meet your expectations and make your time abroad a worthwhile and rewarding experience for both you, your partner, and the community that you will be immersed in. Here’s the steps you need to take to make your volunteer journey a success:
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 have 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 to consider when deciding where to volunteer together.
Most couples like the experience of being hosted in a local homestay, with many host families being able to accommodate a couple in a private room. When applying to volunteer with IVHQ, ensure you make a note of your preferred sleeping arrangements.
The IVHQ 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, Mexico, Marrakech and Tanzania.
For couples that require an extra level of comfort, numerous IVHQ programs also offer accommodation upgrades to either a private room, 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: Italy, Portugal,Tanzania, Fiji, Mexico, China, Colombia - Bogota, Colombia - Cartagena, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Argentina, Guatemala, Bali, Peru - Cusco, Sri Lanka, Victoria Falls, 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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