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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!

Volunteer Hacks - Ask the IVHQ team

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!

Ask the IVHQ alumni for advice

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 for handy vocab and phrases to help out in country.

IVHQ volunteer hacks - learn the lingo

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!

IVHQ volunteer hacks - attend a TEFL course

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.

Clue up on the culture - IVHQ volunteer hacks

Photo: @s_kat233 via Instagram

App up

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!

IVHQ volunteer hacks - get some apps!

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!

How to volunteer - volunteer hacks - save donations

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!

Take a spare pair - IVHQ volunteer hacks

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.

Research the climate as an IVHQ volunteer

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!

Bring treats from home - IVHQ volunteer hack

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!

IVHQ volunteer hacks - source some childcare ideas before you leave

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!

Toss the tech- IVHQ volunteer hack

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.

Plan for the best - IVHQ volunteer hacks

Photo: @houjingwen via Instagram

To pick up more tips for your IVHQ trip, check out our Volunteer Abroad Tips and Articles!

How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the Registration Fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
Get ready to volunteer abroad, we’ll support you every step of the way!