Country: United States of America

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Your Volunteer Vacation Timeline

December 27, 2012

When choosing a volunteer vacation, you’ll find that most organizations ask you to submit your application several months in advance, and make your first deposit six weeks before your departure date.

Your volunteer vacation timeline - Volunteer Global

They’ll need time to arrange:

  • Your itinerary, so they can schedule airport pickup and drop-off;
  • Your housing, as many organizations have limited accommodations; and
  • The work you’ll do—some groups get more volunteer requests than they can place.

And they want to make sure you can plan:

  • The most convenient flight; 
  • Your immunizations or medications; 
  • Your travel insurance, passport, or visa; and
  • Your packing list—you might need to pick up special items for the project, such as work boots or a mosquito net.

So, you should set up your timeline accordingly!

Three Months Before Your Volunteer Vacation

I know this sounds way early, right? But let's say this is your first-ever international trip, and you're not on a schedule. If you don’t have a passport, make sure you apply for one now—it can take quite some time to process your application. You also should research the visa information for your preferred host country, and check the CDC website to see what immunizations you might need.Your volunteer vacation timeline - Volunteer Global

Put together a preliminary budget for your volunteer vacation. Consider your airfare, immunizations, travel insurance, and the volunteer organization fee.

10 Weeks Before Your Volunteer Vacation

If you haven’t gotten in touch with your preferred volunteer organization yet, you should contact them now. Make sure you have a backup or two, just in case your first choice can’t place you, or you change your mind.

If your application is accepted, book your flight, and share this information with your volunteer coordinator.

Two Months Before Your Volunteer Vacation

Visit a travel clinic to get the immunizations you’ll need. If you have other prescriptions, make sure you consult with your doctor to have enough to cover your time at the host site.

If you haven’t made a deposit with your volunteer organization, doing so now will secure your spot. You also should receive a packing list from the group, who might prefer you to bring supplies for your project.

You also should start researching your host country—how’s the weather that time of year? What is socially acceptable and what isn’t?

Six Weeks Before Your Volunteer Vacation

You should have all your immunizations squared away now, plus at least half of your payment to your volunteer organization. Make sure you know for sure where you’ll be accommodated.Your volunteer vacation timeline - Volunteer Global

Two Weeks Before Your Volunteer Vacation

Let your friends and family know how to get in touch with you if they need to. Set up a travel notice on your bank account or credit cards, and arrange for your mail be put on hold or picked up by someone else.

One Week Before Your Volunteer Vacation

Confirm your placement with the host organization, and confirm your flight with your airline. Make sure you have your packing list ready to go, and that you have your budget squared away.

It takes some time to put together a successful volunteer trip, but if you’re patient and you have a plan in place, things should run smoothly.

Cool! Now go find a volunteer opportunity!

Images courtesy of Phillip K., Diane Groves, and Martin Boulanger.