Packing For Your Trip Abroad: Clothing

September 02, 2009

What you bring really depends on where you’re going and what you’re doing. There are three main things to keep in mind: Know your host community, know you don’t need a different outfit for each day, and make sure that you’re comfortable.

Know Your Host Community

Before traveling abroad, learn as much as you can about your host country’s culture, and pick clothing that’s appropriate to wear while visiting. Think of it this way: When you go to a job interview, you research how to dress and make sure it’s appropriate to the situation.

Don’t Overpack

Mixing and matching...

Packing For Your Trip Abroad: Toiletries

September 01, 2009

To start of the first part of this series on packing for your trip abroad, let’s talk about toiletries.

The Basics

What do you need to bring? If you’re staying in a hotel, then shampoo, soap, and moisturizer often are provided free of charge. If you're in a more rugged environment, such as a campsite or a boat, you'll have to consider what you can carry and what's relevant to your trip.

Some basics to consider are shampoo, body and face wash, toothpaste, a toothbrush, deodorant, and contact lens solution. It might be worthwhile to leave the conditioner and perfume at home...

Travel Safety Tips And Advice

August 11, 2009

Here are some general tips for travel safety:

Packing For Your Travels

  • Pack light--it'll help you get around easier and you can keep track of what you've brought
  • Bring a small, TSA approved lock for your bags both for traveling and for when you get to your host country
  • Don't bring excessive valuables or money; wearing flashy jewelry or clothes will attract petty thieves
  • Purchase a money belt to wear under your clothes--you can store your passport and plane tickets here too
  • Check with your host...

Bringing Small Children On A Volunteer Vacation

July 14, 2009

It can be done, but make sure you do it right! I'm definitely a fan of family volunteering, but it must be said--taking lil' ones along can prove a tough undertaking.

Some Things To Consider Before Bringing Your Child On A Volunteer Vacation

Does the service organization have a family volunteer plan, and if so, what is their minimum age level? Often, groups have a cutoff of 11 or 12, and there are many reasons for this, including safety issues, type of work, field conditions, and lack of reasonable accommodations and care for small children. Remember, it's a volunteer trip, and...

How To Choose A Volunteer Abroad Program

July 01, 2009

Here are some things to consider once you’ve decided a volunteer trip is right for you:

How much time do you have? 

Can you volunteer for one week, for two years, or somewhere in between?

What would you like to do, and do you think you can do it effectively? 

Volunteer opportunities exist in just about any project area you can imagine. You might offer professional services, or even take on a new project you've never done before (but that's still appropriate, of course!).

How much money are you willing to spend? 

Be sure to take into account the...

Commonly Asked Travel Abroad Questions

June 27, 2009

Here are some frequently asked travel questions!

Can you recommend a good airline/hotel booking site?

I usually go for Kayak, as it pieces together the least expensive flights and hotels by consulting several other travel resources.

How do I know where it's safe to travel?

The CIA World Factbook lists everything you need to know. You also should keep updated on current events, check...

Why Do I Need To Pay To Volunteer Abroad?

June 24, 2009

Update: We've turned this post into a video! Click here to watch on YouTube.

I know your first instinct is to think it’s a rip-off to pay to volunteer. You’re giving your time to help with a program, so why give them money too? Here’s a breakdown on where your payment usually goes:

  1. The Community: Funding for local programs, tools for those projects, and education for those living in the area.
  2. Your Housing: Almost all volunteer programs offer housing...

Questions To Ask While Choosing A Volunteer Vacation

June 22, 2009

When choosing a volunteer abroad project, consider your expectations—what do you want to get out of the program, what will you give in return?

Do You Want To Emphasize “Volunteer” Or “Vacation”?

Knowing this from the start will make all the difference in planning a positive travel experience. If you’d like ample time to explore the host community and surrounding areas, you might want to sign up for a less intense project, or even one with built-in excursions and tours.

Get in touch with your volunteer program coordinator to see what the typical travel...

Faceless NGOs

May 27, 2009

Something I've noticed while researching international volunteer opportunities is the surprising number of groups who give little to no information about their in-country partners.

I see all too often something like, "Our group works with an organization/NGO in your host community to acheive our common goal of sustainable development/education/child care/etc." With NO mention of who that NGO or small group is, whether they have a site you can visit, whether it's run by locals, or what.

My first reaction when seeing this is to dig around, find the local partner, and extend an...

IMHO...Volunteering Abroad Ain't THAT Bad

May 18, 2009

I read a blog post recently regarding the negative parts of volunteer travel. This person made a few jabs at the industry, namely:

  1. All groups who charge are inherently shady
  2. Volunteers aren't helping anything
  3. Volunteer travel experience should count against a person in a job interview

I’d like to respond to these.

Regarding: All volunteer abroad groups that charge a program fee are shady

Unfortunately, I think this person either didn't do her research or she just made a sweeping judgment about all volunteer...