Many people want to give their time to help others. Most of them volunteer at home, helping in the local volunteer centres and the local organizations. Others want to take their experience to another level and volunteer in another country. They want to volunteer abroad for free. One of the assumptions many people make is that volunteering abroad is like volunteering at home in that they expect not to use any money while they are abroad. They hope not to be charged for their expenses. It is not easy to find an organization that will help you volunteer for free. There are many volunteer service organizations that charge some fees for them to plan and coordinate your volunteer abroad work. The problem comes when these organizations charge too much; they charge thousands of dollars for their services. In some cases the organizations use the money to benefit their pockets, very little or no money goes to the project you are going to volunteer in. They prohibit many potential volunteers to travel abroad. If you want to volunteer abroad without paying huge fees, search the internet for affordable volunteer abroad service organizations or travel independently. It’s a lot harder to organize everything for your volunteer abroad work program but it is possible.  Here are things to consider when you are planning for your trip to volunteer abroad for free.

Independent traveler

Many first time travelers assume they are independent and can travel by themselves. They don’t put into consideration that when they are out there they will be very lonely, family and friends will be very far away. When packing, take everything that you will use. Do not assume when you reach your destination you will find what you want. Carry things like sleeping bags, mosquito nets etc. Go to your local physician and ask for advice on medication and vaccination that you will need. Independent travelers should be eighteen years and older. It will also be better if you can travel with a friend or a group of friends. For more experienced travelers, being independent is easier. They know the problems that they will encounter and how to solve them. As an independent traveler, get everything that you need and try to plan for the unexpected. To enjoy your experience try to be open minded.

Research

This is the most important part in your planning. As you will be going to a different country without any help it is important to research. Start researching the country where you want to go to. Try to find out as much you can about the country, research about the culture, currency and language spoken. Try to find ways to orientate yourself. When you have picked the destination of your choice e.g. Kenya, start your research. Go to your laptop or computer, point your browser to Google, yahoo and AOL and research about your destination. There is a lot to plan for and you will need to research a lot for the trip. You have to search for suitable organizations where you will be working in. the best organizations, are grass root organization which don’t use middlemen to get volunteers. Identify the projects they are running and try to match them with your likes and desires. When looking for organizations, try to find out their locations, the distance from the main town and essential services like hospitals, internet cafes, and restaurants. Look for referees and past volunteers it will give you a better picture of the organizations.

Accommodation and meals

After you have picked the organization that you will be working in, the next thing is to plan where you will be living and eating. Some grassroots organizations will offer you accommodation at a cost. If you want to plan your stay for yourself, look for hostels, hotels and homestays. Look for hostels that are near the organization where you will be volunteering. In the hostel, try to find out about the meal times, and if they can accommodate your dietary requirements.  Most hostels offer breakfast and supper or dinner, lunch is not included. Find out also about the sleeping arrangements, if they require you to have a sleeping bag, your own mosquito net and beddings. Choose a hostel according to your budget. Many hostels can be booked online, while others you have to go there personally to book. Looking for a homestay is the cheapest option but it is the hardest to organize when you are not in the host country.

Transport

You should look into the transport system in the country. Try to find out what is the main means of transport. Whether taxis are available and what type of taxis they are. Find out about public transport like buses, trains and airports. You will need to know how to get to the organization where you will be working and also how to move around in the country. Some guys will rent a car for a couple of days.

Communication

Other things you should look into are how you will be talking to your family and friends. Try to find out how the people in the local country communicate. If they have mobile phone networks, if there are many cyber cafes available and what are the international call rates.

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About mukuba2002

Zablon Mukuba is the director of Volunteer Capital Centre, the leading provider of quality and affordable volunteer abroad programs and opportunities in third world countries. For more information visit http://www.volunteercapitalcentre.org and http://www.volunteercapitalcentre.blogspot.com

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