It is important to consider means of transportation and commuting when planning your volunteer abroad trip. There are various means of transport available depending on the country in which you are going. You could travel by road, rail, ship or plane, depending on the location of your program project and country you are going to. If you are going to stay in a foreign country as a volunteer, back packer, study abroad student, gap year traveler or just a traveler, for a month or longer you should find out what are the best means to travel while you are there. The most common means of transport is public transport which is sometimes run by the national government, or sometimes could be run by the city and in some case the tourist centres. Choosing the best way to travel depends on your budget and the resources that are available to you. While you are abroad you could travel by:
Travelling by plane is the most popular especially if you are going to travel over long distances. Unfortunately it is also the most expensive way to travel. Younger adults (26 years and younger) can use International Student Identity Card (ICIS), International Youth Travel Card (IYTC) and Youth Hostel Association (YHA) to get discounts on flights. Booking in advance can allow you to take advantage of flight deals and discounts. During the long flight hours try to make yourself comfortable by wearing loose fitting clothes and carry anything that would entertain you during the flight. If you suffer from airsickness, get motion sickness tablets, they will help you during your flight. Follow the airlines’ regulations and rules for everyone’s’ safety.
Travelling by boat is common in areas that have islands, or in places that don’t have access to bridges. In places like Italy there are many waterways and the preferred way to travel is by boat. For safety, you should check whether the vessel has been registered for voyages; the marine conditions of the area; and travel advisories at the dock. To overcome seasickness you can get medication from a doctor, wear a special wrist band that controls your pulse rate and try to stay on the deck to a catch of the breeze. In some remote villages on islands, you will have to travel by boat. In these places, there will be dhows available and you have to be very careful when travelling by them.
Train and buses
Public transportation is different in every country and is through trains and busses. Trains are sometimes the best means of transport because they are cheaper than planes and more comfortable than busses. When backpacking across Europe travelling by train is the most effective means of transportation. You can save money on trains by using ICIS, IYTC and YTH cards if you are a young adult. Trains are relatively safe, with very few accidents occurring but you should keep your travel documents and personal documents very safe in your hand luggage. In trains you are more prone to be robbed or pick-pocketed especially on the train stations. Traveling by bus is more comfortable especially if you are travelling for shorter periods. Although the new rules and routes could be intimidating, take a local friend with you to help you navigate. You can get a public transportation map, to help you and learn how to stop the bus.
Car and motor bikes
Travelling by car is very comfortable especially for short distances. Get an International Driving Permit (IDP) from AAR so as to drive any part of the world. You could either buy or rent a car for the period of you volunteer abroad. Traffic rules and regulations vary with the country for example in some countries they drive on the left while in others they drive on right side. When renting or buying a car, insure it and don’t rent something too exotic that will attract attention. For safety, follow the traffic rules, don’t leave valuables in the car, and don’t drive at night. Motor bikes are great for avoiding traffic jams and parking fees.
Bicycles and walking
This is the most inexpensive mode of transport. It’s the best way of keeping fit and works best if you live close to your school or volunteer project. For safety don’t walk at night and follow the pedestrian traffic rules. Also don’t wear clothes that will attract too much attention; wear expensive jewelry and carry your handbag close to you.
For more information on volunteering in Africa visit http://www.volunteercapitalcentre.org