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How to Volunteer Abroad

Volunteering isn't working for free when you consider everything you get out of it. Feel good about yourself and help out others by volunteering abroad.


  • Step 1: Find out whether you'll need specific vaccinations. Depending on your destination, you may be required to get vaccinated.
  • Step 2: Ask your organization if you will have to pay. While many volunteer organizations have a limited budget and must require payment from volunteers, many others are funded by governments or large non-government organizations, or NGOs.
  • Step 3: Get your affairs in order and go help someone less fortunate than you.
  • FACT: It is illegal to bring ivory into the United States from abroad unless it is accompanied by documentation proving it is at least 100 years old.
  • TIP: Look into short- and long-term travel insurance.
  • Step 4: Make sure you have insurance. Volunteer organizations rarely provide health insurance, and your personal insurance probably won't cover travel abroad.
  • TIP: After you decide where you're going and how long you'll be there, you'll need to work with your organization to determine what you should bring with you.
  • Step 5: Decide what accommodations will be acceptable for you. Many locals act as hosts for volunteers, offering home stays. Some volunteers stay in work camps, and others in churches.
  • Step 6: Ask your organization about training and special skills. Most organizations will provide some degree of training for the work you'll be doing.
  • Step 7: Find out if the organization will cover your travel expenses. Some organizations require volunteers to purchase their own transportation.
  • Step 8: Determine where you would like to volunteer and how long you want to stay there. Popular destinations include Thailand, Costa Rica, Europe, and Africa. Most organizations accept volunteers for as little as two weeks to as much as two years.

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