Volunteering abroad not only helps others less fortunate, it is also a great way of travelling and adding valuable experience to your CV. Here are some reasons to volunteer, as well as handy tips on staying safe and packing for your time abroad.

Why volunteer?

New and unique experiences

When you volunteer abroad, you will be taken out of your daily life and experience a completely new culture and way of living. While this can be a little bit daunting at first, it will ultimately broaden your horizons and give you an understanding of how other people live. You will also meet lots of new people from many different backgrounds.

Make a difference

If you have ever wanted to give something back, volunteering abroad is a brilliant way to do this. Whether helping others or working to save the environment, it is a truly rewarding experience. There are many projects you can work on, whether you choose to go through Projects Abroad Ireland or to organise your own placement.

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Career opportunities

Through volunteering projects you can gain useful skills and experience, which can really add to your CV. The fact that you took the initiative to go abroad and volunteer will immediately make you stand out from the crowd. It will show that you are independent, have good leadership skills and cultural awareness.

Volunteering abroad can also be very useful if you are already qualified in something but you want to gain more experience. If you are a nurse, for example, there are plenty of professional volunteering opportunities in nursing from Peru to Jamaica, where you can treat patients in hospitals and train local staff.

Tips for volunteers

Stay safe

It goes without saying that you should research the destination you’re going to. Check what the laws are, what the people are like, and the customs of the country. That way, you will know what to expect when you’re there.

It’s worth checking the latest travel advice for your destination in order to know how safe it is there. You should also keep your important documents safe, so make copies of your passport, insurance policy, visas and credit card numbers. Make sure you carry one copy in a separate place to the originals and leave a copy with someone at home.

Things to pack

It’s a good idea to just pack the essentials, as you don’t want to carry around too much with you. If you’re going away for more than two weeks, plan to wash your clothes on the road.

Plastic bags can come in handy, as they will counter any leaking and also double up as bags for dirty laundry or rubbish. When packing things into a backpack, a handy tip is to place the lighter items at the bottom and the heavier ones on top. This way, your bag will feel lighter as the pack sits on your lower back.

Volunteer projects

There is a wide range of volunteer projects available all over the world. These can be specific to you and your interests.

For example, if you are an animal lover, you can volunteer abroad with animals, whether with giant pandas in China or sea turtles in Mexico. Or perhaps you love sports, in which case you could get involved in coaching football or cricket in schools.

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There are many opportunities out there for you – all you need to do is research, find a programme that suits you, and the rest will take care of itself!