What to Expect on a Voluntourism Trip

If you're looking into a volunteer vacation, you may wondering how you should prepare for the excursion. So let's get the practical things out of the way first. When you're going on a trip that's longer than a few days, here are a few things you should take care of beforehand:

  • Hold your mail
  • Pre-pay bills
  • Obtain and make copies of your identification
  • Procure travel insurance
  • Make a list of any medical conditions or allergies
  • Get any necessary vaccinations

What's listed above are just general travel tips. Now let's get to tips specifically for volunteer vacations. First, learn as much as you can about the culture you'll be visiting. You don't want to unknowingly violate any cultural taboos. Something that seems perfectly natural in your culture could be completely offensive to someone in another. In Thailand, for example, people consider the head to be the most spiritual part of the body. Tousling someone's hair or patting a child on the head is a big no-no [source: Thailand.com]. In India, standing with your hands on your hips is a sign of aggression [source: EnglishClub.com]. Travelers should show respect to their hosts and make every effort not to be insulting.

The experts at Voluntourism.org also suggest reading up on group dynamics. Most voluntourists end up working in a group setting and also sleep in close quarters. You'll need to know how to interact as part of a team, as well as understand the dynamics of a group setting.