How To Get The Most From Your Volunteering Experience
Volunteering with animals abroad can be an incredibly exciting and yet nerve-racking thought. You know that you want to give something back to the Earth, and you’ve had your heart set on volunteering with the Orangutans of Borneo, the Cheetahs in Namibia, or even the Great White Sharks of South Africa for a while now. You’re all ready to set off on your latest adventure, but how are you going to get the most from your volunteering experience? What do you need to know before you go? Well we’ve used our years of expertise in the industry to form a list of things you should do to get the most from your volunteering experience, so sit back and enjoy!
Go in with an open mind
This is probably the most important thing to bear in mind when booking a volunteering trip. It doesn’t matter who you are going with, where you are going to, or which animals you are helping, if you set off on your travel adventure with preconceptions and set thoughts about what to expect then the chances are very high that the trip will vary wildly from your expectations. You’ll head into the project not knowing what is going to happen and this is good as you’ll be experiencing everything for the first time which makes it that little bit more special!
Give every activity a go!
First and foremost you are there to be a volunteer, and the role of a volunteer is to help the project! This means you’ll be getting stuck in on any number of jobs. You might be monitoring the size of a whale shark in the Maldives, feeding the cheetahs in Namibia, or even creating an enrichment toy for the orangutans in Borneo, but there may also be other tasks you see as not as important which simply is not the case! Construction, husbandry, and cleaning out enclosures are all vital parts of the work you will do at the project, and with the team spirit flowing these tasks will be as fun as any of the others when you can look back and see what you have achieved at the end of your trip.
Immerse yourself in the local culture and cuisine
Traveling to a new country is always an exciting experience and it is the perfect chance to learn about a new culture first hand. With projects dotted all around the world you will have the chance to experience some of the most interesting and varied cultures the human race has to offer, all whilst helping animals in that country. You can learn a lot from people you wouldn’t normally come into contact with, and checking out things like their cuisine, way of life, and what they do for fun are all once in a lifetime opportunities!
Read all of the documents you receive
Before your trip begins you will receive both a dedicated Pre Departure Document and a Project Travel guide. Between the two they contain everything you need to know about your trip including what to pack, when to book your flights for, and a clue as to some of the activities you’ll be getting up to so we really do recommend reading it all to get the most out of your volunteering experience.
Be flexible to meet the projects needs
As mentioned earlier there are a wide variety of tasks that will need completing at most project sites, and you will need to be flexible to help out wherever you’re needed most. There may be a fence which has fallen down and suddenly needs rebuilding, or a new arrival at the project may mean all hands on deck, so due to their nature the projects are unpredictable and this is why you need to be ready to tackle anything at any time!
Make the most of being in such an incredible place
For many people this is going to be a once in a lifetime experience, so when out at the project you should really take advantage of this fact! You will be introduced to the extremely knowledgeable project staff, so ask as many questions as you can think off to truly get the best experience possible from your trip.
Ask us everything!
It’s what we are here for! If you’re confused by transfer times then give us a call. If you’re worrying about which activities you’ll get to do, then drop us an email. Even if you just want to check that everything is ok you can get in touch by carrier pigeon if you really want to (not recommend as it could take a while)! Long story short, we are here to help you so ask us whatever you want!
The last point on this list is a simple one but it is the most important of the lot! Put simply, if you are not passionate about the project you are involved in then you won’t find it a fulfilling experience and may come away from it disappointed. The animals need your help and if you are passionate about helping them then it will be a rewarding experience for both parties!
Here we have given you a few tips of how to get the best out of your volunteering experience. It’s by no means an extensive list but we hope it has helped you out in one way or another! If you’ve been on a project and have any other recommendations for future volunteers then let us know in the comments, but if not why not start planning your dream volunteering trip now?
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Come face to face with one of the world’s most misunderstood predators whilst aiding great white shark conservation. As a volunteer, not only will you get the incredible opportunity to dive with sharks, but you will also assist the team in raising awareness of the great white as you work alongside tourists and local school children to provide them with knowledge of the local environment and the importance of living in harmony with South Africa’s marine life.
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