Last month I blogged about the need to begin planning my looming trip to The Other Side of the World. Since then I have just about ticked off the five to-do items on that short list and have written about a million more. One of those things is to figure out what I want to do when I’m out there. I don’t plan on getting a working visa as I’ve been saving up for the trip for a while, but I am considering doing some voluntary work for some sense of purpose (knowing what it feels like to be unemployed for a long period of time is not an experience I wish to repeat, even if it is abroad).
But what to do and how to do it? Firstly I need to figure out what type of volunteering appeals to me best. I’ve always loved the idea of working with rescue animals, but as I’ll be travelling mostly alone I think something a bit more interactive with other humans could be a good idea. Teaching English seems an easy option, but I’ve taught before and frankly it doesn’t appeal to me all that much. The other option I’m considering is looking for a development programme with a focus on gender in underprivileged areas. This is a subject I’m looking into studying for my MA next year and some hands-on experience could be the thing I need to confirm whether or not it’s something I want to devote a career to. This option isn’t quite the well publicised elephant-feeding and turtle-conserving opportunity so will take a bit of further research, but in what I’ve found so far, that doesn’t seem to be a bad thing.
Upon first glance at volunteering projects abroad all of the main opportunities that immediately pop-up in Google are organised through external organisations and all want an extortionate fee to keep Mr Middleman happy. A lot of companies offer full packages for volunteering, but I already have my flights and a rough itinerary and am only looking for the work itself. A further search on some travel forums I’m signed up to reveal that paying for volunteer work is indeed over-priced and unnecessary. Yes, some of the fees go directly towards the projects you’re getting involved with but my philosophy is that people either have time or money, but rarely both. I have the former a considerable amount more than the latter and want to get involved without blowing my budget on some organised trip with touristy extras thrown in.
So here’s my next task: by next week find a selection of volunteering options, all without huge fees and preferably something I can organise by sending a few emails off to people. It can’t be that hard, can it?