Reader Question: I am trying really hard to search via google about volunteering but what always appear are volunteer works that lets you pay $ before you can hop on to the country of your choice. Do i have to go to the country first and find see volunteer works? I hope you can answer this. Thanks!
Now that you know how volunteering can help you travel longer, let’s now focus on looking for a job for you. I mentioned before that some placements require a registration fee if you want them to arrange your volunteering (mind you, it’s really expensive) and this happens usually when you are pursuing something related to charity. You might wonder, “why do I need to pay if I am volunteering?” I asked the same question too but I figured that charities don’t have enough resources to house and feed their volunteers especially with long-term projects. At least that’s what they say despite the over the top program fees that they ask their volunteers.
Here are some easy-steps that will help you land your dream volunteering job and at the same time travel anywhere you like for a longer time:
1. Decide where you want to go (your first country)
I am telling you, do not plan the whole trip and be spontaneous! I said “first” because from there, you can think later on where to go next. Focus on the now. It is relatively easy to travel in Latin America because crossing borders via bus is popular here! For example, you’ve decided to go to Brazil first. What’s the next country to hop to that makes 100% sense? Anything, actually. Brazil is bordered by all the countries in South America (except for Chile) but if you want to have a definite route, I’ll say Uruguay or Argentina. The terrain is easy to navigate and every traveller you’ll meet is either going up (Brazil to Colombia) or the other way around. Take a map right now and see what I mean.
2. What kind of volunteering program do you want to be involved in?
What I’ve done here are (and still doing now) does not involve charity so let’s not call it a program. It sounds too formal. Let’s say, work exchange. You can be a receptionist at a hostel, a bartender, a cook, help in the house, etc. The types of volunteer work varies, depending on your interest. As for me, I’ve hopped from bars to hostel (just these two, really) not because I love to party but because I realized I’ve learned most of my language skills here. Today, I am fluent in Spanish and fairly communicate in Portuguese well. Thus, my English has been compromised!
3. Sign up with a volunteering website.
What? There’s such thing as a volunteering website? Yes there is! Actually, there are heaps but the one I get most assignments with is Volunteer Latin America. A year ago, I didn’t know how to navigate my journey and left home without any plan but here I am now, 14 months and still going strong just by volunteering! Like any other volunteering placement sites, Volunteer Latin America has a registration fee but not as luxurious as the others! For EUR15, you can enjoy the benefits of the site for two years! The membership will allow you to contact hosts and set up your volunteering schedule with them. In addition, when you register, you are also contributing to an environmental cause called Green Funding Scheme.
4. Set up your own blog/website.
You asked if I go to the country first and find volunteer works and my answer is no. I contact the host via e-mail which is always a blind shot. These people don’t know you too well and surely, your words are not enough for them to believe that you are who you are. My blog have helped me a lot to get always accepted in volunteering jobs I apply for. Once they see where I’ve been, what I have been doing, who I am, it wouldn’t be hard for them to say “yes, we’d like to have you as a volunteer.”
- When searching, do not tick a particular volunteering category. Try everything! I didn’t have extensive knowledge in cleaning or cooking before but when I volunteered, I can say I am an expert in these fields for less than a year! My parents were really surprised, to be honest. Do not limit yourself. You’ll be surprised with what you can do.
- Do not study spanish beforehand. It’s a waste of time, money and effort. Latin America is very understanding to people who wants to learn the language. They can even apprehend bad grammar and won’t complain! It’s better to have a feel of the environment and the culture to easily learn. Listen how people talk and you’ll realize the language growing within you as time goes by. Of course, if you’re not exerting any effort, it won’t work. Just talk, talk and talk. Surprise yourself.
Want to know more about how I volunteer and travel the world? Click here.