Pre-travel Arrangements
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How to Plan the Perfect Trip as a Volunteer

Humanitarian international volunteers do incredible work around the globe. To do this, they travel to destinations where help is needed most. This type of travel requires detailed planning. When going on vacation, you can just go with the flow. But if you have a mission to accomplish on your trip, then it’s best to make pre-travel arrangements. This way, you can focus on your work instead of travel details.

Why Plan Humanitarian Travel?

Travel is an adventure, but your travel planning doesn’t have to be. Getting all of your pre-travel arrangements out of the way before you go will make a huge difference. This way, you will be able to wholly focus on the mission ahead of you. Instead of running around trying to figure out travel details, you can help those in need.

The ultimate humanitarian traveling list

If you do not plan ahead, you may run into a number of issues on the ground. For example, your deployment could get delayed if you don’t get your documents in time. Not getting the right vaccines could mean health issues during your mission. If you don’t pack the essentials, you may need to invest extra time in getting them once you get there. And in the end, you might just not have enough time and energy to give your all to the community you are working with.

But how do you plan? We have some experience in humanitarian travel, so, we prepared a guide on how to plan the perfect trip as a volunteer.

1. Research Your Destination

The first step in planning the perfect trip as a volunteer is research. There are many resources out there! Start with Google and Trip Advisor to get an idea of what the place you are going to is like. Make sure to read any travel advisories and alerts along the way.

You can also read and watch the news. Don’t limit yourself to what you see on the international news. Find local, online newspapers or channels to get a better idea. Plus, get in touch with people who have been there or are living there now. Surely, your organization has many alumni. Get their contacts and ask any questions you might have about the destination.

2. Prepare Your Documents

The next step, or even a simultaneous one, is to get your documents in order. First, make sure that your passport is up to date. Normally, countries require that it must be valid for at least 3-6 months. If you are staying for a longer period of time, make sure it is valid until the end of your trip. You should also have some empty pages in it, usually at least two, but you might need more if you need a visa.

Next, check if you need a visa to enter the country for the duration of your stay. Sometimes getting one can be a time-consuming process. Your organization will surely help you with this. But, it’s good to be prepared and have all of the documents that you need.

Also, review any additional documents that may be required. For example, an invitation for your organization, proof of accommodation, or health insurance, yellow fever vaccination certificate, etc., may be required to get a visa or enter the country.

3. Get Your Vaccinations

Vaccines are essential when traveling to different regions. Diseases are not the same everywhere, and your regular immunizations may not suffice. So, first check what vaccines you’ve already had as a child. Next, visit a travel health clinic to find out what else you should get before traveling.

You should do all this at least six months before traveling. That’s because there are some vaccines that need to be administered in a few doses over a period of time. Some vaccines that you might need include those for hepatitis, typhoid, malaria, and yellow fever. Remember that some countries actually require a yellow fever certificate to get in.

Besides vaccines, also check with your doctor if there are any other health precautions you should take.

4. Purchase Good Health Insurance

Speaking of health, don’t overlook good health insurance. Hopefully, you won’t need it, but you absolutely should have it. Good healthcare is expensive almost everywhere, and if something happens, you don’t want to be worried about money versus high-quality treatment.

If your organization provides insurance, find out what kind of coverage it offers. In case you are getting your own, do your research. When doing the research, check if there is a deductible and what facilities the insurance covers.  Verify that you have medical evacuation and repatriation included. Also, see if you have a 24/7 helpline.

5. Pack Smart

Now that you are all set with the formalities, get to work packing! There is a fine balance when it comes to packing for humanitarian travel. You shouldn’t over-pack. You likely won’t need formal or too many clothes, unlimited toiletries, or 10 pairs of shoes. That said, you do need to bring the essentials to save time and headaches once you get to your destination.

The best way to start is to make a packing list. Ask your organization if they have any recommendations or tips for you. Do some research on the climate and current weather conditions. Also, check customs rules for bringing in technology, food, and medicine.

Some essentials for a hot climate may include mosquito nets, heat-resistant clothing, sunblock, hat, and appropriate, comfortable shoes. If you are going somewhere colder, don’t forget a raincoat and warm clothes. Plus, always bring a medical emergency kit, backup chargers and converters, a flashlight, and water-purifying tablets.

6. Duty of Care

Last but not least, don’t forget “duty of care.” It is the mutual responsibility that you and your organization have to care for your well-being while on a mission. This means that before your travel, you should familiarize yourself with any travel and security protocols. When in the field, make sure to maintain communication with your organization. On their end, they are responsible for providing you with the necessary information and communication tools.

What is Duty of Care

At Raptim, we take duty of care to heart. It is one of our main focuses in providing services to our clients. We include services such as communication updates, push notifications, GPS location tracking, reporting, and more. Duty of care is the way to keep humanitarian volunteers safe, and help you to successfully complete your mission!

We Help You to Travel Where it is Needed Most

We believe our world is a better place when compassion can travel where it is needed most. As a global humanitarian travel organization, we devote ourselves to serving those who serve the world. Our experienced staff can be reached at any given time. Please use our quick address locator to contact your nearest Raptim office should you have any questions. You can also follow our blog for more stories and travel information.