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Volunteer AbroadVolunteer Overseas

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are the most frequently asked questions about Projects Abroad , along with our answers. However, always feel free to email or phone us if you need to know anything more; we will email back very quickly - or we would be very pleased to speak to you.

FAQs - Before you go

These questions relate to the time before you go overseas as a volunteer. For questions relating to the time you are overseas, please see FAQs - While you're away.

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Where can I go?
Programmes are available in:
Africa Ethiopia | Ghana | Kenya | Madagascar | Morocco | Senegal | South Africa | Tanzania | Togo
Asia Cambodia | China | Mongolia | Nepal | Philippines | Sri Lanka | Thailand | Vietnam
Eastern Europe Romania
Latin America Argentina | Belize | Bolivia | Costa Rica | Ecuador | Jamaica | Mexico | Peru
South Pacific Fiji | Samoa
What types of programmes are available?
We have a huge selection of projects that you can take part in, including Teaching in schools, Care placements helping both children and adults, and even Conservation projects. You can read through all of the available options on our main Volunteer Projects page.

In addition to these standard projects we run an initiative called Projects Abroad PRO, where we organise placements specifically designed for graduates, professionals, retirees and those on a career break looking to volunteer overseas.

If you are part of a school or youth club, or just looking to go away with a group of friends, you might also want to read about our tailor-made Group Trips.
How long do placements last?
We offer projects ranging from 1 week to 12 months and anywhere in between. You can decide exactly how long you want to go for.

Each project has a minimum duration and the easiest way to check this is to view our Prices page.

Most volunteers go for between 2 and 12 weeks, so these are the prices that you will find listed on our website. However, if you would like to go for longer then you can add on as many ‘Extra Weeks’ as you like.

In some destinations it is only possible to volunteer for up to 6 months due to visa restrictions.
Can I combine placements?
Yes you can combine placements, both within a country and across countries. See Combinations for more details and combination ideas.
When can I start? When should I apply?
For most of our projects you can choose when your placement starts and finishes. Placements run all year. However, some of our special group trips have a set start and finish date.

Projects Abroad accepts applications on a rolling basis, so there is no fixed deadline for your application. However, we encourage you to apply as early as possible once you have decided what you want to do and when you want to leave. This is because:

• Some destinations and projects require at least three months to process an application, arrange for visas, and advise you properly on how to prepare. Other countries can be processed in as little as two to three weeks.                                               
• Having more time to prepare makes it easier for you to fundraise, and for us to advise you on preparations for your trip. It also gives you time to talk to us about tailoring your programme to your interests and preferences before you arrive at your placement.

If you decide last minute, do give us a call to see how quickly we can arrange it for you.
What are the costs involved? Is the work paid?
Please see the prices page for details of the cost of the programme you are interested in. You will not be paid for your work, but you will gain valuable work experience and discover skills you never knew you had - and have a great time! Our partner schools and other partner organisations can often barely afford to pay their own staff, so these positions have to be voluntary and self-funded. Similarly we get great work experience placements for volunteers because we don't ask our partner-organisations to pay you. Indeed, we always make sure that organisations or individuals in the developing world don't have to pay anything as a matter of principle. We do not have government funding or other outside funding.
What does the fee include?
Our prices include all food, accommodation, transport to and from work where required, travel and medical insurance, and support from our expert staff at home and abroad. Our charges are important because they enable us to provide you with a good service and full support.                                                                                                                                                        
See Money Matters for more information about how your money is spent.
Are meals included in the cost?
With the exception of when you are travelling or socialising, all meals are provided.
Can I go with my friend/boyfriend/girlfriend?
Friends are most welcome and, if you like, we can arrange placements where you can live and work together.
Can a group of us join a project?
There is no problem for a group to join one of our projects overseas. If you are a small group just let us know on your application form that you are joining with some friends. Our staff will make sure that you are working together or close to each other and living in the same place. In many cases it is also possible for friends to join different programmes in the same country whilst living in the same place. If you are a bigger group Projects Abroad can organise a tailor made trip to fit in with your needs. To find out more details about Group Trips click here.
Will I need injections?
This really depends on where you choose to go and what, if any, vaccinations you have had in the past. We recommend booking an appointment with your local doctor, who will be happy to advise on what you may need. Don't let injections put you off - you'll be glad you had them once you are enjoying yourself abroad!
What age ranges take part in these projects?
Volunteers are welcome on most of our standard projects from the age of 15 upwards and there is no maximum age limit. These projects run all year round and most are available for 2 weeks or longer. Many of our volunteers are between 18 and 25 years old, but a rapidly increasing number of career breakers and retired people are now taking part too. This has led to a stimulating mix of volunteers in all our destinations.

We also run High School Special projects which take place on fixed dates during the summer and winter and are available for people aged 15-18.
What qualifications do I need?
For most of our projects no qualifications are necessary - just reasonable spoken English. No TEFL or teaching qualifications are needed for our Teaching programmes (although you are very welcome if you do happen to have them). Please read the specific project pages for more details.
Do I need the local language?
The vast majority of our projects do not require specific language skills and few volunteers speak the local language before they go. It is an advantage to learn a few basic phrases but it is certainly not necessary to be fluent. Teaching volunteers teach English in English. This is what schools want. There are some exceptions where a basic or good knowledge of the local language is needed. This is often for professional projects like Journalism, Law and Medicine or for French and Spanish speaking countries.

The specific project pages will specify if any language skills are required. In many countries it is possible to take language lessons if you want to improve your language skills, see the Language Courses section for more details.
Do I need to be a British citizen?
No. We accept volunteers from all over the world - in fact we actively recruit in much of Europe and the USA. We like to have a multinational mix - that's what cultural exchange is all about.

If you would like to visit our International websites then please click here.
How are we chosen?
When you apply we ask you for the name and address of a referee. This will be someone who knows you well - such as a school tutor or an employer. We then get in touch with them and ask for a reference. This is usually enough to assure us that you are suitable for a placement. We occasionally invite prospective volunteers for an informal interview to iron out any concerns.

In addition to this, all volunteers aged 21 and over (or 18 and over in Bolivia, Cambodia, Costa Rica, Fiji, Romania and Thailand) who are participating in a project that involves working with children are required to provide a criminal record check as part of the application process. We will contact you about this after receiving your completed application form.
What do I gain from this programme?
The programme is an excellent opportunity to combine adventure holidays with worthwhile work. As well as gaining experience that looks brilliant on your CV or résumé, you will improve your transferable skills such as team-working, presentation and communication. Above all, this is an unrivalled opportunity to gain an insight into a completely different culture and way of life.
Can I fundraise for this project?
Many of our volunteers choose to fundraise, although we certainly don't say that you have to. Request a Fundraising Guide once you've applied to get some ideas or visit our Fundraising page for instant advice.
Can I talk to people who have done it?
Please see our Volunteer Stories page, or contact us and tell us where you would like to go and what project you would like to join. We will then put you in touch with people who have done these projects in the past.
What if I have more questions?
If you have any questions or would like to discuss our programmes in more detail, please don't hesitate to .
What is the next step?
The next step is either to contact us for more information or, if you've decided definitely what you want to do, apply now.
FAQs - While you're away

These questions relate to the time you are overseas as a volunteer. For questions relating to the time before you go, please see FAQ's - Before you go.

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What is the support like overseas?
We believe our staff support overseas to be unparalleled. We have full-time paid and trained English-speaking staff in each destination.

It is their job to set up placements, check out your accommodation, meet you at the airport and provide you with any support you need 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For more details, see Safety & Back-up.

During your placement you will also have the support of your supervisor at your place of work. They will be on hand to give you help and advice throughout your time on the project.
Are the countries safe?
Before we set up volunteer projects in a destination, the country must be politically stable and safe. If they are not, we don’t go.

We are in constant contact with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office regarding stability and safety and, of course, we have the added security of our overseas staff in each destination.
Will I be met at the airport?
Volunteers are met at the airport or the nearest bus or railway station if travelling overland. There is no additional charge to be met at our recommended airport or arrival point. Please see Safety & Back-up for more details.
What if I am ill?
If you are ill whilst overseas, the staff at the local Projects Abroad office will know where the best medical care can be found. You will receive information on this during your induction when you first arrive and of course you can reach our staff by phone 24 hours a day if you fall ill.

In the unlikely event that you are seriously ill, all volunteers are covered by an insurance policy, which, if needed, includes flying you home and all of your medical costs until you get home.

Projects Abroad staff will be on hand to liaise with your family, the insurance company, and the relevant medical professionals.
Can I extend my stay while overseas?
Yes, however you will need to check visa requirements and flight restrictions. Holding a date-changeable flight ticket will give you added flexibility.

If you want to extend your placement, just talk to our overseas staff. Each additional week you spend on a project will be charged at the ‘In-Country Extension’ price.
Will there be an opportunity to travel when I'm there?
Volunteers will normally have the weekends free. You may take this as an opportunity to go on trips to local places of interest. For every twelve weeks worked you are entitled to two weeks off from your placement. During this time you are covered by our insurance policy and you may choose to travel independently.

Many volunteers travel after the end of their placements, often forming small groups with fellow volunteers.

Depending on the destination you choose you may find mountains, beaches, jungles or great cities to visit!
Will I be on my own or are there going to be other volunteers in the same area as me?
You will be located close to other volunteers so that, if you want to, you can meet, exchange ideas and stories, socialise and go on trips together. Volunteers usually make good friends with each other and often decide to go travelling together after their placements. Have a read of some of our Volunteer Stories to get an idea about our volunteer communities.

You may often be placed in the same accommodation or workplace as other volunteers. We’ll try hard to meet any requests, please let us know if you have any preferences.
Where do I stay? Who do I stay with?
Most volunteers stay with local families. This provides you with an insight into the local culture and helps with learning the local language. Living with a family also acts as an additional support network.

In some destinations, including Cambodia, China and Vietnam, volunteers live together in shared apartments. Volunteers on the majority of our Conservation & Environment projects also live together in a range of accommodation, from beach-side dormitories to wooden bungalows.

You should not expect western standards, but the accommodation is good by local standards. Although we cannot guarantee to meet all requests, please let us know if you have any preferences regarding accommodation or the type of area where you would like to stay.
Can I contact home while I’m away?
In all of our destinations you will be able to find access to the internet. If you are placed in a rural area you may have to wait until you go into town to visit an internet café.

In most destinations volunteers are able to buy a local sim card for their mobile phone. These are perfect for local calls to other volunteers and to keep in touch with our local staff in destination.

Generally, you should only use your host family’s phone in emergencies so the internet will be the best, and cheapest, way to contact home.
I am a female volunteer. Is it safe to travel and volunteer alone?
The first thing to remember is that by volunteering with Projects Abroad, you won’t be alone. You are likely to be living and working with other volunteers and will definitely have other volunteers in the same destination as you. Our local staff arrange regular events to make sure volunteers get to meet each other. You will also have the support of our overseas staff 24 hours a day if needed.

In terms of travelling, in general, women do not experience any more problems than perhaps the occasional curious stare. However, regardless of the country, it’s always a good idea to be careful and follow common sense advice. It’s worth having a read of our Women Travelling Alone blog.

Providing that you are aware of the possible dangers and prepared for the differences a foreign country will present to you, you should not have any problems. The two most important pieces of advice for a female traveller are to be aware of culture differences – in the way people act or dress – and always trust your gut instincts.
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01273­ 007230

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