By Dan Moore

Photo from an African village


Play to your strengths

If you're not a patient babysitter at home, you won't magically like kids more when you don't understand what they are saying. If you don't like being dirty, then construction sites probably aren't your thing. If you like a lot of noise and activity versus sitting quietly for a long time, then working with kids is probably better a better choice for you than counting wildlife. Think about what you like (or don't dislike) and choose something that will build on that.

Understand where your money is going

While every organization does have administrative costs, you probably want to be sure that most of the donated funds are headed toward the cause rather than big executive salaries. Check out the Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commision site for additional information and resources about charities, donations and volunteering your time. If they aren't open about that information, you might think again about donating your time and hard earned dollars.

Think about how long you can commit

If you are looking do to a year of service, that's great. There are plenty of fantastic organizations around to help organize a long-term trip. But if you only have a few weeks, you still have options for volunteering. Some short-term trips include:

  • Building with Habitat for Humanity's Global Village program
  • Observing the effects of climate change in Manitoba, Canada with Earthwatch
  • Rebuilding trails in parks with the Sierra Club
  • Working with monks in Thailand in a nursery

It won't be the fanciest trip you've ever taken

It always bears repeating that if you're heading out to volunteer, then you're probably heading to an area that may lack some amenities – Internet access may be spotty (and so might the hot water). Set your expectations accordingly and you'll have a much better time.

Plan your trip and go

Whether you decide to make it a special destination or work a volunteer stint into a longer trip, find the trip that's right for you and make your plans. One thing we've found is that people who choose to spend their travel time volunteering tend to be nice. So even if you don't have a travelling companion, you will likely make new friends along the way.

Cover-More Australia is proudly committed to service work being done around the world. We understand that not every holiday will be about total relaxation and that those who spend their precious free time to better the world and help people in need deserve to be recognized and supported. To learn more about our partnerships and our service work, check out our Pinterest board and our Corporate Responsibility page. For your next service volunteer vacation, don’t forget to cover what’s important with an international travel insurance plan from Cover-More Australia.

Image courtesy of Flickr user HappyFunTime