April 28, 2020

When life returns to normal, we are going to travel and volunteer again and at Hovos we are here to help you! For those who are going to volunteer for the first time, you have to know that it involves working a few hours a day, it can be anywhere from 3 to 6 hours, 5 or 6 days a week, in exchange for accommodation and food. Conditions will vary according to the place you go and that is why we are bringing you some advice to bear in mind.

1. What are you looking from your volunteering experience?

The first thing you should consider is the type of project, since there are many tasks to do in one place. It could be cleaning a hostel, harvesting vegetables, doing art projects, construction, helping with the internet, teaching a language or taking care of a pet. It is very important to know what you are looking for from volunteering so as to narrow your search accordingly.

2. Carefully choose the place

It is important to think about where you want to go. Sometimes choosing a remote and isolated place, without other volunteers with whom to share time, gives us the chance to disconnect and relax but also, if we have any difficult days, it can work against us since we have nowhere to go and no opportunity to socialise. Or, sometimes, choosing a city with a totally different culture from our own, or a place with an extreme climate, can makes things challenging for us, but that is all part of the experience too and this is where you adaptation skills will come in handy! 

3. Read previous reviews

Reading the reviews written by previous volunteers is always important. You can see how the host behaves with the volunteers, if the amount of hours dedicated to the tasks is fair and if it conforms to what is described in the offer. You can also see if, in previous cases, there were problems with other volunteers and thus try to avoid them in advance.

4. Communication with the host

Make sure you have fluent communication with the host, always be honest, and clear. Get rid of any doubts you have. It is better to arrive at the place knowing what awaits you so as to not to be surprised later! Make sure it is clear what tasks are to be carried out, the number of hours you are asked to work, the arrival date, the period of stay, where you will sleep, if the food is included or not.

5. Adapt

Volunteering involves, in many cases, leaving your comfort zone. You may be going to live in a country with a different culture, or you may try foods that are not what you usually eat at home. Keep in mind that in some places, the hosts are vegetarians and you will have to adapt to eat vegetarian food. You also may meet people who do not speak your language.  Don’t be closed to anything, be open. Enjoy every second as a learning experience.

6. Prepare in case something goes wrong

Travelling is not always easy and, like everything in life, some things can go wrong. It may even happen that your expectations are not fulfilled. Do not despair. Try not to feel uncomfortable, be honest and talk to the host, and together you may be able to work things out. In the worst case scenario, have a plan B  by having chosen a ‘back-up’ project at the ready to contact.

7. Enjoy and learn

Experiment and enjoy every moment! Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way! You are going to experience moments that you never thought you would! And most importantly, do not limit yourself, enjoy and give the best of yourself and we at Hovos are part of the journey with you.