Getting ready for voluntary work in Asia

You will need to plan ahead for your voluntary work in Asia. From booking your flight to getting yourself vaccinated to deciding what to pack, you have quite a few preparations to consider. Read on for tips and advice about getting ready for voluntary work in Asia.

Booking Your Flight to Asia

Make sure that you book your flight to Asia as early as possible; this is the best way to make sure that you get a good price on your travel to and from Asia. Prices spike up at the weekends, so you should try to get a flight during the week if at all possible. You should also avoid flying at peak travel times, such as major holidays.

You will be required to have a visa in order to enter each of the countries in Asia where our partners at TravelWorks have voluntary programmes. Please make sure that you apply for your visa at the proper length of time prior to your departure for Asia.

Preparing for Your Project

Many of TravelWorks’ voluntary work projects in Asia involve teaching English, and it is worth it to prepare a few English lesson plans before you arrive in Asia. In some cases, you will receive lesson-planning advice before you depart for Asia, and when you are on location you will gain more teaching advice and insight into your project.

Language Requirements

In order to participate in voluntary work in Asia with TravelWorks, you will need to have good knowledge of the English language. Aside from this, no language skills are required. In some countries (China, Indonesia, and Vietnam), you will receive a few lessons in the native language, which will help you to fit into everyday life more easily. English is widely spoken in India, and in Thailand you will have a local English-speaking contact person.

Health & Safety

Visit a doctor: At least 6 weeks prior to your departure for Asia, you should see your family doctor or a medical professional specialised in travel health, in order to receive vaccination advice and a regular check-up. Although vaccinations are usually not required for entry into your host country, you should make sure that you are well-informed about your country’s current entry requirement.

Get travel insurance:You definitely need to take out travel insurance if you are planning to do voluntary work in Asia. With travel insurance, you will be able to feel more secure knowing that you and your possessions are protected abroad. Your travel insurance should cover health care and lost or stolen luggage.

Money

You should take along a credit card and bank card to access your money in Asia. You should be sure to inform your bank and credit card provider that you are planning to be abroad in Asia, so that they do not interpret your purchases in Asia as unusual activity and cut off service for your card. If you like, you can take along travellers’ cheques as an extra method of payment, but watch out for unfair exchange rates, and do not take travellers’ cheques in place of a credit/ bank card. Be sure to take along a money belt, and avoid carrying large sums of cash.

ISIC Card – Save Money

If you are a full-time university student, you are eligible for the International Student Identification Card (ISIC), which can save you a lot of money abroad. Show your ISIC Card at places like hotels, hostels, and museums and receive student discounts around the world. More information is available at: www.isic.org

What to Pack

You will have to carry everything that you pack on your way to your voluntary work location in Asia, so packing light is highly recommended. Some of the most important things to bring along include:

Clothing: Asia is the world’s largest continent and as such has every type of weather you can imagine. As you pack for your time abroad, consider the location and time of year. Research the average weather conditions in the country you will be travelling to and plan accordingly. Even if you are travelling somewhere warm, keep in mind that it could become cold at night and bring along some warmer layers. Some basics that anyone travelling to Asia needs to have along include a sturdy pair of shoes for walking/ hiking, a good hat to protect against the sun or cold, and a raincoat.

First-Aid Kit: It is good to be prepared for any scrapes or stomach aches that may occur during your voluntary work in Asia, so a small first-aid kit is essential. The following items should be included in your first-aid kit:

  • Thermometer
  • Plasters/Band-aids
  • Gauze bandages
  • Scissors
  • Pain relief medicine
  • Sore throat medicine
  • Nausea medicine
  • Diarrhoea medicine
  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics
  • Disinfectant ointment
  • Insect repellent

With any luck, you will not need to use your first-aid kit, but it definitely does not hurt to be prepared!

Important documents:

Before you depart for your voluntary work in Asia, print out all important travel documents and give them to a trusted family member or friend. These documents include:

  • Travel insurance policy
  • Flight ticket
  • Passport copy
  • Vaccination records

You should also write your credit card and travel cheque information on separate sheets of paper, including important telephone numbers to call if your credit card or travellers’ cheques are stolen. Then scan all of your important documents and e-mail them to yourself, making sure that you always have access to them during your voluntary work abroad.

Country information

Make sure that you are well-informed about your host country before you begin your voluntary work in Asia. Go to your local library and borrow some books about the country you are visiting and read as much as you can about the local culture, political situation, and history. Travel guides usually include information about cultural norms which will help you to avoid cultural misunderstandings. The more you know about your host country, the more you will be able to enjoy your time abroad in Asia.

You should also be aware of recent developments and travel warnings for your host country in Asia. To keep up-to-date, visit the website of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office.