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GAP YEAR | VOLUNTEER ABROAD | WORK EXPERIENCE OVERSEAS

 

FAQ's ON VOLUNTEERING ABROAD WITH TRAVELLERS WORLDWIDE

We've tried to answer as many questions as possible below. Hopefully we've succeeded to answering all yours, but if not, please do contact us either by email or telephone: 1-603-574-4935. We're happy to help!

And Parents, we have a special section for your questions as well, but please don't hesitate to contact us if you'd like more information or reassurance that your child is in good hands.

12 Reasons why you should travel with a structured organisation

Do I qualify for a placement?

  1. How old do I have to be?

  2. What qualifications do I need?

  3. Do I need to speak the local language?

When and where can I go, and for how long?

  1. Which countries can I go to?

  2. What type of program can I do?

  3. When can I start? 

  4. When should I apply?

  5. How long do placements last?

  6. Can I extend my stay while overseas?

  7. Will I be able to travel around while I’m there?

What will happen to me out there?

  1. Will I be on my own or can I be placed near other Travellers volunteers?

  2. What support and back-up will I get?

  3. Will I be met at the airport?

  4. What if I am ill?

Where and how will I live?

  1. Where do I live and who do I live with?

  2. Can I go with my boyfriend or girlfriend?

Questions about money

  1. How secure is my money? What happens to me and my money if you get into financial difficulty or go into receivership?

  2. Why do I have to pay to do voluntary work?

  3. Can I fundraise for my project?

  4. What will a placement cost me and what does the fee include?

  5. What "hidden extras" are there?

  6. What does the program fee go towards?

Safety Issues

  1. Do you give guidelines on safety issues?

  2. Are the countries safe?

  3. Do women encounter any special problems while travelling?

What do I gain from doing a voluntary program?

  1. What do I gain from doing a voluntary     program?

  2. What do I get from Travellers before I leave?

  3. What do I need to do to ensure that I benefit from my placement and I enjoy myself?

What if I want additional information?

  1. Can I talk to people who have done a Travellers placement?

  2. What if I have more questions?

  3. What do I do now?

FOR PARENTS: Concern about your children in our hands

  1. How do I know that Travellers is a "real" company?

  2. What credible affiliations do you have?

  3. How do I know where my child will be?

  4. Are you registered with ABTA, ATOL, etc.?

DO I QUALIFY FOR A PLACEMENT?

1. How old do I have to be to participate in a program?
Travellers welcomes all ages, from 16 to 70. Most of our volunteers are between 18 and 25 years old, but we also have people who are retired and wanting to do something worthwhile and gratifying, or people taking a short break from their careers.

2. What qualifications do I need?
On most of our programmes you don't need any formal qualifications. There are one or two exceptions, though. 

Teaching: If you're teaching a language such as English, you don't need a TEFL or any other formal qualification but you do need to be fluent in that language and have a reasonable standard of grammatical correctness. 

Conservation: You don't need qualifications for most of our Conservation projects, but if you want to take part in a science-based project such as the Dolphin program, you need to be at least in your second year of a sciences degree.

Work Experience Internships: In fields such as Medicine or Law, you need to be studying the subject or working in the sector or have some background experience. In other fields, such as Catering, no qualifications are necessary.

In all our programmes you do need to have patience and understanding, and a good sense of humour! You will be living and working in a different culture, with different ways of doing things to what you're used to - their standards may not be as high as yours - that's part of the fun, learning about their culture and teaching them about yours! 

3. Do I need to speak the local language?
No, you don't. Very few of our volunteers speak the local language before they go. On the other hand, it is certainly an advantage to learn a few basic words and phrases, particularly for a placement in China or perhaps a law placement in Argentina, but it is not necessary to be fluent.

WHEN AND WHERE CAN I GO?

4. Which countries can I go to?
Programmes are available in many countries, and the list is continually growing. Countries include Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Ecuador, Ghana, India, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mozambique, Nepal, New Zealand, Peru, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

5. What type of program can I do?
We have many different types of programmes. For example, you can teach  English or any other subject you have knowledge of or expertise in, like French or German, or academic subjects like Maths and Biology, or Computers and IT, or Sports and Drama or Music. You can do a Conservation placement working with dolphins or elephants or a variety of other animals, or become involved in a botany project. You can also do a Work Experience placement in many different fields, such as Journalism (newspapers, radio and TV), Medicine, Law, Tourism, Veterinary Medicine, and lots more. 

6. When can I start? 
Whenever you want to - the choice is yours.  The only 'restriction' applies to teaching placements insofar as we cannot start your placement at the beginning of the local school vacations, particularly if they are long vacations.

7. When should I apply?
Some placements are extremely popular and we would advise that you think about applying about nine months before you go. Most of the time, though, it is possible to arrange a placement with just a few weeks’ notice.

8. How long do placements last?
Travellers is first and foremost flexible. You choose how long your placement lasts and you also choose your own starting date. Placements can last from two weeks upwards, with a maximum of one year. We have found the most popular length to be between 3 and 6 months. The length of some placements in some countries is limited by visa restrictions.

9. Can I extend my stay while overseas?
Yes, provided there are no visa restrictions or other technicalities like school vacations (if you're doing a teaching placement). Many of our volunteers do extend their stay, which is why we always try to ensure that your flight ticket has a changeable return facility.

10. Will I be able to travel around while I’m there?
On weekends you'll be able to visit local places of interest and many of our volunteers get together in groups to go on trips to explore the surrounding country. Mostly our volunteers arrange to travel around after their placement before flying home. By this time you will most likely have made friends who you will want to travel around with. This is another "fringe benefit" of doing a structured placement with Travellers.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ME OUT THERE?

11. Will I be on my own or can I be placed near other volunteers?
In some countries you will live and work with other volunteers. In others there will be other volunteers close by. However, if you've chosen an out-of-the-way destination you may be quite far from other volunteers. If you ask to be near other volunteers, we will ensure that you are. Mostly, though, our local organiser arranges get-togethers so that volunteers can meet each other and make friends, go out together, and generally socialise. Many of our volunteers go on trips together to explore the country. For example, recently a group of 10 volunteers from Sri Lanka went to Thailand together at the end of their placement and had a wonderful time.

12. What support and back-up will I get?
We have a local organisation with a country manager/organiser in all our destination countries to look after you. He/she sets up your placement, meets you at the airport and generally looks after you the whole time you are on your placement. They won't baby you but they're always available should you need any assistance or any problems occur. You will also be allocated to a supervisor at your place of work who will be available for work-related help and advice.

EXAMPLE: A volunteer didn't arrive in Cape Town on her scheduled flight and our organisers couldn't get in touch with her. They were very worried and spent several hours trying to track her down. Later it was found that her cell phone had run out of battery and her connecting flights had been re-arranged due to one arriving later than scheduled - on hearing the good news that she'd been tracked down her mum said; “This is the reason we booked through Travellers and it is so good to know that an incident like this is dealt with so smoothly and professionally...Thank you!”

13. Will I be met at the airport?
YES. We meet you at the nearest airport without extra charge, regardless of whether you've made your own travel arrangements or we make them for you.

14. What if I am ill?
Unfortunately volunteers do sometimes get ill and our overseas staff will ensure that you receive immediate medical care, as will your host work organisation and your host family. If you are seriously ill, you will be covered by your insurance policy, which is why we stipulate that insurance is a requirement. We will liaise with our local office, your family and the insurance company to ensure that all the medical wheels runs smoothly. 

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WHERE AND HOW DO I LIVE ONCE I'M THERE?

15. Where will I live and who will I live with?
Y
our accommodation will depend on the type of placement and the town or country you're in. Many of our volunteers live with local families, some live in school residences and others live in hostels or guest houses. In some destinations we have volunteer houses – these are very sociable and a great favourite.Some conservation placements have accommodation on-site and you wake up to the sounds of birds and animals, or even an elephant walking past your window!

If you have a special preference, please inform us and we'll do our best to accommodate you. 

Although not all countries have Western standards, all accommodation is reasonable by local standards; some could be on the luxurious side. Family accommodation gives you the opportunity to really learn about the way of life from the inside and all types of accommodation provide an additional support network and new learning experiences.  

16. Can I go with my boyfriend or girl friend?
Yes, you can.  However, because some cultures have different moral standards, we do need to know in advance if you want to live together so that we can ensure that appropriate arrangements are made. In some countries there may be a supplemental charge if you only want to share a room with one other person, i.e. your partner.

If you'd like to live and work together with a friend/s, we will ensure that you're placed together - just let us know. 

QUESTIONS ABOUT MONEY:

17. What happens to me and my money if you get into financial difficulty or go into receivership?
Travellers Worldwide
 is committed to customer satisfaction and consumer financial protection. We know that a major concern with volunteers and their parents alike is, "What happens to me and my money if you go bankrupt?"

We are therefore pleased to say that in the highly unlikely event that Travellers goes into bankruptcy or receivership, and in accordance with "The Package Travel, Package Tours Regulations 1992", all participants booking with us (Travelquest Ltd T/a Travellers Worldwide) are fully insured for the initial deposit and subsequently the balance of monies paid. The policy will also include repatriation if required, arising from the cancellation or curtailment of your travel arrangements due to (highly unlikely!) insolvency of Travellers Worldwide. 

This insurance is provided free to all our participants and has been arranged by Towergate Chapman Stevens through AmTrust Europe.

Policy exclusions: This policy will not cover any monies paid for Travel Insurance or any claim relating to Air Flights. However, we advise all our participants to ensure that the agent they choose to book their flights with has the appropriate CAA / ATOL Bonds in place. 

You have the option to arrange your own flights or we can assist you with your flight arrangements. If you’d like us to do this for you, we will liaise with you regarding available flights, dates and prices to suit you. All arrangements for your flight bookings/payments will be fulfilled by Murray Rogers Travel Limited, ATOL No. 6856.

17. Why do I have to pay to do voluntary work?

This is the short answer - click here to read the long (and very informative!) answer:
Travellers is not a charity and does not receive government funding or any other type of funding, yet we support financially the research and development of new projects in new destinations, the costs involved in running all the programmes and providing the back-up and support you receive on your placement, and ensuring that awareness of Travellers placements reaches you, whether via your university or education institute, magazines and newspapers, careers fairs or exhibitions, or the Internet.

You gain the opportunity to live and work in countries where you wouldn't otherwise be able to, and you gain experience and knowledge which you wouldn't otherwise receive. In most of our placements you make a tremendous positive difference to the local community - in others you gain a wealth of experience.

Because you do a voluntary placement, Travellers is able to provide assistance and opportunities to our host countries without any cost to them - see We Make A Difference. The addition of a new classroom which enables more children to receive an education, or a safe playground for the children to play in, can be of enormous help to a poor community. Equally, providing a free website for a research institute that enables them to get more visitors and hence more research funds, or a customised database for a conservation project that helps them to work more effectively and efficiently also has a long-term benefit.

18. Can I fundraise for my project?
Yes! It's possible for you to fundraise in many different ways for your project. Check out our fundraising page for more information.

19. What will a placement cost me and what does the fee include?
See the prices page for costs of the different programmes.

The fee includes all your food and accommodation (unless otherwise stated), and back-up and support both at home and in our destination country, during the entire time you participate in a placement. We also meet you at the nearest international airport at no charge and transport you to your placement. It is very re-assuring to know that you have a local contact who is being paid to look after your welfare when you are in a foreign destination.

20. What "hidden extras" are there?
There are very few. We are very transparent in showing exactly what is or isn't included in all our projects. We give you a Summary Factfile at the top of each project page that contains all relevant information relating to what your bottom-line cost will be. However, there are two that aren't listed on each project page, and these are:
Insurance
: You will need to pay for your insurance (but we can help by getting you very comprehensive insurance at very low cost). 
Visas: You will also need to pay for your visa - but only in countries that require a visa. Costs of visas usually range from about £15 to about £65 (about $25 - $100). We arrange all the necessary paperwork and provide all the forms you need - we make the entire visa process very easy for you!

21. Where Does My Money Go?
The following is a general breakdown of what happens to the money you pay for your placement:

  • APPROXIMATELY 60 to 75% of the price you pay goes to the Destination Country. Some of it is for the project and some for your support while you're there, such as your accommodation, food and internal transport. If you're doing a course, some of it goes towards the tuition fees.

  • ORGANISERS AND SUPPORT STAFF WITHIN COUNTRY - Paid staff who offer a range of support services including 24/7 assistance. We have good infrastructures on the ground in our countries so that if there are any emergencies (such as accidents or natural disasters like the Tsunami), you will be well looked after.

  • UK ADMINISTRATION - Includes office rent and rates, plus general office expenses associated with arranging placements, such as internet, phone, paper, postage, electricity, etc. Also includes staff salaries and manning 24/7 emergency helpline, as well as maintaining our Volunteer Extranet and updating the documentation that you're provided with as part of your placement arranging.

  • MARKETING - Includes the cost of designing and printing brochures and other print advertising, website design, administration and maintenance, attending careers fairs, advertising, website listings, presentations, etc

  • PROJECT RESEARCH/SITE INSPECTIONS AND RISK ASSESSMENTS - This includes all the initial research that needs to be done for new projects and new destinations to ensure that they are up to the quality standards that we need for our volunteers, including, most importantly, safety levels. These initial inspections are also followed up with regular project inspections to ensure that the quality level is maintained.

  • STAFF TRAINING/EQUIPMENT - Which sometimes requires overseas staff to visit the UK head office for on-going training.

  • DONATIONS - Although we are not a charity, where possible we also make donations to schools and orphanages that are exceedingly poor, by providing equipment, learning aids, or perhaps a classroom or a playground. In some cases we donate money – for example on conservation placements, your participation helps us to fund projects that may not have otherwise taken place. You can read more about how your placement fee makes a difference by clicking here.

  • THE BRIDGE THE GAP FOUNDATION (The BTG): You can read more about our charitable arm here: www.thebridgethegapfoundation.org - we also make donations to the BTG which sometimes funds projects that we DON'T work with, because they need it. So if you're supporting a worthy cause and would like to draw people's attention to it, please send us the details and we'll display them on the BTG website.

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SAFETY ISSUES

22. Do you give guidelines on safety issues?
Yes, we do.  We give you a very comprehensive, customised Personal Safety Guide & Travel Tips which we have compiled especially for our volunteers. We feel so strongly about safety that we have made the Personal Safety Guide available to download from this website so that everyone - regardless of whether you decide to go with Travellers or not, will be able to use it.

Personal safety is mostly plain common-sense, but we nonetheless give detailed guidelines on safety measures to take. We also give advice directly related to each of our destination countries. In the Travel Tips section, there is a lot of very useful general information on the do's and don'ts of travelling, including how to look after your luggage in airports, taking taxis, hitch-hiking, and other similar advice.  

23. Are the countries safe?
We always ensure that destination countries are stable and safe before we implement any programmes in a country and to date we have not had a situation where a volunteer has been in danger. However, sometimes even in the "safest" countries situations can change, as we've seen recently in America. For that reason we constantly refer to and heed Foreign Office advice. More importantly, though, we are in constant liaison with our overseas staff regarding safety and security issues and should an unforeseen situation arise which warranted your removal from that country or region, we would do so immediately.

As far as general crime is concerned, none of our destinations is any worse than a typical English or other Western town or city, and many are much safer! If you take the same common-sense precautions you would take at home, you'll be well prepared.

24. Do women encounter any special problems?
Sometimes in places like Sri Lanka and India, women do attract more overt attention from men, but in our Personal Safety Guide we give you advice on how to avoid situations where you attract unwanted attention.  


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WHAT DO I GAIN FROM A VOLUNTARY PLACEMENT?

25. What do I gain from doing a voluntary program?
You will gain so much it's difficult to know where to begin! The old cliché "Travel broadens the mind" is very true - and for the rest of your life you'll find that the knowledge you gain from your experience will influence your thoughts and even your choices and decisions. 

On a Travellers placement you'll gain the experience of living and working in a different ethnic culture and increasing your understanding of how different the lives of others are to what you are used to. In many of our placements you'll gain the satisfaction of knowing that you have had a positive impact on people and children less fortunate than you are. On other placements, such as a Work Experience or Conservation placement, you'll gain knowledge in your particular field of interest in a structured placement that will make an excellent entry on your CV or résumé. You'll also improve your communication and presentation skills and you'll learn how to work in an environment of co-operation. 

26. What do I get from Travellers before I leave?
Travellers has a well-deserved reputation for the quantity of information we send you before you leave!  Of course, we send you lots of information about your specific placement, your work and your accommodation, including contact details to give your family, what to wear, what to take with you, pocket-money, etc., etc., but we also give you a comprehensive book which we've compiled with information about the country itself. It contains tips on how to use the telephones, change money, exchange rates, local transport, cost of taxies, places to see, where to eat, cinemas & TV, the climate, the history and the culture ... and very much more!

If you're doing a teaching placement, we provide a Teaching Suggestions Guide that has received praise from many of the headmasters and teachers in our partner schools and institutes. 

27. What do I need to do to ensure that I benefit from my placement and I enjoy myself?
Most importantly - you need to remember that you're going to a different country, a different environment, a different culture - and probably one that is poor and undeveloped. So don't expect the earth and a rainbow!  You won't have the luxuries of home. If you're used to freshly squeezed orange juice every morning ... forget it. If you're used to being given life on a silver platter, please don't do a placement, rather take a cruise around the Mediterranean.

You will get out of your placement what you put into it. If you're prepared to enjoy the unexpected, like the earthy smell of African clay, and ignore the inconveniences, like power cuts and no-show buses, you'll enjoy your placement.

Homesickness: Everyone gets homesick - just to a greater or lesser degree - so don't feel embarrassed about it. But do give yourself a chance, don't go running home as soon as you arrive. Homesickness wears off - honestly!

28. Can I talk to people who have done a Travellers placement?
To hear what our volunteers have to say, please either select a country on the left or click on any one of our countries from the buttons above. We have lots of reports from previous volunteers about their placements from all our destinations. Some countries even have reports on "A Typical Day in the Life of my Project" and others have some on-going Diary accounts of volunteers' placements. To contact a volunteer directly, please call us on 1-603-574-4935 and we'll give you the phone numbers or e-mail addresses of people who have done it.

29. What if I have more questions?
If you have any questions or would like to discuss our program in more detail, please call us on 1-603-574-4935 or e-mail us with your phone number and a convenient time to call and we will call you back. 

30. What do I do now?
Apply now and once we receive your application, we'll telephone you to discuss your placement with you so that we can tailor it to your requirements. 

FOR PARENTS: REASSURANCE!

31. How do I know that Travellers is a "real" company
Travellers (TravelQuest Limited) was established in 1994. Travellers is registered with Companies House (Registration No. 3072191). The company is one of the leaders in the volunteering sector and has built a deservedly excellent reputation over this time, not least for the amount of in-depth information which we provide.

32. What credible affiliations do you have?
Travellers is a Founder Member of the Year Out Group (www.yearoutgroup.org), which is a self-regulatory body set up with approval from UCAS and the DfES. Members of the Year Out Group must adhere to the very highest standards of year out provision and are only approved and accepted by the Group after rigorous inspection and approval process. Travellers is a Founder member and contributed substantially to the Code of Practice requirements for the Voluntary Sector.

Travellers has been with the Careers Services and Students Unions (and the Departments) in all the Universities in England since its inception in 1994 as well as with most Sixth Form schools and colleges. We have also worked for many years with various universities in America, Canada, Australia, South Africa and Europe.

We work with many, many government departments, ruling bodies, NGOs, sports affiliates, and local community centres in all our countries around the world.

33. How do I know where my child will be?
All volunteers are given their full destination addresses, contact telephone numbers, emergency numbers and Overseas Manager's contact details, including, where possible, the address and contact details of our partner work organisations (e.g. schools, game reserves, work experience partner companies, etc.). We also provide a separate document with all the above information specifically to be given to our volunteers' parents and families for them to keep while their children are on their projects.

34. Are you registered with ABTA, ATOL, etc.?
Your child has the option to arrange his/her own flights or we can assist them with their flight arrangements. If they choose to have us assist them, we will liaise with them regarding available flights and dates and obtain their approval for same. Once they have approved the dates, all arrangements for flight bookings/payments will be fulfilled by Murray Rogers Travel Ltd., ATOL No. 6856. (Read more about Murray Rogers Travel Ltd.)

As happens when volunteers make their own flight arrangements, airline tickets are sent to them before they leave home, so they are always in possession of their outward and return tickets.

Where possible, we arrange for two or more people to travel on the same flight and we provide your child with the names and telephone numbers of other volunteers on their flight, so that they can chat to each other or even meet up before leaving for their placement.

Please remember, you can always call and speak to us directly. We are very happy to answer any and all questions you may have.

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