How does Projects Abroad support volunteers during COVID-19?
This is a challenging time to travel, and we understand that you'll have lots of questions. Your safety and comfort are our top priority, so we've implemented improved health and safety protocols and we've built our own resource where you can read answers to the most commonly asked questions about travelling with Projects Abroad during COVID-19.
We've also adjusted our refund policy to give you the most flexibility during this time. If you book on or after August 21st 2020, and your project is cancelled by COVID-19, we'll guarantee you a full refund.
Where can I go?
What type of projects are available?
Each of these projects has a Trip Format – a common set of features, such as dates, duration, or schedules.
For example, if you want independence and flexibility, you’d be ideally suited to one of our Flexi Trips. Alternatively, our Team Trips run on fixed dates and allow people to come together from around the world at the same time to form a group.
Would you like to work with a group your own age? For teenagers, the best choice could be our High School Specials. We have even designed Middle School Specials catering to pre-teens. And if you are over 50, our Grown-up Specials are ideal for you.
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.
Whatever style of trip you’re looking for, we have you covered.
How long do projects last?
We offer projects ranging from one 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. The easiest way to check this is to view our Prices page.
Most volunteers go for between two and 12 weeks. You’ll find these prices 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 countries, it is only possible to volunteer for up to six months because of visa restrictions.
Can I combine projects?
Yes. You can combine projects, both within a country and across countries. See Combinations for more details and combination ideas.
When can I start? When should I apply?
We accept applications on a rolling basis, so there is no fixed deadline for your application. We encourage you to apply as early as possible once you have decided on a project and when you want to leave. This is because:
- Some destinations and projects require at least three months to process an application and arrange visas. This includes the time it takes to prepare you for your upcoming trip. 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. The more time we have, the better tailored your project will be to your interests and preferences.
If you decide last minute, do give us a call to see how quickly we can arrange it for you.
How is Projects Abroad different from other volunteer organizations?
Our first aim is to benefit the communities and ecosystems we work in. You can be assured that your project is ethical, well supported and part of a better future. Here are just a few elements of our work that set us apart from other volunteering programs:
- You will be fully supported by our staff in destination
Your safety is of the utmost importance to us. We would never dream of contracting-out your safety to agents or third parties, as some do. Instead, we employ, thoroughly vet, and train all of our own staff in destination. Together, we provide a world-class support network to help you thrive.
- Our hassle-free approach
We take care of everything, so you don’t have to. We take care of your medical and travel insurance, airport transfers, accommodation, food and more. This is all included in your project fee.
- You will make a real impact
This isn’t just a vacation and we don’t want you to waste your time. Which is why we invest in planning, measurement tools, and training resources. This means you can contribute to something meaningful, regardless of which project you choose.
What are the costs involved? Is the work paid?
Please take a look at our Prices page for the cost of the project/s you are interested in. This page also includes a breakdown of what is included in the project fee.
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! We do not have government funding or other outside funding. Our partner organizations can often barely afford to pay their own staff, so these positions have to be voluntary and self-funded.
Similarly, we provide great work experience projects because we don't ask our partner-organizations to pay you. We always make sure that organizations or individuals in the developing world don't have to pay anything as a matter of principle.
We are very open as to why we charge a fee and how your money is spent.
What does the fee include?
Our prices include:
- Food (three meals a day)
- Travel and medical insurance
- Airport pick-up and drop-off
- Full induction and orientation by an experienced staff member on arrival
- Transport to and from your work placement
- In-country support and 24-hour back-up from our team of full-time local staff
- Emergency assistance from our international emergency response team
- Project equipment and materials, including access to our database with thousands of resources
- Training and workshops from our experienced local staff
- Regular social events and community activities with other volunteers and interns
- Access to our local office with internet connection
- Certification of project completion
- Access to our alumni services and discounts
- Visa support and advice
- Fundraising support, including your own personalised fundraising website
- Pre-departure preparation by your own specialist Volunteer Advisor
- Personalised MyProjectsAbroad website, with all the information you need about your project, accommodation and destination
- A free cultural awareness course
- Membership to our volunteer social media groups, to share information and to get in touch
- Support to help you complete registration or internship documents, if applicable
What is not included:
- Visa costs (where applicable)
The project fees are important because they enable us to provide you with a good service and full support. This is why you pay a fee for your project.
Can Projects Abroad help organize my flights?
When it comes to flights, we recommend our trusted partner, Premium Travel Services. Searching for flights online can be a time-consuming, overwhelming, and frustrating process. They have years of experience arranging flights for thousands of people around the world. So, let them do the work for you!
They can help you book the best return flights, making sure you have the safest, most convenient, and cost-effective flight options, no matter how complex your travel plans. Find out more about booking your flights through our recommended partners.
Can Projects Abroad help organize my visa?
Yes. Our experienced visa team offers a personalised service, drawing on decades of arranging visas for thousands of volunteers to countries around the world. Our staff have in-depth knowledge about the countries where we work and know the best ways to get you where you need to go!
Can a group of us join a project?
We are happy to accommodate groups on our projects overseas.
If you are a small group, just let us know on your application form that you are joining with 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 programs in the same country while living in the same place.
If you are a bigger group, we can organize a tailor-made Group Trip to fit your needs.
Will I need vaccinations?
This 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 vaccinations you may need.
What age ranges take part in these projects?
You are welcome on most of our Flexi Trips from the age of 16 upwards and there is no maximum age limit. These projects run all year round and most are available for one week 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 fixed-date projects over summer and winter for those looking to join a project with people their own age. These include our High School Specials for 15 - 18-year-old's and Middle School Specials for people aged 12 - 15. We also have Grown up Specials that cater to those over the age of 50.
Do I need to be an American citizen?
No. We accept volunteers from all over the world - in fact, we actively recruit in much of Europe, Asia, and the USA. We like to have a multinational mix - that's what cultural exchange is all about.
You can visit our International Websites for more information.
How are we chosen?
When you apply, we ask you for the name and address of a reference. 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 project. 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 Cambodia, 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 will I gain from my project?
These projects are an excellent opportunity to combine travel 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 my project?
Yes. Many of our volunteers choose to fundraise, although you certainly don't have to. For your convenience, we have put together a detailed Fundraising Guide that will provide you with ideas and advice on how to proceed.
What qualifications do I need?
For most of our projects, no qualifications are necessary. You only need reasonable spoken English. No TEFL or teaching qualifications are necessary for our Teaching Projects (although you are very welcome if you do happen to have them).
Our professional staff will be there to guide you in the beginning of your project. They will ensure you know what to do and what is expected of you before you start out on your own. And if you ever need their help, they are only a call away.
All of our Childcare and Teaching volunteers also have access to our resource database. These include hundreds of ideas that can be implemented in the classroom. You can find worksheets that can be printed for the children, games that can be played and different songs that can be learned.
Please read the specific project pages for more details.
Do you offer scholarships or financial aid for volunteering?
We don't have the capacity to offer scholarships and financial aid to our volunteers. This is because we don't receive any outside financial support ourselves. Instead, the program fees you pay help support meaningful projects around the world and provide you with everything you need to volunteer abroad. We're also happy to help with suggestions and ideas on fundraising for your trip. There are lots of ways to raise the necessary funds and we recommend trying as many of them as possible!
While we can't provide financial aid directly, we've collected a list of scholarships and grants that can be applied to our programs.
Can I talk to people who have done it?
What if I have more questions?
What is the support like overseas?
We believe our staff support overseas is 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, seven days a week. For more details, see Safety & Back-up.
During your project, 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.
Going the extra mile is something that comes naturally to our staff, and we believe it makes our projects all the more special.
What is the next step?
Are the countries safe?
Before we set up projects at 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?
You’ll be met at the airport or the nearest bus or railway station if travelling overland.
The moment you walk through the arrivals gate, you’ll be able to spot our Projects Abroad staff. They’ll be standing in clear view with a Projects Abroad sign, waiting for you. All transfers to and from the airport are paid for and arranged by us.
Please see Safety & Back-up for more details or check the arrival procedures page for your specific destination.
What if I fall ill?
If you are ill while 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.
Will there be an opportunity to travel when I’m there?
Your weekends are normally free during our Flexi Trips. 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.
You can also travel once your project ends. Many volunteers often form small groups with fellow volunteers. Depending on the destination you choose, you may find mountains, beaches, jungles or great cities to visit!
Our Team Trips and age-related projects, on the other hand, have set itineraries. This means that all your weekend and social activities have been planned for you in advance. You won’t need to plan anything extra as our staff will have organized everything for you.
Where do I stay? Who do I stay with?
Your accommodation will depend on the country you choose to volunteer in. Most volunteers stay with local host 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, you will 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 am away?
In all of our destinations, you will be able to access the internet. Most volunteers choose to use the internet at the Projects Abroad office. 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, you can buy a local sim card for your mobile phone. These are perfect for local calls to other volunteers and to keep in touch with our local staff in the destination.
Generally, you should only use your host family’s phone in emergencies. 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.
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 cultural differences – in the way people act or dress – and always trust your gut instincts.