If you are looking for a fulfilling travel experience and a way to give back to the global community, volunteering abroad is an excellent option. However, as a solo traveler, it’s essential to prioritize your safety during your travels. In this article, we’ll provide ten tips to help you stay safe while volunteering abroad as a solo traveler.
1. Do Your Research
Research is an essential step for any traveler, especially for those who are venturing into unknown territory. Before embarking on any volunteering effort, familiarize yourself with the customs, laws, and cultural values of the country you are visiting. This preparation can help you avoid cultural conflicts that you may encounter. Furthermore, research the organization you plan to help, including learning about their reputation, reviews, and credentials. Choose an organization based on your goals, values, and mindful interactions and impacts on the local community. Knowing these will guide you to have a more productive and safe volunteering experience
2. Make Connections with Locals
Making local connections can be a valuable resource while traveling. They can provide insights into the culture and provide guidance in navigating transportation and directions in the area. They can also inform you of any local dangers or scams to avoid. Moreover, they might introduce you to additional safe volunteering opportunities that are both fulfilling and impactful. It’s always advisable to create relationships with locals, as it gives you a context to learn more about the community, culture, and daily life.
3. Have a Contact Person Back Home
When traveling solo, it’s always wise to have a trusted contact back home that you can check in with periodically. The person back home can keep track of your travels and provide support in case of an emergency. Additionally, they help you prepare better for any potential incidents by giving you proper instructions or even enlightening you about local customs. If you are venturing beyond familiar areas, don’t forget to provide your contact person with your itinerary and the details of the organization that you’ll be volunteering with.
4. Update Your Vaccinations
When traveling abroad, one might expose themselves to different diseases and infections that our immunity may not be accustomed to. For this reason, it’s important to ensure that your vaccinations are up to date before embarking on any travels abroad. You can visit your local health department or travel clinic to review the appropriate vaccines for your destination. Being vaccinated is a step towards a healthy and productive volunteering experience.
5. Stay Informed of Current Events
Keeping informed about any significant social, political or weather-related events that may affect your safety during your travel is imperative. Keeping up to date with the latest news enables you to make informed decisions about your travels and volunteering efforts. Additionally, it helps you prepare better for your journey, and you would know the potential risks and find ways to mitigate them.
6. Be Mindful of Your Surroundings
Being mindful of your surroundings is key to staying safe while traveling solo. Keep an eye on your belongings and be alert for any potential thefts or scams. Avoid risky behavior like excessive alcohol or drug use, which can impair your judgment and make you an easy target for criminals. Also, maintain a calm appearance with an attitude of respect to blend in with the locals and avoid unnecessary attention.
7. Have Emergency Contact Information on Hand
It’s always essential to carry identification and emergency contact information while traveling overseas. Make sure this information includes the address and contact numbers of your volunteer organization and your embassy in the country where you’re volunteering. This information should be easily accessible, whether you carry it in your passport or have it in your wallet. Proper documentation ensures quick responses to emergencies and keeps you safe.
8. Pack Appropriately
What you pack can significantly impact your safety. Always pack for your chosen volunteering efforts and ensure that you dress appropriately for the weather, culture, and task at hand. Additionally, bring a well-stocked first aid kit, any necessary medications or ointments, and gear such as insect repellent or sunscreen, that can help protect you from harmful environmental elements. Packing appropriately will minimize any health or safety concerns that may arise during your volunteering efforts.
9. Study The Terrain
It’s essential to understand any unique situations, dangers or concerns that may arise when volunteering in different regions or habitats. For example, if volunteering in a jungle or forested area, it’s important to understand basic survival skills and know how to set up camp and hike in the wild safely. Understanding the terrain you’re working in allows you to avoid any potential dangerous hazards and enjoy the experience without fear.
10. Trust Your Inner Voice
As a solo traveler, one must always trust their instincts. If something feels off or unclear, or if you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, trust that inner voice and remove yourself from the situation. It’s always best to take the necessary precautions when it comes to personal safety. Moreover, choosing a volunteer organization that prioritizes your safety and well-being helps ensure that your volunteering efforts will be both rewarding and safe at the same time.