Each year, thousands of people from all walks of life in the UK plan their gap year. This can be a very daunting task, however with the right planning, it can be the most exciting and rewarding experience you ever have.
For many years now Blue Lizard Adventures has been assisting volunteers to realise and carry out their dreams and aspirations for abroad travel. We have come across both prepared and unprepared travelers on their Gap Year and we have put together some tips for when planning your life-changing year travels.
Volunteer Abroad – Conservation volunteers in Africa
1 – Mental preparation – This is very important aspects to consider before your Gap Year and volunteer experience, especially, if you plan to travel abroad alone. Planning well in advance and planning for all the possibilities for what you want to do and achieve from you gap year or volunteer experience, there will be a higher chance that you will for fill these.
2 – Why are you taking a Gap Year or undertaking volunteer abroad experience? People have different reasons for doing. Below are some of the more common reasons why to undertake a gap year or volunteering abroad experience;
An opportunity to do something really worthwhile
An opportunity to travel the world and experience new cultures
Time to meet new people and make new friends
Enhance you curriculum vitae and improve my career prospects
A chance to take a break and re-energise
A chance to achieve something different
Wanting to get that extra edge over other people wanting to do the same as I do
3 – What do you want to do in your Gap Year?
Here are a few options of volunteer work in Africa:-
· Wildlife Conservation Volunteer Projects – help raise and rehabilitate vervet monkeys; work with researchers on the Game Reserve in South Africa; reduce human and carnivore conflict in Namibia or help care for abused and neglected horses in South Africa.
· Medical Projects – work with doctors and nurses in the Bushman Medical Clinic in Namibia.
4 – Do I need specific skills to volunteer? Volunteer Placements are designed to accommodate all levels of skill and expertise. We usually find that volunteers regardless of previous experience will have some skills that can be imaginatively applied to the situation in hand. All that is asked is that volunteers approach their project with an open mind and plenty of enthusiasm.
5 – Who should you travel with? Many volunteers travel alone. Solo travellers generally make friends more easily and can be more flexible with their travel arrangements. Volunteers on any projects can be sure that there will be someone to meet them at the airport and take them to the project. We understand the concerns that people may have about travelling alone and we ensure that volunteers are supported and looked after every step of the way.
6 – Which organisation should I book with? If you decide to take your Gap Year in Africa and volunteer in Africa, ensure you choose your volunteer projects very carefully, ensuring that they are sustainable and of real value to the communities and wildlife they serve. At Blue Lizard Adventures we are dedicated to focusing on a small number of integrated projects. We actively avoid projects which are deemed as “tourist traps” and work very closely with the projects.
7 – What shall I Pack? Be sure to think about where you’re going, when you’re going and what you’ll be doing there. This will help you to plan what you’ll need to take with you. Pack light and buy local if you need additional items, we will send you out a suggested packing list and are always here to advise.
9 – Should I bring anything to donate locally? By taking a little time to think about it before you go, can make a big difference to the community you are visiting. Aim to give responsibly and in a sustainable manner, respecting the community you are giving to.
The only things limiting you and what you do on your life-changing Gap Year and volunteer experience, is your imagination and your belief in yourself.