Assuming that you have already either chosen between
the  “random travel or “work on a volunteer placement
with a charity overseas” options (or a combination of
both?), here are the most important points you should
consider when planning your Gap Year, Career Break or
Family Volunteering overseas:

1.   Budget
Most important factor that really determines everything else.

2.   Length of Stay
Once you have chosen the country (or countries) you
want to visit, what is the maximum number of weeks
you are allowed to stay on a Tourist Visa?

3.   Flights   
How much will your flights and any other travel cost?
It’s always best to pay for these up front as it gives you
a time framework to go by. Flights are generally
available to buy 11 months before the date you want
to travel and are generally cheaper then. If you don’t
mind an extended flight via Timbuktu, then you can
make savings with a last minute bargain but will
arrive very tired!

4.    Accommodation
If your accommodation is not included, then book
and pay for this in advance.

5.    Travel Insurance
As soon as you have committed to your plans and made
a down payment, take out Travel Insurance.  It may
seem a little early but should you need to cancel before
you go for an unforeseen reason, then you may be
covered.  Travel Insurance is a “must-have” for any
overseas travel and make sure you are covered for
all the usual, in particular medical expenses,
repatriation, cancellation and curtailment and if you
are participating in any extreme sports, such as
bungee jumping,  get cover for this too. If you are
not booking a “package”, then check with your
Travel Insurance Company that you will be covered for
booking things individually.

6.   Vaccinations
Go as soon as you can to visit your local travel nurse and
discuss where you are going and see if you need any new
vaccinations, boosters or malaria tablets. There may be a
cost for any jabs and also for malaria tablets but this is a
very important part of your travel planning. You can get
advice from the following website

7.    Passport
You should check the expiry date on your passport and
make sure it will not expire whilst you are abroad.
Make sure you have more than 6 months before expiry
on entry. You can check with a site like for information about
whether or not you will need a visa before you go and
bare in mind there may be a cost for this.  If the
country that you are visiting will give you a visa on
arrival, make sure you have plenty of empty pages
and in the case of South Africa, a double blank page
or they may refuse you entry!

8.    Money Management
Take the equivalent of £100 in local currency with you.
ATMs are very popular overseas and you should always
go into your local bank in the UK before you travel
and notify them you are going overseas, listing the
dates and countries to visit.  However, this is no
guarantee that they will not stop your card if they
are suspicious about the use of your card.  A
money card is a good thing to have as a back up
and be kept in a separate location to your usual
bank card.  Thirdly, I would also recommend taking
a credit card to be used solely for emergencies and
again, kept in a separate location to the other two
cards so you don’t lose all your access to money if
you get mugged.

9.   Phone

If you have a contract phone, best leave this at
home because chances are you may lose it or
have it stolen. The easiest thing to do is to take a
cheap pay-as-you-go phone and on arrival in the
country you are visiting, buy a local sim card and
top-up vouchers.  If you can get one that does
photos too, then it will save you taking a separate
camera.  For Internet, it’s always fun to go to the
local Internet cafe and relatively cheap to pick up
your messages and catch up on Facebook.

10.  Emergency contact
If you have an emergency when abroad, who will
you contact?  Make sure you have details of the
local British Embassy or High Commission. This is
always a problem for gappies travelling around
randomly when things go wrong – and they often
do – they do not have the safety net that someone
who is staying with a local charity has.

Jill Golding,



We send gap year students, university students, families, people on Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award and people on career breaks to coach sports, teach and work in orphanages, work in marine conservation, primates conservation, land conservation, looking after rescued jungle animals, animal welfare, women's empowerment programs (sewing/fashions), men's empowerment programs (carpentry, plumbling, electrics, DIY), medical shadowing (doctors, nurses, midwives and dentists), after schools clubs, reaching out to underprivileged children and adults in South Africa, Kenya, Swaziland, Mozambique, Ghana, Ecuador and The Galapagos, Thailand and India. In Swaziland we offer bespoke rugby coaching placements with the charity Skrum where volunteers (18 ) can take their Level 1 rugby coaching certificate and then travel on to other placements and coach rugby. In India, the placements are suitable for families and undeer 18's are accepted providing they are accompanied by an adult. India is also suitable for Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award. We also offer building renovation and reconstruction in India in July. India placements can be from 2 to 12 weeks.
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