10 Mistakes Every Volunteer Should Avoid

10 Mistakes Every Volunteer Should Avoid

Considering apply to volunteer in your home country or abroad? Or already started your application or about to start? Check out our list of essential mistakes you should avoid...


1. Not Having an Aim

Are you volunteering for the wrong reasons? For example just to show your friends on Facebook you are doing something cool? This is likely to leave you not fulfilled and possibly unhappy during or at the end of your program. You should have a real urge to do good, and research all programs before applying to see if they are really what you are looking for.


2. Choosing the Wrong Project

There are so many incredible volunteer programs available worldwide, but you need to make sure it is right for you. Do you really want to be volunteering in South America building schools helping disadvantaged communities in the heat of summer? Sometimes, especially with wildlife volunteer programs you might not get hands on contact so research all projects and ask questions before hand to avoid any dissapointment. We get a lot of enquiries about volunteering with refugees or working with elephants abroad but these placements can be very emotional - be ready for this.


3. Choosing the Wrong Destination

What are your interests travel wise? Are you looking to experience a natural beautiful destination or enjoy the hustle of bustle of a big city? There are so many different experiences from volunteering in Rio de Janeiro to teaching English in Vietnam. Some locations might seem appealing but are they right for you? Really think about this as you are going to spend time living there for the duration of your trip. Giving back and volunteering in Africa for example will be amazing, but also living conditions can be rustic especially when volunteering in Kenya and similar countries. There are some incredible volunteering programs in China like working with pandas but are you sure you are ready for the culture shock and food? 


4. Joining a Short Term Project

If possible it gives you the best chance to make a difference, you should volunteer for at least 4 weeks. A lot of people choose 2 week placements and shorter but we highly recommend you make a long term commitment so you make the biggest difference. It can take time to get to know what to do, make friends and also get to know local staff. 


5. Not Being Open Minded

You should go into the whole experience with an open mind, try to do everything and never turn down an opportunity!


6. Not Packing the Right Things

If you are going overseas you will need to check the climate before departing. You don't want to turn up when volunteering in South-East Asia and have a suitcase with winter clothing where there might be a tropical climate. At the same time if you have applied to volunteer in Europe you don't want to arrive with just shorts and t-shirts! In some more conservative destinations you will need to check laws, local rules and general advice - this is the case when volunteering in the Middle East.


7. Not Getting Ripped Off or Scammed

You might check some organisations or projects and think how are they so expensive?! There are lots of not very reputable organisations worldwide which either charge too much money or do not offer what they advertise. One World 365 features hundreds of reputable structured, free and low cost volunteer projects abroad with reviews. Before applying we highly recommend checking facebook pages and asking to speak to previous participants.


8. Not Learning the Local Language

If you are going to be volunteering in a foreign country the chances are they might not have English as their first language. Picking up the basics of the local language will really enhance the experience, even if it is just a few conversational words and phrases. Usually projects employ local staff and you will also go out shopping, sightseeing etc so it will also make your time abroad easier. You could even choose a project to combine experience to book a language course abroad at the same time, popular options include:


9. Thinking You Can't Make a Difference

There is quite often a lot of negativity regarding volunterousim but joining a program is a great way to make a positive impact - no matter how small you think it might be. For a start, a lot of volunteering programs require you to pay a fee as organisations generally do not have any government funding. Your fee helps to keep the programs running throughout the year


10. Not Recommending the Experience to Others

If you have a great time, recommend it to everyone you know! Let them enjoy the experience just as much as you. Even just sharing your experience and raising awareness for good causes is something positive.


Looking to get started? Search our incredible range of volunteering programs abroad.


Related Pages

Related Opportunities

Thailand Elephant Care Experience

Thailand has continued to be one of the most tempting destinations for those who are seeking a combination of enchanting natural surroundings, alluring culture, and incredible biodiversity. 

Tanzania Whale Sharks & Turtles

Assist in work contributing towards the conservation of the majestic whale shark and beautiful turtle in these crystal clear waters around Mafia island.

Journalism & Media Internship in Tanzania (Diving, Teaching, Wildlife Project)

Develop your journalism and media skills whilst spending time on the beautiful Mafia Island.

Volunteer Projects for Teenagers

We send 16 – 17 year olds on to specially designed ‘teenager’ projects. Sometimes these projects might have older volunteers too but the focus will be suitable for teenagers. 

Teaching and Beaches in the Maldives

Immerse yourself in the heart of Maldivian island communities, helping to improve opportunities for local children by encouraging a sense of confidence, enthusiasm and ambition.

Costa Rica Animal Rescue Project (Sloths & More)

Join this incredible project to volunteer with animals including sloths and monkeys, experience front line conservation and help safeguard Costa Rica's precious wildlife and unique habitats for future generations.

Learn Spanish in Costa Rica

Visit the land of Pura Vida and immerse yourself in the culture and language as you explore what makes Costa Rica what it is.

Travel Journalism Internship in Cambodia (Community Volunteering Project)

Further your travel journalism skills and spend time in the exciting and thriving city of Siem Reap.

Road Trip Adventure in India

Visit the epic Taj Mahal, immense deserts of Rajasthan, and beautiful beaches of Goa on this once in a lifetime road trip of India!

Teaching and Temples in Nepal

Unlock the secrets of Buddhism whilst helping to teach children or young monks. Immerse yourself in the mystical and enchanting culture and discover the adventures hidden in Nepal's countryside.

Himalayan Adventure in Nepal

Experience the amazing culture of Nepal whilst volunteering on valuable community projects and experiencing a breathtaking and memorable adventure.

Work as a Zoo Assistant in Thailand

Support the work of the local staff that are committed to improving the welfare of the animals at a park in Thailand whilst educating the local industry about responsible tourism.

International Internships in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru

Join us and work as an intern in Costa Rica, Guatemala and Peru.

Volunteer at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya

Join a life changing volunteer project at the Kakuma refugee camp in Northern Kenya.

Short & Long Term Volunteer Projects

We offer volunteer projects from 2 weeks up to 12 months in duration which are aimed at supporting the development of local communities.

Teaching in Ghana

Surrounded by the beauty of Ghana, teach in a local school and improve the livelihoods of the children. You could even help with school plays and football matches!

Healthcare Volunteer Projects in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru

Volunteer at an assisted living facility for elderly adults or for disabled children in Costa Rica, Guatemala or Peru.

Rio de Janeiro: Favela House Building Projects

Assist in favela community development, build better lives for disadvantaged local Brazilians, take part in daily manual construction work and help improve infrastructure and facilities.

Teaching English Volunteer Projects in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru

Help local students improve their English skills in Costa Rica, Guatemala or Peru.

Sports Development Programs in South Africa from US$250

Like most African countries, South Africa has a great number of children living in poverty and on this program you can apply to coach sports and make a difference on the ground.





About  |  Disclaimer  |  Privacy Policy  |  Company A-Z  |  Advertise  |  Press  |  Contact

One World 365 © 2007 - 2017