Planning a humanitarian trip is an opportunity of a lifetime. Many people dream of traveling to a faraway country and helping people in need. But making sure the plan goes off without a hitch can be a challenge, especially if you’ve never taken a volunteer trip before and don’t know the first thing about humanitarian projects.
If you’re ready to do some good, embrace a new culture and leave a positive impact in the world, there are three things you’ll want to weigh on before making any final arrangements.
Finding the Right Program
It’s important to arrange your trip officially through an organization that specializes in humanitarian works and volunteer vacations. If you attend church, your congregation may already be well-versed in missionary trips and can help point you in the right direction. If you’re flying solo, check out the following websites to find the right program for you, your family or anyone else whose traveling with you:
Examine Your Taxes
Some volunteer work may be tax deductible. You can write off volunteer work expenses for certain for- and non-profit organizations. You should check to see whether or not the organization you plan on working with has a 501(c)3 status.
The 501(c)3 tax exception distinguishes a charity organization, and work done for them can potentially save you taxes later in the year.
Leave Room in Your Budget
No matter how detailed the itinerary, things are bound to come up when you’re volunteering abroad. Conversions, medical emergencies or other unexpected circumstances can put a huge cut in your budget, and the last thing you want is to be practically stranded with no financial means of taking care of yourself. Life happens, and you want to be prepared for it.
Make sure you factor some “safe money” into your final budget, either by several hundred or even a full thousand. The worst case scenario is you don’t wind up spending half of what you saved up, which really isn’t a problem at all!
When organizing your trip, try to set aside money for supplies or the supplies themselves you wish to donate to your cause ahead of time. This will help you ensure you get the best deals as well as stick to your budget. For example, if you’re going on a medical relief trip, you can research medical product kitting services as well as the best way to get the supplies where they need to go well ahead of your departure date.
Go Out and Do Good
Humanitarian vacations are rewarding, healing experiences. You get the chance to see a new part of the world, experience it unlike any tourist can and truly make a difference in people’s lives. Whether you’re building houses in Mexico, helping AIDS victims in Zimbabwe or teaching children in Guatemala, there are so many incredible opportunities to grow as a person and be humbled when you embark on a volunteer vacation.
Planning ahead and taking the time to do thorough research only ensures that you will be able to focus entirely on your humanitarian work while you’re abroad.