Volunteering – How to

So you wanna work as a Volunteer? This is how to get there: In this Blogpost, I summarised some helpful tips on where to find a job, how to choose the right one and how to get it and which ones you better don´t take. Plus some questions you should ask yourself before you are taking an unpaid job.

Volunteering to better afford or better said, to extend your travels have become more popular than ever. That is also why there are almost a million ways on how to find a job. First of all, I wanna state clear, that I am writing about Volunteer jobs in exchange for accommodation and food, not those that are seen as an Internship, where most of the people pay to get experience in a certain field eg. working at a turtle hatchery

So let’s get this started: First of all I want you to ask yourself.

The important Questions

  • Do I have enough money to live from it (as I am not gonna get an income with this job)? Because a Volunteer Job is definitely not fill up your bank account!
  • Am I WILLING to give a specific amount of hours a week (time of your life!) in exchange for accommodation and food? For some people, this means “for free”, as it is common to see money as the “normal” exchange rate to your work. Are you ready to over think this?
  • Does this job give me anything back? Meaning, am I learning something? Because if you are just doing it for the free accommodation and food, you will be unhappy soon and this is not gonna end good 😉 This also means, that you should look for a job that is in some kind of interest to you, best is to combine your hobby, eg. some kind of sports with the job. (As I did: volunteer in a surf camp to improve my surfing!)
  • Do I like the village/town/city or area where this job takes place? Meaning: what can you do there in your time off, how can you come around, is there any transport system or are you gonna buy a bike?
  • Am I allowed to stay in that country for this amount of time?

How/Where to find a Job

  • Of course, there are a lot of platforms you can use to find jobs. International ones, National ones or related to the subject (eg. Animals, Hostels, Surf etc.) You can just google them. The good thing about them is, that you can somehow rely on something, let us say some kind of agent between you, that are looking for the best interests of both of you. The downside is, that most of the time you have to pay some fee to be able to see all the details, but there are some tips and tricks around that. Look for where the host is located and see if you can find it through google or something similar. Here are some examples, but Google will let you know more 😉
  • One of the best options, in my opinion, is, to contact the place you wanna work at directly. Maybe you’ve stayed there before and you thought – that’s where I wanna stay for longer! Or eg a friend has told you about that specific surf camp he worked for. This leads me to say: talk to people. Talk to other travellers and those who actually volunteer. Ask them what you wanna know, they will be happy to tell you a story about their experiences! The main questions, however, should be:
    • What did they do
    • for how long?
    • What were their experiences?
    • What would they have done differently if they could change something?

Peniche Portugal Surf - malindkate

Your Application

Make sure you address them personally.

State your strengths that will also help you at this job. For example, You wanna help on a farm, eg with animals? So you probably wanna underline that you are patient and what you like most about working with this animal. You might not have to mention that you have a certificate in working on the computer or stuff like that. This is why in an individual application, targeted on the job that is offered, is crucial.

Say why you wanna work for THEM and no one else. Find something you really like about them, even something small and mention it in your application.

Show your social side and your fields of interests with some pictures of you, 2 to 3 should be enough though, as you are not applying for a model job!

Do not forget to say what time frame you are available, so the person on the other side can check whether they still have a volunteer spot available or not. It can also help to say that you are available on request if you truly wanna have that specific job and are willing to eventually wait a little bit.

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The Agreement

Out of my own experience, I wanna give you one last tip: make clear the following points. You have the right to do so and I am sure your opponent is happy to clear that with you. I missed out on the opportunity and I was working 7 days a week, which was alright for that moment, but I would not do a 7 days week again. So make sure you know

  • Your tasks (and maybe also make clear what you are NOT willing to do, but this can be done on the job)
  • Your working hours and the days
  • Your days Off
  • What exactly you get in exchange (accommodation, breakfast, lunch, dinner, use of equipment?)

At the end, remember that this is your life. So be happy with what you are doing and if you are not, this also goes for this job, then say it and leave. 🙂 What are your experiences with Volunteering?

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13 Responses
  1. Such an interesting read! I have a work away account but I find that people want too many hours in exchange for a simple bunk bed in a hostel. However sometimes and weigh it up and say that I’d rather do that than having your own luxurious room but in the middle of nowhere haha.

    1. malindkate

      I agree with you regarding the hours in exchange. And I am never ever gonna work 7 days a week again haha I also think that fixed working times are much more convenient for everyone involved 😀

  2. The reason I’m working at this current place is my passion towards that job! I do love what I do.
    I have experience quite even I don’t get new job yet because I don’t like the position!
    Doing what we like make us working there quite a long time.

  3. […] “What I liked most was the vibe at the camp, other guests & staff were very friendly and relaxed. What I liked least was eh … I guess the distance to Ericeira. But seriously no big deal. Only thing missing is a pool.” Thanks to everyone who answered my questions 🙂 and special thanks to Hannah, who wrote a whole blog post herself about the Rapture Surfcamp in Ericeira, Portugal which you can find here. If you are keen on getting a Volunteer Job at a surf camp, have look at my tips and tricks! […]

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