That long stretch of summer before people head of into the big wide world of University is usually spent in different ways by all of us - some people spend the summer working and saving hard to splurge their money in Fresher's Week, others decide that the debt of further education is too much and decide to start a new career path... whilst others go on holiday, travel, see the world or try and boost our CVs in preparation for that inevitably difficult, 'So what experience do you have?' question in your first big job interview.
A new form of tourism is beginning to emerge and increase in popularity, especially amongst students and gap year travellers. Previously, young people who wanted to broaden their horizons by contributing positively towards other cultures didn't know how to start going about it, but recently companies have jumped on the bandwagon and started this new form of tourism to cater specifically for this market demand.
'Charity tourism' is a gem of an idea for travellers. Not only for students and young adults, the idea is that you don't have to just see the world; you can see it, contribute to it and boost your skills and CV along the way. Being a charitable person and embarking on this type of trip gives you a sense of real achievement as you help others to develop life-long skills, improve their quality of life and make a big difference to their community.
How will I organise my trip?
Generally, you don't have to organise much yourself, the travel companies which provide you with the placements in organisations such as local schools in remote communities for a flat-out fee which will provide you with basic accommodation, food and living costs. Alternatively the organisations themselves, such as Wildtracks in Bolivia (which hosts gap-year travellers in Belize and works with them to help the conservation, research and sustainable development of animals) provides the same basic living amenities, but visitors are expected to pay for their own air fare, travel insurance, bring their own equipment and luxuries along with any other spare cash they would want for post-placement travel or extras.
How will I finance my trip?
Saving little but often is the way to save a large amount of money like you'll need to finance your gap year. Often ranging into the thousands, if you put by a little amount for a few months you should have enough to pay for your trip and air fare - then the only problem is saving for those other little expenses like clothes, spending money and any equipment you need to take with you. Remind yourself of your goal whenever you feel the urge to spend money on something you might not necessarily need.
Where shall I go?
It's entirely up to you - decide which part of the world you would like to see the most and research the volunteering and charity travel options. Instead, you could do it the other way round and decide what type of volunteering or what cause you wanted to work for and look for destinations. Other programmes, mostly relief effort organisations which work with more experienced travellers, assign people to when and where they're needed most.
Travel insurance for charity placements
It goes without saying that travel insurance is essential and you should not go abroad without it. Once you have figured out what type of work you would like to do and for how long, enquire with your travel insurance provider if this is something that they would be able to cover you for. Generally the type of work required in schools and on volunteering placements would be covered, although if you are planning to undertake any sports or adventure activities you may need to purchase additional cover.
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