Time at home? Now is a good time to plan your future volunteer travel trip

    Article by Debbie Francis

    Debbie Francis

    Posted: May 7, 2020

    Across the world, many people are staying indoors in response to COVID-19.  This has led many of us to reflect on our personal contribution to global and environmental issues. You might have the time now to think about how you can make a positive impact.

    Here are three great reasons why staying at home is a good time to plan your future volunteer travel trip.

    1) You might feel better making positive plans for the future


    The Undoing Effect of Positive Emotions” was a piece of research carried out in 2000 by psychology professor Barbara L Fredrickson and others. It suggests that positive emotions can help us to undo the negative effects of stress. Many people are looking for ways to help them to feel more optimistic about the future.

    Planning a future travel trip might give you something to look forward to, which could help with a feeling of optimism. For years, psychologists have been using visual imagery techniques for this reason. This involves visualising or imagining an experience or task before you carry it out in real life. It could help you picture what your future will look like, set and accomplish goals, and make moves towards being in your ideal situation.

    But since the trip won’t happen immediately, you can set yourself goals to achieve in the meantime. Learning a little of the language spoken in your destination country can provide a stimulating challenge. You could also find out more about the issues that the project is working to address. 

    Some travel and volunteer opportunities offer qualifications as part of the program. GVI offers online learning programs so that you can start your journey to making a positive impact even when you can’t set foot out of your door. 

    The flagship program equips you with foundational skills for a career that makes an impact, with two core courses, “Careers in Sustainable Development” and “Leading Teams for Emerging Leaders”.


    2) Your support will have an impact

    It’s difficult to predict the full impact of large global events. There is consensus among governments and other organisations that there will be a large economic impact, and new challenges will emerge as governments respond.  

    The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) set out the key objectives that need to be met to promote prosperity across the world while protecting the planet. The UN chief has called for solidarity as the world responds to the effects of COVID-19.  

    He has emphasised the need for a response of  “societal cooperation”, pointing out that inclusive and sustainable economies are more important than ever.  How can you contribute to this long-term goal?

    GVI runs volunteer travel programs in 13 countries. Each program is aligned to the 17 UN SDGs, as well as the objectives of local partners in each country. Part of our success is our commitment to investing in authentic, meaningful connections with one another. This means that you can be certain that all our programs are fully aligned to the “societal cooperation” considered so imperative for global recovery.

    3) You’ll have more time to research fully


    Planning a regular holiday takes time, but planning volunteer travel can take even longer.  There are more questions to be answered for this type of trip. 

    You’ll want to research a little further into the organisation that you choose. Not all organisations offering overseas volunteer opportunities are the same. You’ll want to select one that aligns with your own values. 

    If you have been inspired to consider your own contribution to global issues while spending more time at home, then ensuring the sustainability of projects and the ethics of the company may rank very highly in your choice. GVI has developed a badge of ethics to symbolise everything we believe about ethicality in sustainable development, and to hold us accountable to doing good.

    Research on the website, but you can also take this time to arrange phone calls to follow up on any questions you have and hear directly from our team. Talking is often the best way to get a genuine feel for the values of the company. It also gives you a great opportunity to ask specific questions. 

    You could also check out the hub Facebook pages or arrange to speak to one of the GVI ambassadors. You can connect with past volunteers who have been on the program or location you are interested in.



    You’ll want to research the type of project you want to be involved in as well as the destination. Volunteer travel offers lots of different types of opportunities. For example, you may want to be involved in wildlife conservation, women’s empowerment or teaching. These are just a few of the options available in the overseas volunteering arena. 

    This extra time at home also gives you the opportunity to check out your chosen destination thoroughly on the internet. On many of GVI’s volunteering projects, you’ll have the weekends off, as free time, so you can research exciting itineraries in the meantime. 

    Check out this travel guide for the top six things to try in Pai, Thailand, in a weekend. You may also be able to take web tours like this one at the GVI base in Limpopo, South Africa and you can plan for some post-project travel. 

    These are some ways to get inspired. It’s safe to say that you’re likely to be inspired after making plans to make an impact, learning new things and researching your destination thoroughly. When you sign up for a GVI program, you’ll have the flexibility to change your start date at no extra cost, so you can navigate the uncertainty. There are also scholarships available for program start dates in 2021.

    Get inspired today. Contact the team to find out more about overseas volunteering with GVI and how you can make an impact.

    Debbie Francis is an intern at the GVI Writing Academy. The Writing Academy is a skills-development program that pairs development editors with budding travel writers. Learn more about the program here.