Volunteer Abroad: What NOT To Pack

So, you’ve decided to realise your dream of volunteering abroad, and the big day is getting closer. Have you thought about how you’re going to pack, and what you’re going to bring? If you get it wrong, you can end up arriving at your temporary new home exhausted and frazzled. But don’t worry, help is at hand with our comprehensive list of what NOT to bring with you…

1. Your entire bathroom cabinet

Yes, of course you will need some toiletries, but pack just a few essential travel sized items. You’re likely to get the chance to purchase any additional supplies at some stages while you’re out there, so don’t weigh yourself down with loads of cosmetics and moisturisers. Don’t bother with perfume at all, as it can be a magnet for creepy crawlies abroad.

2. A giant suitcase

Your favourite suitcase is fine when you’re heading to a hotel for a couple of weeks by the pool, but it will be a total hindrance if you’ve decided to volunteer in Ghana, Thailand or Costa Rica. It will be heavy to carry and take up a lot of space, so just leave it at home. What you need for your trip is a large camping style rucksack that has lots of pockets for all your stuff. It’s much easier to carry everything you need on your back, but you still need to be careful that it’s not too heavy – so don’t over-pack.

3. Very valuable items

You shouldn’t bring anything that is of a high personal or monetary value, like expensive jewellery or gadgets or precious family items. These kinds of items will only draw attention to you, and make you vulnerable to theft.

4. Medicine that hasn’t been prescribed to you

Different countries have different rules regarding which drugs and medications are allowed to be brought into the country. Don’t risk any problems by leaving non-prescribed treatments at home, and bring your prescription along with any essential items.

5. Shoes that are right out of the store

Shoes that have never been worn before you set off on your trip will become mini instruments of torture after a few hours on your feet. Set off in a pair of shoes that you’ve had for a while, or make sure you’ve worn the new ones several times before you go. If you’ve ever had a bad blister, you’ll know that it’s just not worth taking the risk!

6. Bedding and bath linen

Most volunteer abroad organisations will make sure that these are provided for you, but even if they’re not, it should be easy to pick them up locally. Don’t waste space and weight in your bag with these items.

Heading off to volunteer abroad is one of the most exciting, fulfilling and meaningful experiences you can possibly have. Make sure you’re prepared for it by packing carefully, and follow these tips on how to travel in comfort. After that, all that is left to do is to concentrate on learning as much as possible while enjoying the experience!


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