I’m looking for a three-or-four-week volunteering opportunity. I want to go somewhere that I’ll be put to good use, but that won’t break the bank. What locations and companies/charities would you recommend? Karl Harris, via email
I don’t have space to go into lots of programmes, so I’ve picked out three very different options for you. Staying closer to home to reduce travel costs, why not look into helping out at an orphanage in Romania or teaching English in Moldova? Real Gap’s four-week teaching programme in Moldova is £759 (including accommodation, transport to and from the project – but not international flights) and helps children get a better start in life by teaching them English or French.
Cambodia is a popular volunteering destination. Volunteers Making a Difference offers a large number of opportunities for an initial fee of about £50, with all of your meals, project transport and accommodation covered. You just need to pay for your flights. There is an application process, so be sure to allow yourself enough time for this before departure.
If you haven’t been to Central America, not-for-profit NGO Entre Mundos offers volunteering in Guatemala. Arranging directly through an organisation can involve more work, but can save money as there aren’t set-up costs. See worldwidehelpers.org to put you in touch with organisations.
I’m planning a two-to-three-month trip through South East Asia on my way back to Australia in August. But I’m worried that the monsoon season may affect my trip. Will it severely hinder many of the overland routes? I’m also planning on doing some volunteer work along the way. Do you have any advice for finding a good grassroots programme? Andrew, via email
Although monsoon season isn’t generally considered the best time to visit a country, it does have its advantages. Accommodation is cheaper and more readily available, resorts won’t be as busy, and the rain often provides some welcome relief from the heat. Cambodia will be especially pleasant to visit in wet season, with greener landscapes.
In central and northern Vietnam, however, you may encounter typhoons which could dampen your travel plans. Laos’ weather varies accordingly to latitude and altitude so plan your trip carefully, avoiding remote areas in heavy rain. Generally speaking, you will be able to have just as great a holiday in monsoon season, you just need to be prepared.
An interesting grassroots volunteer scheme that you could look into is In Search of Sanuk, (Sanuk meaning ‘fun’ in Thai) which teaches English in poor communities in Bangkok. The project doesn’t require weeks of commitment, so is ideal if you are passing through and want to help out for a shorter period of time.
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Brother One Feather
In Santa Barbara, hunt down the famous Brother One Feather. He’s the ‘professional hippy’ who has plastic figures stuck all over his van. Seriously, he’s awesome, and like California personified. He’s a moving tourist attraction – check him out on Google. I spent some time with him in a car park when I had nowhere to stay and slept in my hire car. I was like that (I’m crossing my fingers) with him.
Jenni Dennis, via email
For disabled travellers
For disabled travellers, the metro in Denmark is very cheap and easy to use, and fully wheelchair-friendly. There are lifts everywhere and no gaps in between platform and train.
Jane Cadet, via Facebook