Resources for Living & Working Abroad
Hopefully you’ve spent some time on the site and started thinking through all of the great possibilities there are for volunteering abroad. But preparing yourself for an overseas experience is much more than finding the right program – there are lots of other little things like airfare, insurance, visas and other travel information. We’ve covered them here on the site, but what about more general volunteer resources? There are actually a growing number of websites, blogs and online communities that cater specifically to people that live and work abroad. These resources are great for preparing for a trip, as well as finding information once you are in-country.
This is the place to find any volunteer resources that didn’t land on one of our other volunteer overseas pages!
Living Abroad Websites
Living abroad is an experience rich with people, sights, and traditions. With all of the wonderful things that a new country has to offer, it is also important to prepare for a bit of culture shock, particularly if you are moving from a suburban area to a large city, or vice versa. The following links offer tips and resources to help expats make the transition into their new (if temporary) home.
- Transitions Abroad Magazine publishes articles, essays, and personal stories of people’s adventures abroad. The site is a great resource for volunteers looking to hear about other volunteers’ experiences first-hand, and the types of articles they publish are incredibly expansive – everything from travel writing to teaching abroad to culinary travel is included on the site. The volunteer abroad section is organized by region and country, and includes regular reviews of volunteer abroad programs.
- Consular Information Sheets are compiled by the US State Department Bureau of Consular Affairs, and provide general travel advice, including warnings and in-country embassy services. These are essential reading before you depart on any volunteer adventure!
Quick Fact: The Department of State issues travel alerts and travel warnings to let travelers know about any issues that they should consider before traveling abroad. They are available at the Bureau of Consular Affairs website.
Volunteer Abroad Communities and Blogs
While Facebook might be the ultimately online community for pretty much everything (and can be useful for finding volunteer abroad jobs), there are actually a number of smaller communities and blogs that give volunteers the chance to engage in discussions about their experiences, share stories, and connect with people doing similar work.
- Care2.org is a cause-driven online social networking site that has morphed considerably since its launch. It currently focuses more on content that people (there are tons of articles about global warming, women’s rights and education, among other things), there are still opportunities to join groups and find people in your area that might be working in our field. This can be especially helpful if you are one of only a few volunteers working at your placement, and are looking for people to share your experience with!
- Go Overseas is a great website with a blog. La Vida Idealist, which focuses on Latin American volunteering, is a personal favorite and does a great job of drawing comparisons between people’s ideas of what it’s like to volunteer and the reality of living and working abroad. Voluntourism Gal is also an insider’s view into the world of volunteer vacations, and includes some great interviews with volunteer abroad organization leaders.
Did you Know? More than 16 million people have joined Care2.org to connect about social issues in the U.S. and abroad!
General Volunteer Abroad and Travel Information
If you are looking for some resources that will help you choose the right program, think through different travel and lodging options, and offer volunteer abroad advice, here is a list to get you started.
- Ethical Volunteering is a website devoted to helping prospective volunteers finding the right program fit for their abroad experience. There isn’t a ton of specific information about program options, but rather it offers a step-by-step guide to making sure that you have all of the information that you need to make an informed decision. Step two is a particularly helpful list of questions that volunteers should ask organizations and programs before they decide to sign-up for a volunteer placement, and step three outline questions that you should ask yourself before committing to volunteer abroad job.
- Travelogue is a very informal website that compiles volunteer stories, airfare information, program reviews – you name it! It has a much more community feel than Transitions Abroad, but the two definitely share a similar range of content. While there are quite a few sections that are no longer updated regularly, much of the information (like the Perspectives and Deep Thoughts) section is still very relevant to volunteering abroad. And the country-specific travel guides (“logues”) are incredibly informative, and focus on low-cost ways to travel abroad.
More specific information and resources about how to find the best airfare for your trip abroad are available in the Inexpensive Airfare section.
- There are hundreds of blogs and websites devoted to volunteering abroad, including everything from travel information to personal stories.
- The most successful volunteers spend a lot of time researching the country and program where they plan to volunteer, and ask great questions about what the experience will be like before they even get there!
- Many volunteer resource websites include opportunities to share their own stories – and some will even pay you to write for them!