Our number one priority is to keep all of our volunteers safe while they're abroad. We want you to all return back in one piece, feeling fulfilled and with only positive memories from your time away! There are so many ways that you can stay healthy and safe while volunteering overseas. We've narrowed them down to what we think are the 3 most important.
It is undeniably important to be aware of what you are drinking while you're overseas. This is in two senses.
Firstly, you must stay hydrated throughout your volunteering experience. Whether you are in a hot or cold place, being hydrated is key to keeping up good health and spirits whilst you are abroad. Remember to bring a drink bottle with you that you can take to your volunteering site every day and refill them as you need. Not only may it be hot, but you are working all day. It is important that you allow your body to get the hydration it needs to be on the job for two weeks!
On top of this, it will be really hot and humid if you're in south east Asia. For most of us, our bodies are not used to the extreme humidity, let alone working and exerting energy in such conditions. You should up your water intake from your usual if you’re going to these places. And if you're volunteering in Peru, your body will be under stress as it acclimatises to the higher altitude. You will need to drink more water than usual to give your body every chance to adapt quickly and easily!
Secondly, if you are planning on drinking alcohol it is really important you are wary. Unlike in Australia, standard drink sizes are rarely used in our volunteer destinations. Because of this, the drinks you buy at a bar or restaurant will most likely be a lot stronger than what you might be used to. Three cocktails at home might equal two in Nepal! It is important that you consider this when ordering drinks and don't expect to drink the same amount as you would at home. Especially if you're in Peru, because alcohol affects you quicker at higher altitudes! You should expect to drink half what you usually would at home.
Overall, when it comes to drinking alcohol you must make sure you have a good sense of how intoxicated you might be and listen to your body. If you feel like you’ve had enough or too much, you probably have, and it might be time to drink some water instead.
Being food safe is really similar to remaining hydrated. Remember to fuel your body with things that you know will keep you energised. Volunteering is super fun and exciting, but it can be very energy-consuming. So, make sure you are able to keep your energy up throughout your time volunteering by eating nutritious things. Luckily for you, our cooks during the week will be serving up hearty, delicious vegetarian meals to keep you fuelled.
As delicious as the food is, you should also keep in mind that some things don’t agree with us Australians like they do with the citizens in your destination. In your free time you might be tempted by a bargain pad Thai on the street in Thailand, but it is likely that it won’t sit quite right with you a few hours later. It is best to give these street vendors a miss to avoid any sickness. Doing some research on reliable and trusted restaurants will likely leave you enjoying your trip without any illnesses and better off in the long term.
Finally, there is all the exploring that you might be doing on the weekends and in your free afternoons. Whilst you might be off-site, your safety is still paramount to us at Challenges Abroad.
Remember to stick in groups and not be by yourself. Getting lost in a foreign place, especially where they speak a foreign language, is a lot less stressful when you’re in a group. This way you can avoid any potential issues, like your phone dying and having no other contact methods. Staying in a group is better in general, as people are more likely to target solo travellers. Avoid the hassle and stay together!
We recommend that you only use taxis at night time. Walking can sometimes get you into trouble, and you will have wished you took a taxi! In most of our destinations, taxis are extremely inexpensive and will not break your budget. Our team will also be able to recommend the most reliable drivers and companies.
Similarly, avoid walking around with headphones in. If you cannot hear the traffic around you, which is usually hectic in our destinations, you might find yourself caught in a traffic accident! This is easily avoidable when you can hear oncoming cars or motorbikes.
Finally, keep your belongings safe! We recommend packing a bum bag to carry your wallet, phone, etc while your tourist-ing around the big cities. This way, you know that your belongings are safe, and they are out of reach of a pick-pocketer. We highly suggest keeping them away from your pockets and discourage backpacks to avoid any theft.
These are our top 3 tips to keep you safe. It’s easy to be safe in the countries we work in, you just have to take the right precautions. We love the destinations we work in and want you to feel the same. If you are safe and healthy, you are going to enjoy your time and the country so much more.
Got plans for winter 2020? Check out our volunteer opportunities here.