about our volunteer travel programs

Tom Jowett, founder of Reach Out Volunteers, answers your questions.

Yes, you can join Reach Out Volunteers. You can apply at any time and we will assess your application. Once you are approved you can go on any Reach Out program. You don’t have to pay your deposit immediately. You can pay when you are ready but places do fill up quickly and you will not have a spot reserved until you pay your deposit. So, to avoid disappointment make sure you get the deposit paid early.

Reach Out Volunteers doesn’t work in countries or regions we consider to be unsafe. We follow the official guidance given by the US, Canada, the UK and the Australian government foreign travel awareness sites.

Our leaders are selected on the basis of their knowledge and skills in the area in which they are working. We look for people with strong inter-personal skills and leadership ability. Most are already experienced volunteers and some are local residents, bringing community knowledge and experience with them. All team leaders are qualified in First Aid. Meet the Team Leaders.

Throughout your stay you will be accompanied by a Reach Out volunteer staff member, and during any building and construction work you will be also assisted by local qualified tradespeople.

Programs can last from two weeks up to six weeks depending on the location and extensions you choose.

We use a number of different accommodation options, depending on location. All the guest houses and hostels we use have been chosen for safety, cleanliness and comfort. Where possible we even have luxuries like air conditioning. Rooms are generally shared, same-sex, and are clean and secure.

Absolutely! Check out our program blogs. Select the program you’re interested in on the website and click on the ‘Program Blog’ tab, you’ll be taken to the program blog. If there is a program running, you’ll get to see exactly what people are doing right now. There’ll be lots of pictures to give you a good idea of the conditions, and you can go back and look at previous programs.

Reach Out Volunteers Charity receives donations from corporations and individuals, has an independent board of directors and expends donations in accordance with its trust deed.

Volunteers must pay for their own trips and the Charity will not use its funds to subsidize the volunteer’s travel or accommodation costs.

The villagers are major the beneficiaries. ROV spends hundreds of thousands of dollars every year in small village communities around the globe.

Absolutely, we encourage it! Let us know and we will make our very best efforts to accommodate your request.

You must be 18 by the date of departure. Alternatively, we can provide a form for your parent or guardian to sign giving you permission to come on the program. You could also be accompanied by a legal guardian over 18 years old (a parent or older sibling).

Absolutely! If you’re prepared to come on program and work to make a difference in the lives of the people we work with, we’re happy to have you along.

We have that covered, you don’t need to learn any new languages. But, you will have the chance to learn enough of the local language to communicate with people in the community. Most of the local people will speak enough English to enable you to communicate with them, and are eager to practise their English with you.

In most locations you can purchase a local SIM card. Our team leaders will assist you.

Alternatively, you can organise a Skype account before departure to enable telephone calls when Internet access is available. An emergency contact number for the Program Leader and the accommodation are also provided to participants before departure. Some locations have good internet and some don’t (the island and game parks typically don’t have good internet. Parents are usually delighted to follow their volunteers progress on the program blog.

ROV builds classrooms, green-houses, water catchments, créches, houses for homeless families and orphanages for homeless children. These are all built at the request and under the direction and supervision of local community leaders. We work with rescued elephants, track endangered rhinos, scuba dive to help build a man-made coral reef off the coast of a tropical island to supply a sustainable source of protein to the villagers living there.

In fact we do so much more than this. We employ local workers to help on the building sites, we pay local people to cook lunches for volunteers, local restaurants benefit from our groups eating at night and local hostels and their staff have jobs as waiters, cooks, cleaners etc. We create employment for families. The payments we make are not charity and we don’t create welfare dependency. The villagers earn the money we pay them.

We take student teachers to village schools to teach English and we create employment for the school graduates in the tourism industry that our volunteers help to fund and to build.

The villagers love what we do, our staff are happy and the volunteers are delighted with the experience.

All the accommodation, the food and ground transportation is included in your program fee. But if you want to buy a few luxuries on your trip, and buy gifts for friends and family, you will need to a bit of extra spending money. We recommend around $10 a day.

You are responsible for booking and purchasing your own flights and travel insurance. This can be a little intimidating for first time travellers so we can help you out. We offer a Flight Booking Service to make sure you get a good flight at a low price that lands and departs from the right airport on the right days.

We will meet you at the destination airport. If your flights are delayed and you miss the group transport departure, you might incur an additional transfer cost.

Programs vary in size but usually there are around 10 – 25 participants per program.

As soon as you are confirmed in the program, you can join the ROV Forum for your group.

You can introduce yourself and get to know your team prior to departure, as well as see who is travelling from your part of the world and co-ordinate travel arrangements and share fundraising plans. There’s also lots of other good tips and pointers available. ROV Forums.

Because when some one gives ROV money they don’t just put it in a tin and hope that we spend it wisely, they actually come with us to see how we spend it by helping on the project. Then they write a review of whether they thought the community project they worked on delivered value to the villagers. Surely, there can be no better method of ensuring openness, honesty and fairness in our dealings.

Yes. You must purchase travel insurance. It is important that you bring a printed hard copy of your insurance policy with you on the program. ROV does not recommend any particular policy or provider however we do suggest that you check the policy you intend to purchase and make sure it has at least the following benefits (amounts are listed as a guide);

  • Overseas medical costs – between $1,000,000.00 and $5,000,000.00*
  • Emergency medical transport and repatriation – $500,000.00
  • Cancellation costs $3,500.00
  • Trip interruption costs $2,500.00.
  • Finally, insurance policies including travel cancellation may allow you to reclaim program fees and flight costs if you were unable to join the program.

*These amounts may not be available to residents of the USA.

Most of the countries we work in have visas on arrival for most nationalities. However, visa requirements vary depending on your destination and your nationality. Please contact your appropriate consulate or discuss your situation with your travel consultant.

Costs for individual programs are listed on our each program page. Just follow the link from the Home Page.

  • Your airport collection and drop-off, if you arrive and depart on the first and last days of program.
  • All your ground transport during the program, including excursions.
  • Your food, including three meals a day and snacks. We cater to your dietary and allergy needs if you have informed us of them on the predeparture form and on arrival. However, in third world countries diet is restricted and communication issues mean we cannot always guarantee that the food will be prepared according to your specific needs.
  • Good, clean accomodation during your entire stay.
  • Many excursions and other activities are included during your program. There are other “Add – On” activities that you can choose to do if you wish. Click this link: Add – Ons
  • All the building materials for the projects you will be working on, as well as wages for the local tradespeople who will be working with you.
  • Educational materials for use in the schools and orphanages we work in, including such items as chalkboards and school furniture where necessary.
  • Reach Out Volunteer donations for the local community, including food and gifts for children.
  • For wildlife projects, we include all materials necessary for monitoring and conserving vulnerable wildlife.
  • Hire of wildlife conservation professionals.
  • Reach Out Volunteer certificates.
  • PADI certification courses (for the Cambodia Island program).
  • International flights
  • Domestic flights
  • Travel insurance
  • Visas, if applicable
  • Departure taxes

Your deposit is non-refundable. This includes your program deposit and the deposit on any extensions. We try to treat everyone equally and making an exception for one is simply unfair to others as well as to ROV. Like you, we work hard at what we do, we reserve your spot on the program, we book your accommodation and any internal travel, we pay our staff who administer these tasks, we pay program marketing costs, website development and maintenance cost etc. If you withdraw from a program it is very disruptive. Once again we need to pay our staff to make further changes to your program. Please, do not request a refund of your deposit as our refusal may offend.

Also, if you cancel your program with in 60 days of your departure date you may forfeit the entire cost of your program.

No worries. We ask you to let us know on your application if you have any dietary requirements. We will make every effort to accommodate you, and there will be vegetarian options. Keep in mind that you will be in a developing country and so the range of food options may be limited.

All Reach Out Volunteer programs have at least one Program Leader trained in first aid. There are medical centres and western hospitals located in the countries where we operate. In remote areas, such as on a game park in Africa, there is even the option of a helicopter air ambulance. Medical expenses should be covered by your travel insurance. We advise all volunteers to visit their doctor before volunteering, to make sure they are up to date with mediations and vaccinations, as we are not medical professionals.

Generally it isn’t safe to drink water in the places we work in, so clean filtered or bottled water will be available throughout your program.

Yes! We encourage all our participants to actively fundraise to help pay for their program costs.

Reach Out Volunteers has a complete fundraising pack ready to help you raise funds for your program, however you do need to be signed up and have submitted your deposit before we can send this out to you. As we are sure you can understand, we cannot have people raise funds under the Reach Out Volunteer’s name if you are not actually going on a program. The fundraising package will have proven ways of raising funds and various documents to help you do so.

We also encourage volunteers to use fundraising sites such as Volunteer Forever and Go Fund Me. Quite a few volunteers have raised some or all of their program expenses this way!

Reach Out Volunteers is perfect for you! Our programs are designed for regular people who want to enjoy travelling, maybe even have a few adventures, and still have lots of time to make a positive difference in the world. We work hard but not to exhaustion. We stay in clean beds in good, safe accommodation. We arrange excursions such as bike riding in the Andes, quad biking in Mozambique or horse riding on an African game park. We organise activities such as cookery classes and language lessons. We take what we do seriously but have fun doing it. Here at ROV we believe in a balance between doing hands-on work that really helps the communities we’re in while still enjoying the experience of travel and meeting new friends, as well as having the chance to immerse yourself in the local culture. Our program movies on each program webpage do a great job of explaining how!