I am planning taking a gap year to broaden my horizons. However My budget is extremely limited. I am looking at either barebones backpacker style international travel, or working with some international volunteer organization. Doe anyone have experience or opinions that may help me make up my mind.
Hi, it depends on what your budget is? If you can get the money together for flights you will be able to spend a fair amount of time in SE Asia spending very little. It's also really easy to get around and you will meet lots of fellow travelling people to make the whole thing more enjoyable and help you if you get stuck at all. Voluntary programmes are generally more expensive than travelling as they require you to raise a certain amount of funds first, normally upwards of £2000 I think.
Another alternative is to get to somewhere like Oz or NZ and work there, thus experiencing a new country and earning money too.
Let me know if you want anymore pointers
I agree, volunteering can be horrendously expensive and not always good fun. Best to go off backpacking and if you find something you would like to do volunteer wise, it is usually cheaper to approach them direct.
Have you thought of joining an expedition?? Even if you dont have any qualifications they sometimes take people just to cook, clean up or carry bags. Check out Operation Raleigh or National Geographic.
Another alternative is to get the book... I think it is called 'green volunteers'. It lists projects you can go on by price, some are free. Depends what sort of things you are interested in.
Yeah I agree with the replies,
International organisations tend to have hefty fees. I guess they are more bureaucratic, have admin fees, etc.
You'd be better off going to the actual place, or speaking to a local organisation more directly. Some locally based organisations also have websites for an international audience (may be an option if you would like some reassurence as to where you'll end up!). This way you avoid the excess cost, and you know that your time and money is going more directly to the community you want to help.
I don't think you necessarily have to choose between these two now, and a year is plenty of time any way. The main reason being that many countries with cheaper living costs also require assistance through volunteers (ie. Vietnam, Thailand, India, Nepal, etc.). So really you could probably just choose a country(ies) that appeals to you and do some research on volunteering, or just go there and find out first hand before you agree to volunteer. Another thought may be to think about what type of volunteering you'd like to do (countries may vary depending what is needed ie. teaching English/environmental/basic infrastructure/orphanages etc).
Personally I'm going to Nepal to volunteer for a few weeks early next year, as a stop off from Australia to Europe. I organised this through a local organisation's website and it's lot cheaper than the international organisations. My Lonely Planet guide also listed some other more local organisations for Nepal, and I'm guessing they'd do this for other countries too. I can't really tell you exactly how it is til i've experienced it though