A leisure vacation in Europe is a fantastic experience shared by many. And while traveling to Europe for pleasure has been and always will be a popular option, travel for nonprofit work has also undoubtedly increased in the region. Expanding your travel plans to include volunteer work requires extensive research and planning beforehand.
Seeking out nonprofit work in Europe has plenty of benefits that are both personally and professionally satisfying. You have the opportunity to make a lasting impact on those in need while becoming a more well-rounded, capable individual.
Service-oriented work requires extensive effort, time, commitment, and genuine passion for improving the quality of life for deserving communities. It’s an exciting time when you’ve landed nonprofit work and travel in Europe. But it can also be equally overwhelming when you plan your trip there and navigate your nonprofit work experience once you arrive. Like all kinds of travel, however, this anxiety can be assuaged by taking it one step at a time.
Prioritize your safety
The first step is something you should incorporate into every step of your travels: safety. Safety should be a priority no matter where you’re traveling to and what you’re traveling for. Although you may want to be productive in your nonprofit work as soon as possible, it’s vital to think of safety in each step of your stay so you can comfortably and effectively work. This can be done by intentionally securing a reputable residence beforehand, and researching safety tips for your respective nonprofit job duties assigned to you.
For example, labor-intensive volunteer work is popular in Europe and surrounding areas. You could be doing anything from constructing homes for families in need, doing demolition work, or another role that involves plenty of construction. When doing these tasks, it’s important to follow construction safety standards like attending all site inductions, wearing your protective equipment each day, ensuring your tools and equipment are up to date, and so forth.
Make sure that you pack any necessary safety equipment, tools, and gear when planning your trip. Take note of any important contacts that can guide you through your journey, and evacuation plans for emergencies. It’s also a good idea to learn as much as you can about European culture, communication, and ways of living that could impact your safety.
Identify what you can offer
To make your time in Europe more enjoyable, acknowledge your skills and apply them to a specific role in nonprofit work will make your time in Europe. Although many people who volunteer usually take on labor-intensive work, there are several roles you can also do that are just as impactful.
There is plenty of work to be done behind the scenes of any volunteer operation. For example, if you specialize in accounting, many nonprofits desperately need help from accountants to ensure their financial landscape is intact. They need people who know the unique reporting, auditing, and tax requirements for nonprofit organizations. If you plan to fill a financial role, you should also be adept in how business banking, financial transactions, and maintenance are conducted in Europe specifically.
If you think you can fill a role outside of what’s being offered, communicate your other professional skills to the person leading the volunteer work. Negotiate your job responsibilities before you arrive in Europe and ensure you’ve covered the logistics ahead of time.
Put together a detailed travel plan
Traveling to Europe can be a long and tiresome trip without extensive planning beforehand. It’s in your best interest to create a detailed travel plan to refer to throughout your travel to Europe. Your plan should include the necessary items you’ll need to board the plan, for the flight itself, your nonprofit work, and your actual stay.
If you have personal or environmental commitments that are important to consider when traveling, ensure they’re a part of your plan. For example, if you’re practicing sustainability in all that you do, being conscious of your eco-footprint when traveling would be a priority. Pack eco-friendly eating and drinking supplies like cloth napkins and bamboo plates for the flight, ensure your living quarters are set up for efficient energy use, and that recycling services are near.
When putting together your detailed travel plan, ensure that your visa is up to date and your finances are in order while you’re abroad doing nonprofit work. Additionally, make a detailed list of things that could assist you during your stay and nonprofit work such as:
- Translation services
- Financial resources
- Professional contacts
- Job site requirements
- Necessary equipment
- Neighborhood news
You should also anticipate any challenges or setbacks you can encounter during your work and travel in Europe, like language barriers and cultural differences. Create a plan to combat those challenges beforehand to ease any anxiety you may have.
Nonprofit work and travel in Europe can and should be a positive, impactful experience. Your focus should be on how you can fully integrate yourself into nonprofit work and travel in Europe. Prioritizing your safety, identifying what you can offer, and putting together a detailed travel plan is a terrific start to this fulfilling adventure.