Volunteering abroad: what you need to know

2 mins read travel

Jun 11, 2024

Volunteering abroad is a classic bucket list-worthy experience. From assisting with health care to teaching a language, there’s likely an opportunity for just about anyone. As a retiree, now is the time where you’ve got the freedom and flexibility to travel. Why not travel and give back at the same time? If you’re thinking of travelling for some volunteer work, here’s what you should know first.

Read up before jet-setting

Start with searching for a reputable volunteer agency with lots of experience in the field. Then, understand the programs they offer, including pricing, volunteer duties and what the agency will provide support with.

Once you’ve selected your next adventure, the fun can start. Take some time to read about where you’re travelling, including climate, customs, and language. Most importantly, double check if you need to get any vaccines before heading out to your destination of choice. Many doctors’ offices offer travel clinics that can help set you up.

Travel with safety in mind

As they say, “better safe than sorry.”

If you take medication, pack enough for the duration of your travels. Also, dress for the climate: if it’s cold, pack layers. If it’s hot, pack light-coloured clothing along with ample sunscreen. Don’t forget to add bug spray and a travel-sized first-aid kit, just in case.

You can also register with the Canadian government to stay in touch with the country in case of emergency or crisis.1

Finally, though no one hopes they’ll need it, make sure you have travel insurance that suits your needs.

Your health may receive a bonus

Once your travel is settled, the anticipation can begin. But what’s even more exciting are the potential physical and emotional health benefits of volunteering abroad.

From socializing with others to moving frequently throughout the day, it’s a great way to lead an active lifestyle that can help beat feelings of isolation.

In fact, a University of Pittsburgh study found that those aged 50+ who volunteered roughly six hours weekly reported feeling more productive and an “overall sense that their life had improved”.2

Another study found that 70% of volunteers who reported five or more symptoms of depression reported fewer after one year of volunteering. Imagine the results if that’s what you did every day!3

No matter what type of volunteering you decide to do, the key is to embrace the adventure. It’s never too late to do something new. In fact, you may just feel a renewed sense of purpose.


Article courtesy of Johnson Inc. (“Johnson”). Johnson is an insurance intermediary specializing in home, auto and travel insurance, as well as group benefits. For more information about Johnson, go to www.johnson.ca (Quebec residents please visit: qc.johnson.ca/en)

This article is provided for your general information only. Nothing in this article alters the terms or conditions of any insurance policy. Read your policy for a complete description of coverage and contact your insurance provider or intermediary for coverage and policy details.

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