Useful tips to volunteer abroad

If you are planning to volunteer abroad with the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) Program, continue reading because this tips might be useful for you. 

But if you still haven’t made the decision to volunteer abroad and you want to know more about this program, check out this blog post.

  • Open a bank account

It may be useful to open a bank account in your destination country, but sometimes it is not worth it. Check all the options and the fees you will have to pay to take the smartest decision. Take into consideration that in some countries, like Sweden, it’s not allowed to pay in cash in a lot of stores, so then it is useful to open a bank account and to have a credit/debit card.

  • Know exactly what covers your health insurance

When you volunteer abroad with the European Solidarity Corps (ESC) program, you have a health insurance. But this insurance doesn’t cover EVERYTHING. Read the conditions of your health insurance so you know what it’s covered.

In some cases (for example, if you need an urgent dental procedure), the insurance has to approve the treatment BEFORE it´s done.

  • This means that your doctor has to give you the documents with all the procedure information (why it’s needed and why it’s urgent…) and you have to send the documents to the health insurance.
  • The health insurance has to translate the information before sending it to the department that makes the decision (if is it covered or not).
  • The health insurance will give you the answer.

This process can take a few days or a week.

Ah, and talk to your receiving organization to know if they will advance you the money until the insurance pays you back.

  • Create a house cleaning schedule

If you live with flatmates, a cleaning house schedule can be very useful.

Chose a DAY of the week to clean and indicate what SURFACES each flatmate has to do: kitchen, bathroom, hall… When your part is done, mark it so your flatmates know.

Maybe, despite all the efforts your flat/house will not be the cleanest of the  neighborhood, but for sure this schedule will help!

  • Plan ahead

Your trip expenses to your destination country and to come back home are covered, but just up to a certain amount. Ask at the receiving organization how much money they will reimburse you. Book the tickets as soon as you can so it’s cheaper.

If you need to do a PCR test to go to the other country, ask the receiving organization if they will cover these expenses.

  • Budgeting is key

Check your monthly expenses and write them down in an excel sheet, separating the areas: food, travelling, eating out…. This will allow you to see if you are spending too much in one category.

Be creative to save money! For example, instead of going to the hairdresser, maybe the other volunteers can cut your hair.

We hope those advices were useful! If you already did a volunteer abroad, maybe you can write in the comments section more tips that were useful for you!