Do you have your own personal list of “must see” places and “must do” activities that you are busy ticking off? But are you frustrated with just looking out of the window on your travels and sitting on the edges of these foreign places? Do you yearning for a bit of adventure to do something more meaningful?
This is what volunteering can bring. Becoming a temporary part of the community can be particularly rewarding. You can experience the heartbeat of a country and its people, and often fulfill your childhood dreams too. Did you ever secretly want to be a wildlife vet or handle baby animals in the wild, or teach young orphans their alphabet and read them stories?
Whether you’re approaching retirement, already retired or just taking a well deserved break, now is the to do the things that you have always dreamed about. Whether you want to travel with your children, grandchildren, partner, friend or on your own, you can use the skills and experience gained over many years, to volunteer and make a real difference to the people and wildlife in Africa.
It’s often found that mature volunteers have the greatest impact on the projects and the communities in which they are based and gain enormous fulfillment and satisfaction from their work.
Questions to ask before choosing which volunteer project:
- Is there a volunteer project that fulfills my dream interests? Medical volunteer, volunteer with children, teaching volunteer, wildlife volunteer working with monkeys, cheetahs, lions, elephants, etc
- How strenuous are the tasks, and is their flexibility to reduce the work required if necessary?
- Is the accommodation suitable for couples or for people who prefer private rooms? Is there an option of a more luxurious lodge?
- What is the climate and altitude for that particular country, and the seasonal temperatures and rainfall?
- What injections do I need for this particular country – some African countries require more limited injections than others. Plus, not all African countries require Yellow Fever or even Malaria tablets.
- Will there be someone at the airport to collect me and transfer to the project, and are the meals and drinks included?
- Is there 24 hour support at home and abroad, before and during my trip? Do you provide a comprehensive pre-departure pack to ensure I am fully prepared about the project – such as Amanzi Travel do?
“After losing my job, I have struggled to find a new career that was as fulfilling and exciting. I definitely gained the inspiration I was looking for. I would recommend the experience to anyone!“ Alison, UK, Namibia Wildlife Sanctuary
Top Tips for Mature Volunteers
- Pack light, especially if you haven’t got a direct flight. When you pack light, you’re younger. To lighten your load, take fewer clothing items and do laundry more often. But don’t forget to take something to donate!
- Stay healthy is particularly important for mature travellers, so pack our own emergency medical kit – including rehydration salts to overcome dehydration etc
- Keep regular prescribed drugs in your hand luggage.
- Avoid sunburn, dehydration and mosquitoes. Wear a hat and use at least SPF 15 as sunburn can be worse when the skin is ageing or becoming thinner, and apply insect repellant on top of sunscreen.
- Consult your GP well in advance of travelling. They will be able to prescribe any medicines that you need, and give you precise generic names of your medicines or alternatives, as brand names are often not familiar abroad.
- Ensure your travel insurance has health cover and repatriation, and declare any pre-existing medical condition, otherwise it may invalidate your insurance cover.
- Make sure you walk around the plane on long-haul flights or long journeys, as prolonged periods of immobility during long journeys are particularly hazardous for people over 60 years of age.
Ensure your passport is up-to-date and that you have attained visas for any countries requiring them that you intend to visit.
- Work out your itinerary in advance and make sure you leave a copy of it
- If you intend to take a mobile phone with you contact your provider to enable international roaming. Be warned that you will pay for receiving calls as well as making them abroad – your provider will be able to give you a copy of the international call tariffs.
- Remember to share your own unique skills and enthusiasm with everyone around you”
My friend and I were the only ‘mature’ (post retirement) volunteers in the house, but we really enjoyed working alongside enthusiastic youngsters from all over the world. We both felt rejuvenated by the experience! …we learnt to live by African time, never rushing, always having time for a laugh and a joke!“ Jane, UK, (Zambia Medical and Community Development Project)
No qualifications are required for the majority of volunteer projects, only enthusiasm and a desire to use your life skills, experience and patience, to make a real difference to the people and wildlife in Africa! Amanzi Travel would love to help fulfill your childhood dream.
I’ve heard that many mature travellers are proclaiming, “Age matters only if you’re a cheese.” So what cheese are you and where would you like to roll?
Read next blog on Most Popular Volunteer Projects for Mature Travellers