Self-Care Tips for Volunteers Abroad

Self-Care Tips for Volunteers Abroad

By Justine Simonin on 12/05/2020

Written By Frank Hamilton, a blogger and translator from Manchester. He writes about blogging, digital marketing, and self-education. He also loves traveling and speaks Spanish, French, German, and English.

A volunteer is a person who makes the world a better place without receiving material rewards. And this intention is priceless!

Each person who decides to participate in a volunteering trip gets the opportunity to contribute to this world, and in exchange receive invaluable experience, new knowledge, and many useful acquaintances. For the volunteering trip to remain a pleasant memory, it is important to take care of yourself. In this article, you will get self-care tips for volunteers abroad.

Tips for Maintaining Physical Health

Let’s start with tips on your physical health. You must clearly understand that if you feel unwell, it means that you will not be able to cope with your tasks properly. Volunteering abroad should be for the benefit of others, but not to the detriment of oneself. Therefore, physical health self-care is the first thing to remember. Pay attention to the following recommendations.

1.    Eat Healthy Food

A new country can completely change your diet. This can be affected by both stress and local cuisine. For example, many volunteers from Europe face digestive problems after arriving in Sri Lanka. Since there are no familiar products, clean water, and the local cuisine may not be to taste. But in fact, this does not mean that it is impossible to observe good nutrition there. For example, other volunteers note that in the abundance of fruits, on the contrary, they changed their eating habits for the better.

Prepare psychologically in advance that you will have to get used to a different diet and other products than usual. But never rely on junk food or not eating at all. If you have an inadequate diet, then your work will be inadequate as well.

2.    Prepare a Personal First Aid Kit

It is essential to understand that in many countries you cannot buy medicine without a prescription. But sometimes volunteers neglect going to the doctor at the first symptoms of a cold, for example, which then becomes a more severe form of the disease. And to be honest, usually, medical service in countries that need volunteers is not easily available or well equipped, so one can understand why volunteers sometimes choose to be self-medicate. Therefore, consult with your doctor about what medications you need to take as first aid for volunteering abroad.

As soon as you feel that something is wrong with your health, do not wait to go see a doctor! Remember that you are in another country and are responsible for yourself.

3.    Physical Activity

If your volunteer program does not imply physical labor, it is important to take care of your physical activity. For example, if you are volunteering as an English teacher, then most likely physical labor is not expected from you. Therefore, take the habit of doing morning exercises or introduce some kind of physical activity. That way, you will be not only physically healthy but also mentally.

Tips for Moral Health Balance

A new environment, other people, language barriers, and separation from relatives and friends can become very stressful. Moreover, the work of a volunteer is not exciting without personal motivation. To avoid difficulties, quickly adapt to a new pace of life, and get rid of stress, follow the following tips.

1.    Get Rid of Expectations

Very often, high expectations mean big disappointments. And freedom from expectations is practically the key to peace of mind and a willingness to accept reality as it is. Therefore, if you do not want to experience stress upon arrival, then you should not come up with some kind of picture in your head that may not correspond to reality. Emphasize that you have the opportunity to see new things and gain valuable experience.

2.    Communicate with Family

At first, you will most likely be very active in communicating with your family and this is normal. You should not interrupt communication with your family, but you should not devote all your free time to it. Otherwise, you will live in two worlds and it will be extremely difficult for you to adapt.

Allocate an hour daily for communication with relatives and this will be enough so that you do not worry about them and they do not worry about you. But as for social media in general, then you better try to minimize the time you spend on it.

“Volunteering is the best life experience that teaches not only a new kind of work and language but also the importance of real life communication instead of social media. Believe me, social media become less important when you are constantly busy with volunteering and this is amazing!” – this is how one of the team members from Online Writers Rating said about his volunteering experience.

Try to spend more time getting to know other volunteers than communicating on social media with people from home. Real life interactions are much more important during those times than online ones.

3.    Spend the Weekend the Way You Want

Immediately note for yourself that your day off is completely the day for you. On this day, do only what you want. If you do not want to go drink coffee with volunteer Jenny, then don’t go (sorry Jenny!). When you work for the benefit of others, it is very important not to forget about yourself and your needs. Your day off is just the perfect time to think about it.

4.    Get Inspired

If you lose motivation from time to time, then you need to start drawing upon inspiration. Be inspired by the work of your team leader, think about how much good you are doing for the world.

Get inspired by the volunteer work of Angelina Jolie or Miley Cyrus. You can learn more about the contribution of celebrities to the volunteer world here. There is also a lot of useful information just for those who want to try volunteering abroad on the GivingWay Blog.

On GivingWay, you can find the most suitable volunteering opportunity for your volunteering trip! The search process is very easy since you can immediately filter and choose the global problems that touch you the most. Furthermore, moving to another part of the globe is not the only way to help. If you are not ready for such a huge responsibility, you may start with volunteering online. A lot of non-profit organizations need help with content creation, research, website design, and video production. Find all current online volunteering opportunities here.


As practice shows, participation in one volunteering trip is not the end, but only the beginning of an interesting journey. Most people who have already tried the role of a volunteer continue to do this later in life. Try to find your own direction and cultivate your interests. For your volunteering abroad to be truly amazing, you need to remember that you need to take care of yourself. Keep your health in check, don’t forget about self-caring tips and you will enjoy even more your volunteering abroad!

Head to our blog for more helpful tips about volunteering abroad! You can also check out our Volunteering Online & Around the World Facebook Group to connect with other volunteers and nonprofits! 😁

The views expressed in this guest post are solely those of its author and do not necessarily reflect the views of GivingWay. The material and information contained on the GivingWay blog is for general information purposes only. GivingWay will not be liable for any false, inaccurate, inappropriate or incomplete information presented in the GivingWay blog.