Volunteer in Asia Road Trip

Combining two of his greatest passions - Asia and road tripping - IVHQ's Reeve Barnett shares how to make the most of your time as a volunteer in Asia. Consider yourself warned, his passion may be somewhat contagious...

Road trip.

What is the first thought that comes to mind when you hear "road trip"?


Volunteering in Africa - What You're Missing Out On

Thinking of volunteering in Africa? Find out what you're missing out on...


10 Rookie Mistakes International Volunteers Make

Having traveled extensively myself, and now working in the volunteer travel world, I have a fairly good grasp on the mistakes that travelers and volunteers make, so I've pulled together this list so you can avoid making the same ones...

- Dan Sharp (IVHQ Volunteer Coordinator)


Volunteering in South America - This is Argentina

What's it like volunteering in South America? IVHQ volunteer Megan explains...


How One Volunteer In Tanzania Became A Hero To A Family Of Eight

In 2011, after deciding not to attend University, I found myself working in a restaurant in Brighton, a city in the South of the UK. One day whilst working, I started chatting to a girl with bright pink hair, her name was Lulu. Lulu had just finished a three month volunteering stint in Tanzania.


Volunteering Abroad Lessons: Where I Went Wrong Traveling In Asia

I've always been fascinated by Asia, and never been disappointed on every visit to the continent. Like all travelers that have had the opportunity to visit or volunteer in Asia, I have had my fair share of stories and learnt a few lessons.


Volunteering Abroad In South Africa As Told By Alyssa Ramos

California's Alyssa Ramos joined IVHQ this year and while volunteering abroad in South Africa, Alyssa blogged about her experience as a first-time volunteer teacher (and surf instructor on the IVHQ Surf Outreach project). The following are excerpts from Alyssa's blog to offer a unique look into the life of an IVHQer in Cape Town...


Life After Volunteering Abroad

It's always a pleasure hearing from our IVHQ volunteers and learning how their lives have changed after volunteering abroad.


A Look Into Your Volunteer Experience in Ghana

Ghana, Africa is fast becoming one of the world's most popular volunteer destinations as travelers search for a volunteer experience abroad, and it’s easy to see why...


How To Reduce Your Carbon Footprint When Traveling

Think reducing your carbon footprint when traveling can't be fun? It could be more fun than you think!

To help our volunteers be more carbon conscious travelers, we've pulled together this list of simple tips for reducing your carbon footprint when traveling...



Volunteering In Cambodia - Catching The Cambodia Bug

IVHQ staff regularly travel to visit our volunteer overseas programs to meet with local staff and volunteers, visit volunteer placements and ensure our programs are operating to a high standard. I recently visited our volunteer overseas program in Cambodia, and found I walked away having caught the Cambodia bug…


Questions All Volunteers Want Answered When They Volunteer Abroad

The team at IVHQ literally answers thousands of questions every week around how to volunteer abroad - whether it be via email or telephone, we encourage IVHQ volunteers to throw all their questions our way, to ensure they're well prepared for the journey ahead!


World Festivals Worth Traveling For

With volunteer abroad programs in over 25 countries around the world, IVHQ volunteers find themselves in the midst of many of the world's most loved festivals!


Flying Tips - Your Guide To The Perfect Flight

As a volunteer abroad, you share at least one experience with every other volunteer… Air travel.


10 Facepalm Moments To Avoid In Travel

We all learn from our mistakes, but sometimes it's easier to learn the mistakes of others, so you can spare yourself a facepalm!

To save you from slipping into the facepalm zone, I'm sharing some of the most facepalm-worthy moments I've experienced and witnessed in travel mode...


Most Instagrammed Volunteer Overseas Destinations

Here at International Volunteer HQ, we love coming to work each day, knowing we're helping people of all ages and nationalities travel the world affordably, while making contributions to developing communities.


Volunteer Abroad Reviews For Parents By Parents

Do you have (or are you) a parent looking for feedback from parents of past IVHQ volunteers...?


5 Volunteers Who Will Inspire You To Volunteer Abroad

We love hearing and sharing stories of international volunteers achieving amazing things on IVHQ volunteer abroad programs, so much so that International Volunteer HQ is currently accepting nominations for the 2014 IVHQ


Behind the Scenes with Volunteers in South America

Summing up her visits to our Ecuador and Colombia volunteer abroad programs, IVHQ’s Lydia takes us behind the scenes…


10 Conservation Volunteer Opportunities

To celebrate June 5th AKA World Environment Day, we're sharing 10 Conservation Volunteer Opportunities offered through International Volunteer HQ!


10 Reasons Volunteers Choose Cambodia

With IVHQ's growing list of volunteer program destinations, the decision of where to go can become difficult! To help, we've listed 10 reasons why IVHQers choose to volunteer in Cambodia!


What Should iPack?

When you volunteer overseas, what technology should come with you?


Tips For Being A Valuable Volunteer

Everyone who volunteers abroad with IVHQ wants to make a difference and do some good. That goal is equal parts admirable and inspiring, and I’m constantly amazed by the passion and authentic drive that our volunteers have to make a positive contribution to a community. But it’s not easy.


10 Reasons Volunteers Love Tanzania

Tanzania is rich in culture and a favorite volunteer abroad destination for IVHQ Volunteers. While this list could've had 101 reasons, we've narrowed it down to the Top 10 thanks to suggestions from IVHQ volunteers in Tanzania.


10 Signs You're The Perfect IVHQ Volunteer

Do you fit the bill?


18 Places You Need To Visit While You're Young

The best part about this list is you can visit all of these places during your weekends while volunteering overseas with IVHQ!


10 Photos That Will Make You Want To Volunteer In Asia

International Volunteer HQ encourages those who volunteer overseas to immerse themselves in the culture of their destination and spend their #IVHQweekends capturing stunning sights from around the world! Here's a collection of volunteer photos in Asia, which we guarantee will have you reaching for your passport!


East Africa Volunteer Program Swap

With the establishment of our new partnership in Uganda, IVHQ sponsored a volunteer program swap in East Africa. The aim of the swap was to provide the opportunity for our TanzaniaKenya and Uganda teams to collaborate, share ideas and experiences, and discuss best practices around hosting IVHQ volunteers in East Africa.


5 Things You Never Knew You Could Do With IVHQ

We're all about transparency here at IVHQ, whether we're talking volunteer program fees or new program opportunities... But here are 5 things many of you never knew you could do with IVHQ!



Volunteer in Asia Road Trip

Combining two of his greatest passions - Asia and road tripping - IVHQ's Reeve Barnett shares how to make the most of your time as a volunteer in Asia. Consider yourself warned, his passion may be somewhat contagious...

Road trip.

What is the first thought that comes to mind when you hear "road trip"?

“Road trip…………..road trip…………..volunteer road trip………….."

Say this over and over again, out loud or in your head, and I am sure a spark of excitement will begin to grow and grow…

I personally love hearing "road trip" as all sorts of connotations come to mind. The two strongest connotations I get are freedom and adventure. The idea that I am my own person and I can do what I like, experience my own experiences with my best mates and do all this with a laid back exterior and a smile on my face. I have taken many road trips in my life and each one has provided me with fond memories.

My favorite road trip to date was over summertime a few years ago, cruising along the highway on the coast in New Zealand with five mates and surf boards all hanging out the back, trying to eat ice-creams that were splattering our faces from the wind. Road trips are a key way to travel around the word, as by definition it is a journey made by a car or bus, which you can pretty much do anywhere. Interestingly, the first ever recorded road trip took place in Germany in 1888 and was 106 kilometers!

Now you are probably wondering how volunteering can fit into this concept of road tripping? Let me introduce South East Asia...

Volunteer in Asia Road Trip

I have traveled to South East Asia many times over my short life and there are plenty of reasons why. South East Asia comprises of 10 independent countries, with over 600 million people, speaking over 1,000 languages. As you can imagine there is massive diversity in culture, scenery and culinary dishes, and International Volunteer HQ is excited to offer volunteer programs in six South East Asian countries - Bali, Cambodia, Laos, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

My question to volunteers who are looking to journey to this inspiring part of the world is: Why stop at one country? Why not make your trip into a journey and turn it into a road trip? Instead of flying into Bangkok and out of Bangkok, create a road trip that starts in Bangkok and ends in Ho Chi Minh City. Doesn’t that sound like more fun?

South East Asia may be considered small in scale compared to the rest of the world but it packs a lot of punch and boasts a fascinating history. You many not know that there is a real mix of Indian influence in Cambodia, Laos and Thailand; however Vietnam was under China’s sphere of influence throughout much of its history. When traveling through these countries, you now notice the small details of influence that come through in everyday life. As a rule, people who eat with their fingers are more likely influenced by the Indian culture, whereas the people influenced by ancient Chinese culture, eat with chopsticks.

Or did you know that Thailand was the only country in South East Asia that remained free of colonial occupation? Wouldn’t you like to see how this has made Thailand different to the other countries? Road trip through South East Asia and find out!

Volunteer in Asia Road Trip - Statue

Then came the spread of Islam; then the Europeans came with their colonializing power and established their power far and wide; large World War 2 battles raging between the allies and the Japanese because of its strategic location for shipping routes; conflict between the Communists and the Non-Communists. As you can read, there has been a lot of history that has shaped this part of the world into what it is today. I can assure you that if you road trip here, you will never get bored and nothing is ever the same.

Volunteering in multiple programs in South East Asia is a fantastic opportunity, as this gives you the opportunity to explore more of the region while contributing to sustainable development projects. I have put an itinerary together of how a volunteer could road trip across South East Asia, based on my experience...

Volunteer in Asia Road Trip: The South East Asian Ham Sandwich

I fly into Bangkok, precisely a week before I begin my volunteer program working within the hill tribe community of Chiang Rai. I am registered to participate on the Outdoor Work project, so I want to experience the city life of Bangkok and the beach life of the islands in the south.

Khao San Road and Bangkok life are a whirlwind experience of lights, noise and activity. The difficult part is to decide which osland is best to relax on for a few days after; Koh Chang, Koh Tao, Koh Samui... Options are endless and I am in luck, as the islands are celebrating their famous Full Moon Parties when I am there.

After three days of chilling on the beach, the road trip continues with an overnight train trip to Chiang Rai to start the IVHQ Thailand volunteer program.

Volunteer in Asia Road Trip - Beach

The volunteering work is in a remote hill tribe village where I, alongside other IVHQ volunteers, are provided the task of repairing homes for the local elderly. It is satisfying work where I make life-long friends that I am already looking forward to seeing again in their native countries in my future travel plans.

Two weeks later having completed my volunteer program in Thailand, I am now off to Pai to soak up its relaxed ambience for a few days. With the body all relaxed, it is time to head to the border and cross over the Mekong River at Chong Mek into Laos.

Another country, with another experience that I am looking forward to!

The border crossing over into Laos is right up the north (almost by China), and here I am about to begin the three day Gibbon experience. The Gibbon experience is where you live some 30 meters (100 foot) up in a tree house and you zip-line through the jungle getting up to speeds of 70 kilometers per hour; seriously awesome! Throughout the three days of walking and zip-lining through the jungle, I got to witness the abundant flora and fauna of Laos, with the overall purpose to see the Gibbon apes swinging through the trees. Also, it has the best bathroom view I have ever experienced!

Volunteer in Asia Road Trip - Laos

Decision time? Do I continue my road trip to Luang Prabang via the Mekong River, or by bus?

The white water river rafting I did in Luang Prabang provided myself much entertainment and I wanted to do it again; however it is time to move on and see the natural beauty of Vang Vieng, which I would describe as an oriental silk painting. While the tubing does not exist anymore, I am more than satisfied with the many adventure options available with caving and climbing opportunities abundant in the karst.

There was no better way to arrive to IVHQ's Laos volunteer program than by a kayak adventure that I started in Vang Vieng and finished in Vientiane. This time my volunteering is spent in a completely different environment, as I have chosen the Special Needs/Childcare project that is based in Laos' capital of Vientiane. Vientiane is situated on the Mekong and after spending the four weeks on the banks of the Mekong, I understand why it has charmed many travelers over the years.

I continue my road trip east, off to the land of motor cycles. Destination: Hanoi, Vietnam.

Volunteer in Asia Road Trip - Vietnam

Still with time up my sleeve before I am required to be in Hanoi for the first Monday of the month for my volunteer program to begin, I decide that Ninh Binh is the best option to rest my head for a few days. Learning about the Vietnam agricultural juggernaut is a mind-boggling experience, especially seeing the back breaking work associated with rice farming. 

If I thought Ninh Binh was beautiful, I was absolutely mind blown by Ha Long Bay. Vietnam is teasing me with all the treats it has offered. Wow!

Hanoi is the last destination of my road trip, which has so far included three countries, countless bus trips, over 30 new friends on my Facebook account and enough photos that have filled up all my memory cards. 

But I am not finished yet.

My road trip swan song is volunteering on my third and final program in Hanoi. Again, I have opted for the Special Needs/Childcare project because of the rapport with the children in Laos. After another rewarding couple of weeks of playing a human jungle gym, friend, teacher and carer to the children, everything must come to an end.

My road trip is over and I absolutely loved it.

To discover the opportunities to travel as a volunteer in Asia, take a trip to the International Volunteer HQ website.



Volunteering in Africa - What You're Missing Out On

Thinking of volunteering in Africa? International Volunteer HQ Program Coordinator, William Rowland, reflects on his first trip to Africa and shares what you're missing out on if you're yet to experience the beauty of this mighty continent...

Before my first trip to East Africa I was bombarded the usual one thousand and one questions from my friends and family members. I even started to question the trip myself. The most common questions I was asked were "Why? Why are you going THERE? Why not travel somewhere closer?"

I originally had some pretty dull answers to these questions – usually along the lines of – “It’s always been a dream of mine”. I assured friends and family that I was going to be safe (not really knowing myself) and that I will see them all in a few short weeks – off I went!

Upon traveling to Africa and falling in love with what it has to offer, I would answer these questions a lot differently. The time I have spent in Africa has been more than I could ever have imagined and a whole lot more!

If you haven’t had the chance to visit Africa yet, here's what you’re missing out on...


Big or small, you will make many new marafiki (friends) everywhere you go while volunteering in Africa! Prepare to fall in love with the people – the kids, the locals and your fellow volunteers alike.


A photo posted by Alexa Steen (@lexasteen) on 



Sunset over the Serengeti

One of the most memorable sights for any volunteer traveler in Tanzania is catching a stunner of a sunset over the Serengeti.


A photo posted by Amelia Francis (@amelia_francis) on

Big 5 Spotting

One of my biggest regrets upon returning from Africa the first time was not going on safari! As IVHQ volunteers have the weekends free for exploring, this opportunity is not to be missed while volunteering in Africa. There are endless safari options to choose from, including walking or cycling-safaris, to glamping or budget safaris – either way a safari is certainly a must-do!

...Learn that lions don’t care in Kenya


A photo posted by Hannah Schul (@hannah_schul) on


...Catch a cheetah by his spots in South Africa


A photo posted by Shan (@chen_c33) on


...Check up on the rhinos in Victoria Falls


A photo posted by @ivhq on


...Camp out with tembos in Tanzania


A photo posted by J☯rdan Lerner (@jordaanlerner) on


...Spot a herd of buffalo in Zambia


A photo posted by Will Rowland (@willyrolly) on


Gorilla Trekking in Uganda

If you're not searching for the Big 5 on a safari, then a gorilla trek is another exciting weekend adventure for those volunteering in Uganda. Although this can be a little costly, seeing these primates in their own environment is something that you will never forget.


A photo posted by Sarah Dressler (@sarahdressler93) on


Conquer Kilimanjaro

A spare few days in East Africa is well spent climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. Climbing the highest free-standing mountain in the world is just another, challenging yet amazing gift that Africa has to offer.


A photo posted by James Bitmead (@jamesbitmead) on


Find Paradise in Moshi

IVHQ's local team in Tanzania will be happy to help you discover this hidden gem at the foothills of Mount Kilimanjaro. The crystal-clear, warm turquoise waters of Chemka Hot Springs, surrounded by palm trees and winding roots offer a picturesque spot for a relaxing afternoon swim.


A photo posted by Amy Stewart (@amyloo) on 


After traveling through Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, I feel a bit silly that I thought visiting here would be difficult, expensive and potentially unsafe. I was happy to be able to report back to my family and friends that the assumptions that they (and myself at times) made, were far from the truth. Traveling through Africa was one of the most rewarding and memorable experiences of my life. From the point I returned to New Zealand, I have continually recommended Africa to people as their next overseas adventure. So to you I say - do not miss out on the chance to make lasting memories in Africa.

To see more of what you're missing out on in Africa, check out these 10 photos that will seriouslly make you want to travel here. Or pop over to the IVHQ website to discover the volunteer opportunities available in Africa.


A photo posted by @melleesa on



10 Rookie Mistakes International Volunteers Make

Having traveled extensively myself, and now working in the volunteer travel world, I have a fairly good grasp on the mistakes that travelers and volunteers make, so I've pulled together this list so you can avoid making the same ones...

- Dan Sharp (IVHQ Volunteer Coordinator)

1. Not knowing some of the local language

Habla Inglés? What…….No?! If you really want to make some local friends and get the most out of your volunteer experience, learn a little of the language before you go. Locals love it when you try converse, and when you are wrong, they will help you out. Don’t start with English, try the local tongue until your vocab runs dry and in many cases they will reply in English. If language lessons are available on your volunteer program, take advantage of them even for just a couple of weeks, it will help you immensely in the long run. 


A photo posted by Megan Glavin (@meganeglavin) on


2. Expecting the luxuries of home

You are a volunteer, you are there to help people in need, not stay in a 5 star resort.  Luckily for you, a reputable volunteer company will provide you with comfortable and safe accommodations in the company of other international volunteers. But yes, hot showers and WiFi are luxuries is some remote program destinations. Remember where you are, not where you’re from.


A photo posted by Shelby Reid (@shelbmay) on


3. Not researching where you are going

It is all too common for travelers to jump on a plane fly out of their little bubble, arrive and being totally perplexed about the way things are. I would recommend doing some research before arriving as there are important things to consider, like:

  • Currency - You need to have an idea of the exchange rate, availability of ATMs, and potential black market rates that exist (eg. Argentina and Venezuela). 
  • Weather - The season you choose to travel can change your entire experience.
  • Culture/Customs - Paying attention to local customs and wearing appropriate clothing will mean you remain respectful to those in the environment you are in.
  • Time Zone - You will most likely be volunteering in a different time zone to home. So when you fly be sure you check when you arrive, as it may literally be days after you leave. 
  • Water - Is tap water drinkable in the area? If it isn’t you will need to budget for buying bottled water.

It is always better to do a little homework in order to have the best trip possible!


A photo posted by @yolkyeggs on


4. Bad footwear

You are going to spend a lot of time on your feet when volunteering and touring around. Commonly, people pay very little attention of footwear which can lead to painful and sore feet. Wearing the appropriate footwear is a must, this means no heels, Ladies! I’d suggest a good pair of trainers/tennis shoes and some flip flops.


A photo posted by Amy Maestas (@amymaestas) on


5. Packing everything imaginable

Pack smart... 'I need this, just in case right?' You don’t need that extra top, those two towels, or that pair of shoes. Take what you think you need, lay it out and divide it by two. Always leave anything of great personal or monetary value at home and only take essential appliances (hair straighter not included). An experienced traveler knows that carrying extra weight sucks. If you’re missing something, buy it there, I’m sure it’s cheaper than home anyway. Volunteer travel is for rejuvenation, so cut out on over loading those bags. Travel light.


A photo posted by Wendy Shi (@shiwenwendy) on


6. Not buying a comprehensive insurance policy

In terms of cost, buying a comprehensive travel policy is a drop in the bucket. Don’t be cheap, get the works. Cover yourself for medical emergencies, lost baggage, trip delays, contents and everything else. On multiple occasions I have personally been spared thousands on medical bills, also had an iPhone’ and multiple cameras replaced. Needless to say, I may need this insurance more than others. 

A photo posted by @twopeas_ on


7. Not communicating

Things not going as expected? Let someone know! A responsible volunteer company will be receptive to your feedback and will do everything in their power to please you. Don’t let an issue that could be resolved spoil the experience for you. 


A photo posted by Lisa yarbrough (@leeess_uhh) on


8. Saying NO

So supposedly you’re an open minded international volunteer? ...So stop staying NO. Be a YES person! Open yourself up to all the amazing experiences that become available from using this magic three letter word. Of course, do this within reason, as stupidity will get you in trouble… and always trust your gut feeling.


A photo posted by Britt Borja (@brittbee_) on


9. Posting items from home

Do you really need Mum to send that care package from home? Remember when you're volunteering in some developing countries, the postage service isn't always as good as at home. If you don’t have it, buy it, these countries have shops like everywhere else and you'll be contributing to the local economy at the same time. Or not…go for it, get it sent! You might receive in a few months down the track, or most likely never at all.


A photo posted by ANGELICA EARLE (@angelicaearle) on


10. Selecting a poor company to volunteer with

Lastly, and perhaps most vitally, you need to select a responsible, reliable, and of course affordable international volunteer company to volunteer with. Do research, read reviews and check out all the projects they offer online. I may be biased but I would suggest volunteering with International Volunteer HQ, and don't just take my word from it, our volunteer feedback and alumni network of over 39,000 volunteers speak volumes. 


A photo posted by @ivhq on


Best of luck on your adventures, don’t be a rookie, be a smart volunteer traveler and brush up on these Facepalm Moments To Avoid In Travel to be on the extra safe side!


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