Being a Worldpacker is a unique experience that changes the life of anyone that goes through it. However, in order for it to be a good experience, it’s important that both the volunteer as well as the host have a win-win exchange.
When receiving a volunteer, the host is also opening up to an experience and hopes that it will be the best possible. Volunteers that do not take the initiative to help in the ways they agreed beforehand can hurt the entire operation of the hostel.
Therefore, this list will help you to breeze through the work exchange and greatly enjoy the experience of getting to know new people and cultures.
Check out the 10 commandments of being a good volunteer:
The first step to making everything happen is to always keep the dialogue going. Before getting to the destination, talk to the host a lot and and ask questions about work hours, what you’ll be doing, length of stay and how your accommodation is, making everything very clear between you both.
In addition to that, while you’re volunteering it’s also very important to talk with the host about any problems that may arise, anything you’re unhappy with and even getting and giving feedback. Many times the solution to a problem is a good conversation.
Being proactive during your volunteering is a key feature for a better outcome in any activity. The host likes to see volunteers that pay attention and take initiative when it comes to hostel activities, they feel more confident in the person that doesn’t wait for directions or for orders to take actions that help in the day to day of the place.
When you fill an open volunteer position in a hostel, you are committed to helping the host. This includes paying attention to work schedules, always being on time, being helpful and completing the tasks in the best way possible, as well as giving attention and assistance to guests whenever necessary.
Empathy is very important for any harmonious relationship. It’s the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and act out of solidarity. The hosts, guests and other volunteers are also people confronting their fears and going after their dreams, just like you. So put yourself in the place of the hostel owner, guests and volunteers when you notice something that might upset the environment there.
Make yourself available. From the moment you apply until the very last day of your trip. Respond to the hosts’ messages, explain your commitments (if you are doing another activity or job besides volunteering) help in different roles if needed, finish your length of stay as agreed and don’t leave the host hanging.
6. Focus on the ways of the culture
One of the greatest riches that we have in the world is culture, and the variety of cultures is what makes everything so special. Cultures change in every neighborhood, city, state or country, from vocabulary, cousine, leisure or education. Therefore, while volunteering, remember that you are in a region with a culture different from yours and that it needs to be treated with total respect. When it comes to culture, there is no right or wrong, just differences. You need to be open to that fact to enjoy the experience.
7. Respect for the location
A hostel is an environment that many, many people pass through. Some stay for just a few days, others a few weeks and there are some that stay for months, like many volunteers. Whether its for days or months, the environment becomes the home of the guests and volunteers, so you need to have a lot of respect for the place. Keep everything clean and organized, respect the rules, maintain the common areas and respect the people that also live there, always appreciating the good that comes from living together.
8. Live the experience
Being a Worldpacker is really a unique experience that you are going to remember for a long time. The opportunity to meet people from all over the world, live in an environment of shared knowledge, develop new skills and still be able to see incredible places in a more inexpensive way are just a few of the rewards of this experience. The hosts recognize this and like to see your willingness to live this type of experience, they want volunteers that are passionate about collaborating, that want to live the hostel routine, open to new friendships and experiences and that enjoy it to the last drop.
9. The exchange is more than a budget trip
It is true that one of the main advantages of traveling with Worldpackers is that you save a lot of money, but that’s not all it’s about. When you get accepted as a volunteer, whether in a hostel, NGO or eco-project, you become part of the team, part of it all. You’re going to have the chance to meet other volunteers and hosts full of stories to tell, practice another language (even if it’s in your own country), develop or sharpen skills, get to know a new place, learn about the daily routine of different projects and open your mind to a collaborative economy, in addition to being saturated with stories and meaningful moments. With all of this, saving money is just one detail.
10. The language
When a host opens a spot, there is a certain level of language requirement that comes with the position. Be honest about this because in some tasks, like reception, it is extremely important to have good communication between volunteers and guests. So, if you’re going to volunteer in a country that speaks a different language, be aware of this detail.
Most hosts don’t ask that you be fluent, but that you can communicate well in that language. There are also opportunities for working in a role that doesn’t require so much contact with the public, for those that don’t feel confident with a second language.
These are a few tips about how to be a five-star Worldpacker volunteer, but the most important one will always be respect. Maintaining a good relationship between the volunteer and the host is important so that the experience is good, fun and profitable for everyone involved. Plus, when the volunteering is over, a good rating and review from both parties greatly helps each side to follow their own paths.