Advice from other volunteers for your career break
Dos and Don'ts when taking a Career Break and travelling abroad: Some advice from past MondoChallenge volunteers
1. Plan early!
Research your destination thoroughly before you go. In addition to the extensive MondoChallenge briefing notes, you should buy a good guidebook e.g. Lonely Planet, Rough Guide or Footprints Guide. Also look at the advice given by the Foreign Office (www.fco.gov.uk).
Be aware of the laws, customs and dress code for the country. Your guide book should provide this information but MondoChallenge country briefing notes also cover all this.
If you wish to return to your job on your return, contact your employer as early as possible about the opportunities for taking a sabbatical. You company may offer paid or unpaid sabbaticals. Emphasise the positive benefits your career break will bring to your company e.g. you will return to work more motivated and energised having learned new skills and gained more confidence from your experiences!
Online banking is a great way to manage your finances while you are away. But many internet cafes are slow and access may not always be easy so don't leave important transactions until the last minute. Set up Standing Orders for key items (eg household utilities, credit card minimum payments).
Calculate how much money you will need for your trip and make sure you have some extra. MondoChallenge will let you know if you can use a credit or debit card to withdraw money at your destination using ATMs. It's best to have a combination of credit/debit card, travellers cheques, sterling and some US dollars.
Visit your doctor for advice on vaccinations and medication needed.
Visas: MondoChallenge will give you all the information you need on getting the appropriate visa(s). Many consulates have online forms, but visas can often be obtained on arrival (although having one in your passport ahead of time can be comforting!). If you plan to visit lots of countries, make sure your passport has plenty of blank pages, or get a new one well before you leave.
MondoChallenge uses a couple of reputable insurers and we will pass on their details. But in general, shop around for travel insurance and make sure you are covered for everything you intend to do e.g. white water rafting.
Make photocopies of your passport (including visa pages), insurance details and plane tickets. Leave copies with family/friends and take copies with you.
Make sure your family or friends at home are aware of your travel itinerary.
Take a good international plug adaptor (or two).
If you intend to use your mobile phone, contact your operator to check whether you will have coverage. If not you will need to take it into a shop to have the phone 'unlocked'. Warn friends not to call your UK mobile while you are away; you will be paying for all incoming calls from abroad (but see below for alternatives)!
MondoChallenge will be happy to put you in touch with the most recent volunteers on your project. They will be able to give you the best advice about what to expect or bring!
Mondo will help you register your details with your embassy on arrival. This can simply mean sending them an email to inform them that you are in the country.
Keep your photocopies of important documents (passport, insurance info, plane tickets) in separate bags from the original copies.
Take advice from the local MondoChallenge manager about your personal safety and where best to keep your valuables.
Keep your valuables out of sight. Combination locks are useful for your bags.
Ensure you respect local customs in regard to dress code, personal relationships, smoking and drinking alcohol. It is important for you, for MondoChallenge and for the other volunteers on the programme that you do not cause offence.
As you are likely to be staying in one country for several weeks, consider getting either a cheap local mobile phone or a local SIM card for your UK mobile. Don't forget to alert friends back home to the new number! Local texts and calls tend to be very cheap and incoming calls from abroad are free, which avoids the massive charges when using your UK mobile. Even better, ensure your UK contacts have the special access codes available for low cost dialling to your country (try Telediscount or Just Abroad).