Volunteer Travel: A Beginner’s Guide

The new year is approaching, and you might be thinking about your goals and resolutions. Is giving back to the community one of them? The idea of volunteering as a means of travel appeals to many. I recently mentioned it as a way to find free accommodation, but there is a lot to consider when you choose to do volunteer travel.

What cause do you want to give your time to? What part of the world needs or calls to you most? And that doesn’t even get into the nitty gritty of the process, including ethical volunteering, visas, etc. I’ve gathered some information and resources that can get your started on your volunteer travel journey.

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Free Accommodation? It’s Real! And Pretty Easy to Find

The only free accommodation I thought was possible was staying at my parent’s house. How can you possibly find a free place to stay that doesn’t include sleeping on your friend’s futon when you visit? It turns out there are a lot of options out there (including staying on couches), you just have to look! I’ve compiled a list of sites under various categories that provide free accommodation.

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Building a Travel Budget Like a Boss

So you’ve chosen your holiday destination and know when you want to go, now it’s time to determine cost and start saving! If you’re anything like me, you’ll have an Excel spreadsheet that details every expense down to the cost of postage for all those postcards you bought. Or, maybe you’re more laid back about what you’ll spend where. Either way, don’t ignore making a travel budget! The last thing you want is to face post-vacation blues and an unexpected credit card bill. Or to constantly obsess over the cost of each thing you do on your vacation.

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Travel with Pets

How do you go on amazing vacations without feeling guilty for kenneling your beloved fur babies? Take them with you, of course! It may require a little more paperwork, but travel with pets is doable and not as dangerous as some news stories would have you believe.

I have two cats myself, and if I’m being honest, they are my biggest (aka only) barrier to full-time travel. I know they will never be my travel companions since my tuxedo cat Oliver meows incessantly on long drives. However, I am *hoping* to move my home base to the UK in the next few years, and I don’t plan to abandon them here.

This has opened my eyes to what is available. Cruises, planes, there are entire services available to comfortably relocate pets. While my move with them will be a one-time travel experience, my research has shown pets can adapt and even enjoy travel if made to feel comfortable. 

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Top 5 Things to Consider When Choosing Your Perfect Accommodation Style

Today’s post was written by guest blogger Karen Stephenson. You can find her on Instagram at @wren_stephani

So you’ve picked where you want to go on your next trip. The next step is lining up your ideal accommodation. It is usually best to organize this before you book in all your activities. Otherwise, you may find yourself without shelter, or worse yet, blowing your budget on overpriced accommodation because you were already restricted on dates.

Before we get into the confusion of the best websites to use to book holiday accommodation, you should sit down and decide what type suits you best. This will depend on your personal travel style, as well as the location you have chosen. For a long time, we only had limited hotel options and hostels for gap year travelers. But in recent years, with the growth of companies like Airbnb, you can basically rent a converted shed at your destination.

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Airbnb: The Ultimate Guide

If you’re not using Airbnb yet, why not? Since I no longer travel for work and earn points with reckless abandon, I almost exclusively use Airbnb to find accommodation for my trips. Some of my best travel experiences have been a direct result of my Airbnb stays, including sailing at Lake Balaton in Hungary, drinking homemade liqueur at sunset on the steps of Old Town Dubrovnik, and meeting my boyfriend in the highlands of Scotland!

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Traveling Solo for the Holidays

When you think of the holiday season, you probably imagine being surrounded by family and friends, cozy by a fire sipping hot cocoa (unless, like me, you’re from Florida, in which case swap out fire and cocoa with pool and ice tea). Big meals, carols on the radio, and sitting by a twinkling Christmas tree. Everything Hollywood has been selling us for years.

But many people are planning to travel alone for the holidays this year. Any why not? There’s a lot to see out there, and this is a great time to maximize your days off from work. I’ve got some tips for those of you that have made the leap into solo holiday travel. 

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Souvenirs: Bringing Them Home

If you’re like me, you love finding beautiful souvenirs abroad. I try to make sure I only pick up things I will actually put on display at home, but usually end up with so much extra that I make care packages for friends and family. But there’s a lot to keep in mind when you’re out searching for that perfect gift to bring back for your best friend. Below are some tips for planning your souvenir haul while keeping your baggage weight low and customs officials happy.

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Belgium: Country Spotlight

Once a month, I write a post highlighting a particular country. My choice for this month reflects my excitement for the upcoming holidays. Belgium has a wonderful Christmas market scene, as well as just being a beautiful county all-around.

Part of modern-day travel planning is reading blog posts about your destination. I’ve done the dirty work for you, looking through twenty pages of Google results and reading a lot about Belgium. Let’s get an itinerary put together, figure out what to pack, and hear about the good, the bad, and the ugly.

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