Everything you need to know
How are the Better World Adventure destinations chosen?
Better World Adventures strives to offer fantastic travel and volunteering opportunities at the most affordable prices possible. Destinations countries are generally developing countries that offer exceptional value for money, are inexpensive to stay in, safe for
How does Better World Adventure select its volunteer projects?
We spend a huge amount of time and effort seeking out the right volunteer partners and projects in each country that we visit. Our relationships with our foreign partners are based on mutual trust and respect. Sometimes we will partner with a popular volunteer agency that offers many projects. In other locations we will partner with small, highly localized project coordinators that are quite off-the-beaten-track.
Characteristics that we are looking for when we are making our project selection include:
- how their organisational goals match Better World Adventure’s goals of sustainability, positive social impacts, and genuine benefits to the local community,
- well organized the project management is,
- the cost to you to volunteer,
- how well respected they are in the local community,
- how long they have been in operation,
- the level of support they can provide our groups,
- the accommodation that they are able to provide,
- the quality of their safety plans,
- and most importantly the quality of the feedback from previous volunteers.
The reality of a group of high school age volunteers is that we offer labour, toil and enthusiasm for short term projects, rather than providing highly specific skills or long-term volunteers. For this reason, we tend to prioritise volunteer projects that will benefit from “many hands”. Projects where we can assist with community restoration and construction, agriculture, conservation, and disaster relief rebuilding. Where we are volunteering in childcare, Better World Adventures makes every effort to ensure that we are working with children that continue to live with their families. In keeping with current global volunteering practices, we will generally be avoiding volunteering in orphanages or institutions where children are separated from family.
Wherever possible, we try to source projects that are aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
What makes Better World Adventures different?
One of the biggest differences is that we put you, the volunteer, before profit. If you have been searching for volunteer projects, you will discover that many voluntourism organisations charge very high fees and make huge profits from arranging global volunteering. Volunteering becomes exclusive. We believe that we offer better fully-escorted tours, with more included activities, and more attention to detail. At a much less expensive cost that is as low as possible without compromising on the value, quality and safety of every volunteer’s experience.
On a Better World Adventures tour, you won’t be offered a bare-bones itinerary and then be informed that all the fun things you want to do along the way are “optional” with additional costs. If we know that everyone will want to do something, we include it. If we have a busy day in a hot country, we’ll try to arrange lunch at a hotel with a pool that you can cool off in. We are here because of our belief in what we do.
How long are Better World Adventure tours?
Programs vary in length between 2 – 3 ½ weeks and take place over school holidays. The longest tours are in December/January when it is easier to stay away for longer without impacting school work. Each tour has between 5 – 12 days of community volunteering on one or more projects.
What does the fee include?
At Better World Adventures we do everything we can to offer fantastic tours for a significantly lower cost than our competitors so that the experience of global volunteering is accessible to as many students as possible. In order to ensure that there is no difference in terms of quality when compared to our competitors, we work with top quality activity and volunteering providers who have a similar ethos to us and are focused more on your experience than on generating company profits.
We try to include everything that we can think of that will apply equally to everyone on the tour. This means that there are very few added costs that have to be considered. We think it is misleading to offer a price that does not include items such as airfares, insurance, visas, lunches, and entrance fees for group activities. For this reason, the price includes all of these costs, even the souvenir T-shirt and phone SIM card with a lot of data and some free international calls to ensure that you don’t have to worry about additional costs just to stay in touch with home.
Better World Adventures program fees include all of the following:
- pre-departure orientation
- airport transfers
- international airfares
- international entry visas
- comprehensive travel and medical insurance
- 24-hour global emergency assistance
- 24/7 leader support
- services of local staff
- English speaking guides at many attractions
- All group transportation (except local transport to volunteer projects)
- all accommodation
- all meals (3 local meals most days)
- drinking water
- almost all group tourist activities
- national park permits
- SIM card with data and calls
- attraction entry fees
- 24/7 support
- the arrangement of the volunteering projects
- and of course, unforgettable life-changing experiences!
Please view individual program details for specific information on inclusions.
Are tips included in my tour price?
Many of our competitors consider tipping to be a personal cost, but as most New Zealanders are not familiar with the practice of tipping, Better World Adventures have chosen to include dinner, guide and activity tips in the tour cost. Tipping advice will also be provided by your tour leaders.
What is not included in the tour price?
Very little. Vaccinations, public transport, and personal spending money for gifts, laundry and telephone. That’s about all.
Who can go on a tour?
Better World Adventures are for any New Zealand student in Year 12 or Year 13 at the time of travel. Applications from students in Year 11 at the time of travel will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Do tours have minimum or maximum numbers?
What will the age range of people in the tour group?
Most of our student volunteers are between 17-18 years of age at the time of travel.
Who will my travelling companions be?
Better World Adventures runs two kinds of volunteering tours. The first is school specific – where all of the tour members come from the same school, with at least one teacher as a group leader. On these tours, your travelling companions will be other students from your school.
We also run tours where students from all over New Zealand join the same adventure tour. Your travelling companions could come from any school in New Zealand, but are probably a similar age to you, and have similar interests, who like you, are keen to share the experience and forge lifelong friendships.
Do I need any qualifications or special skills?
Our projects do not require volunteers to have specific qualifications. Just be willing to participate, even when the work is dusty or dirty. There will be times when volunteering puts you outside your comfort zone. Be ready for the challenge, and you will reap the benefits.
Do I need to speak the local language?
Most of our tours do not require specific language skills and
Do I need to be physically fit?
Most locations require a moderate level of fitness especially if you want to get the full amount out of your time there. Every Better World Adventure includes elements of vigorous
Why do we need to provide references or a criminal background check?
All volunteers aged 18 and over at the time of travel are required to provide a criminal record check as part of the application process. This is part of Better World Adventures Child Welfare policy in case we end up doing project work that involves young children.
If you are under 18 at the time of travel, we will request personal character references from teachers or adults who know you.
Can I travel with my friend?
We encourage you to get as many of your classmates or friends together as possible to join you, especially if the tour is arranged by your school. But don’t worry if you are signing up for a tour and don’t know anyone else who is going. Travel and volunteering are both incredibly good icebreakers, and you will be delighted to find that it always seems to be so much easier than normal, to introduce yourself and make new friends when you are on tour.
Are the destination countries safe?
Yes. Your well-being is our top priority on all tours. All the countries we visit and volunteer in are politically stable, and safe to travel in. Better World Adventures monitors all of its destinations continuously, and if things change or deteriorates and travel advisories warn against travelling, we will look for an alternative, rather than put you in harm’s way.
I am a female volunteer. Is it safe to travel and volunteer alone?
If you are volunteering with Better World Adventures you won’t be alone. Even if you are not on a tour with a specific school, you will be travelling in a group and living and working with other volunteers a similar age and mindset to you. In general, women do not experience any more problems than perhaps the occasional curious stare,
Better World Adventures takes your safety and security very seriously. Destinations are chosen that are as safe as possible for foreign travellers, and we have done a lot of work to identify any risk activities and areas. Please request a copy of the relevant Risk Analysis Management Strategy (RAMS document) if you would like to see our risk management plan for the tour you are interested in. While in
Are there any medical restrictions?
While there are no specific medical restrictions, participants will need to be of average fitness, and independently mobile. It is extremely important that all prospective group members are honest and frank with Better World Adventures about pre-existing medical conditions, previous injuries and surgery, and current medications, as these may affect your insurance coverage, and ability to participate on the tour. All volunteers will need a sign off on any disclosed medical conditions from a qualified GP/Doctor and admission to your chosen program is subject to consideration of all medical conditions so we can ensure the safety of all volunteers.
What if I become ill on tour?
All Better World Adventures participants are covered by a comprehensive Travel and Medical insurance policy. If you are ill whilst overseas, your accompanying team leaders will coordinate with the local in-country volunteering managers to ensure that you have the best
Can I contact someone about running a tour for my school?
Absolutely! Please contact us directly if you would like us to talk to someone at your school about putting together a cost-effective adventure plan for your students that could be significantly less expensive than other providers.
Before Your Adventure
When should I apply?
Contact us to check availability for any program that interests you! Most school tours are planned 12-18 months in advance of departure to give you the greatest amount of time to fundraise for your tour.
When do deposits and payments have to be paid?
A deposit will be due at the time of submitting your application form. You will pay a number of progress payments between the time you apply and your departure date. Over the course of the year, some of the foreign costs may increase and foreign exchange rates may fluctuate, so
What is your refund policy?
Your deposit payment of NZ$500 to Better World Adventures is refundable for 14 days after submitting the application in case you get cold feet. Payments are then spaced out between the time of application and departure. Almost all of the tour costs go toward travel and activity arrangements, with your early payments paying your non-refundable airline, accommodation and volunteering deposits. For this reason, all progress payments are non-refundable, unless the tour is cancelled by Better World Adventures due to insufficient numbers. Where natural disasters or civil disturbances affect the destination country between the time of application and the departure date, making it impossible or unsafe to continue the tour in its planned form, Better World Adventures reserves the right to substitute activities, volunteer projects, or even to substitute an entirely new destination country and volunteer project, rather than cancel the Adventure.
Is the application fee refundable?
We want you to feel confident and happy with your decision to join us on one of our Better World Adventures so the application fee is refundable for 14 days of submitting the application. After 14 days the application fee becomes non-refundable.
Do I need travel insurance?
Yes. Comprehensive travel and medical insurance is compulsory for all Better World Adventures participants and is included in the program fee. Better World Adventures purchases your insurance cover as soon as you start making progress payments, to ensure that you have pre-departure cancellation cover. Your insurance has a number of options for claiming for loss of deposits where cancellation or inability to travel arise due to ill-health, medical or family emergency or other extenuating circumstances. Please ensure that you are very honest and frank with Better World Adventures about any pre-existing conditions. As we are a group, the majority of pre-existing conditions will be covered, but you may jeopardise your insurance cover if the insurer later discovers that you had a pre-existing condition that you did not declare – even if those pre-existing conditions have nothing to do with the reason for your claim. As most of our student group tour participants are considered minors and are under the direct supervision of the tour leaders, we are often able to arrange group insurance for significantly less cost than you can arrange individually.
What vaccinations will I need?
It’s very important that each group participant is medically protected for travel. Recommended vaccinations will depend on your chosen destination. As each tour group member has different medical requirements and medical history, the cost of vaccinations is not included in the program fee. Better World Adventures are not medical experts so advise you to talk to your doctor or visit a specialist travel clinic who will be happy to advise on what you will and won’t need. You may have already been vaccinated against a number of diseases as a child, although some of these immunisations may need a booster or top-up. Some vaccinations will require multiple doses to complete the course, so it is advisable to speak to your travel doctor at least 6 months ahead of your travel.
You can also visit the following website for more information: https://worldwise.co.nz/travel-vaccinations-nz-vaccination-planner
Will I need a visa for the destination country?
Many countries require visitors to obtain an entry visa,
Do I need to book extra accommodation before/after my tour or volunteer experience?
No. Almost all Better World Adventures are escorted group tours where the group departs and returns together.
Can I extend my stay overseas?
Probably not. If you are travelling with a school group on a group booking, it will not be possible to extend your travel, unless this was arranged with Better World Adventures at the time of booking your tour, and you are being met by your parents or legal guardians.
Extending your stay may be possible if you are on one of our tours where you are travelling with a parent, and privately purchased a date-changeable flight ticket.
What spending money should I budget?
Most of our destination countries are very inexpensive compared with New Zealand. The majority of the meals and activities that are enjoyed as a group are included in the tour fee. Unless you are planning to go on a spending spree, then your purchases will be incidentals such as bottled water, local transport, basic supplies (such as pharmacy items), occasional meals and snacks, souvenirs and some local sightseeing. Some group members will be quite frugal, while others may splurge, especially if we are visiting large shopping malls or markets where clothing is cheap. On arrival in the destination country, you will be instructed how to use approved currency
Should I travel with spending money in cash?
Better World Adventures strongly recommends that all tour participants deposit your spending money onto a travel money card such as the Cash Passport, Loaded for Travel, or Air New Zealand OneSmart card prior to departing from New Zealand. They can be obtained from travel agencies, money exchange kiosks, and all of the major banks.
A travel debit card can be used to purchase items or withdraw cash using an ATM in the destination country but is not linked to your normal bank account. It is not a credit card and cannot be overspent, but equally importantly, there are no foreign service fees for withdrawals, as there are with credit card ATM transactions.
We definitely suggest you carry some cash with you at all times, in case ATMs are not working. The quantity of cash you need to carry will vary, depending on your destination, the services/items you need to pay for, and your proximity to reliable sources of money (ATMs, Banks).
Can I fundraise for this tour and volunteering project?
Yes, definitely. Even if you are lucky enough to know someone that wants to pay for your travel, we still encourage you to fundraise as much of the cost as possible. The more you work to raise money for your travel and volunteering, the more ownership of the tour you will feel, and the better you will become at volunteering, working, and networking with people. You will also be surprised how keen many people will be to help you meet your financial target when they find out why you are fundraising.
As fundraising is an important part of your tour preparation, shortly after registration you will be provided with fundraising ideas. These can be broken down into 3 categories:
- The Sales Angle– You make or purchase an item and go to family, friends and neighbours to sell the item for profit. These can include chocolates, Juicies, Entertainment books, raffle tickets, toilet paper, kitchen materials and nearly any item you can imagine.
- Service Angle– You provide your services to community members, and at events. Examples include car washes, quiz-night, or events where you make money through ticket sales or donations, or where you are paid to assist at an event such as race marshalling, or dinner catering or similar.
- Hosting specialist events- You arrange an event and seek sponsor donations or sell tickets. These include fashion shows, endurance sports events, galas, quiz nights, etc. The possibilities are endless.
One option that has not been utilised much in New Zealand is crowd-funding via social media. I encourage you to look at https://www.fundmytravel.com/
This website has been created specifically for people to crowd-fund overseas travel, volunteering experiences etc., by creating a profile online and sharing it across social media platforms such as Facebook.
Am I expected to fundraise for a large financial donation for the volunteering project?
No. Many of the international volunteering tour providers require their tour participants to donate a large sum of money to the volunteer project – which increases the price of the tour significantly. At Better World Adventures, we want students to gain an understanding of the power and positivity of community volunteering. There is no denying that large financial donations help foreign volunteer projects immensely, however we also recognise that high school students do not have full-time paid careers and large discretionary incomes and understand that you have already been fundraising the cost of the tour itself. The volunteer organisations that we partner with understand that you are young, and that your contribution is your time and your effort, rather than a large financial donation. The communities that you are volunteering in will be very grateful for the effort that you will contribute to their project.
Won’t the unskilled labour that our group provides to the volunteering project take valuable jobs or employment away from local workers?
No. This is a common criticism of short-term volunteering and voluntourism that you often see in online discussions, but it is largely unfounded. As a volunteer, you are not being paid for the work that you do on the volunteering project, and the local project organisers don’t have the money to employ people to do the work. Your labour will contribute to projects that would not be able to be completed without volunteer labour, or where there are no local volunteers available to do the work – because the workers are away from their communities seeking paid employment to support their families. In the case of disaster relief community rebuilding, the sheer scale of the projects are so large that every additional volunteer is appreciated.
What should I pack?
Your pre-departure orientation will include a detailed packing list with items that you need to bring.
On Your Adventure
Can you tell me exactly what volunteer project I'll be doing?
Not always. International volunteering requires flexibility, so you need to have an open mind. Usually pre-departure you will be informed of a range of volunteering projects that we may possibly be working on while we are abroad, but we are not always able to confirm the exact nature of our volunteering projects until we are at our destination. You will be working to fill a need in the organization and
What will a typical volunteering day look like?
Exact schedules differ by destination and project, but a typical weekday volunteer day will be something like the following:
- 6:00 AM Wake up and get ready for the day.
- 6:30 AM Breakfast at the volunteer accommodation.
- 7:45 AM Volunteers travel to their project placement on local transport.
- 12:00 PM Lunch (provided)
- 3:00 PM Volunteer duties finish. Free time for shopping and sightseeing.
- 6:45 PM Dinner at the volunteer house.
- 8:00 PM Accommodation curfew. Blog or journal writing, relaxing, laundry.
Will our group on our own or are there going to be other volunteers on the same project?
This will depend on the country we are in and the volunteering provider that we are working with. Sometimes, we will be working for a volunteering organisation that has many large projects and volunteers, and you will possibly be working alongside volunteers from all over the world that you can meet and exchange ideas and stories and share meals with. At other times we will be working on an exclusive volunteer project where our group are the only volunteers present.
Is food included on tour?
While on tour you will be provided with 2-3 nutritious and healthy meals each day throughout your stay. Some of those meals will be in hotels or restaurants, some will be prepared in volunteer house kitchens, and some will be home cooked meals provided by a homestay family. The way in which your food is provided will vary according to your placement country and host, but you can be sure that it is very likely that it will differ from what you are used to eating at home, so it’s important that you are willing to try new food. In many of our destination countries, meat is rarely eaten except on festive occasions. Most meals will be primarily vegetarian, utilising locally-sourced produce.
What if I have dietary restrictions?
It is very important to provide detailed information on your application regarding any dietary requirements or food allergies. We are able to cater for many diets provided we are notified in advance and will contact our in-country volunteer partners to ensure that your dietary requirements are able to be met. We will let you know if they can’t.
Is the local water safe to drink?
Almost never. Wherever possible students should only drink bottled or filtered water. Bottled water is readily available in all destination countries, and will also be provided in bulk for Better World Adventures group members, enabling them to fill reusable water bottles.
What accommodation will we be staying in?
The quality of accommodation varies from country to country and placement to placement. Please check the website for details on the accommodation that we will use in your program. Our tours will often combine a variety of accommodations, ranging from quality 3-star hotels (often with a swimming pool
Accommodation is almost always shared with other volunteers of the same sex, from within our group. In some locations the accommodation may be quite rustic and basic, as is the nature of the community you will be volunteering in. You should not expect western standards, but the accommodation will be clean, safe and secure. Volunteer accommodation will generally be in
On most tours, our groups stay together in the same hotel, guest house, or volunteer dormitory. Some projects may be located in a rural village, where accommodation for a large group isn’t available. In these instances, we will likely be staying in tents, or our partner volunteer organization has arranged for groups of tour participants to live with a vetted host family and to be truly immersed in the local culture. Student group members will never be housed alone in a homestay without other group members. Volunteers who do stay in a homestay almost always discover that staying with local families is a great way to forge connections wit the community, helps with learning the local language and makes for some fantastic memories.
Will I have a room to myself?
No. All student group members will be in shared accommodation. This may be twin share, triple, or quad, or larger dormitories.
Will males and females be accommodated together or separately?
In almost all of the tour accommodation, male and female group members will be accommodated separately. Very rarely, if we are staying overnight in a public youth hostel, a small number of group members may be required to share mixed dormitory accommodation if the single-sex accommodation is full. If there is a likelihood that this may happen, you will be informed prior to departure on tour (unless this is emergency accommodation due to an urgent change having to be made due to circumstances on tour).
What supervision and support will there be on the tour?
On all Better World Adventures tours you will be accompanied by New Zealand tour managers from the moment you depart New Zealand, until you arrive back, at all times and during all transfers. While volunteering, you will also be supported by our in-country partner operations team who are providing the logistic support and comprehensive additional care and supervision for our volunteer project. Our local in-country volunteering partners are English speaking and carefully selected based on their long experience, their high level of organisation and their community connections. You will be encouraged to spend your afternoon free time exploring the local environment, but are required to have the company of other group members, and to have a GPS app installed on your cell phone that identifies your approximate location. It’s also important to note that supervision doesn’t replace good common sense and you are always responsible for your own behaviour.
How much free time do I get on tour?
Each tour has been carefully crafted to provide you with plenty of free time, usually in the weekday afternoons,and on free days. We encourage you to relax or explore your local surroundings, city or village independently and at your own pace. These opportunities for “self-discovery” can provide some of the most memorable experiences on tour and help to develop your own self-confidence. Weekends will generally be spent travelling and sightseeing as a group and included in the tour price.
As your tour leaders are responsible for your well-being, the rules governing independent sightseeing must be adhered to. You must gain the approval of the tour leaders and let them know your whereabouts; you must be with other volunteers from our group; you may not travel alone; and you must have returned to the accommodation by the agreed time, and before the agreed evening curfew.
How can my family and I stay in contact?
In all Better World Adventure programs, volunteers have a local SIM card for their mobile phone included in the program fee. Where possible, the SIM card provided will include both data and a provision of calling time enabling you to place local calls to other volunteers and leaders and to use network and internet services such as Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, Snapchat, Facetime etc to contact home. Please note that in some remote locations the internet reception may be patchy and unpredictable.
After Your Adventure
I had a great time. What now?
to hear about it! Please send us any pictures or videos you’ve taken, give us a review on Facebook, and let us know if you’re willing to participate in an interview about your experience. There are always ways to stay involved.
Check out this great video from Learning Service, which discusses ways that you can continue to think globally and advocate for positive change after you return home, and how to support the projects that motivated you while on your Better World Adventure.
Another good sources of practical advice is provided at What To Do After Volunteering Abroad.
You may have found your experience so inspirational that you want to remain engaged upon your return home. Social intrapreneurs are people that start initatives within existing institutions (for instance schools or workplaces) that create social and or environmental good, while aligning with the institution or organisations mission. MovingWorlds have created a complex Re-Integration Guide for returning volunteers (who they call “Experteers”) that details processes to help you work through the unique, and possibly new, emotions you might be feeling, and ways to create the positive change you desire to make in yourself and in those around you upon your return. It includes ways to engage in local giving activities, and to become a social intrapreneur.
How do I market my experience on a resume?
It is really important that you leverage your volunteer experience by including it in your CV, and on applications for further study and scholarships. Although your international experience is unique to you, there are certainly ways that you can reference it on your CV so that it makes the most impact and highlights the skills you may have acquired. Check out these great online articles for pointers on how best to do this:
- Marketing Your International Experience
- How to Put Your Volunteer Abroad Experience on a Resume
- Steps to Adding Volunteer Experience Abroad to Your Resume
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