Is volunteering the key to travel and adventure?

Are you envious of your gap-year friends on their unforgettable adventures involving bathing elephants, mountain trekking and even changing lives?

If, like me, you have been constantly bombarded by online adverts and photos from agencies convincing you to travel abroad, you may be tempted to travel yourself. With no responsibility, no lectures, and no pressure about your future, you would be crazy not to consider it. Just imagine travelling somewhere you wouldn’t ordinarily have the opportunity to visit. You might think to yourself, ‘I’m a time-strapped, indebted student’ and you would be right to be concerned about the plausibility of travelling abroad. But what if you could afford both the time and money to travel?


How can you make this possible? There are lots of charities, such as Challenges Abroad, who arrange travel for students; better than this, they combine volunteering with the whole experience. These opportunities can help you expand your horizons, meet new people, make lasting memories and make a real difference to the lives of others. Some organisations only ask for a small deposit while the rest can be fundraised. That’s one less financial burden – but how do you raise funds and when can you go? Fortunately, the itinerary, flight booking and general duties are organised by your travel sponsor. You are given 6-12 months to fundraise.

You must be warned: do not underestimate the time and effort needed to fundraise. Please think this through carefully before signing up. Be sure to enlist the help of as many friends and family members as possible to make your task easier. All things considered, combining travelling, fundraising and volunteering with your university commitments can be overwhelming for some – but as long as you keep your goals in mind you can easily make it achievable.

The best tips I can offer is to start early: plan your fundraising or finances early and prepare for any last-minute mishaps. With safety in mind, first check that the travel provider you choose is trusted and that you will be looked after throughout your journey should anything happen.

If you’re new to fundraising, read on for some tips you can try. There are several ways of fundraising and all you need to do is harness your talent and interests.

Arty individuals can create their own work and make personalised items from jewellery to cards to sell. Avid bakers can hold multiple cake sales. I challenged myself by cutting my long hair for a good cause (Little Princess Trust) to raise money. It helps to set up a fundraising page, and always promote what you’re doing to friends and family. Lastly, don’t be afraid to ask – if you don’t ask, you don’t get, so don’t hold back.

Also be sure to apply for grants – there are plenty of useful sites designed to help you find organisations willing to sponsor you for volunteering, such as Funding Central.

So get brainstorming and plan out what you want to achieve. Make the most of what is available to you and stand out as a global citizen.

If this blog inspires you to try something new, then keep us posted and send us your photos to – we would love to hear about your adventures!

Rimshah Khan is a second-year Economics student at Royal Holloway University, London. Rimshah is fundraising for an international volunteering project in India, in support of FutureSense Foundation.

Portrait of Rimshah Khan