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Mapping Your Volunteer Vacation

By Jane Stanfield

Reviewed by Volker Poelzl

Mapping Your Volunteer Vacation” is a practical workbook about volunteering which is intended for first-time international volunteers. Author Jane Stanfield traveled around the world for one year and participated in twelve volunteer programs in eight different countries. Her book draws strongly upon her own recent experiences, including the fact that could not find practical information to help her get prepared: “When I planned my volunteer vacation, I could not find a resource to help me get organized. That is why I created this workbook, "Mapping Your Volunteer Vacation." It will lead you step by step through issues to consider as you map out your international trip.”

There are a large variety of options available for volunteers and the number of different programs can be overwhelming for would-be volunteers. Jane Stanfield’s book takes a very practical approach to preparing a volunteer vacation, which eliminates the guesswork and helps future volunteers get organized. She presents a lot of useful information and turns the preparation for a volunteer vacation into easily manageable steps.

The chapters are in chronological order starting one year before the planned volunteer vacation and cover everything volunteers need to plan and do, from the first contact with volunteer organizations all the way to the return trip home. What makes the workbook especially useful is the fact that it helps readers make up their minds about where to go, what to do, and how to do it. It covers all important issues concerning volunteers, from reasons for volunteering to where and when to go, what volunteer organization to choose, information about group and family travel, and tips about looking for volunteer work without an agency. You will also find information about other practical issues such as visas, health issues, finances, lodging, packing, and cultural concerns.

Since “Mapping Your Volunteer Vacation” is a workbook, there are plenty of checklists and tables, as well as space for personal notes. The appendix lists practical online resources and contains several useful forms, such as a “Trip Expense Summary,” a “Reservations Summary,” and a “Contact List”.

Jane Stanfield has also published several articles about volunteering, and is a contributing author to “The Voluntary Traveler: Adventures from The Road Best Traveled.”

Editor's Note: After this review was written, Transitions Abroad was pleased to publish several other articles on volunteering by Jane Stanfield, including:

 More by Jane Stanfield
Volunteer Work with Animals
The Penguins of SANCCOB: A Unique Volunteer Program in South Africa
The Wallabies of AACE: Wildlife Volunteering in Australia
Archaeology at Your Fingertips: Volunteering with Earthwatch in Thailand

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