One of our core values here at Real Gap Experience is ethical volunteering with the thesis of ‘responsible travel’ in mind. Responsible travel is made up of a multiple attitudes and theories, and we hope by supporting our customers in understanding these principals, that they’ll be able to carry out their work a sensitive and sustainable way.
We are also dedicated to giving travellers support, information and assistance to make their trip responsible. Here are just a few areas where we try to make it happen:
Social/cultural – our trips are designed to respect local traditions and cultures, encourage authentic travel and a greater understanding between you and your hosts. So not only will you get an authentic taste of local life on our trips, you’ll learn about the ins and outs of local culture and what it means to be a traveller, not a tourist. We encourage you to learn some of the local language, customs and traditions before you go and think about the impact of your presence while you are there.
Environment – our conservation projects make a positive contribution to the preservation of natural and human heritage, biodiversity and wilderness across the globe.
Local projects, local business - What makes Real Gap Experience different is that we don't actually run our overseas projects. Instead we work in partnership with projects that have already been established in local communities as they understand the destination and the culture better than anybody else.
Rather than setting up our own, we partner with worthwhile projects that have been established within the communities themselves. We only work with local partners in those countries as they understand the culture and needs of that destination better than anyone else- and this means that when you volunteer through us, your contribution makes a difference to a problem identified by the locals themselves.
You may only be one person but when you volunteer with us you become part of a larger network of support. Making an isolated contribution to a project can often leave you unsure of the difference you’ve made, especially if your hard work isn’t continued once you’ve left. Because Real Gap Experience supplies a steady flow of volunteers to projects you’ll be able to hand the baton over to another willing volunteer, so even if you’re only away for a few weeks you’ll know that your contribution is part of a valuable global effort.
It’s All About Respect
Having an underlying respect for the location and those involved in your project is one of the key ways you’ll be travelling responsibly. Volunteering is a great way to make a positive contribution to the social and environmental challenges we experience when we travel the world, so having a positive and healthy attitude to the contribution you can make is where it all starts.
Knowledge is Power
...especially when it comes to travelling and ethical volunteer work. By learning about the country you’re going to visit, you’ll be aware of their customs, religion and way of life. We recommend reading travel guides, asking for advice from friends and gathering as much knowledge as possible before you travel. The team are a well travelled bunch and have great knowledge about ethical volunteering and are here to support you. We’re only at the other end of the phone line, so if you want some advice about local practise, you can give us a call!
Where Does Your Money Go?
For our volunteer programmes, on average, just over half of the fee you’ve paid goes directly to your destination, to pay local suppliers for your transport, accommodation and food. The fee also pays for local support staff, through our partners overseas in the form of materials of services rather than a monetary amount. The local community and economy in which you will be based therefore benefits from both your time and your financial contribution.
The remainder of your fee is used to provide all the other services we carry out to ensure that you have an awesome, valuable experience. This involves important research and development of programmes to ensure that your time and energy are dedicated to projects that they will really benefit.
We also employ our awesome team to provide the services you receive before, during and after your trip, such as extensive pre-departure information, a 24 hour global support network and carrying out background checks on all those volunteering with kids or vulnerable adults.
To ensure a steady flow of volunteers to the projects throughout the year, not just through the peak summer months, thus making them more sustainable our investment in the projects comes from the recruitment of volunteers through our marketing efforts. It’s your time, effort and enthusiasm (rather than money) that makes a difference to our projects and we truly believe that by working together and forging relationships with them, we can make a real and lasting difference.
As a general rule we do not provide direct financial funding to the projects our volunteers, so to ensure sustainability and an independence for the project, we provide materials, product and support for the project as well as for the volunteers.
We can't wait to have more travellers on board to help us make a difference!