Here at Real Gap Experience we do everything we can to minimise the negative effects of foriegn travel by keeping our projects as sustainable, and as conscious as possible. A respectful yet informed cultural exchange is at the heart of everything we do. Our shared goal is to ensure everybody who travels with us gets all the information, guidance and support they need to make a positive contribution whilst they're overseas.
We only work with locally run projects. Many commercial volunteer travel companies set up their own projects overseas to meet the demands of international volunteers. This isn't what we're about - the projects we work in partnership with have grown organically: they have been established out of the needs and demands of the local community.
Supporting local communities
All of our partners overseas are based within the local community. When you travel with us, you will stay in locally run accommodation and travel on locally owned transport -- we strongly believe in the ethos of responsible travel. This way we can ensure that the part of your placement fee assigned for transport and accommodation goes directly into the local economy. That means that before you’ve even lifted a finger on your project, you’ve already made an important contribution to the economy of the area.
Our support for our volunteers
With Real Gap Experience you can be ensured that you'll have our support at every step of your adventure. Before your departure our Customer Operations team are on hand to answer any questions you may have, and while you're away, our in-country team will be around to ensure you know what you are doing throughout your stay. The main aim of our team? To make sure you all have the best time, and that we can make a difference to our projects abroad.
Against aid reliance
We do not give direct funding to the projects we work with. Many experts believe that the constant flow of financial aid into the developing world causes an over-reliance on foreign aid, which harms the long-term stability of developing economies. It is your time and effort which makes a difference.
Our Helping Hands programme assists under-resourced projects by providing them with the means that they need to grow. The items that are required are bought for these projects by our in-country teams based on their needs and the activities of volunteers; this avoids aid reliance whilst providing support at the same time.
No single supplement
Unlike most travel companies, we don’t think that you should be penalised for choosing to travel by yourself, so we won't impose a single supplement on solo travellers. Travelling alone offers you the chance to reflect upon life, to make new friends and to experience travel in a way that is almost impossible when travelling with friends or partners!
Volunteering abroad is an incredibly fulfilling and worthwhile experience for the community and the volunteer. All of Real Gap Experience's projects were either established by the locals or NGO's, which ensures that all of the time our Real Gappers spend at the projects will benefit the community in a sustainable way.
Not too sure what volunteering is all about? Check out our top 20 reasons to pack up and go...
1) You'll Be Giving Something Back
One of the main reasons why people volunteer is because they want to do something good for others. We work with communities based all over the world focusing on the areas of development, childcare, wildlife and conservation. We're sure there's a RG project to suit you!
2) You'll Have Unique Opportunities
Volunteering abroad offers unique opportunities that are usually off limits to a load of travellers. When it comes to working with animals or on conservation projects being a volunteer has some awesome benefits; unless you have a strong animal biology background you're unlikely to find a paid position where you'll be able to look after lion cubs in South Africa or turtles in Costa Rica and you definitely wouldn't get the chance to go behind the scenes if you're just a #standard passerby!
3) Use Your Skills to Benefit Others
If there's anything your particularly good at school, college or work then you could use those skills to help abroad. Some of our projects do require a specific skill set but in general all we ask for is the want to succeed and make a difference!
4) See a New Culture from the Inside
One of the best things about volunteering abroad is being able to spend an age of time in a new country. It's an amazing learning experience that will see you interacting with new cultures, trying out loads of wicked new food, speaking new languages and meeting loads of new people. As a volunteer you will get a glimpse into the local culture, allowing you to become a traveller, rather than a tourist.
5) Experience Personal Growth
Many volunteers come back from their experience and say they've grown as a person (it's cheesey, but true!). In most cases volunteers become more concerned and aware of the problems facing the world and once they've returned from a trip are usually more independent, more adventurous and more courageous - especially if it's their first trip away from home.
6) Stand Out
If you're looking to stand out from the crowd, volunteering is a great talking point in future interviews with new employers to life stories down the pub - boom!
7) Recognition, A Sense of Achievement and Feedback
Recognition of your efforts is another thing that keeps volunteers coming back again and again. Telling someone that they are doing a good job inspires confidence and pride, and it's always great to see when you've completed building a house in Costa Rica for example, or helped save turtles in Sri Lanka! It reminds you that the work you are doing is important and that you are making a difference. All of our volunteering projects are aware of this and are genuinely grateful for the time and effort that RG volunteers contribute to their cause.
8) Learn New Things
Spending some time abroad allows you to learn about interesting cultural differences, like what Brazilians eat for breakfast or how South Africans greet their friends! The world is filled with unique experiences but it's easy to miss them if you're just passing by; try your hand at salsa, explore local customs and see if you can learn a little bit of the language so you can smash it when you get home. It's all part of the experience!
9) Friendships, a New Family and Belonging
Making new mates is one of the best reasons to volunteer abroad. Many volunteers make lifelong friends that come from working through difficulties and exploring new things together. Even on trips like the Thailand Experience you'll get the chance to volunteer for a week, which really adds to the adventure.
10) Skills and Experience
Want to gain a whole new host of skills? By getting stuck in on one of our volunteering projects you'll be picking up loads of handy new skill sets as you go, especially if you're helping out on a project which is a little out of your comfort zone!
11) You Could Learn a Foreign Language
The best way to develop your language skills is to use it in day to day scenarios, and volunteering provides the perfect opportunity to do this! (Ola!)
12) See the Difference You've Made
Stand back and take a look. Pausing to take a moment to see what you've achieved during your time away is an incredible experience!
13) Do something out of your comfort zone
Life is about challenging yourself, so why don't you try something a little different to what you're used to?
14) It'll Be Bags of Fun!
Trust us when we say that you're going to have THE BEST TIME.
15) Build Your CV
During your time away you'll find out so much about yourself. You'll learn new skills and build on your current experience, and all of that is well good for padding out your CV.
16) Spend Quality Time Away From The Norm
Getting bored of your current 9-5? Take a break and volunteer. Not only will you be doing something worthwhile, but you'll get the chance to get focused about where you want your life to go and you'll have plenty of chances to explore and see a new place too!
17) Help the Environment
Do your bit to help the environment and take up your position as a conservation volunteer! (You could lend a hand in New Zealand for example).
18) Gain Confidence
Volunteering within a new community is sure to make sure your confidence properly soar. Get stuck in and speak to the locals, make new mates and most importantly - throw yourself in the deep end!
19) See and Do More
If you're looking to tick those countries off your bucket list, then volunteering is a great way to see a country from the inside and actually get to grips with the place. By the time you've volunteered within a couple of communities you'll be clocking up the volunteer hours in no time! The best thing is that everybody can make a difference.
20) Prepare for your life to change!
Most of our volunteers will come back and comment on how they see the world differently after their time away with us. Will you be one of them?
So what are you waiting for? Check out our full range of volunteer projects and take that first step on the road to the experience of a lifetime!