Can anyone join an Expedition?
You can join a Raleigh Expedition as a volunteer if you are aged 17 – 24. If you are 25 – 75, you can apply to join our volunteer manager team. Take a look at the volunteer manager FAQs. Applications are open to everybody as long as you’re medically cleared. All Raleigh Expeditions are physically challenging. If you have any questions around your suitability, give us a call.
You don’t need to be from the UK. Our Expeditions are open to all nationalities. You will need a basic level of English so you can follow health and safety instructions. We welcome people from all over the world, regardless of background, education, skills and experience.
We ask volunteers to share our belief in young people’s ability to create change. You’ll also need a positive attitude and an open mind. If you want to challenge yourself and learn about different cultures, then a Raleigh Expedition could be for you.
(Please note: Applications from those who have been recommended to take part in this programme as a court-mandated or therapeutic intervention will not be accepted, as Raleigh is unable to guarantee it can provide the required support).
How long are Expeditions?
As a volunteer, a full Expedition lasts 10 weeks. During this time there is a chance to be involved with community, environmental and adventure phases, depending on the Expedition country. You can also choose to do two phases on a 7 week Expedition. In addition, we offer 4 and 5 week Expeditions beginning in June or July. On this Expedition, volunteers will either do a community or environmental project and a team-based adventure challenge.
Can I extend my stay if I choose a shorter Expedition?
As a volunteer on a 7 week Expedition, there may be an opportunity to extend your stay, depending on availability. If you choose the 5 week Expedition you will not be able to extend your stay, as this is a stand-alone Expedition. You can always join another Expedition later on in the year.
Where can I go?
Currently we run Expeditions in Nepal and Costa Rica. We have paused Expeditions in Tanzania for 2021.
Why should I choose Raleigh International?
We are unique. Since 1984 we’ve been running structured Expeditions for young people that are safe, challenging and life changing; for those that take part and the communities we work with.
As a sustainable development charity we are committed to creating worthwhile programmes with lasting impact. We have a permanent presence in every country we work in with a local field base and permanent staff. This means we are able to build relationships with governments, NGOs and local communities to ensure our projects are genuinely needed and are planned and delivered with long-term partners.
Our volunteers come from a range of backgrounds and nationalities. We believe that the best teams are made of a variety of people. We take this seriously. We provide bursaries for young people from harder to reach backgrounds in the UK and local volunteers. Volunteer’s will live, work and make friends with people from all walks of life.
We’re also committed to volunteer personal development too. In addition to the difference made to people’s lives locally, we support and challenge our volunteers to develop skills for the future; skills that employers find useful, such as teamwork, flexibility, resilience and cross-cultural working.
And, finally, you’ll be joining a family of over 40,000 Raleigh alumni. It’s a pretty special bunch. We believe that you can achieve great things in your lives both at home and internationally.
How is Raleigh Expedition a responsible volunteering programme?
Responsible volunteering projects are based on the needs, priorities and aspirations of the communities where they take place, and delivered in collaboration with the community, with sustainability in mind. They are responsibly managed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the community as well as of volunteers. Raleigh International is a respected youth-driven charity with more than 30 years’ experience of working through young volunteers to deliver and inspire meaningful change. When designing our projects we prioritise long-term impact, not profit. Here are some of the ways that Expedition is set up and managed in a responsible way:
- Over 90% of volunteer fundraising supports our projects. These projects are based on long-term relationships in the countries where we operate, are designed to meet real needs in the communities we work with and contribute to the achievement of the UN’s Global Goals for Sustainable Development.
- We work to recognise national and international standards and work in partnership with local governments, businesses and other charities to make sure our work is safe for all and achieves maximum impact.
- Bringing volunteers together from across the world and having them engage face-to-face with each other has considerable value in the projects they do and also on their long term personal impact. Even so, we ask all our volunteers to reduce their carbon footprint before, during and after the programme; to choose an environmentally friendly airline; to fly direct; and purchase a carbon offset.
- We are members of the Volunteers for Development Forum and the Year Out Group (YOG).
Does a Raleigh Expedition contribute towards my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award?
Yes. Raleigh is an Approved Activity Provider (AAP) for both the volunteering and the residential sections of the Duke of Edinburgh (DofE) Gold Award. Find out more
Is Raleigh a member of the Year Out Group (YOG)?Yes, Raleigh has been a full member since 2000. Our membership demonstrates our commitment to the provision of well-structured gap year programmes in the UK and overseas.
As members we are required to report on a number of key areas including insurance and emergency procedures. We work closely with other members to share experience of good practice and collaborate over challenging situations that impact our activities.
Is Raleigh accredited by the Gap Year Association (GYA) in the US?
Yes, Raleigh gained full GYA accreditation in 2019. The application for accreditation involves a 360-degree evaluation that includes GYA staff, GYA Board of Advisors, submitted evidentiary documentation for each standard, and a student-survey to ensure only the best programmes are able to pass.
Accreditation by the Gap Year Association represents our commitment to the highest standards in safety, quality, and integrity. Our volunteers can count on an experience with Raleigh that is the highest calibre of field leadership, the best degree of office support, and the highest standards of safety.
Can I choose the projects that I work on?
On a 10 week Expedition, you will take part in three project phases. In Costa Rica, this will include community, environment and adventure projects.
In Tanzania it is likely that you will do two community projects and an adventure project, as there is a greater need for our community development work in the country.
In Nepal, we are not currently running environment projects. Our focus is on projects that support reconstruction work following the earthquake.
If you choose a 7 week Expedition, you will do two different project phases. You will be asked your two preferred project types but we cannot guarantee that everyone’s choices will be met. All of our projects are worthwhile and rewarding. Regardless of which project you take part in we are sure you will have an incredible experience.
How do you ensure that your work is long lasting?
It’s vital that our work is as effective as possible and has a real and lasting impact on the people involved. We have identified the programmatic areas where our approach has the most impact. This is where we focus our time and energy. Programmes are planned by our country teams, in consultation with local project partners and the programmes team at Raleigh’s head office. As we have permanent offices in country and our programmes run throughout the year, we are able to plan long term. This means that whilst volunteers may only be working on a project for a few weeks, the project could be part of a three-year cycle of work for us. We have a robust system in place to monitor and evaluate our work. You can take a look at our impact page for more information about this area.
Can I work with animals?
Our projects don’t currently involve working directly with animals. However, you may get the chance to see wildlife in some of the environments we work in.
Will I be doing work that takes away jobs from the locals?
Not at all. We work with project partners to provide materials and peoplepower to complete projects that wouldn’t otherwise get done, either because of a lack of funds or direction. We work alongside locals, bringing communities together and inspiring them to achieve things they never thought possible.
What is it like on a community project?
We work largely in rural communities. You will live and work alongside the locals. As well as a construction project, where you could be building a new water system or community centre, you will also do some awareness-raising activities with the local community. This is a great opportunity to immerse yourself in a community. You will get to know people and learn about their way of life.
What is it like on an environment project?
Our environment projects are often based in national parks, protected areas or places on the fringes of national parks. During the day, you will be involved in physical activities such as trail or bridge building; you could also be carrying out environmental surveys with our project partners. You might also be working with local communities to raise awareness about the importance of preserving these environments. This phase gives you the chance to witness and learn about some of the most bio-diverse areas of the world.
What is it like on an adventure project?
Every day will be different on the adventure or ‘trek’ phase of the Expedition. That’s because you’ll always be on the move. You’ll work as a team to navigate your route and set up camp at a new location at night. We trek through rarely visited parts of the countries we work in. You’ll experience different terrain and stunning views. As well as the physical challenge, this is also a great chance to develop your leadership skills.
Do I have to be really fit for the adventure phase?
A basic level of fitness is necessary but volunteers achieve this through both team support and sheer determination.
What food will I eat?
The food you eat will depend on the country you are in and, to a certain extent, the phase you are on. On the community project, you will often eat with local families so you will share their food. This is often a rice-based meal. On the adventure and environment projects, you will be responsible for cooking your own food. Raleigh will provide you with food for these phases. It will be simple food that can be transported easily – pasta, noodles and some tinned goods. You will also be able to supplement this with local fruit and vegetables.
Where will I sleep?
Again, this will depend on your project type. As a result of the remote nature of our work, conditions will be more basic than you are probably used to. Where possible on a community phase you will stay with a local family. Where this is not possible, you will be based in a community building such as a hall or school or camping. On the adventure phase, you will largely be camping. You might stay in a couple of community buildings too. The accommodation on the environment project will depend on the location of the project. You could be sleeping in a hammock in a camp you have built yourself, you might be camping in tents or you could stay in a building such as a park ranger’s hut.
Will I get a day off?
When you are on the community and environment project phases, you will probably have one day off a week. As a group you will decide what you will do with that day. You might want to arrange a walk in the local area, play sports with the community, or do something a bit more relaxing.
How many people are in a team?
Most of our Expedition teams are made up of between 12-14 volunteers. You will also be supported by at least two volunteer managers.
Do I need to speak the local language?
You don’t have to speak the local language but we highly recommend trying to learn what you can before the Expedition. This will help you communicate with the local volunteers and the communities you will be working with.
What skills will I learn on Expedition?
In addition to the impact you will have on the communities and environments you work in, we want everyone involved in an Expedition to benefit from it personally too.
In addition to learning about a new culture, hopefully developing your language skills and getting an introduction to sustainable development, we will also encourage and challenge you to develop lots of other skills too. These will be varied but will include communication, teamwork, flexibility, resilience, leadership, sensitivity, decision-making and confidence. We will encourage you to keep a personal development journal on your Expedition to outline your aims and progress.
Can I drink on Expedition?
All Raleigh’s programmes are dry. This means no alcohol or drugs. This forms part of our code of conduct. We ask all our volunteers and volunteer managers to sign this. We have developed it over many years of experience. It is in place to help keep our programmes and our volunteers safe.
Who takes part in an Expedition?
Our volunteers and volunteer managers come from all over the world – including the countries that we work in. Our volunteers could be finishing school, or university, taking a year out or on a break from work.
Can I go with friends or partner?
Yes. You are welcome to join an Expedition with friends or partner. It is unlikely that you will be placed in all the same project groups. In our experience, volunteers who break from the familiar develop more self-confidence. If there are a large group of friends on Expedition, we try and place people in different teams so all our volunteers can have the best individual experience. You will still be able to travel together and see one another at training and between the project phases.
When will I meet my team?
The first chance for you to meet your team will be on the Facebook group that we set up for each Expedition. This is a great place to start to get to know one another, ask questions or arrange travel details. If you live in the UK, you will also be invited to a pre-expedition training event. It’s likely that there will be some people from your Expedition at this event. There might also be volunteers who going to other countries.
The best time to get to know your full Expedition group is once you arrive in country. This is the first time that everyone from your Expedition will be together; volunteers who have flown in from all over the world, the local volunteers, your volunteer managers and our country staff. The first few days of the programme are focused on training and induction. There is plenty of time to get to know one another.
After training, you will be put into your team for the phase ahead. Your team will change over every phase so you will get to know and work with lots of different people. Don’t worry you will get plenty of time to see friends between the phases and at the end of Expedition.
Application, training and support
Why do I have to fill out an application form?
The application form is a chance for you to tell us what you know about our Expeditions and why you want to volunteer. It’s an opportunity for us to understand your motivations and make sure that Raleigh is for you.
What happens when I apply?
Our recruitment team will process your application. If they are happy with the application, we’ll be in touch within five days to confirm your place on Expedition. We will then process your $300 deposit. The deposit will count towards your final fundraising target. For more information about applying please visit our application page . If they have any queries about the application, the recruitment team will get in contact to arrange a follow up phone interview.
What is the deadline for applying for an Expedition?
We encourage volunteers to apply between six and 18 months in advance. This means you are most likely to get your first choice of Expedition country and length. It also gives you plenty of time to prepare and do your fundraising. We do accept applications up to a month in advance, however you may not get the place you want and you will have to organise your fundraising and vaccinations very quickly.
Our Tanzanian Expedition deadlines are earlier than other countries as we have to organise visa exemption certificates. If you want to go to Tanzania, please sign up as early as you can.
What training and support will I get?
We invest a lot of time and energy in this part of your Expedition. We want to make sure that you have the necessary information, training and guidance you need, as well as friendly voice at the end of the phone to answer any questions. Check out our training and support page for more information on this.
Will I need a visa for the countries?
This depends on your nationality and chosen Expedition country. Before submitting your application, please check the relevant embassy for visa requirements. We can also help advise you on this.
Costs and fundraising
Do I have to fundraise to join an Expedition?
You can raise the funds to join the Expedition in any way you like. This may include traditional fundraising activities such as sponsored events, bake sales, writing to companies or trusts for support, asking friends and family for donations or using money you have saved through working. We like you to do some traditional fundraising as it’s a great way to raise awareness of our charitable activities, help you develop more skills and get in the spirit of Raleigh.
Why should I have to fundraise to volunteer?
We are a youth-driven development charity. We do not operate for profit. We view volunteering and voluntourism as very separate things. The funds you raise for us, do not cover the full costs of running and delivering our Expeditions. Raleigh raises its funds in a number of different ways. We ask volunteers to do some fundraising but we do plenty ourselves. In addition to volunteer funding, we get support from trusts, statutory funding, corporates and private donors. The money that you fundraise goes to support the delivery of safe and impactful programmes and ensures our programmes are long-lasting.
We work hard to ensure the longevity of the work you carry out. Our programmes are designed to be sustainable and long lasting. International volunteers work alongside volunteers from local countries and we work closely with governments, NGOs and community leaders to ensure that there is a real need for the work we deliver on the ground. Host communities are consulted and involved throughout projects to ensure ownership of projects in the long term. We work to ensure that the expectations of our volunteers are carefully managed, and we provide them with training both at home and in-country to ensure their realistic commitment to what is serious and impactful sustainable development.
Where does my money go?
80.6% of our expenditure goes towards running our programmes. This covers the planning, delivery and evaluation of projects, staff costs in country, running our field bases, food and accommodation, in-country travel, specialist equipment, training in the UK and in-country etc. 5.3% goes towards volunteer recruitment, marketing and PR, 3.9% goes towards fundraising and Alumni, 9.9% towards head office support and 0.3% goes towards the governance of running a charity.
Raleigh does not pay any sort of commission or incentive to organisations based in the United States who refer volunteers to Expedition.
Will I have to arrange my own flight?
Yes. You will be responsible for booking and paying for your own flights. You will be met at the airport by Raleigh staff when you arrive in your Expedition country. We will send you a flight guidance document with advice on flight booking and the specific meeting dates and times for your Expedition’s arrival and departure. Please read this carefully before you book your flights to make sure that your chosen flight is on the correct date and meets the within our pick up and drop off times.
How much will my flight cost?
This varies depending on your Expedition country, where you are travelling from and how far in advance you book your tickets. Departure prices from the UK usually range between £550 and £850.
Are there any other expenses?
There are other expenses that you will need to take into account. You will need to budget for personal kit and belongings, medical vaccinations and any spending money you wish to bring.
We recommend that you borrow as much of your personal kit, walking boots, rucksack, sleeping bag etc. as possible, or look into buying it second hand. We have arranged discounts with a number of shops. We will send you the details of these once you sign up. Your medical insurance is covered by Raleigh but you will need insurance for any personal belongings that you bring with you, for example electronics. You will need to cover the costs of your medical vaccinations and visas. These costs will vary depending on your Expedition country. When it comes to vaccinations, we suggest shopping around. Costs can vary dramatically from clinic to clinic. All food, accommodation and travel costs are covered on Expedition but you may want to bring a small amount of spending money for souvenirs, snacks and replacement toiletries.
What happens if I do not achieve my minimum fundraising target?
Applicants can pay for their Expedition in any way they like, not just by fundraising. If you are struggling with your fundraising, don’t forget we are here to help with support and ideas. If you cannot manage to meet your target, then we can defer your place by up to a year to give you more time to fundraise.
Medical, health and safety
How do you keep volunteers safe?
Safety is at the heart of all our project planning. Our programmes are undertaken in challenging environments, so to minimise the risks we focus on prevention. Our safety management systems have been developed over 30 years. For further information on Raleigh’s approach to prevention, please see our safety page.
What if I have a medical condition?
We have medics on all our programme and can accommodate a wide range of medical conditions but have to ensure that we can do so safely. We try to be as inclusive as possible but obviously need to ensure the safety of everyone. Expeditions are challenging so it needs to be the right opportunity and time for individuals to take part.
Due to the nature of the environments, the remote locations and work that we undertake, any applicant with a long standing medical or mental health condition, special medical or mobility requirements should contact our head office to discuss this with our medical coordination manager. All calls will be confidential. Our medical team, along with Raleigh’s safety team will determine if we can achieve the necessary safety requirements for the Expedition whilst accounting for the needs and wishes of an individual.
ASTHMA: We can generally support people with mild, stable asthma to join our programmes. Volunteers with asthma will need to have had a asthma review within the last year, and will need to take enough medication to last them the duration of the programme. Volunteers with asthma will be assessed on a case by case basis after the submission of the Medical Form.
EPILESPY: We can generally support people with well controlled epilepsy, where the risk of seizures is low. Volunteers with epilepsy on medication will need will need to take enough medication to last them the duration of the programme. Volunteers with epilepsy (or a history of seizures) are assessed on a case by case basis after the submission of the Medical Form, and the Epilepsy Adjunct form. If the volunteer can be supported, the medical team will work with the volunteer to develop a personalised plan for managing their condition on programme.
DIABETES: We can generally support people with well controlled diabetes. Volunteers with diabetes on medication will need will need to take enough medication and equipment to last them the duration of the programme. Volunteers with diabetes are assessed on a case by case basis after the submission of the Medical Form, and the Diabetes Adjunct form. If the volunteer can be supported, the medical team will work with the volunteer to develop a personalised plan for managing their condition on programme.
ALLERGIES: We can generally support people mild allergies. People with severe allergies or a history of anaphylaxis will be assessed on a case by case basis after the submission of the Medical Form. If the volunteer can be supported, the medical team will work with the volunteer to develop a personalised plan for managing their condition on programme.
ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION: We can generally support people with mild, stable anxiety and/or depression to join our programmes. Volunteers with anxiety and depression will be assessed on a case by case basis after the submission of the Medical Form. If the volunteer can be supported, the medical team will work with the volunteer to develop a personalised plan for managing their condition on programme.
PRESCRIPTION MEDICATIONS: All prescription medication should be declared on the medical form, and individuals should take enough medications to last them the whole of their placement. Volunteers are responsible for looking after their own prescription medication. Volunteers are discouraged from stopping or titrating off medication whilst on placement. Any individuals on immune-suppressant medication will be assess on a case by case basis. Any individuals on injectable medication will be assess on a case by case basis, would need to be able to confirm they would bring all supplies needed for the whole of their programme, and be independent in their administration. Anyone who is using intravenous drugs, of any kind (including medical infusions), or is currently on a methadone regime is not able to start the programme.
OTHER CONDITIONS: If you if have any medical problems it is worth contacting the medical team to see how likely to affect your placement.
If you would like more information or advice about your specific situation before applying, please call the medical team on: +442071831291 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Why do I need to complete a medical form?
We need to ensure the safety of everyone on Expedition so we need to understand a bit about your medical history. Without a medical form we cannot guarantee your place on Expedition and you will not be covered by our insurance.
When do I need to send the medical form back?
The medical form must be sent in within four weeks of your application. If this form is not received it might affect your place on Expedition.
Does my doctor have to sign it?
Yes. There are two sections on the medical form, one for you to complete and another for your doctor. This section must be completed in order to secure your place on Expedition.
Do you provide my medical insurance?
Once the medical form has been completed, received and cleared by our medical coordination manager your insurance is provided. All current and previous medical conditions must be detailed on the form and all medications listed. If you suffer with a condition that you haven’t put on your form this will void your insurance so.
What happens if I get diagnosed with a condition or injure myself before the Expedition?
Please inform the medical coordination manager as soon as possible. As long as the condition or injury will not have an impact on your experience or the rest of the Expedition we can usually work around it and ensure the insurance covers you.
Do I need any vaccines for the Expedition?
All Expedition countries will require some vaccines to ensure you are protected against some common diseases. The list of essential and optional vaccines will be sent to you once your application has been processed and approved. There are essential vaccines that are required for you to travel with us.
The completed vaccine form must be returned to the medical coordinator at least four weeks before departure. You will not be accepted on Expedition unless you have had all of the essential vaccines.
Why do I need rabies vaccines?
All of the countries we work in have a risk of rabies. Part of the appeal of Raleigh is that we work in remote environments. These are often a drive from the nearest suitable medical facilities. Without the vaccine, treatment of immunoglobulin is required within 24 hours. There is a worldwide shortage of this treatment. We cannot guarantee we can get you to a centre that stocks the treatment within 24 hours of being bitten, licked or scratched by a potentially rabid animal. Current guidelines issued by the WHO, CDC and the NHS recommend that a rabies vaccine is required for travel to our Expedition countries for a stay of more than four weeks.
Does a doctor need to sign my vaccine form?
Your doctor doesn’t need to sign your form but your nurse or travel clinic can help you to fill it in correctly.
Will I need to take malaria tablets?
A lot of the areas and countries we work in require you to take malaria tablets. Please see your nurse, doctor or travel clinic at least 6 weeks prior to departure date to discuss your options. You must ensure that you have enough tablets with you on Expedition to cover the whole duration.
Which malaria tablets do I need to take?
There are a variety of different tablets available for malaria prevention. Your nurse, doctor or travel clinic will be able to help you decide which one is most suitable for the area you are travelling to. There is a medical coordination manager available at head office to answer these questions and run through the choices if needs be. If you travel on after your Expedition, the areas you visit may have different malaria tablet requirements. Please discuss your plans with your nurse, doctor or travel clinic to make sure that you are protected.
When do I take them?
All malaria tablets are different. Please check if the ones you are taking are daily or weekly. If you’re on weekly tablets please make sure you take them on a Sunday for the duration of the Expedition. All malaria tablets need to be taken before, during and after Expedition for varying lengths of time. Make sure you’re aware of these timescales.
Is the water purified?
Water that has any risk of causing illness will be purified. On static sites we will provide the purification systems to purify large volumes of water for the whole group to drink and cook with. Whilst on the trekking phase you will require some of your own water purification tablets as you may have to fill up your water bottles in rivers and from local supplies.
What happens if I become ill during the Expedition?
We have a team of medics on every Expedition and each site has an extensive medical kit available. We have good relationships with the local doctors and hospitals and will ensure you get any medical care you need. There is also support available from our medical coordination manager in the UK. Your insurance covers your medical expenses as long as all conditions have been included on your medical form. The insurance also covers repatriation to the UK should this become necessary.
Can I wear contact lenses while I’m on programme?
Not on project sites. We operate in very rural and remote areas. Sanitary conditions mean that there is a high risk of serious eye infection and there are rarely specialist eye clinics in the countries we operate in.
Participants should ensure they have at least one pair of glasses if they need them, ideally with a back up pair in case of loss or damage. Volunteers can wear contact lenses whilst at field base where good hygiene can be maintained, just not whilst out in the field.
Staying in touch
Can I use my phone on the Expedition?
You are able to bring your phone on Expedition but you will not be able to use it on all the projects. We encourage volunteers to use Expedition as a chance to switch off from your everyday life and take a ‘digital detox’. This allows you to be fully immersed in the Expedition.
How will people get in contact with me?
If people need to get in touch with you in an emergency, then they can contact our head office and we will get the message to you. If it is not an emergency, people can also message you via a contact form on our website. Post can also be sent to our field bases. You will also have the chance to check your messages and emails between project phases.
Can I travel before or after my Expedition?
Yes. It is very common for people to travel in the area before or after the Expedition. If you travel afterwards there will probably be other volunteers that you can travel with.
What do I need to consider if I am going to travel independently after the Expedition?
Please check the vaccine and malaria recommendations for the areas. You will need your own medical insurance from the day your Expedition ends.
Can I stay at field base after my Expedition?
No, the country staff will need to focus on planning the next Expedition, so they will be very busy.