Dorm living as a volunteer can be fun – it is like a grown up pyjama party every night. That is, if you don’t have to get up early and trek to work. For those who need more than 8 hours sleep due to sheer exhaustion, you may need to block out some house noise.
Here are a few useful items which you consider before travelling to South Africa. In fact, “consider” should not enter the equation – the majority of these suggestions will make your volunteering experience a much more pleasant one. So chat to the folks and family and get them to sponsor you these items as a “going-away” gift.
For When you are Travelling and beyond …..
Consider buying packing cubes to pack your clothes as this will come in handy when you are in the volunteer house.
Cupboard space and shelving is limited so you will find you will use your suitcase for the majority of your clothes and keeping your suitcase organised will save you a whole lot of stress and time.
Though you will have time to recharge your phones in the house, going out for a day excursion, could leave you stranded without battery life on your phone. We suggest you either (1) buy a battery power pack before you leave home or (2) buy one in South Africa when you arrive.
On the plane, For Chilly Evenings or Comfort on the Couch
These scarves will come in handy, especially on the plane or if you are going out and little eddies of wind funnels have whipped up bringing a chill factor which leaves you shivering. Also ideal when laying on the couch but you want to block out the sound of everything around you as you are listening to music. Comfort is never a bad idea and as you are far from home and your usual creature comforts, why not spoil yourself when you are in another country! AND, they come in designs for men too!
Comfortable Ear Phones
I have just seen these recently advertised and I think they are brilliant as they can also be used over your eyes to block out light, whilst listening to your music. For both the plane and whilst in dorm living conditions. Definitely worth the money and you will be thankful when you are trying to sleep and someone is snoring loudly. They come in a Wi Fi version and also with a cord. And in case you are wondering, we are not getting a kick-back for mentioning this but seriously volunteers, this is ideal for the house and on the plane. Remember you have many flying hours ahead of you and sometimes a long stopover before your connecting flight .
This will definitely come in handy to keep all your toiletries in one place for when your suitcase undergoes serious gravity tests at airports due to hurried baggage handlers. More important, as you are living in a dorm room and though there are plenty of bathrooms in the house, space is still limited so we suggest you bring a toiletry bag with you so you can hook this over your bed each day and leave the area in the bathroom and around your bed as neat as possible for everyone.
Having said this, the Aviva Volunteer has enough shampoo, conditioner, sunblock, creams and unless you use a specific brand, we would venture to say, don’t bring any of these supplies as you are more than welcome to use what other volunteers have left behind.
Time Saving Solutions whilst you are in the House
Either buy or make a laundry bag. The launderette is down the road and you will need to carry your laundry so is makes sense to make this comfortable for yourself. This is also a great way in keeping your dirty clothes separate from your clean clothes – makes sense, doesn’t it. Pinterest has great ideas and even a DIY laundry bag which you can get a grandmother to make for you?
Bed Storage Pouch
A great idea for storing items whilst you are lying in bed or whilst you are sleeping. This will also keep the area around your bed neat and you won’t end up tripping over something when you wake up in the dark and need to tip toe to the bathroom.
Day Excursions, Sightseeing or Clubbing/Eating Out
No matter how many times we have mentioned to volunteers to never act like a tourist and leave their valuables laying around, they still seem to ignore this rule especially after a couple of drinks and then end up sobbing into the glass of wine when their phones have been stolen.
We urge you to get yourself a cross-the-body-bag which will hold your money and phone when you go out and you never have to remove it even if you are doing a head banging dance at a nightclub. For day excursions, bring with you an attractive day backpack
like the examples we have included here as it will make your life so much easier and you will be able to store a valuable resource – water bottles!
Great ideas and travel hacks
There are some things that just make sense especially when you are volunteering and you want creature comforts, you need to adult and be independent and to simply bring you peace of mind. So what am I talking about? Let’s go ……
Comfy shoes are a must when travelling but even more importantly for the volunteers who are volunteering at our African Penguin & Seabird Rehabilitation project, waterproof, non-slip shoes is a MUST.
You will be surrounded by volunteers who have phones and tablets, journals, books and charges so keeping all your technology and other useful objects in one place is the best option to not misplacing anything in the house. Another great should-have is a waterproof pouch for your phone when you head out to the beach or when you go Shark Cage diving.
What would travelling in style be, without such innovative items which makes life and travelling a whole lot stress-free ….
Important Note: All images have been downloaded from Pinterest so credit to those peeps whose images I have used.
We hope this helps you when packing for your volunteering experience but we are always an email away if you have any questions.
Look forward to seeing you in Cape Town!