GV Preparing for Departure

How exciting for YOU!  You are preparing to be a part of what I hope is an experience that will transform you, touch your heart and motivate you to move through life thoughtfully and with great empathy.  You’re probably looking forward to working hard to raise money and raise awareness for Habitat and doing your part to fulfill its vision of everyone having a decent place to live.

Do These Things Right Away

So, you’ve filled out your application and been issued a Habitat ID number.  You’ll need to include that number along with your GV Team Code on ALL your payments.  Your trip needs to be paid in full 45 days prior to departure—count backwards and mark that date on your calendar now!

Once you have accepted an invitation to be part of the team and paid your $350 non-refundable deposit, it’s a good time to set up a fundraising plan.  Habitat has issued the challenge to all Global Village Teams to raise over and above the trip costs.  This money goes directly to the community in need, which means we can help even more people get into decent affordable shelter.  By asking others to support you, you will be heightening people’s awareness of the problem of poverty housing, and giving them an opportunity to participate in the solution.  It’s exciting news!  Don’t be shy about sharing it!

Habitat has an online portal, SHARE.Habitat, allowing each team member to set up their own fundraising page, a simple and effective way to enhance your online campaign.  I will also email you instructions on how to populate your page.  If you want to raise the entire trip amount, simply get started right away!

As your team leader I’ll send you the host country’s Volunteer Handbook.  Please read it; it’s packed with useful information!

6 Months Prior to Departure

Be sure that the expiration date on your passport is at least six months beyond the date of departure from the host country and check the number of blank pages you’ll need.

Find out what the visa requirements are for the country or countries where you will be traveling.  It may be required before you depart.  Check with you travel agent or US Department of State about visa requirements.  You will be applying for a tourist visa unless specified otherwise.  [Note: It’s a good idea to use the hotel address as your temporary address on your application.]

Some visas are issued upon arrival at the airport.  Expect to pay for the visa in cash, US dollars, and have exact change ready.

8 Weeks – 5 Months Prior To Departure

Consult with your personal physician or travel clinic to make sure you have the proper immunizations and medications for your trip.

Research your host country and decide if you are going to do any extended travel on the front or back-end of your trip.  Let your team leader know about your plans as soon as possible.  It is common for team members to take time at the end of a build for some R&R and tourism opportunities, but they are separate and optional from your Habitat build and any fees are in addition to your trip costs.

Once you know the exact dates of travel purchase your airfare.

Consider purchasing travel insurance.  It is usually very inexpensive relative to what you are paying for your trip.  Make sure you understand what the policy covers and does not cover. Lately I’ve been using insuremytrip to compare policies and rates.

30 – 45 Days Prior to Departure

Make sure your trip is paid in full, 45 days prior to departure.

Be sure you can get local currency either with an ATM card or by exchanging cash in country. Be sure your bank and credit card companies know you are traveling so you have access while away.

If you are a US citizen, register with the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).  STEP is the US Department of State’s free program that allows the US government to assist you in an emergency, should the need arise while you are abroad.

Consult with your team leader about dress code and other items that might be necessary for you to purchase in advance.  Additionally, you’ll want to be aware of what NOT to take with you.  See the suggested packing tips for GV Teams.  Verify baggage weight allowances with the airlines.  If you have an in-country flight, the baggage weight allowance may differ from the international flight weight allowance.

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