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For many volunteers, travelling to the expedition site is the first time that they travel a long distance alone. This can be intimidating but it really doesn’t need to be! Use the tips below to feel more confident with your travel plans:

Once volunteers are booked we add them to Facebook group chats that are specific to each country. Here you can get to know other volunteers who are going to the same site as you, as well as coordinate travel plans with them so that you can meet at the airport and travel together.

Booking flights early is key to keeping prices down. If you are super organized you can keep an eye on the flight prices for a week or two to see the average prices before booking. Costs can change day by day, so don’t be caught out, and make sure to use incognito mode! Make sure you note where any layovers are so that you can see if you will need any additional documents or visas (such as the ESTA for the US), or if you need a different plug adaptor! Once you have booked these add the flight details to the Opwall Portal so our travel team can get in touch about your in-country travel plans.


Photo by Benedict Wood


Prepare your travel documents early so that you can get help from people if you need it. You can see advice on visas and additional documents which are country-specific on your government website as well as the Opwall travel information pages. You will also need to make sure that your passport is in date, and get a new one as early as possible if not as they can take more time than you think to renew! An important note for the UK is that your passport needs to be less than 10 years old if you are entering a country in the EU.

Vaccinations are another aspect that it is important to look into early. We provide guidance on vaccines that you might need for each country on our website, but it is suggested that you get advice from a medical professional on what vaccines are recommended for each area.

You will also need to have travel insurance in case of any delays and cancellations, as well as any injuries, illnesses or thefts. It is really important to make sure you are covered and to upload your travel insurance details onto the Opwall Portal before you go.

As well as needing travel insurance in the case of a delay or cancellation of part of your travel, it is also important to be prepared for this. Always take a spare pair of clothes with you and a toothbrush in case you are stuck in an airport overnight. It is also great to have a few emergency contacts written down and saved in your phone that you can reach out to. We will provide you with a phone number for our internal travel partner as well as our 24hr emergency phone number, so it is essential to have these printed and written down with you.


Photo by Chantelle Wyatt


Plan ahead! Make sure you know your itinerary and the times of your flights, as well as having them written down. I always prefer to be extra prepared so I write them down multiple times and put them in different pockets, areas of my bag and the back of my phone – just in case!

It is also important to pack well. You’ll have to carry the bag you pack around yourself so it is helpful for you to pack light as much you can! As mentioned earlier, make sure you have a change of clothes with you in your carry-on bag. Also remember that planes can be chilly, so if you have been in a hot country remember to pack a warm layer! Before you set off it is really important to take a photo of your bag or make a note of the colour and brand so that if it is lost you can easily describe it. In May we also send out Opwall luggage tags to research assistants. Make sure you attach this to your bag as it is a great way to identify it (as well as looking super cool!).

Family and friends always really appreciate the reassurance of being able to track your flight and see where you have got to. If you have an iPhone you can message people your airline name and the flight number in the same message. They can then tap this message click “preview flight”, and this should quickly let them see the status of the flight you are on! It is also a great idea to check whether you can use your SIM card in the country, so that people know if they should expect to hear from you when you land.


Photo by Laura Christian


Finally, learn some key phrases in the language of the country you will be going to. This will make you feel more comfortable with talking to people when you arrive, and for getting directions too.

Push yourself out of your comfort zone and you’ll have the trip of a lifetime!

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Wallace House, Old Bolingbroke, Spilsby, Lincolnshire PE23 4EX, UK
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