Frequently Asked Questions

Short-Term Quest FAQ

What is a United Planet Short-Term Quest?

A  United Planet Short-Term Quest is a unique opportunity to live, learn, and volunteer abroad alongside the members of a local community from one week up to three months.

United Planet Quests are designed to be immersive, authentic, comprehensive and provide you everything you’ll need to succeed. The program elements allow you to engage fully with a new culture, forge strong relationships, and challenge yourself. Most importantly, we partner with the community to ensure your experience will be important, relevant and helpful to the community you serve.

In addition to 25-40 hours of volunteer work per week, United Planet volunteers completely immerse themselves in the local culture of their host community through excursions, cultural activities, language lessons, and accommodations with a host family or local volunteer house.

What kind of volunteer work can I do on a Short-Term Quest?

United Planet volunteers work in three main focus areas:

  • Children and Education (possible projects include working in an orphanage, teaching in a local school, working at a women’s shelter, working in a daycare center, etc. See more options)
  • Global Health (possible projects include observing procedures at a local health clinic, working at a physical rehabilitation center, working to promote dental hygiene, working with the elderly, etc. See more options)
  • Environmental Sustainability (possible projects include conservation work, working with animals/wildlife, working at a construction site, or promoting environmental awareness. See more options)

When you enroll to volunteer abroad with United Planet, you’ll indicate which focus area you’d like to work in. Then, one of our program coordinators will contact you to discuss your specific interests, previous experience, and goals, and then place you at a volunteer project that’s right for you.

Which countries can I volunteer in?

United Planet offers Short-Term Quests in 10 countries:

Chile
China
Costa Rica
Ecuador
Ghana
Nepal
Peru
Romania
South Africa
Tanzania

When can I travel?

Short-Term Quests are offered year-round. In most countries, Quests start either two or four times a month on specific days of the week.

How old do I have to be to volunteer on a Short-Term Quest?

The age requirement for most Short-Term Quests is 18.  However, we do offer several programs with minimum age requirements of 16 or 17.

Volunteers of any age are eligible to participate in all Quests if they are traveling with a parent, guardian, or friend over the age of 21.

Are there other requirements to participate in a Short-Term Quest?

For most Quests, the only requirements are that you are physically fit to travel and have passed a background check if you are over the age of 18.

Certain volunteer projects may have preset requirements (i.e. minimum language level, minimum length of stay, background experience in the area, etc.).

Flexibility, open-mindedness, and a passion for meeting new people are often attributes that make for a successful United Planet volunteer!

I'm not from the United States. Can I still go on a Short-Term Quest?

Yes! We welcome volunteers of all nationalities.

How much does it cost to participate in a Short-Term Quest?

Cost varies by country and length of your Quest. The comprehensive program fee covers everything you’ll need while abroad: local accommodations, three home-cooked meals a day, complete safety, travel and medical insurance, and an authentic, community-driven volunteer placement. Local excursions, cultural activities, and language classes are also included in your program fee – contact us to find out what options are available in each country.

Why do I have to pay to volunteer?

We want you to succeed. That means having in place the support our volunteers need. We don’t just drop you in country and hope for the best. We provide training before you leave … language exposure … 24/7 in-country support … support for your host family … accommodations, meals and airport transportation … activities and excursions. The whole idea is to make the experience successful and productive for you and the host community, and we have found that these things are crucial. Remember that we are a non-profit, mission-driven organization – we wouldn’t spend money on something that wasn’t important.

How do I enroll for a Short-Term Quest?

Enrolling in your Quest is easy! Complete our online enrollment form and submit a deposit, which reserves your spot in the country of your choice. Once we’ve received your enrollment form and deposit, one of our Program Coordinators will contact you about planning the details of your Quest.

How far in advance do I have to enroll?

We ask that volunteers enroll at least 60 days prior to their anticipated departure date. This gives us enough time to schedule volunteer placements, coordinate in-country activities, and provide sufficient pre-departure training.

Please note that you must enroll 90 days in advance for Sea Turtle Quests in Costa Rica.

As a parent of a Short-Term volunteer, what do I need to know?

Please visit the Information for Parents page with specific information and FAQ for parents.

What makes a United Planet Quest unique?

A United Planet Quest is not your typical volunteer abroad experience. Quests allow volunteers to completely immerse in a new culture, form genuine and lasting relationships with their host community and project, and experience what life is really like in their host country. Many United Planet volunteers describe their experience as well-rounded and eye-opening, but also feel that they have the room to make their experience their own. Volunteers participate in guided excursions, take language classes, and participate in other cultural activities like cooking or dance classes, but have ample free time to explore their surroundings, meet local people, and really get to know their host families.

Additionally, United Planet takes extensive measures to ensure the safety and sustainability of all of our programs. All volunteer projects, host families, and areas where we send volunteers have been vetted for safety, all of our volunteers are registered with the Department of State’s STEP program, all volunteers receive emergency travel and medical insurance, all program coordinators (both Boston and in-country) have been trained in safety and risk management, and we continuously monitor the countries to which we send volunteers for unsafe conditions.

Finally, United Planet Quests are truly tailored to you, the volunteer. We are able (and happy!) to make accommodations for people based on their personal interests and needs.

Long-Term Quest FAQ

What is a United Planet Long-Term Quest?

A  United Planet Long-Term Quest is a unique opportunity to live, learn, and volunteer abroad alongside the members of a local community for either 6 months or a full year. United Planet is the U.S. and Canadian member of the International Cultural Youth Exchange (ICYE) Federation, an international non-profit with 60 years of experience in the field. In conjunction with ICYE, we match our Long-Term volunteers to local projects in over 30 countries based on their interests and experience and the actual needs within the community.

In addition to 35-40 hours of volunteer work per week, United Planet volunteers completely immerse themselves in the local culture of their host community. By the end of a Long-Term Quest, United Planet volunteers are no longer visitors in their host communities – they have a new home away from home.

What is ICYE?

ICYE stands for the International Cultural Youth Exchange. ICYE is an international non-profit youth exchange organization promoting intercultural learning and international voluntary service. It was founded after World War II as part of an international reconciliation program between the United States and Germany. United Planet represents the U.S. and Canada as an associate member of the ICYE Federation. Today, there are over 30 country members (called National Committees) of ICYE who work in partnership to exchange volunteers internationally for 6 month and 1 year placements.

What kind of volunteer work can I do on a Long-Term Quest?

Opportunities for volunteer work as a Long-Term volunteer are many and varied. Long-Term volunteers promote education in schools and children’s homes, support healthcare initiatives at hospitals and clinics, work with disabled youth and adults, care for the elderly, work on ecological farms and conservation land, organize community-building events, and much more.

Available volunteer work varies from country to country. Click here to explore projects in your country of choice. When you enroll as a Long-Term volunteer, you’ll indicate what type of volunteer work you’re interested in. Then, one of our program coordinators will contact you to discuss your specific interests, previous experience, and goals, and place you at a volunteer project that’s right for you.

Which countries can I travel to?

United Planet places Long-Term volunteers in over 30 countries around the world.

When can I travel?

Long-Term Quests begin twice a year, in January and August. Specific start dates for each country may vary. Please visit our Long-Term Volunteer Abroad page to find your country for more information about program dates and deadlines.

How old do I have to be to volunteer on a Long-Term Quest?

Volunteers must be 18 years old by the time they depart in order to participate in a Long-Term Quest. Most Long-Term volunteers are between the ages of 18 – 30, but exceptions can often be made for candidates over 30.

Are there other requirements to participate in a Long-Term Quest?

Because United Planet is the U.S. and Canadian partner within the ICYE Federation, we can only send U.S. and Canadian citizens and residents on our Long-Term Quests.

If you are from a different country, please visit  the ICYE website to see if your country has an ICYE partner.

I'm not from the United States. Can I still go on a Long-Term Quest?

Because United Planet is the U.S. and Canadian partner of ICYE, we can only send citizens and residents of the United States and Canada on Long-Term Quests.

However, if your country has an ICYE partner, then you may be able to travel through them. You can find out if your country has an ICYE partner by visiting the ICYE website.

How much does it cost to participate in a Long-Term Quest?

Cost varies by country and length of your Quest. The comprehensive program fee covers everything you’ll need before you leave and while abroad: a pre-departure training weekend in New Hampshire, in-country orientation and end-of-year camp, local accommodations in-country, meals, complete safety, travel and medical insurance, a monthly stipend for incidental expenses, and an authentic, community-driven volunteer placement.

Please visit our Long-Term Volunteer Abroad page to find the cost for your specific country of interest.

Why do I have to pay to volunteer?

We want you to succeed. That means having in place the support our volunteers need. We don’t just drop you in country and hope for the best. We provide training before you leave … language exposure … 24/7 in-country support … support for your host family … accommodations, meals and airport transportation … activities and excursions. The whole idea is to make the experience successful and productive for you and the host community, and we have found that these things are crucial. Remember that we are a non-profit, mission-driven organization – we wouldn’t spend money on something that wasn’t important.

How do I enroll for a Long-Term Quest?

Complete our online enrollment form and submit a deposit, which reserves your spot with ICYE. On the form, you’ll indicate your top 3 country choices and the type of volunteer work that you’re interested in. Once we’ve received your enrollment form and deposit, one of our Program Coordinators will arrange a phone interview with you to get to know you better and help us place you at the volunteer project that’s right for you.

How far in advance do I have to enroll?

We ask that volunteers enroll at least 3 months prior to their anticipated departure date. This gives us enough time to schedule volunteer placements and provide sufficient pre-departure training.

Click here for a complete list of enrollment deadlines for Long-Term Quests departing in January and August.

As a parent of a Long-Term volunteer, what do I need to know?

Please visit the Information for Parents page with specific information and FAQ for parents.

What makes a United Planet Quest unique?

A United Planet Quest is not your typical volunteer abroad experience. Quests allow volunteers to completely immerse in a new culture, form genuine and lasting relationships with their host community and project, and experience what life is really like in their host country.

Additionally, United Planet takes extensive measures to ensure the safety and sustainability of all of our programs. All volunteer projects, host families, and areas where we send volunteers have been vetted for safety, all of our volunteers are registered with the Department of State’s STEP program, all volunteers receive emergency travel and medical insurance, all program coordinators (both Boston and in-country) have been trained in safety and risk management, and we continuously monitor the countries to which we send volunteers for unsafe conditions.

Finally, United Planet Quests are truly tailored to you, the volunteer. We are able (and happy!) to make accommodations for people based on their personal interests and needs.