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Short-Term Program FAQs
United Planet Overview
- What is United Planet?
- What is United Planet's mission?
- How can I contact United Planet?
- How can I get involved with United Planet?
- What is a United Planet Volunteer Abroad Quest?
- What makes a United Planet Quest special?
- What kind of volunteer work can I do on a Quest?
- What can I gain from participating in a Quest?
- What is daily life like on a Quest?
- How does United Planet strive to improve Quests and assess impact?
- How do I apply for a Quest?
- Why do I have to pay to volunteer? How are the fees allocated?
- How else can I offset the cost of the Quest program fee?
- What happens if I have to cancel?
- How old do you have to be to go on a United Planet Quest?
- Which nationalities are accepted in United Planet Quests?
- Who participates in a United Planet Quest?
- Does United Planet offer a special plan for families or other discounts?
- What is United Planet’s Code of Conduct for Quests?
- What are the Special Tax Advantages for Quests?
- Please review UP’s Responsibility and other conditions, which you must accept before joining a Quest
Please review any further Terms & Conditions
As an international non-profit organization, United Planet (UP) strives to create a world in which all people understand, respect, and support one another. United Planet's global network of leaders and volunteers fosters cross-cultural understanding and addresses shared challenges to unite the world in a community beyond borders. The underlying principle of our programs is the concept of Relational Diplomacy -- recognizing that the relationship between people of diverse backgrounds is the basic building block for uniting the world. United Planet’s innovative programs are designed to expose our common human bonds, generate respect and appreciation for our cultural, racial, and religious diversity, and enrich lives of our neighbors worldwide.
United Planet's mission is to foster cross-cultural understanding and address shared challenges to unite the world in a community beyond borders. United Planet's holistic approach integrates international, local, and online initiatives to facilitate ongoing engagement and promote cross cultural understanding worldwide. To read more about the mission of United Planet click here.
United Planet is located at:
11 Arlington Street
Boston MA, 02116 U.S.A
United Planet is open Monday to Friday, 9:00am - 5:00pm EST.
There are many ways to get involved with United Planet. You can volunteer abroad by participating in a United Planet Quest, or spread cross cultural understanding in your local community by joining the Cultural Awareness Project or forming an Ambassador Club. Another way to get involved with United Planet is through giving, where your help will go to support communities and special projects around the world.
United Planet's Volunteer Abroad Program: Quest
United Planet’s unique Volunteer Abroad Quest Program combines meaningful volunteer work in an international community with:
- Language learning
- Cultural activities
- Learning excursions
- Home stays
United Planet Quests provide an incredibly fulfilling experience for volunteers and valuable support for international communities in need. There are two ways to volunteer abroad with United Planet; Short-Term Quests (1-12 weeks), or Long-Term Quests (6 months - 1 year).
United Planet Volunteer Abroad Quests provide a unique opportunity for people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about and immerse themselves in a foreign culture, while making a difference working for important causes.
United Planet's unique "holistic" approach combines full cultural immersion, cross-cultural learning and meaningful community service work for people of all ages, skill levels, and nationalities.
Quest programs typically include:
- Continuous support from the United Planet team
- Extensive pre-departure training, including preparation for cross-cultural adjustment
- Orientation and final evaluation by on site staff
- Meaningful community service work in a variety of fields
- Insightful Cultural Awareness Presentations for the local community
- Enriching cultural activities, such as local handicraft making, cooking lessons, traditional dance lessons, and much more
- Language lessons
- Exciting excursions such as weekend and day trips
- A committed host family network and range of lodging options
- Delicious local meals, welcome & farewell dinners
- Comprehensive travel insurance plan
- Continued alumni learning and volunteer opportunities
- A UP T-shirt
- Global Caring Award upon successful Quest completion
- Lasting memories and new friends
A United Planet Quest can involve many types of volunteer work, as each destination has a range of project options for volunteers to work on. Community work typically involves:
- Childcare (working in orphanages, with street children etc)
- Healthcare services
- Environmental conservation
- Women's Empowerment
United Planet volunteers gain much from their experiences volunteering abroad. Volunteers
- Broaden their global perspectives
- Gain valuable experience working in an international community
- Enhance cultural understanding and become a more effective cross-cultural communicator
- Develop leadership skills
- Gain valuable language skills
- Test their ability to face new challenges
- Improve team-building skills
- Build lifelong friendships
Daily life on a Quest is dependent on the destination. Information on each Quest is available on the website and contains full details on accommodation and transport to help you set your expectations and gauge your interest level. In general, UP volunteers work 25-40 hours per week at a meaningful community service projects and participate in vaired cultural activities and excursions during their free time. Reading volunteer testimonials, visiting the United Planet Photo Gallery or reading the United Planet blog may help you to discover what daily life on a Quest can be.
United Planet continually strives to improve your experience. UP team members from the Boston office work closely with all on-site staff to monitor and evaluate the programs year round to assess impact on the ground. In addition, once a volunteer has returned from their Quest, they are invited to complete an online survey giving detailed feedback on their in-country experience. We take these surveys seriously and follow up on all constructive feedback, as a way to continually improve our programs.
Returned volunteers also have the option to support United Planet's Country Funds which support program development and projects in the communities where our volunteers work. Instead of receiving your $25 refund in exchange for your survey, you may choose to donate that $25 to the Country Fund where you participated in your Quest.
There are three easy steps to apply for a Quest:
Decide upon your Quest destination (either Short-Term or Long-Term), select your dates, and fill in the online application.
Click here to:
APPLY for a Short-term Quest (1-12 weeks)
APPLY for Long-term Quest (6 or 12 months)
- Submit your deposit at the time of application ($300 for Short-Term Quests and $500 for Long-Term Quests). You may pay the deposit on-line with a credit card as part of your application process, call our office at 1-800-292-2316 to provide your credit card information or send a check to our Boston office.
- A Coordinator from the United Planet Team will confirm receipt of your application and deposit and arrange a phone interview with you to discuss your Quest.
Many volunteers ask us, “Why should I have to pay to volunteer?” The answer is that volunteering in a developing country is different from volunteering on a Saturday afternoon in your hometown. Volunteers who travel abroad need accommodations, food, emergency health and evacuation insurance in addition to in-country transportation and orientation to ensure their safety while living abroad. Since UP places our volunteers with host families, there are costs that our host communities and partner organizations simply can not afford. The focus on United Planet’s Quest Volunteer Abroad programs is on the local community. Many programs have their own housing—and this may help to defray costs. However, we, at United Planet believe sending volunteers to live with host families does more to increase cross-cultural understanding and raise up the community in the long-term. Click here for information regarding the allocation of the Quest program fee.
Many volunteers fundraise for their Quest fee. Please read our Fundraising Guide for tips about fundraising for your Quest.
In addition, for each person you introduce to participate on a Quest, we will discount 10% of your Quest program fee. If you introduce 10 people you travel for free on your Quest. There is no limit to the amount of people you can introduce and the amount of free Quests in which you can participate.
Please click Request Info should you have any further questions regarding earning free Quests through your volunteer support.
As an educational, humanitarian, and peace-building international non-profit organization, Quest program fees are treated as donations for tax purposes to United Planet from both volunteers and volunteer sponsors. As donations, United Planet is unable to refund these program fees once paid to the organization. However, you may apply the money you have paid United Planet to any of our Quests for up to one year of your application date (depending on space and availability of our programs).
For Short-Term Quests (1-12 weeks), people of all ages are welcome; however, some special rules apply. Volunteers traveling alone must be at least 18 years of age, with the exception of Costa Rica , Peru and Romania where the minimum age for solo volunteers is 16. Those 16 and 17 years old traveling without a parent must provide a letter of parental consent. A parent or guardian must accompany individuals under 16.
For Long-Term Quests within the ICYE federation (6 month and one year), exchangees must be 18 or older. Most Long-Term Quest volunteers are between 18-30, but exceptions can often be made for candidates over 30.
For Short-Term Quests (1-12 weeks), people of all nationalities are welcome and encouraged to apply. For Long-Term Quests (6 months and 1 year) within the ICYE federation, residents and citizens of the United States and Canada are welcome to apply through United Planet. Others are encouraged to apply through the ICYE member or partner in their respective countries through www.icye.org
Students, families, professionals and older adults have enjoyed and benefited from participating in a United Planet Quest. Short-Term Quests are also ideal for both individuals and groups. People from all walks of life, countries, and backgrounds participate in United Planet Quests and are encouraged to apply.
Quest Fees for Families:
- 1st parent : full quest fee
- 2nd parent : 10% off the full quest fee
- children under 12 : 50% off the full quest fee
- children 12 and over: 10% off the full quest fee
- couples : receive 10% off of 1 full quest fee
Family Evaluation Refund: UP will only refund one survey per family.
For each person you introduce to participate on a Quest, we will discount 10% of your Quest program fee. If you introduce 10 people you travel for free on your Quest. There is no limit to the amount of people you can introduce and the amount of free Quests in which you can participate.
Returning Quest volunteers will also receive a 10% discount on their Quest fee.
All volunteers must sign a United Planet contract stating that they will act according to the policies set by UP, the local hosting organizations and the laws of the host country.
In addition, United Planet requests five things of you:
Volunteer and educational travel around the world is often filled with unpredictable surprises, such as transportation delays, local holidays, etc. Cultures vary greatly. Some things may appear shocking and you might feel outside of your comfort zone in some situations. You might also experience disturbing poverty or suffering in certain areas. People, including the local population and fellow Quest participants, might have vastly different religious, ideological, racial, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds. In short, you will be challenged and stimulated in ways that you may not be able to currently imagine. If you remember the UP code and maintain flexibility, courage, open-mindedness, tolerance, and compassion, you will build greater bonds with the people around you, attain a rich cultural understanding, and truly experience “the ultimate educational adventure” of a United Planet Quest.
Tax-Deductions for Volunteer Quests – United Planet offers Volunteer Quests around the world. The total cost of Volunteer Quests, including airfare, is 100% tax-deductible for US residents. U.S. federal tax law provides for deductions where “there is no significant element of personal pleasure, recreation, or vacation.” Citizens of other nations should consult your tax advisor for information about international humanitarian work in your country. Please consult your tax advisor if you plan additional activities before or after your Volunteer Quest for full details.
Fundraising for your Quest – As a 501(c) 3 non-profit organization, donations made to United Planet on behalf Volunteer Quests are tax-deductible for the donors and directly offset the cost of your Volunteer Quest. There are many ways to fundraise and build financial support for your important international efforts. Please see United Planet’s Fundraising Guide for more information.
All fundraised amounts must be received 30 days before the volunteer departs when final payment for the program is due. Exceptions will be made only for company matching grants which can be received up to 30 days after the Quest departure date. Please note that United Planet will credit fundraised amounts only up to the amount of the Quest program fee and price of the economy class airline ticket when a copy of the airline ticket receipt is provided before departure only.
Make Your Employer Your Partner in Development – If your employer provides matching funds to 501(c) 3 tax-exempt non-profit organizations such as United Planet, we can apply this donation toyour Quest program fee. Please contact your company’s human resource department to find out if your company has a matching gifts program. The corporate donation matches the amount, which you pay toward the Quest and may amount to half the fee or more, including airfare.
United Planet acts only as agent for the suppliers of transportation, accommodations, food, and other goods and services provided to the Quest participant. All arrangements for transport, accommodations, and services are made upon the express condition that United Planet shall not be liable for any direct, indirect, consequential, or incidental damage, injury, loss, accident, delay, or irregularity of any kind occasioned by reason of any act or omission beyond its control, including without limitation, any act of negligence or breach of contract of any third party such as an airline, cruise line, train, hotel, restaurant, ground handler, etc., who is to or does supply any goods or services for the Quest. Without limiting the foregoing, United Planet is not responsible for any losses or expenses due to delay or changes in schedule, overbooking of accommodations, default of any third parties, sickness, weather, acts of God, acts of terrorism, force majeure, war, quarantine, criminal activity, or for any other cause beyond its control.
United Planet reserves the right to change the itinerary of the Quest without prior notice. If United Planet cancels the Quest for any reason, United Planet will have no liability beyond the refund of all Quest participants’ deposits received by it. United Planet may increase the Quest price in the event of cost increases. United Planet may decline to accept or retain any Quest participant as a participant on the Quest at any time. If any Quest participant leaves or is removed from the program, United Planet will not refund the program fee under any circumstances.
Deposits paid by Quest participants indicate acceptance of the above terms and conditions. You agree not to sue United Planet, if in connection with the Quest program, you are injured or your property is damaged or stolen because of negligence of United Planet or because of the negligence or intentional acts or anyone else. If anyone, e.g., you, a family member, spouse, etc., sues United Planet because of injury to you or damage to your property because of negligence of United Planet or because of intentional acts of anyone else, you or your estate will reimburse United Planet for all judgments and costs, including reasonable attorney’s fees.
Deposit Date – To hold a space of a Quest up to the time of “final payment,” a deposit must be received with your application no later that 60 days before your requested departure date. We can not begin to process your application without this deposit. A non-refundable deposit of $300 per person is required for all Short-Term (1-12 weeks) Quests and $500 for all Long-Term (6-12 months) Quests.
Final Payment is due at United Planet’s Boston, MA office no later than 30 days before departure for all Quests. Any bookings without full payment at this time may be subject to cancellation without notice.
Discounts – United Planet offers its gratitude to authorized United Planet volunteers and past Quest participants by providing them significant discounts on Quests. Please contact us via the Request Info page to find out about your eligibility for these discounts.
Passport/Visa Requirements – You are responsible for obtaining any visas necessary for your Quest. Please contact your airline booking agent, the embassy, or consulate directly to determine the passport/visa requirements for the country to be visited based on your nationality. To avoid possible travel disruptions, we suggest that you travel with a valid passport at all times. It is your responsibility to arrange for a visa if necessary. United Planet can provide a letter of support when requested.
Travel Insurance - Travel Insurance is included in your Quest program fee. Benefits vary based on your nationality and country of residence, but all packages include emergency medical care, medical evacuation/repatriation, and 24-hour assistance from the independent travel insurance provider.
Health Requirements – You are solely responsible for taking all appropriate medical precautions, being in satisfactory health and having sufficient mobility to participate in the United Planet Quest to which you apply. Please contact your local travel clinic and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) at www.cdc.gov to find out more regarding medical issues and precautions.
Learn more about United Planet's Volunteer Abroad Programs in over 40 countries from 1-52 weeks