[This blog is updated regularly; however, the situation can change at any time.]
The last few months since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic have been a challenging time for all organisations involved with travel. Projects Abroad is no different. Our projects are still operating and needing volunteers but we are faced with global travel restrictions beyond our control.
Our main focus for the last few weeks has been on contacting our volunteers and interns booked to travel this year. We appreciate your patience and understanding while we are working on this.
We’ve also been hard at work developing enhanced health and safety protocols to ensure that our volunteers and staff are safe when it’s possible to travel again.
We understand that this is a hugely difficult time for everyone around the world. Despite the challenges and hardship, we remain passionate about the value that travelling and experiencing a new culture can bring to people’s lives. We’re determined to keep offering safe, hassle-free projects that make a difference in the developing world. Now, more than ever, the communities in which we work need the help of volunteers like you.
The world is starting to open up and travel restrictions are being lifted. We expect Cambodia, China, Ecuador, Ghana, Jamaica, Mexico, Philippines, Tanzania, and Vietnam to open soon. We’re constantly monitoring travel restrictions and entry requirements, so that we can let you know as soon as it’s possible to travel.
We are very much aware that the situation is constantly changing and the current global travel restrictions will not be lifted in every country at the same time and in the same way. If you are considering joining, please contact us. One of our Project Experts will explain your options and offer tailor-made advice for planning your trip.
“The health and safety of our volunteers and interns is always our top priority. We’re in constant contact with the WHO, FCO and local embassies globally, and our staff receive daily updates and health advice. With this information, we adjust our safety strategies if necessary as well as keep you informed if anything changes.
With unforeseen situations like these, we believe in the importance of flexibility. We’ve relaxed our terms and conditions and waived our amendment fees for all changes due to the Coronavirus. We’re also offering postponements of up to 24 months for anyone who wants to delay their trip. This means, if you have any hesitation or the advice of local authorities change, you can change your dates, project or destinations without any administration fees. We want you to have total peace of mind about your project and safety.”
- Greg Thomson, CEO
We continue to receive questions from upcoming travellers about the impact of the Coronavirus on their projects and international travel. To ease your concerns, we’ve compiled a list of the most commonly asked questions with our responses below, along with details of our enhanced safety measures in-destination. Please feel free to contact us for more information.
What are Projects Abroad’s enhanced safety precautions for volunteers?
We think it’s important to keep you up to date with the work that we’re doing in our destinations. Our highest priority is to keep our volunteers and staff safe so you can focus on making the most of your time abroad.
We’ve thoroughly reviewed our health and safety protocols and increased them in light of COVID-19. Our enhanced protocols are in line with guidance from the World Health Organization and requirements from local authorities. These include:
- All volunteers will be asked to provide a medical certificate showing negative Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for COVID-19. Volunteers will also need to take this certificate with them on their flight.
- Our local teams have been trained on the signs and symptoms of COVID-19. We’ve pre-identified the best hospitals and clinics to use if volunteers or staff show any symptoms.
- We’ll require volunteers to take regular temperature checks provided by Projects Abroad.
- Anyone developing symptoms will be required to isolate, either at their host accommodation or a separate guest house or hotel. A dedicated staff member will be responsible for looking after anyone having to isolate.
- We’ll provide alcohol-based hand sanitisers for all volunteers. Regular hand washing is required for all volunteers and staff.
- We’ll provide Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in line with the requirements of local authorities and individual placements.
- We’ll carry out a deep clean of all volunteer accommodation before each new arrival.
- We’ll implement social distancing measures at our accommodation and projects. Depending on the destination and project, single rooms can be requested.
We’ll provide more information and advice on all of the above when we contact you to confirm it is possible to travel.
Can I still travel?
At the time of writing there are still a number of global travel restrictions that may prevent you from travelling. We hope that these will be eased in the coming weeks and enable more people to reach our destinations. We expect several destinations to open soon as travel restrictions begin to lift in parts of the world. These destinations include: Cambodia, China, Ecuador, Ghana, Jamaica, Mexico, Philippines, Tanzania, and Vietnam. This will be on a case-by-case basis being dependent on travel advisories and our risk assessment protocols.
We're on hand to offer advice and we also recommend checking with your local health department, as well as your airline. We’ll continue to monitor updates from the FCO, CDC, WHO, and other local health departments around the world. If any new information or advice arises, we'll let you know immediately.
Should you still book a trip with Projects Abroad?
Yes. Our projects will be available to run from this summer, travel restrictions allowing. In many cases, volunteers and interns travelling with us plan their trips a number of months in advance. Therefore, now is a common time to start booking your trip for later in 2020 or for 2021.
In order to make this easier, we’re offering a fully-refundable deposit for all projects booked in August 2020, to travel at any future date. You can read more about this offer here.
We’re also allowing all volunteers and interns the option to postpone their trip for up to 24 months with no amendment fees. If you book now and decide later that you want to postpone your trip, you can even switch to a different project or destination when you’re ready to travel again.
We’re determined to keep offering safe, hassle-free projects that make a difference in the developing world. We believe that the Coronavirus crisis has underlined the importance of traveling with a company that you can trust and that has safety at its core. We take care of your safety in numerous ways while you’re abroad with us, not just during times of crisis. We keep in touch with you every step of the way to keep you safe and informed, from the moment you sign up, until you fly back home.
If you have questions about our projects or just want some advice, we’d love to hear from you.
Can I change projects, destinations, or postpone my project?
Yes. Our projects will be ready to accept volunteers this summer, but travel restrictions may force a change to your plans. To make this process easier, we’ve relaxed our terms and conditions and waived our amendment fees for all changes due to the coronavirus. This means that you can change your dates, project, or destinations without any administration fees. We can also offer the option to postpone your project for up to 24 months with no amendment fees.
We very much hope you don’t decide to cancel your trip. Your help is still needed. However, we understand if you choose this option and you can find our cancellation terms here.
What if I have already booked my flights? Can I change them?
Many airlines aren’t charging a fee for flight changes due to Coronavirus. However, this will vary from airline to airline and will also depend on the terms and conditions of your specific ticket.
If you’ve booked your flights through us, our travel team will be in touch with you and can help you with any changes.
If you’ve booked flights independently, we strongly advise you to contact your airline directly to find out what their policy is regarding postponements, cancellations, and refunds.
If you have not yet booked flights, we advise that you delay doing so until we have a better idea of when travel restrictions are set to end.
Where can I find more information on Coronavirus?
The World Health Organisation has created this informative video to explain what is known about COVID-19, with links to further information in the video description.
The Foreign Commonwealth Office provides up to date information about the UK government’s travel advice for all our destinations.
Please feel free to contact us if you would like any help choosing a project or are concerned about international travel plans you have already made.