In an era dominated by the gig economies like uber and Airbnb, we thought it would be helpful to point out why it pays to book your volunteering project via The Leap or another reputable company, with the aim of making you mindful about the risks of booking direct.
To complete a successful and meaningful gap year, we advise initially following an organised volunteer program in order to become a confident, streetwise traveller.
Booking your volunteer project direct is a much more complex and risky process than hiring a cab on uber and requires far more thought, here's why...
You have no idea what you will get on your arrival, it could be a complete fraud, with fake reviews to lure you in.
You have to trust paying a foreign bank account and have no idea if the projects actually cause damage to the communities and local families
You can’t be certain that the people looking after you have carried out risk assessments or have the skills and qualifications that reach the high standards required in the UK.
Staying in a family homestay? Great, but what background checks have been taken on the adults – you wouldn’t want to live with a person with a violent criminal past.
With potentially no wifi or mobile signal, if you get ill, have an accident or worse need air evacuation you will be on your own and vulnerable.
You and your family will have to sort out a life threatening situation in different time zones and languages, making it an extremely stressful and expensive process.
You can’t be certain that anything that you have bought will be provided, including other volunteers.
If you have an awful time, who do you complain to, it’s unlikely you are going to want to go to court in a foreign country to get a refund.
Our programs cost more than booking direct or using a basic agent for the following reasons, but we believe it’s money well spent. P.s we don't pay any commission for US referrals.
It's a little like taking out an insurance policy, you often don’t value the benefit until you need it.
Having The Leap HQ on standby 24/7 back in UK, supporting you, your families and our local staff, helping with overseas issues provides you and especially your parents with peace of mind that a UK company, usually in the same time zone as parents, with an experienced easily contactable English speaking member of staff, will help arrange the logistics, communicate with all parties including overseas hosts, insurers (if necessary), airlines etc., to quickly resolve the situation, with the minimum of worry and stress to all concerned.
We arrange our own safe transport, ensure Leap accommodation is checked for fire exits and safety etc, prepare hygienic and nourishing meals, provide clean drinking water and crucially choose professional, qualified staff who are with you to look after you and keep you happy, busy and healthy.
If a company provides a ‘rep’ on the end of the phone 50 miles away, they are not going to be able to help you in the middle of the night if you suddenly get ill and need taking to hospital.
You have the confidence that as members of both the Year Out Group and the American Gap Year Association, we provide the gold standard for safety accreditation, in order to be members of both we have to produce detailed risk assessment, safety and activity audits, financial protection, client feedback and insurance that comply with BS8848 trading standards covering expeditions and volunteering.
When you book a program with The Leap you are starting a relationship with a small family owned company that really cares about each person’s outcome. We have been operating since 2002 and sent over 4000 people, so our friendly staff, who regularly visit the countries we operate in, can guide and advise you.
We do all the administration so all you need to do is read and react to our travel and safety advice in your My Leap account and get yourselves to the airport.
We help plan the program and itinerary, provide detailed guidelines and itineraries, talk through the program to establish it’s a good fit, briefings prior to arrival (and safety inductions on arrival), coordinate flights, advise on the best insurance policy, pass on to our hosts your insurance, flights and medical information so they can look after you properly and so on.
We focus on building a Leap team, so you have like minded people of
your age to enjoy the experience with (ensuring you have friends for
life to socialize and travel with afterwards).