[This blog article was used from February to August 2020 to regularly update our volunteers on the latest developments regarding COVID-19. From 1st September 2020, all future updates will be posted on our dedicated COVID-19 FAQs page. Please visit this page for the most up-to-date information.]
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.
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, created a generous new refund policy 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
How has Projects Abroad responded to Coronavirus?
From the beginning of the outbreak, we’ve taken every precaution to ensure the safety of our volunteers and staff. We’ve helped repatriate volunteers and made alternative arrangements for anyone unable to travel. We’ve also introduced new safety measures that will be implemented in all destinations.
We’re keeping a close eye on the updates and advice provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO), Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO), and other authorities regarding this pandemic. We’re monitoring travel restrictions around the world and communicating any potential issues to our volunteers as soon as we know about them.
Find the latest information on our COVID-19 FAQs page here.
To ensure ease and flexibility:
- All changes to your trip with us are free of admin fees.
- You can choose to postpone your trip for up to 24 months and even change to a different project or destination when you’re ready to travel again.
To offer even more flexibility, you can book your trip with us and pay with confidence: If your project is cancelled due to COVID-19, we’ll guarantee you a full refund. Read about our risk-free refund policy here.
We’re contacting all volunteers unable to travel to discuss options and give advice. If you have any questions you can always contact us and we’re happy to help.
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?
Please find the latest information on which destinations are open for travel on our COVID-19 FAQs page here.
We are 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 I still book a trip with Projects Abroad?
Yes. Our projects are available, travel restrictions allowing.
For the latest information on available destinations, please see our COVID-19 FAQs page here.
In order to make this easier, you can book your trip and pay with confidence: If your project is cancelled due to COVID-19, we’ll guarantee you a full refund. 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. Read about our risk-free refund policy here.
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, postpone or cancel 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 read about our risk-free refund policy 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.