TRANSFORMATIONAL TRAVEL

Since 2007, SOS has facilitated transformational travel experiences for over 1500 participants, providing a truly immersive experience in host communities, working with on-the-ground NGO partners in Latin America..

94% of past participants say they would recommend the experience to a friend.

Learn all about the trip experience here, and feel free to reach out to trips@studentsofferingsupport.ca! if you have any questions.

Training Before You Go

Housing

Your Trip Itinerary

Communication

 
All participants receive access to our SOS Outreach Trip Portal, providing you with a convenient, all-in-one solution to access training resources to make it easy to prepare for your trip.

This includes:

  • Information about your host community;
  • Online training, including: Appropriate conduct while volunteering, Cultural shock, socio political history of host country, Ethical photography and social media sharing and more;
  • Easy submission of forms and waivers;
  • Tracking of all payment deadlines;
  • Stories from past SOS Volunteers, partners, and projects.

SOS volunteers stay within approved community facilities (classrooms, community centers, etc.), and live as close to the conditions of the community as possible to promote a truly immersive experience.

This encourages a greater understanding of the lives and conditions of the community members, which ultimately results in more genuine, mutually-beneficial working relationships.

This means that your logistics are similar to camping – but just indoors! You’ll have to bring a sleeping bag, a pillow, a mat, and live out of your bag for the two week trip. SOS will provide all volunteers with clean drinking water and meals, but hot water will be scarce and there will be no air conditioning.

Many of the communities we work in have limited access to electricity, running water and the basic amenities you may be used to in your daily life. We know that living in the conditions of the community makes the experience and the lessons learned more impactful and valuable. You will be challenged in ways that, while not affecting your safety or security, will create an opportunity for growth and education.

We communicate expectations from both parties well before arrival so that everyone involved can prepare.

See a day in the life for a full sample itinerary. While each trip is unique, in general your itinerary will include:

Building Activities:

4-7 hours a day will be spent building your specific project.
You’ll have opportunities throughout the day for breaks and meals, and all construction work will be lead by the project’s foreman. Your NGO Trip Leader will always be on site to direct your group in what tasks you’re required to complete.

Community & Culture Activities:
In the late afternoons and early evenings, groups will participate in activities designed to learn more about the community’s culture and history, and most importantly, about the people who live in the community. Participants will participant in sports tournaments, dance classes, cooking classes, home visits, and much more.

Rest Days & Recreation:
You won’t work every day! Our partnering organization will organize two Rest Days for your group to relax and learn more about the culture of your host community and country. In the past SOS volunteers have gone on boat rides, to beaches, to cultural heritage sites, to markets, to ancient ruins, and more. Sometimes SOS groups will spend a night in a hostel on their way to the airport before flying home.

  
Leading up to your trip, you’ll be in constant communication with your SOS Trip Leader, the rest of the students on your trip and SOS’s International Office. Your SOS Trip Leader will organize a series of pre-departure meetings to help you prepare for your Trip, and you’ll be asked to attend virtual meetings with SOS in Toronto! We’re always a phone call or email away to answer any questions that you have before you depart.

Support

SOS works closely with its partners to ensure the highest standards of safety and support for our volunteers.

Partnering Organizations

SOS works exclusively with registered organizations in every country we work in to not only ensure the efficiency of our projects, but to ensure our volunteers have the best experience.

 

Our partnering organizations are leaders in community development and have an established relationship with your host community. They prepare the accommodations, transportation, and itinerary for your group to suit the host community’s needs and structures. They have experience working with international volunteers and provide every group with a bilingual Trip Leader (more below).

 


Host Community

Your host community has been working with SOS to prepare for your Outreach Trip for over a year! We spend that time ensuring each of our communities are able to safely host and support volunteers with our partnering organizations on the ground. The majority of our host communities have hosted SOS volunteers before, so they know what to expect and what works best within the local context.

 

SOS volunteers are always guests in our host communities, and we expect our volunteers to act in accordance with the hospitality you would expect of a guest in your own home. Further information will be provided as part of your pre-departure training.


Trip Leaders

NGO Trip Leader

The NGO Trip Leader is a bilingual staff member of the organization who knows local safety systems, the community, the culture, and how to assist a group of international volunteers. Your NGO Trip Leader will pick you up at the airport and be with the group 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for the entire duration of your SOS Outreach Trip.

They are responsible for coordinating with the community members and the foreman to oversee the successful execution of the project. They assist in mitigating any concerns between the community and the volunteer group and are there to provide guidance in emergency situations.

 

SOS Trip Leader

Your SOS Trip Leader is a student from your travel group who has volunteered to take on a leadership role. The Trip Leader is responsible for communicating between the volunteer group and the community, and between the volunteer group and SOS. Before you depart, they’ll do their best to help you prepare for the journey and organize meet-ups for the whole group.

Trip Leaders undergo an 8 week training intensive with SOS’s Head Office in Toronto. During that time they learn about culture shock and it’s remedies, how to facilitate discussion, the dynamics of team building, and so much more.

On the Outreach Trip, your SOS Trip Leader is your first point of contact should you have any questions or concerns. Your volunteer group will likely be a big one, so it’s important to use your Trip Leader as a source of information before going to anyone else. Your Trip Leader is also in charge of facilitating nightly reflections and exercises so you can understand the bigger impact your Outreach Trip is having in the world. They’ll lead you through a deep process of unwrapping concepts like poverty and privilege, and the impact they have on you.

 

 

 

SOS is proud to work with Flight Centre for provision of all travel-related services!