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Author Topic: Do Volunteers have enough time and money for travel  (Read 12918 times)

Nicole

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Do Volunteers have enough time and money for travel
« on: February 19, 2014, 12:12:45 PM »
I know the Peace Corps gives you vacation time, and there is some money in your stipend for vacation.  Is that enough time and money for travelling around your country, and to nearby countries? 

Should I plan on having access to more money from home?  I want to take advantage of being overseas already, and have a little money saved, but am not rich by any means.

Offline Jeff

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Re: Do Volunteers have enough time and money for travel
« Reply #1 on: February 20, 2014, 07:31:45 AM »
It really depends on the lifestyle you want to live while there (and the opportunity to do Westernized things) - volunteers who went to the city frequently and ate at the nicer restaurants or bought more expensive things were definitely supplementing their living allowance from home.

On the other hand, I know of some volunteers who rarely left site, lived very much at the local level, and had more than enough saved up from their living allowance to fully fund trips around the region out of country.

Personally I would have a little money available from home just in case you need it; I didn't go with that much in the bank but I did use a bit of what was there - especially on my close-of-service (CoS) trip.  I also used to go into town for my own "mental health days" every now and then which used up my living allowance faster than others did (eating at a Western-style restaurant or buying a Cherry Coke when I could find one, which cost 10x the price of a regular soft drink).

Assuming it is still the same, when you CoS you can claim cash-in-lieu of a plane ticket and use that money to fund your own trip home; also you can get 1/2 of your readjustment allowance then and there to use to help fund travel; so if you don't have a huge amount saved up for travel it is not a bad thing - especially if you do your traveling after service.
Jeff
RPCV - Ghana, 03-05
PCV - Macedonia, 15-17

Offline koji

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Re: Do Volunteers have enough time and money for travel
« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2014, 12:53:49 AM »
Echoing everything Jeff said... definitely there were volunteers in Bulgaria that were eating barely anything by the end of the month because they had spent their allowance. Others were able to travel to surrounding countries using PC allowance.

I definitely supplemented with money from home, about $1000 over two years, to ship things like running shoes to myself that I couldn't get in-country, (no longer having ground-mail makes shipping overseas quick, but expensive), to pay my student loans when I forgot to renew my deference, and to take a trip to Italy (more expensive trips had to be supplemented- I could afford Greece, Macedonia, Turkey and Serbia with PC allowance). I never supplemented in-country travel.

More than money was vacation time. When you are out of country weekends count towards your annual leave, so whereas back home you can take a week off, travel for 9 days and only count 5 vacation days, with the pc if you are out of country all 9 days will count. This eats up vacation time quickly... also traveling from your site to get to surrounding countries may take a couple of days. So- budget vacation time wisely :)

Offline libby

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Re: Do Volunteers have enough time and money for travel
« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2014, 04:29:05 AM »
We can easily afford our weekends away in our shopping town with our 2 living allowances, but we've supplemented all our vacations.

Time might be a factor of where you are and what sector you're in. We have abundant leisure time (we're education volunteers), and we will depart South Africa with plenty of unused annual leave days. In addition to annual leave days (2 per month) we get a generous amount of additional "holiday leave" for in-country travel. We are also allowed to take one weekend away from site each month (Friday after school to Sunday afternoon) without using any leave days at all. If you travel internationally (and there's a border less than 2 hours aways from us), you get a free "travel" day at the beginning and end of your trip.

You can travel and eat pretty cheaply here - but on our actual vacations we like to splurge a little. :)

Offline wreloise

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Re: Do Volunteers have enough time and money for travel
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2014, 12:16:19 PM »
Sound like fun....I will probably have a better idea how to utilize my time once I arrive in  Lesotho.  I am still trying to understand how to withdraw money from my American bank account while living in Lesotho.  Also, how much cash should I have while traveling to Lesotho.   I read credit cards are the best when traveling overseas.
Eloise-Born to Serve

Offline Jeff

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Re: Do Volunteers have enough time and money for travel
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2014, 12:32:34 PM »
You shouldn't need to use your US bank account unless you want to supplement your PC salary (I use that word loosely!).

That being said, the best way was simply a Visa debit card tied to a checking account here.  Especially if you have someone locally who can access that account should you need to have money sent to you.  It was MUCH easier and cheaper to have money 'sent' that way than to have it sent through Western Union or similar.  If you can find a bank that issues a debit card (or credit card) with no foreign transaction fees, that would be ideal.

As for your money while serving, Peace Corps will have you open an account at a local bank as part of your pre-service training (or right after) and you will receive your allowance that way.

I personally did not have a huge amount of money to supplement my PC service, but I did use a lot of what I had, mostly after service.  As for money while traveling to country, again, PC should provide for all of that, but if you know you will have a long layover somewhere it might be a good idea to have a little bit with you in case you want to leave the airport.  We had like a 12 hour layover in Amsterdam, and a lot of PCTs left the airport for a few hours to get a nice lunch and tour around.

Jeff.
Jeff
RPCV - Ghana, 03-05
PCV - Macedonia, 15-17

Offline wreloise

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Re: Do Volunteers have enough time and money for travel
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2014, 12:52:05 PM »
Fun,  I like that there were other PCVs to fellowship with during your wait in the airport.
Eloise-Born to Serve

Offline libby

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Re: Do Volunteers have enough time and money for travel
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2014, 11:28:55 AM »
Quote
I am still trying to understand how to withdraw money from my American bank account while living in Lesotho.

We've never had to withdraw money from our American bank account. If I need to spend American money here, I use a credit card with no Forex fees -- usually my United Mileage Plus  card. I have the account set up for automatic electronic CC payments, but can also log on here and pay.

If I ever have to get American cash (and with only 6 months left, probably unlikely) I'll use my credit union ATM card because they charge the least.

Offline wreloise

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Re: Do Volunteers have enough time and money for travel
« Reply #8 on: February 26, 2014, 07:06:57 AM »
Does it  initiate a challenge to depend on someone to wire money from the states?
Eloise-Born to Serve

Offline Jeff

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Re: Do Volunteers have enough time and money for travel
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2014, 03:24:10 PM »
Depending on which country you are in, it can definitely be a challenge to have money wired or to wire money.

In some countries it is also very expensive.
Jeff
RPCV - Ghana, 03-05
PCV - Macedonia, 15-17

Offline simonaannie

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Re: Do Volunteers have enough time and money for travel
« Reply #10 on: February 27, 2014, 07:16:59 PM »
The cost of a trip may be a couple of thousand dollars, depending on how big you go. But the value it could have on your life and your memories could be priceless. Think about how much you are willing to spend, sure, but also consider what else you want from your vacation, who you want to meet, what kind of experiences you want to have, and how you want to remember it ten years from now.


Offline PeaceCorps1

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Re: Do Volunteers have enough time and money for travel
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2014, 11:04:03 AM »
I did not travel in country while serving. I stayed at site and saved money to come home each break--three times. I wanted to be on home soil to get supplies and take care of business. Traveling around for the month break was not appealing to me more than I desired to go home and 'be me'.

So, yes I had to go into my savings to afford the 3 trips home--yes, it was worth it to go back refreshed after the breaks.
"If it were not for the reporters, I'd tell you the truth"', President Chester A. Arthur

Offline Steve S

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Re: Do Volunteers have enough time and money for travel
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2014, 12:34:08 PM »
During your first few months your free time and timely funding by PC may be limited. If there are not ATM's nearby, some personal fund availability may be wise. However, once you are settled, you should be able to travel in country without hardships with no additional financial resources. Many P.C.V.'s save enough during service to travel in their region during service or farther after if they wish.
Steve