Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


We know you may have many questions about your volunteer experience. We will provide the questions most frequently asked and the answers. However, if you need to get any additional information please email us at info@rsvpcaribbean.com or call at +1 876 569 5918 and we will respond within 48 hours for weekdays and 72 hours for weekends.

These questions will help you ascertain the information you need prior to your journey overseas as a volunteer. For questions on what will happen in-country, upon return or if you are a parent and want additional information please see FAQs – While In-Country, FAQs - for Parents and FAQs – Upon Return Home.

General

2. Who can volunteer with RSVP Caribbean?

We cater to a wide range of individuals - High School, College/University, Gap Year, Career Break, Professional and Retired persons; and anyone who meets the programme or project requirement.

3. When can I apply?

You can apply at any time. We prefer at least 90 days in advance to process your application. However, we do accept volunteers who apply within less than 90 days. Once you have decided on your destination and programme please go ahead and apply.

4. When can I start?

For most programmes you can choose your start and end date. Most programmes run all year round. Once you submit your application we will confirm your preferred dates. Only the health and wellness retreat programme, and the summer and spring break projects have set dates.

5. How do I obtain a criminal record check?

The process varies from country to country. The best starting point would be to contact your local police station or check online to find out about the process.

6. Can I use RSVP Caribbean as a referee after I have volunteered?

We are happy to provide a reference or to be used as a referee provided that the volunteer complies with the Terms and Conditions.

7. What Language is spoken?

English is the main language in most Caribbean islands. However, Patois, French Creole and Dutch are other languages spoken. You do not have to know the local language, however during cultural sessions and interactions you will learn some aspects of the local language. If you want to improve your English or learn the local language you can sign up for our Language Lessons but this is not compulsory.

8. Will I be paid for my work?

No, this is unpaid work, as volunteers cannot do paid work in our destinations; it is illegal to do so. You are working on a voluntary basis only. You will be making a significant contribution to partner organizations and helping to address important national and community needs within your host nation.

9. Are the countries safe?

RSVP Caribbean is committed to the safety and well-being of all volunteers and makes it a priority to carefully plan and select destinations, staff, host families, drivers, communities and programmes. RSVP has a risk management and safety plan for all destinations. All programmes have trained and dedicated staff who provide 24-hour support. A full orientation is provided the first day after arrival. Please see Safety and Support.

10. Can I travel with a friend?

You can travel with a friend, a boyfriend or girlfriend. However, please be aware that you cannot stay at the same host family as an unmarried couple or, if you are friends of the opposite sex, as culturally this is not the norm. Only legally married couples can stay together and certified proof of this must be provided.

11. Can any nationality volunteer?

Yes, you can be of any nationality and volunteer with us once you meet the requirements.

12. How do I benefit from volunteering?

You will contribute by assisting persons with their basic needs and be a part of a life changing experience. Volunteering in a developing country will help you to see another part of the world and experience how other persons live. It will also be a good addition to your curriculum vitae or resume, and what you learn during the process will enhance your personal and professional development.

13. Can I fundraise for my programme?

Many volunteers fundraise to get additional support for their programme. You can click on Fundraising Tips for ideas.

14. Should I bring a suitcase or rucksack?

Either one is ok, it depends on your personal preference. A small rucksack comes in handy on the weekend or for your daily activities and the main rucksack or suitcase for general travel.

15. What is the weather like?

The weather in the Caribbean is mainly warm and sunny all year round. However, June to November it may rain occasionally so an umbrella or a raincoat might come in handy.

16. Is the tap water safe to drink?

It is safe to drink the tap water in the Caribbean but your host family will boil the water for you, if you desire. However, if your preference is to have bottled water you will have to purchase that at a supermarket or shop.

17. What type of clothing should I take with me?

It depends on your programme. Once you have applied and received your RSVP webpage the specific clothing requirement for your programme will be uploaded. You should pack slippers, shorts, pants, cotton blouses, dresses and a light sweater for evening and weekend wear.

18. When will I know where I will live and work?

One month before arrival your programme and accommodation details will be uploaded to your RSVP webpage.

19. Will I be able to use my mobile phone?

It is very expensive to roam in the Caribbean. We suggest that you purchase an inexpensive phone for approximately $60USD. If phones are available for rental at the office you will be able to rent a phone for $15USD. This must be returned the day before departure.

20. Will I have internet access?

The Caribbean is made up of developing countries. There is no guarantee that your host family will have internet. However, there are internet cafes and hot spots where you can access the internet. You can also purchase a wireless device (for your smart phone or tablet) and add an internet data package based on your needs.

21. Where can I do my laundry?

There are different options for doing laundry. You can handwash your laundry and your host family will provide basins for this. If your host family has a washing machine you will be allowed to use it once every two weeks. You must have a full load as electricity bills are expensive in the Caribbean so you are not allowed to wash more frequently. You can also visit a laundromat in the town to do your laundry. Another option is to pay someone to do your laundry and this will cost approximately $25USD each time. In all cases you will have to provide your own laundry detergent. Your host family will discuss laundry options when you arrive.

22. What types of plugs are used?

The Caribbean uses the same plugs as the United States and Canada. These are the two-pin plugs. Dependent on the type of plug used in your home country you may need to travel with an adaptor.

23. What can I do in the evenings and on the weekends?

In the evenings you can enjoy karaoke, the movies, hang out with islanders. Outdoor activities can help with your cultural immersion and so on the weekends enjoy the rivers, beaches, hiking, concerts, reggae and soca events and various attractions indigenous to your host nation.

24. Can I talk with another volunteer who has been on your programme?

Sure you can, visit the Volunteer Stories page or Contact Us and we will put you in touch with a past volunteer.

25. What if I have more questions?

If you have additional questions or would like to discuss our programmes and projects in more detail, please email us at info@rsvpcaribbean.com or call +1 876 569 5918 Mondays to Thursdays 8:30am – 4:30pm and 8:30am – 3:30pm on a Friday. You can also Request a Call Back or fill in the Enquiry Form .

26. What is the next step?

You can Contact Us for more information or Apply Now.

Programmes and Projects

27. What types of programmes are available?

We have many different programmes to suit your interests. These include Child Care and Protection, Elderly Care, Teaching, Medicine and Health Care, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Dentistry, Health and Wellness Retreat, Sports, Humanitarian, Environmental Awareness and Protection, Entrepreneurship and Youth and Community Development. See Programme and Project Information for more details.

28. What types of projects are available?

We have many different projects to suit your interests. These include Reggae Music and Dance, Rastafarian Culture, Internship and Dissertation, Professional, Summer, Spring Break, Group Trips, Corporate Trips, English and Patois Lessons and Customized projects. See Programme and Project Information for more details.

29. How long can a volunteer stay on the programme?

This depends on which programme you choose and the destination. Programme length starts at 1 week and can go up to 18 months. You decide how long you would like to stay on the programme. You can click on Programme and Project Information to view the minimum stay.

30. Can I do more than one programme?

Yes, you can combine your programmes. You can either do this within destination or across destinations.

31. Can a group of us join the programme?

We can organize programmes for you and your friends. A group for us is five (5) or more persons. You can click on Group Trip for more details and we will customize a programme to suit your group.

32. Should I bring a donation for where I will volunteer?

You can travel with donations if you wish to. You can view the Donation List to determine what type of donation would be most appropriate and impacting to your programme. Do not bring items that are too heavy, that will affect your weight requirement with the airline.

Requirements

33. How old do I have to be to volunteer?

To volunteer on RSVP programmes volunteers have to be at least 16 years old; for some programmes the minimum age requirement is 18 years old. There is no upper limit on age as long as volunteers are healthy and open to the experience. Please see Programme and Project Information for the specific age requirements.

34. Do I need any academic qualifications?

Most programmes require limited or no academic qualifications. Please see Programme and Project Information for requirements.

35. Do I require a visa?

This is dependent on your nationality, chosen destination and length of time. You can Contact Us with this information and we will provide additional information. It is your responsibility to get your visa (if required) and any necessary visa or approval for any country you will have to transit.

36. Will I need vaccinations and what types?

This depends on the destination you choose and what vaccinations you have had in the past. We suggest that you visit your doctor who will provide expert advice on what vaccinations are needed. With your doctor ensure that you are fully immunized and you have the required vaccinations for your travel.

37. Are there any specific requirements for me to be accepted?

Once we speak with your referee (listed on your application form) who could be a teacher, lecturer, employer, and pastor we will determine if you are suitable. All volunteers are required to provide a criminal record check as part of the application process. Once you are cleared, and your programme is available, you will be fully accepted.

Prices

38. What are the costs?

Please see Programme and Project Prices for each programme and project costs; and pay careful attention to What is Included and What is Not Included. Programme costs start at $1,400USD per person.

39. What does the fee include?

Our prices include a programme, accommodation, breakfast and dinner, pre-arrival support, in-country support, transportation to and from the airport, transportation while in-country from your host family to your programme or project, and 24-hour support. Pay careful attention to What is Included and What is Not included. Please also see a Breakdown of Fees to see how your money is spent.

40. Are meals included in the cost?

Two meals (breakfast and dinner) are provided at your host family. If you are staying home on the weekends and not travelling out, these two meals are still provided. On the Health and Wellness Programme, Rastafarian Culture Project and Summer Project, breakfast, lunch and dinner are provided.

41. Is there a discount for returning volunteer?

Yes, returning volunteers get a 10% discount.

42. Is there a discount for combining programmes and destinations?

If volunteers are applying for 16 weeks or more and combining projects they get a 10% discount.

Accommodation

43. How are host families selected?

Each host family is carefully selected. A staff member visits the home and completes an assessment survey which takes into consideration safety, basic amenities (running water, electricity), proper sanitation, sufficient ventilation, adequate storage and family-friendly atmosphere. Once the standards are met a background check is done of all persons in the household and if everything is satisfactory the host family is provided with an orientation, a host family manual and then begins hosting volunteers. There is a quarterly visit to the host family to ensure standards are being maintained.

44. Do I need to bring towels?

Yes, bring your own towel, at least two (2).

45. Do I need to bring sheets?

No, these will be provided by your host family.

46. Do I need to bring a mosquito net?

If you want to you can bring a mosquito net, however in some cases you might have difficulty installing them. You can travel with mosquito repellant as an alternative.

47. Do I need to bring a sleeping bag?

You do not need to travel with a sleeping bag. A bed, bed linen and pillows will be provided by your host family.

48. Should I bring gifts for my host family?

You do not have to bring any gifts for your host family but it is a nice gesture. You can travel with small souvenirs such as a cup, key ring, pens, postcard and sweets. Do not bring items that are too heavy that will affect your weight requirement with the airline.

49. Will I live with other volunteers?

This is not a guarantee and is dependent on your time of arrival and availability within host families. If you wish to live with another volunteer you can make this request on your application form.

Money Matters

50. What is the local currency?

It varies across destinations; in Grenada and St. Lucia it is Eastern Caribbean Dollars and in Jamaica it is Jamaican dollars.

51. How much money should I bring?

This will vary based on your tastes, preferences and needs. Lunch can range from $5USD - $10USD, popular snacks from $1USD up and fast food $5USD and up. Your evening recreation could range from $20USD and above. Taking taxis on the weekends to the town will cost approximately $2USD and if you are travelling out of town it could cost $10-$30USD or more; if you are travelling alone or with a group. Meals while out on the weekend starts at $5USD and accommodation from $30USD per night dependent on location. To visit a local attraction can vary from $5USD - $30USD or more. To attend a local concert, a movie or any form of entertainment ranges from $6USD - $15USD. These are all estimates.

52. How should I bring my money?

You can bring cash, debit card, credit card or travelers cheque. The currencies which are easier to exchange in the Caribbean are US dollars, Canadian dollars, Pound Sterling and Euros. We suggest that you travel with limited cash as there are restrictions on how much cash you can take into some countries.

53. How do I exchange money?

You will not need any money until your first work day. Therefore when you arrive at the airport you do not need to change your money there. You will be picked up by a staff the day after arrival and taken to a bank or cambio to exchange your money and you will get better rates than at the airport.

Travel

54. Do I need a passport?

Yes, you need a valid passport to travel internationally. Your passport must be valid for at least 6 months after your return date.

56. How do I book my flight?

You can contact a reputable travel agent to book your flight. RSVP Caribbean does not organize flights. See Flights for more details.

57. Do I have to pay for transportation to and from my programme?

You will receive your taxi money by the second Thursday of the month from RSVP Caribbean as this is included in your programme fee. If you are staying for more than one (1) month, this becomes due each second Thursday.

58. How far is my programme from my host family?

This is dependent on where you will live and volunteer. However, most partner agencies are within 15-45 minutes of the host families.

Internship

59. What is an internship?

An internship is for students or experienced professionals to gain knowledge in their field of interest. Interns work alongside qualified professionals and have the opportunity to learn local policies and procedures.

60. What types of internships are available?

We offer internships in Child Care and Protection, Teaching, Medicine and Health Care, Nursing, Physiotherapy, Dentistry, Sports, Humanitarian, Environmental Awareness and Protection, Reggae Music and Dance and Rastafarian Culture.

61. What qualifications do I need for an internship?

You need to have completed at least two (2) years of university, or, be practicing in your field for at least one (1) year.

62. Do I need to provide any other information?

You need to provide details on the objectives of the internship and any form that needs to be completed. These are reviewed and then you are informed if your internship is possible.

63. What will I do as an intern?

This is dependent on the programme you select but in most cases you will observe and conduct day to day tasks based on your programme. The day to day tasks will be based on your area of interest and or specialty, your current skills and the needs of the partner organization and what you are allowed to do.

64. Who will supervise my internship?

Each programme has a qualified supervisor and also a qualified RSVP Caribbean staff member. These individuals will supervise your work and provide you with guidance and support.

65. How long can I do an internship?

It depends on the programme and the number of hours you want to complete. Internships typically start at 2 weeks and run for up to 3 months. If you wish to stay longer this can be arranged.