Gap Year stories

What are my chances of being offered a placement?

Being a youth development charity, we endeavour to find a suitable placement for everybody, and therefore nearly all our applicants are successful. We have an in-depth application process that involves an interview to discover more about your interests and strengths, followed by a thorough matching system that finds the best available placement to challenge, engage and inspire you.

Do I get a say in which placement I am offered?

Yes. You’ll be asked to list up to three placement preferences on your application, and can modify these after your interview. Lattitude Global Volunteering takes your preferences seriously, but also looks at where your individual skills and experience might be best utilised. We offer a wide variety of experiences but some are particularly popular. We may be unable to offer you your first choice if it is already full. If your interviewer feels there is a more suitable option, we will discuss some alternatives with you. The important thing to note upon sending in your application form is that it is not set in stone. You have plenty of opportunity to discuss with us the type of experience you are after and we will do our very best to ensure that this is what you receive.

Where will I stay?

As part of the agreement with our placement hosts, your accommodation is included with your placement. Most often this will be on-site at your placement, for example you might have your own room in a school boarding house or a cabin at an outdoor activities camp. In some cases you may share an apartment with other volunteers near your placement. In some countries you will have the opportunity to live with a host family and to truly immerse yourself in the local culture. The quality of accommodation varies from country to country and placement to placement. In the developing countries, accommodation can be quite basic, as is the nature of the community you will be placed in. Volunteers find that this helps them to really feel part of a local experience and makes for some fantastic memories.

Is my food included?

Your food is also included as part of the agreement with our placement hosts. The way in which your food is provided will vary according to your placement country and host. For example you may have access to an on-site canteen, receive an allowance to purchase or prepare your own food if in a self-contained apartment. Alternatively, your meals may be supplied by your host family. If you are working in a particularly rural or poor community you may find that you need to supplement the basic diet.

How much does it cost?

As a non-profit organisation we aim to keep the costs involved as low as possible without compromising on the value, quality and safety of every volunteer’s experience.

Lattitude Application Fee: $150

The application fee goes towards the cost of processing applications and holding interviews. Whenever possible, we like to travel to you to interview you in person, but if not , video conferencing (using Skype) is an alternative. All applicants are guaranteed an interview and this fee is non-refundable.

Lattitude Global Volunteering Fee: $3,900

Your Lattitude Global Volunteering fee goes towards such things as:

  • Assigning you a paid staff member in New Zealand who will support and assist you every step of the way
  • In-depth matching processes, ensuring you are offered a placement that suits your individual strengths
  • Your pre-departure briefing and information to prepare you for your volunteer experience
  • Support during your placement, including access to an in-country Lattitude Representative and access to the wider Lattitude network
  • Safety measures: including vetting of placements and a 24-hour emergency phone line
  • Day-to-day administration at the Lattitude office in New Zealand

We ask you to pay a $900 deposit when accepting your placement offer which is non-refundable.  The rest of the Contribution fee is not due until 40 days before your departure.


Please be aware, that depending on your choice of destination, there will be variations in the amount you need to budget for additional costs such as air fares, medical fees and insurance.

As air travel pricings fluctuate often, we are unable to give you exact figures here, but we are happy to discuss estimates based on recent years. Please feel free to contact us for more details.

Can I go with a friend?

Where possible we will do our best to place you with a friend. But please respect that sometimes this may not be possible. This may be due to restrictions at our host institutions or that the accommodation only accepts one volunteer, which may be the case with a host family. Please bear in mind that although we would really love to provide everything as you wish, it is not always possible to have one aspect without sacrificing another. For example if you really want to go with a friend but are actually very different to them, you may have to choose between staying with them or choosing a placement that suits you better! With this in mind applications are assessed separately because volunteers have better experiences when they’re matched to a placement that suits their individual skills and attributes. However, when friends apply together but are evidently very different we do try to send them to nearby placements so that they can meet at evenings and weekends. We will always keep you updated and let you know well in advance so you are fully aware of the situation and feel able to make fully informed decisions. Please inquire for more information as sometimes it can be quite country / placement specific too!

Will I be the only volunteer at my placement

This depends on the needs of your host. In most cases you will be placed with another volunteer or possibly with a team of volunteers; however some hosts need only one volunteer. Whatever happens, you will live and work alongside other young people. We try to cluster our placements so that volunteers have the opportunity to meet up regularly; our goal is for you to have a brilliant, life changing experience and recognise that sharing your experiences is part of the fun!

What if I get sick?

To ensure you are covered if you happen to get sick, you will need to have comprehensive travel insurance. Our hosts, in-country Managers and Local Representatives are always on hand as well and have a great deal of experience in supporting young volunteers. In the instance of an emergency, you can call the Emergency Phone, which is answered 24/7 and staff will be able to assist you and help you to make any arrangements you may require. Don’t forget, you should always keep a copy of your insurance documents to hand. As part of your preparation all questions such as these will discussed at the pre-departure briefing and as part of your orientation to ensure you are fully prepared for your volunteer experience. You will always have the full backing of the Lattitude network and it is this service of care that ensures that you will be looked after throughout your time abroad.

Will the country I’m going to be safe?

The safety and security of our volunteers is paramount and Lattitude Global Volunteering will never send volunteers to a country or placement that is deemed unsafe. While there is some risk involved in any overseas travel, through our pre-departure briefings and in-county orientations we seek to educate our volunteers and alert them to potential hazards.

Lattitude Global Volunteering takes advice from the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in the UK. We are kept up to date about any major situations that may arise and monitor them accordingly. We also maintain regular contact with our hosts and in-country Local Representatives about the suitability of our placement locations.

Will I receive any pocket money?

A small amount of pocket money may be supplied by our hosts for placements in developed countries. The amount will vary from placement to placement but, where paid, will generally be enough to cover daily living expenses. In developing countries, especially in resource poor placements, you are unlikely to receive pocket money; however your own savings will go a lot further.

How will I deal with any problems?

There is a large support network of staff and representatives in all our countries. These people are there to help you, to provide friendly and timely support whenever you need it. They will visit you at your placement to check that all is well.

We have the following five levels of support available to every volunteer:

Host Mentor – member of staff employed by the placement host who is your first point of contact.

Local Representative – part-time or volunteer member of staff allocated to a placement as a local point of contact.

Lattitude Country Manager – volunteer or paid staff member with overall responsibility for you and your placement. This is your next point of contact if your Local Rep is unavailable.

Volunteer Coordinator – paid member of staff based in New Zealand who is responsible for supporting the Country Manager, assisting you pre-departure and during your placement if required. This person is also the key contact for parents.

Regional Director – senior staff member who will deal with serious issues or formal complaints.

My son or daughter is going to volunteer with Lattitude Global Volunteering, do you have any information for me?

Yes, we have developed a “Family & Friends Info Pack” which aims to summarise in one place all you need to know about Lattitude Global Volunteering and answer many of the common questions or areas of concern raised by parents and guardians. This is sent to each volunteer once they have paid their deposit.

Can you help with fundraising?

Yes we can. Our team can provide you with ideas and information and help to publicise your efforts. We are constantly amazed by the ideas our volunteers have for raising money, which range from holding fashion shows and discos to running marathons or packing bags in supermarkets. We appreciate that raising the funds to pay for your placement can seem daunting. However it’s reassuring to know that many young people have been in the same situation in the past and successfully raised the money they required. It can be hard work but it certainly is achievable, and the process of fundraising is an experience in itself! So where do you start?

  • Work out your budget – how much will you need?
  • Plan ahead – the sooner you start fundraising the more options you can try, and therefore the more you will raise.
  • Approach prospective sponsors – think about why you are so passionate about volunteering overseas, what you hope to achieve, and write a letter to them.
  • Stay positive – not everyone you approach will be able to support you. There are many causes in the world vying for people’s attention.
  • Persevere and you will have success!

Have a look through our fundraising tips page for some starter ideas. For further information, suggestions and ways in which Lattitude Global Volunteering can help call us on 0800 528 848.

Can i volunteer overseas without incurring student loan interest?

Lattitude is an approved organisation for student loan interest exemption. Under the criteria set forth by the IRD, volunteering in the following destinations will allow you interest exemption: MALAWI, VIETNAM, ARGENTINA, CHINA, ECUADOR & FIJI.

How can I communicate with my son/daughter whilst they are on their placement?

With the ever growing access to the internet, there are many ways to stay in contact with your son/daughter wherever they are placed. On some placements, your son/daughter may have access to a phone or the internet and will not be far from a town where they can easily get access to both. You will also be able to contact your son/daughter’s Country Manager in-country or their Volunteer Coordinator here in New Zealand, should you need to, as well as our 24/7 emergency phone line. And you can always write letters which can be a great way to communicate with your son/daughter in more remote areas and can add to their experience as well as being something they can keep forever. Obviously the exact communication channels will depend upon where they are placed, but we will inform you in advance of what is available and what previous volunteers have done.

Where does the money go?

Lattitude Global Volunteering is a registered youth development charity and we work very hard to keep the costs of volunteering to a minimum. We do not make a profit out of our placements but we do have to cover the costs of staff, project administration, office administration and overseeing our programmes. The fee volunteers pay helps cover the cost of:

  • Processing applications and holding personal interviews nationwide.
  • Assigning a paid member of NZ staff to support them in pre-departure preparation.
  • Comprehensive interview and matching process.
  • Pre-departure events in the NZ, briefing materials and guides.
  • Food and accommodation for the duration of placements*
  • 3-5 day in-country orientation course.
  • In-country staff to support your child throughout the duration of their placement
  • Fully comprehensive support network for volunteer
  • Volunteer pocket money in SOME placements**
  • 24 hour telephone assistance.
  • Research and development of our partnerships with placements and hosts.
  • Running Debriefing session upon a volunteer’s return.

*Food and accommodation provided by host in conjunction with Lattitude agreement. Some hosts in more poorly deprived areas may require extra money for food contribution (generally in Malawi, usually between $5-$15 a week). Volunteers are made aware of situations well in advance

**Pocket money provided by host in conjunction with Lattitude agreement. Available in some placements in better resourced countries such as those in Argentina, Ecuador, Canada, China, Ireland, Poland and the United Kingdom.

Pocket money is not generally available in placements in developing countries. If volunteers are to receive pocket money they will be made aware in advance. It is entirely at the discretion of the host placement and what they can afford. It is not a ‘payment’ or reflection of work done, however, we have established guidelines of appropriate allowance with our hosts.

Can i volunteer for a shorter duration over my summer break?

Yes. The shortest duration option we offer is in VIETNAM. This is an approx. 2 month English Tutor placement, which departs early December, and concludes in late January. VIETNAM also has the option of a 3  month placement, departing in both February and August.

How do I apply?

Click the Apply Now link on the left to download an application form. We have our Priority Application Deadline for the year detailed on the form, and applying before this date will give you priority selection in your country of choice. Many of our destination countries, in particular the UK/Ireland, reach capacity every year, and applying early will ensure you avoid disappointment. We DO accept late applications after this date, however, positions are subject to availability. If we receive your application after our allocated interview dates in your region, you may be interviewed via Skype rather than in person.