How I got the funding to join a conservation program abroad and make the most out of my gapyear

How I Funded my Application

So… we all need to face the hard truth that as fun as these projects are, they are not exactly cheap. The expenses of volunteering are the same as if you were coming on a holiday: you need to pay for your transport, food, accommodation and any extra courses you would want to take. The costs slowly add up, and they can get quite pricey. However, despite the costs the experiences you gain from it are truly priceless.

An Invaluable Work Experience
This is now the second time I’ve volunteered to do shark conservation during my summer holidays. Its invaluable work experience and I have learnt so many skills from it, not only scientific research skills, but others such as teamwork, responsibility and commitment. It’s also been an amazing experience; it’s not everyday you get to dive with sea turtles and sharks. As I am currently studying Natural Sciences – the project has also been useful towards my degree. I’ve been able to carry out fieldwork that wouldn’t have been possible to do in gloomy Cambridge.

So, how did I pay for all of this?
The answer: funding and grants. For both of the times I have volunteered I’ve been able to pay for the bulk of it through different travel awards and grants from my school and university. A lot of schools will have travel awards and grants, and a lot of them are poorly advertised. Both of the awards I received were hidden in the small print of various different emails. However, even if they are poorly advertised, they are still there! You really just need to look for them and apply. You might not always get them, but it’s worth trying anyways. They are simple and straightforward. You only need to submit a CV, one (or more) reference letter(s), a legibility letter and the application form. It really only takes an hour!

I managed to raise £23,000 selling wristbands
Apart from awards and grants there are also lots of ways you can fundraise. I once did a charity project selling wristbands for flood relief in Thailand and the earthquake in Japan in 2011 – in total I managed to raise £23,000! In the past I’ve also done lots of bake sales. It’s also worth just asking people! Make a fundraising page on a website such as, explain your cause and share it on social media. You’ll be surprised at how much friends, relatives and even strangers are willing to give. Other things that you could also do would be carwashes, marathons (or just short runs for the average person) and raffles.

It may seem like a daunting task, but it really is quite simple!