VIDA Volunteer
VIDA Volunteer Pay Trip Fees Section

FAQs

Before you join:

Vida offers pre-medical, pre-dental, pre-veterinary, medical, dental, veterinary and nursing students and all others who are interested in the field of medicine the opportunity to participate in our program. We invite all related health professionals to join us. Vida programs are open to lay people, retired professionals, advisers, and university students in any field and all others interested in helping the global community. Unaccompanied young adults under the age of 18 will be considered on a case by case basis. Please contact Vida staff at info@vidavolunteer.org regarding special requests.

Vida trips start at $1540. The cost of a trip will vary depending on the duration of the trip. Please see the Vida Trip Schedule for specific trip prices.

First, choose a service trip and date from our Trip Schedule Page. Sign up online and submit your application with your $100 application fee. Once we have received your application and application fee you will be sent a letter of confirmation via email.

No, participants do not need to be bilingual. We provide bilingual guides, assistants, and interpreters for every Vida adventure.

Yes, we welcome citizens of all countries. Please check with the nearest consulate(s) for each country you plan to visit as separate visas may be required to enter each country (even if you are only traveling through that country, such as the U.S.) Normally, visas are granted for 30 days depending on the origin of your passport and are ONLY valid for ONE entry into that country, so you may have to select a service trip where you fly into one country and fly out of another or a trip that only visits one country. The visa process is a very slow process and may require our staff to submit documents from Central America so please inquire as soon as possible and no later than 75 days prior to your service trip.

If you do not currently have a passport, but will be applying to get one before your trip, please write the word “applied” in the passport number field of the application. Please note that your passport must be valid for an additional 6 months after your arrival date to Central America.

Yes, one option would be for you to organize your own group and we can accommodate the dates of your choice. Please contact us directly for further details regarding special groups. Another option would be to join the group late or schedule an early departure from the dates listed. There is a $100.00 fee for flexible arrival & departure dates as Vida staff will personally pick you up and drop you off as needed. Please contact info@vidavolunteer.org to check on the dates you would like to travel.

Yes, we welcome all groups; corporate retreat groups, church groups, student groups, community groups, family groups, men’s groups and women’s groups. We would be happy to include your group in an already scheduled service trip or offer you the opportunity to choose your own dates (depending on availability). Groups of more than 20 people can be offered their own service trip dates to choose from and have the opportunity to develop a specialized itinerary for their group’s needs. Please contact Vida staff at info@vidavolunteer.org.

Yes, you can sign up to participate in two back-to-back trips. Any student who wishes to participate in two Vida adventures in a row is eligible to receive a $200 scholarship.

Public Health:

The difference between a Health Promotion day and a Clinic Day is that during Health Promotion Days the student will educate the patient on either how to avoid getting sick or properly control a chronic illness. As for Clinic Days students will focus on how to diagnose a patient that is already sick due to a chronic or an acute illness.

Public health campaigns take place in Costa Rica only. The Ministry of Health promotes these campaigns, but in the rural communities that we visit the information does not reach all habitants. That is why it is our mission to provide education on health and promote healthy life styles.

Pre-Trip Questions

We strongly suggest that you consult your physician for advice on any recommended vaccines or special precautions whenever traveling outside your country of origin. It is always recommended to be up-to-date on your tetanus vaccine as well as to consider Hepatitis A & B vaccines when traveling to foreign lands where you will be in close contact with local citizens. Malaria medication should also be considered when traveling to Central America. USA travelers can check the latest health information with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at www.cdc.gov/travel or calling at 1-877-394-8747. Travelers from other countries can check the following government health websites: Australia, Canada, and United Kingdom.

Typically, you will have the opportunity to call home or have access to the internet at least twice during the trip. However, due to the remote nature of some of established routes, you may not always have the opportunity to call home.

Above all, you should plan to bring comfortable shoes and clothing. Everyone should bring sunscreen and bug spray; you’re going to the tropics! If you are part of a medical/dental/veterinary team, you should bring at least 4 scrub sets and comfortable tennis shoes for clinics (boots if you are on a veterinary team). If you are part of a general service team, you should plan on bringing work boots/shoes, work gloves, t-shirts and pants/shorts, hats, sunglasses. You can see a packing list right here

We recommend that you bring at least $400 US Dollars with you for a two week trip; however many volunteers bring much more than that amount to purchase souvenirs, gifts for family and friends, food, etc. We also require that volunteers bring a well-recognized international credit card such as VISA.


Please bring cash in US Dollars as other currencies cannot be exchanged. Please do not change money before you arrive. Vida staff will take you to exchange your money upon arrival. Make sure to bring bills in denominations no larger than $20 bills.

Yes, you are required to have travel and health insurance. Getting travel and health insurance is a great idea in case of the need to cancel your trip, return early, or to cover any health care expenses while on your trip. This also covers the health insurance requirement for all our Vida Volunteers. You can read more about the benefits of having insurance and get your own directly on our Insuance page.

Flights

The first and last dates of the scheduled trip as indicated on the Trip Schedules Page.

Please check your trip details on the Trip Schedules Page. If you have questions you can also contact us at info@vidavolunteer.org

We do encourage all participants to arrive as early as possible on the scheduled arrival day (before or by 2pm if realistic). If you arrive after 2 pm on arrival day, you might miss out on the general orientation and Welcome dinner. These activities are a great chance to start to get to know your fellow volunteers.

Volunteers are free to arrive before or leave after their trip dates. Volunteers must be responsible for their own transport and accommodation outside the trip dates. Volunteers arriving early must arrange to return to the airport on arrival day to meet their guide and the rest of the group. We will make sure to send a meeting time and place e-mail around two weeks prior to the start of the trip.

Donations

We encourage our volunteers to raise a minimum of $100 worth of donations for their service trip. 100% of monetary donations will be utilized according to your specifications. (i. e. utilized for direct donations to patients for follow-up procedures such as an x-ray or ultrasound, extra medications for clinics, etc.).Please review our donation list on this link. Please keep in mind that Vida will NOT accept any type of medication, expired articles or any other item not listed.

Congratulations! All of your hard work has really paid off! If you have so many donations that they don’t fit in an extra luggage, please notify Vida staff at info@vidavolunteer.org as we may be able to have other volunteers bring some of the donations.

Vida is a 501c3 approved charity in the United States. This means that any monetary donations or equipment and supplies are tax deductible. If you or anyone you know would like to make a monetary donation, they can do so through our donate now page on our website. If you would like to contribute equipment, or supplies, please write us at info@vidavolunteer.org to coordinate sending these items to us.

Once you are here

Vida adventures usually encompass two countries and are thirteen days in length in order to learn about the cultural differences between countries. Conditions are basic, but clean and comfortable. Most groups also incorporate homestays with local families for several days, and it really allows a unique look into the culture and lifestyle. If a particular trip is to be very rustic (ex. no running water or electricity), we inform all participants of these conditions in advance. Volunteers can expect to share a room with up to two or three other people. Any roommate requests must be submitted in writing to info@vidavolunteer.org at least 60 days in advance or duly noted in your application.

Normally, you will have the opportunity to wash your laundry or have your clothing laundered for you at reasonable prices, at least once on the trip.

All meals offered by Vida will be prepared to strict food safety standards and all meals will be well balanced. Many meals will be typical Central American fare which may include the staples of rice, beans, plantains, vegetables, and tortillas. Most meals will include chicken or fish along with rice, beans, and cooked vegetables.

All volunteers with special dietary needs should indicate them on their application form. Vida staff will do their best to accommodate different dietary needs, but strict vegetarians should plan on bringing their own sources of protein. Vida will provide bottled water all throughout the trip. You can bring your own bottle and fill it at any time from our coolers.

We are unable to provide halal or kosher options. Those that request this should consider the vegetarian option.

Safety is the number one priority for our groups. During the general orientation process we review safety practices as well as Vida safety policies. We will suspend service trips to any countries in which the U.S. State Department has issued significant travel warnings. The U.S. State Department has information regarding travel in foreign countries at http://travel.state.gov. Please contact us at info@vidavolunteer.org and we will be happy to provide more information regarding our Safety Guidelines and Disaster Readiness Plans.

All of the countries in Central America are beautiful and seeing some of the breathtaking beauty is integrated in each Vida service trip. Vida trips are designed to have just the right amount of work and play. Typically we will offer a minimum of 7 work days and 2 recreational and 2 days of travel per trip. Our Spring Break and end of the year trips typically include 4 days of service and combined recreation/travel days. Please contact us at info@vidavolunteer.org to request a sample itinerary.

After your trip

Students can coordinate with their schools and/or professors to earn credit for their trips, sometimes by their simple participation, or with an evaluation from a Vida group leader or staff member. In other cases students have been able to do an investigation or research paper about their Vida adventure.

Vida staff members are always happy to assist with the application process for employment, volunteer experiences, as well as fill out paperwork for internship experience and academic credit. Vida will issue a letter which includes an outline of volunteer hours and project information upon request. Requests for letters of recommendation will be assessed on a case by case basis. You can always ask for a recommendation letter directly with the doctors that you work with on the trip.

Other

We have the following scholarships available:

  • Return student scholarships: Students who have participated in a prior Vida adventure receive a $100 donation.
  • Scholarship for back-to-back trip volunteers: Any student who wishes to participate in two Vida adventures in a row is eligible to receive a $200 scholarship.
  • Scholarship for Campus Coordinators: Vida coordinators will receive a full scholarship for organizing a group of volunteers from their campus. Certain restrictions apply, and candidates for this position are screened by Vida staff. Please contact Ana Lourdes Salas at ana@vidavolunteer.org for more information.
  • Scholarships for Vida Campus Club Officers: Each Campus Club officer is eligible to receive a $100 scholarship for their trip.
  • Scholarships for Pre-Health Faculty members from affiliated universities: Only Pre-Health Faculty Advisers are eligible for a full scholarship/trip waiver. They must pay for their own airfare, personal spending money, etc., though Vida will cover most meals.

We are working hard to obtain sponsors for our scholarship programs and we will post new scholarships as they become available.

These scholarships are on a first come first serve basis. Please inquire about availability as early as possible for your desired dates by emailing Vida staff directly at info@vidavolunteer.org.

The money that volunteers pay goes towards two areas:

1. Directly to the costs of the volunteer’s trip. This includes two meals a day, hotel costs, home-stay costs, transportation, professional staff such as doctors, dentists, veterinarians as well as guides and translators and necessary supplies for clinics or service projects, including medicines and instruments.

2. Administrative costs include pre-trip service and support to volunteers, organizational costs such as clinic and service project coordination, etc.

There are many ways to help even if you can’t participate in one of the service trips.


Vida is always in need of ongoing volunteers in the U.S.A., Canada, and the European Union. There are so many opportunities for those who have a few hours to donate per week and would like to do so from home. Volunteering from home is a great way to help make a difference. Vida constantly has different projects going and we need people with experience in grant writing, data entry, statistical research, computers, web page design, graphic design, nonprofit consultants, media consultants, and distribution of donated medicines/supplies, scholarship acquisition, fundraisers, material/supply acquisition and networking with other nonprofit organizations. If you are interested in any of the above projects or would like to participate in a different project, please contact Vida staff in Central America at info@vidavolunteer.org.

Yes, adopting a dog or cat from your host country and bringing it home with you is possible. Certainly adopting from your local animal shelter is easier and cheaper than adopting an animal from Central America which may cost several hundred dollars. You will need an airline approved kennel such as vari-kennel, a health certification from the host country certified veterinarian (usually around $150.00), shots and vaccinations (up to $150.00), and a reservation with the airline for transport of a live animal. Due to the remote location of our trips it may be difficult for you to gather all the required documents in a timely manner and as with any pet adoption you should not make any spur of the moment decisions. You should check with your country’s laws regarding entry for domestic animals.