Young male traveller backpacking around Asia
13 Feb 2019

Grad trips to change the world (and yourself)

You’ve survived university and the dreaded final exams. Now it’s time to reward yourself with a well-deserved break before diving into the corporate world. Instead of jet-setting to a remote island, why not explore ways to make your grad trip more fulfilling? Whether it’s with the BFFs or going YOLO, solo, here are some ideas of how you could make your own little dent in the world.

Serving the animal kingdom

Taking care of orphaned elephants at the Elephant Nature Park

If you’re the kind who prefers animals to humans, how about a short trip to Thailand? Away from the hustle and bustle of the malls and street food, you’ll soon find yourself amongst lush nature. Take a trip up to Chiang Mai, in the north of the country, and you could participate in the care of retired and orphaned elephants. At the Elephant Nature Park, you’ll be able to participate in bathing and feeding these gentle giants. A dog lover? Contact Care for Dogs, and lend a hand at local shelters, where you’ll be able to work alongside man’s best friend.

Extending a hand to your fellow man

Helping local communities get access to clean water

If you’re ready to get your hands dirty and be challenged to move out of your comfort zone, ELIV, a DBS Foundation partner, offers international service projects with local communities in Cambodia, Inner Mongolia, Taitung, India, Myanmar, Thailand and Yunnan. Through activities like building a home, complete with sanitary facilities for remote villagers, you can expect to return with a broader world view and better perspective on life—not to mention useful plumbing skills!

Caring for the sick

Medical graduates doing volunteer work

If you are a medical graduate and want to start making a difference immediately, you’re in demand. In both Thailand and Australia, there are volunteer opportunities that allow you to work with organisations providing medical care to underprivileged children in Thai villages or assisting doctors in hospitals Down Under*. Working alongside these dedicated teams would allow you to experience first-hand the differences in medical care for different groups, affording you deeper insight for your upcoming placements.

Making a difference in the next generation

If childcare is your passion, how about elevating your grad trip with the experience of being a volunteer teacher? You could put your English skills to good use in countries such as Japan and Hong Kong, where English isn’t their mother tongue, and there’s constant demand for individuals to teach English. Or, sign up as a part-time English and bilingual counsellor for their hospitals and care centres. Such internships typically give you the opportunity to experience the daily lives of your charges, while giving you a view of the city that you’d seldom see as a tourist.

Going social with your travel

Picking up a new skill like pottery

No, we don’t mean Instagramming every moment of your holiday. We do mean checking out travel-related social enterprises such as Skillseed or Backstreet Academy, both home-grown organisations offering experiential learning journeys with local communities. Pick up a skill from local craftsmen, or take some time off to learn more about a certain culture and ultimately, yourself.

Preparing before you go

Young woman at the airport departure hall

Granted, there are countless opportunities for the socially conscious explorer in you. But before you grab your backpack and head off, here are some things you could do to ensure your trip runs as smoothly as possible.

Some internships require pre-application before you arrive, and you’d also have to consider travel visas and permits. It’s also advisable to get comprehensive travel insurance, especially if you’re travelling to an underdeveloped part of the world.

And if those horrid money changer queues make you queasy, consider signing up for a DBS Multi-Currency Account (MCA). Exchange foreign currency online and spend overseas with your linked DBS Visa Debit Card without incurring a foreign exchange conversion fee**. You won’t need to worry about carrying a huge wad of cash while you travel, leaving you with more peace of mind to focus on making this grad trip a life-changing story.

*An Australian working holiday visa might be required.
**To enjoy direct foreign currency payments, ensure your DBS Visa Debit Card is linked to your MCA as the primary debiting account.

Singapore dollar deposits of non-bank depositors and monies and deposits denominated in Singapore dollars under the Supplementary Retirement Scheme are insured by the Singapore Deposit Insurance Corporation, for up to S$100,000 in aggregate per depositor per Scheme member by law. Foreign currency deposits, dual currency investments, structured deposits and other investment products are not insured