This document has been designed to answer any questions you might have about when/where/how to fly to Sri Lanka and what you need to do before you get on that plane! Any questions you can't find the answer to here can be talked through with our epic team by either calling the office on 02070961718 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you need help or advice with flights, we work closely with Student Universe. You can get in touch with them on 0333 333 9224 or by filling in this form. We recommend booking flights no more than three months in advance and buying your insurance at the same time, to cover you should the unexpected occur.
The week before you arrive in Sri Lanka, you’ll be sent a sheet with everyone on your team's flight details. This is so that you can check that we have the correct flight information and also so you know with whom you will be travelling.
Many people introduce themselves on Facebook and make plans to travel on the same flight. This is not necessary, but may be nice if you are travelling alone for the first time. However, most people usually meet for the first time in Sri Lanka.
Arriving in Sri Lanka
Please arrive on the day of your placement between 7am and 5pm. We will collect you from Bandaranaike International Airport and take you to your homestay. If you arrive in the country early*, please organise your own accommodation until the day your placement begins and we’ll arrange a time for you to meet us at the airport on pickup day and take you to your homestay with the rest of your team. Unfortunately, your homestay is not able to house you early, as they will be making preparations for the team’s arrival. Please check accommodation near the airport on Trip Advisor before booking, as they will have the most up-to-date information and reviews of any guesthouses.
*Please note you can arrive no earlier than 2-3 days before your placement starts due to visa restrictions.
Leaving Sri Lanka
Your final day on placement is the last Friday of your final week. You'll be working at projects until the late afternoon, so please bear in mind when booking flights. We recommend booking your flights anytime after 8pm on the Friday to allow enough time for you to get to the airport after your project.
SLV.Global is not responsible for your transport back to the airport once your placement concludes. We’re happy to help you book a taxi there, but please budget approximately £40/€50/$55 (in rupees) for the trip.
What happens at the airport in Sri Lanka
- After you land there are signs directing you to Immigration, if in doubt follow the crowd. You should have been given an arrival card on the plane, but if not you will find one at the Immigration area.
- At immigration you will be asked to show the Entry Visa in your passport. The immigration officer may ask who you are volunteering with and ‘SLV.Global in partnership with the National Youth Services Council’ will suffice as an answer.
- After Immigration the next step is to pick up your baggage, normally the wait to collect your bag is no longer than 30 minutes.
- Once you have your bag please proceed through to the Arrivals area. Colombo airport is smaller than you might be used to and luckily for us there is only one area for everyone waiting for incoming flights.
- Once through the double doors you’ll be greeted by one of our team in the Arrivals hall. You’ll recognise them as they’ll have a sign with the SLV.Global logo and/or be wearing a fetching aqua SLV.Global t-shirt and a big smile. The team will endeavour to arrive early however occasionally your flight may be early or the Colombo traffic descends upon us and we are a little late. In these instances you could have a seat or go get some cash from the ATM (10,000 Rupees is good for now and is about £50/$70/€60), visit the loo (both of these are on the far right of the building towards the back) and we will be there soon. We have not forgotten you, I promise.
- Once everyone’s arrived, we’ll take you to your homestay; the trip from the airport is about 2-4hrs, so it’s best to use the bathroom before you leave the airport.
Before you leave the UK, SLV.Global will give you contact numbers for our Sri Lankan team, please make a note of these and keep them on your person in case of any issues meeting up at the airport. Please never, ever leave the airport without a member of our team.
+ Travel Insurance
Safety first! It's a requirement that anyone participating in one of our placements purchases adequate travel insurance for the duration of their placement.
Travel insurance needs to cover any medical expenses that may occur in country, delayed flights and lost baggage etc. Travel insurance is different from health insurance and is specific to the country you are travelling to. Therefore, if you already have health insurance please do not assume it will cover you whilst you are abroad. You will need to check the details as this often isn't sufficient for overseas travel.
Please make sure to check the conditions of your insurance and ensure you’re covered for White Water Rafting level 3 and any private medical treatment should you need to be hospitalised while on placement.
As with flights, Student Universe (you don't have to be a student) are really helpful for insurance too! You can get in touch with them on 0333 333 9224 or by filling in this form. We also find using comparison sites like 'Compare the Market' can be a really useful place to start to find a policy that suits you best.
We’re not doctors, so we're not authorised to dispense health advice. but preventative measures should be taken, as you will be working in a clinical setting with individuals who suffer from communicable diseases such as Hepatitis B.
We trust all volunteers to take suitable precautions and to get vaccinated against all possible contagions. Please see your GP/doctor or local travel clinic for advice on vaccinations. Remember to tell them that whilst in Sri Lanka you will never be more than three hours from a hospital and that we are not based in a remote location.
For the most up-to-date information about travelling to Sri Lanka please check the Fit for Travel website.
Courses of vaccinations that are usually advised are as follows:
Hepatitis B is spread through infected blood, contaminated needles and sexual intercourse. Vaccination is recommended for those at occupational risk (e.g. health care workers), for long stays or frequent travel. The vaccine is given as three shots over six months. A rapid schedule is also available, as is a combined vaccination with Hepatitis A For 95% of people, a lifetime protection is the result.
Adult diphtheria tetanus Single booster recommended if you haven’t had one in the previous ten years. Side effects can include sore arm and/or a mild fever.
Hepatitis A Provides almost 100% protection for up to a year; a booster after 12 months provides at least another 20 years’ protection. Mild side effects, such as headache and sore arm, occur in 5-10% of people getting the shot.
Typhoid The vaccine offers around 70% protection, lasts for two to three years and comes as a single shot. Tablets are also available; however, the injection is usually recommended as it has fewer side effects. Sore arm and/or mild fever may occur.
Other vaccinations occasionally advised
Japanese Encephalitis is spread by mosquitoes. It is a serious infection of the brain and vaccination is advised for those in risk areas unable to avoid mosquito bites, staying for long periods (e.g. more than four-weeks) or visiting rural areas.
Meningitis Single injection There are two types of vaccination: the quadrivalent vaccine gives two to three years protection; meningitis group C vaccine gives around ten-years protection. Recommended for long-term backpackers aged under 25.
Tuberculosis (TB) Adult long-term travellers are usually recommended to have a TB skin test before and after travel, rather than vaccination. Only one vaccine is given in a lifetime and is part of the BCG jab. Rabies: Course of 3 injections, but you should never be more than three hours away from a hospital in Sri Lanka.