There are lots of different airlines that fly to Sri Lanka, most of them have a stopover, but Sri Lankan Air flies direct. Please arrive on the day of your placement between 7am and 5pm. We will come and 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, so we can take you to your homestay with the rest of your team. Please note you can arrive no earlier than 2-3 days before your placement starts due to visa restrictions.
Unfortunately, your homestay is not able to house you early, as they will be making preparations for the team’s arrival. Also, all the other volunteers already in country will be away for the weekend, so it’s best you head somewhere to relax before your placement begins. You deserve it! Please check accommodation on Trip Advisor before booking, as they will have the most up-to-date information and reviews of any guesthouses.
Your final day on placement is the Friday of your final week so you'll be working at projects until the late afternoon, please bear in mind that SLV.Global is not responsible for your transport back to the airport once your placement finishes and that the airport is not close to your homestay. We recommend booking your flights anytime after 9pm on the Friday, to allow enough time to get to the airport. We’re happy to help you book a taxi there, but please budget approximately £40/€50/$55 (in rupees) for the trip.
If you are joining the India programme please contact the team before booking your flights as you will need to book your flight home on a different day. 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 3 months in advance and buying your insurance at the same time, to cover you should the unexpected occur.
It’s got to be done so don’t get on that plane until you’ve got sufficient insurance to cover your whole trip. Check the conditions of your insurance and make sure you’re covered for White Water Rafting level 3. 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.
As with flights, Student Universe 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.
Just Before you Go
The week before you arrive in Sri Lanka, you’ll be sent a sheet with everyones 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 will then introduce themselves on Facebook, and although the intentions are there, often it is not possible to meet in the airport before you travel. We do encourage you to try, although most people will meet for the first time at the airport in Sri Lanka.
What Happens at the Airport?
After you land there are signs directing you to immigration, if in doubt follow the crowd. You should have been given an arrival card, and 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.
Colombo airport is smaller than you might be used to and luckily for us there is only one arrivals area. After immigration the next step is to pick up your baggage, normally the wait to collect your bag is no longer than 20 minutes. After you’re through customs and have your luggage, 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. Please never, ever leave the airport without a member of our team.
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.
To help with further information, please see the document titled ‘What to Expect’ in your Participant Portal.
We’re not doctors and so are not authorised to dispense health advice. 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 or local travel clinic for advice on vaccinations. Remember to tell them that whilst in Sri Lanka you will never be more than 3 hours from a hospital: we are not based in a remote location. For the most up-to-date information about travelling to Sri Lanka please check fit for travel.
Courses or boosters usually advised:
- 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 10 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.
Vaccines not required but sometimes 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 4 weeks) or visiting rural areas.
- Meningitis Single injection: There are two types of vaccination: the quadravalent vaccine gives two to three years protection; meningitis group C vaccine gives around 10 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 3 hours away from a hospital in Sri Lanka.