volunteer

WHAT TO BRING TO ELEPHANT NATURE PARK

At the end of December last year, I spent a week volunteering at Elephant Nature Park in Chiang Mai, Thailand with two of my best friend Maria and Natalie. We had an absolutely amazing week, and if you’d like to find out more about our experience, be sure to check out my volunteering vlog and volunteering Q&A at the end of this post.

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After we left the park, Maria, Natalie and I were chatting about some of things that we wished we had brought with us, as well as the things we did bring that proved to be essentials. I thought that it would be really useful to put this into a blog post for any of you who are planning on visiting the park to use as a kind of packing checklist. So, here are the not so obvious items you should definitely consider taking with you:

Mosquito spray – there are lots of insects around at night so a good insect and particularly mosquito repellent is essential. I took the Incognito* spray and it worked really well for me!

Insect repelling shampoo – I took the Superdrug 3 in 1 Conditioning Shampoo Tea Tree & Lemon, it’s super cheap and its ingredients make it naturally lice repelling (I assumed this meant other insect-repelling too, and it worked really well for me! I actually liked it so much that I have continued to use the shampoo at home). Be sure to also bring a good hand wash/shower gel combination as there are no toiletries in the accommodation bathrooms.

Dry shampoo – as most of the showers were cold on our visit and we didn’t find the hot showers until the day before we left, we didn’t end up washing our hair very much when we were there (like maybe twice in 7 days) so a dry shampoo would have been really useful!

Hand Sanitiser – there is a lot of picking up poop and dirty work so a little bottle of hand sanitiser comes in very handy!

Microfibre towel – towels aren’t provided at the ENP accommodation and as microfibre towels are really light-weight and super absorbent, they won’t take up a lot of room in your luggage and will come in very handy!

Packing cubes – ever since our trip to Australia 2 years ago I take my packing cubes with me everywhere I go as they are such a great way to organise your luggage; so really this is more of just a general travelling tip rather than an ENP specific recommendation but is still something worth considering!

Ziplock bags – ENP has a great  washing service which is super inexpensive and ideal if you are continuing to travel afterwards and want to re-wear your clothes; however, if choose not to get your washing done, ziplock bags are really useful as your clothes will get super dirty throughout the week, so putting your dirty items in the ziplock bags stops them from contaminating everything else in your bag.

Old clothes to donate – at the end of the week, there is a box where you can donate any unwanted items such as shoes/clothing; so I would recommend taking some old clothes with you that you can wear for volunteering, then get washed and donate at the end of the week! You can also donate any towels/blankets to the dog sanctuary, so if you have room in luggage, I’m sure that would be really appreciated.

Long sleeved and long legged clothing – although the hot weather makes it tempting not to bring anything long-sleeved with you, on the cutting corn/collecting hay days you will want to cover your arms and legs if you don’t wanna get scratched to bits. It’s also nice in the evening to have some leggings/trousers and a hoodie to throw on if it gets a little chilly.

Vegan snacks – if you’re fancying a snack outside of meal times, there is a little shop which sells chocolate bars etc; however they all contained dairy. So, if you’re vegan I would definitely recommend bringing some little snacks with you such as Cliff Bars*.

Torch – the short walk back from the communal area to the accommodation can be a little bit dark at night so if you don’t have a torch on your phone, it would definitely be useful to bring one with you.

Portable phone charger – with so many incredible photo opportunities, your phone battery can die really fast at ENP (at least, I know mine did), and when you’re not busy volunteering, you won’t want to be stuck in your room waiting for your phone to recharge, so having a small portable phone charger will be very useful.

 

I hope you guys found this list useful and as always, if you have any questions please feel free to comment them down below. To find out more about our volunteering experience, check out the two videos below:

My Elephant Nature Park volunteering vlog:

My Elephant Nature Park volunteering Q&A:

 

* Links marked with an asterisk are affiliate, this means it won’t cost you any more to purchase but I may earn a small commission if you purchase the product using my link 🙂

24 HOURS IN A KENNEL FUNDRAISER UPDATE

Matt and I are currently travelling through Australia and it is absolutely beautiful here (look out for lots of exciting travel posts/videos coming soon). However, we’ve been so busy and haven’t had a good internet connection (we’re talking 20 minutes to upload one instagram picture!) that I haven’t had a chance to update you guys on how my night in a kennel fundraiser turned out.

To describe the experience, I thought it’d be best to share with you my instagram post from the day after the event, as it captures how I felt about the experience whilst the emotions were still raw:

▹▸▹▸ MY INSTAGRAM POST

Rescue dog in kennel

“As Maria, Natalie & I left the kennels last night, there wasn’t a dry eye in sight. Leaving this little baby in her kennel after spending 24 hours together was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Although I volunteer every weekend and (nearly) always manage focus to on the positive, spending 24 hours in a kennel with a dog, getting to know what it’s like to be them, puts everything into a completely different perspective. You get to see how much every little interaction, every little treat through the kennel bars matters. You see how much an hour walk means to someone who spends the other 23 hours of their day alone in their kennel. One of the things that gets to me the most is that whilst my night in the kennel was one of my worst nights sleep; snuggled up in the bottom of my sleeping bag, it was probably one of Dolly’s best.


If you think you could spare a couple of hours each week, PLEASE go to your local rescue centre & volunteer to walk the dogs. It really does mean more than you could ever imagine & the bonds you form with the dogs will be something you’ll treasure for life. I’ve also made some of the loveliest human friends whilst volunteering as I’ve found that the people who work with/choose to spend their free time with rescue animals tend to be some of the most compassionate & caring people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet.


Before I end this massive essay, I wanted to say a HUGE thank you to everyone who has donated & helped us break our target of £1000 – you have made a huge difference to these dogs’ lives & I thank you for that from the bottom of my heart 🐶💗”

▹▸▹▸ VLOG OF THE FUNDRAISER

I filmed a short vlog of the fundraiser, so if you’d like to get a glimpse of what it’s like to spend 24 hours in a kennel, you can check that out below:

I am so pleased to announce that we raised a grand total of £1,400 for Foal Farms’ dogs, which is absolutely incredible! I was completely overwhelmed and humbled by all of the support we received throughout the process; it is so heart-warming to see how many kind, caring and generous people are out there. Not only did we receive so many donations that we were able to break our target, we were also featured in the local Newspaper as ‘Dog Crazy pals’ (life complete haha!) which all jokes aside will help raise awareness of the plight of rescue dogs and hopefully encourage people to consider rescuing their next best friend. For me, one of the greatest things to come out of this experience (that may or may not have made me cry a little) was hearing from friends and strangers that our fundraiser had inspired them to put in an application to volunteer at their local rescue centre.

24 hours in a kennel

Photo courtesy of the Newsshopper

I am beyond ecstatic with the impact our fundraiser has had and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have had this experience. I want to say a final huge THANK YOU to everyone who supported us, whether it be through sharing our posts, donating, or even making a change in your own life to help rescue shelters near you. Sincerely, from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

If you’d like to check out our feature in the local Newspaper, you can find that here:

http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/13789074.Dog_crazy_pals_spend_24_hours_in_kennels_for_rescue_centre_fundraiser/

Volunteering at Foal Farm

Last weekend was extremely exciting for me, as I was able to fulfil a life-long dream of becoming a volunteer at an animal shelter. Just before Christmas, one of my besties, Maria, rescued her gorgeous dog Max from Foal Farm and shortly afterwards started volunteering there with her sister. When they asked if I want to volunteer with them, to say I was excited (like-pee-my-pants excited) would be an understatement, as as you all know I am a big time crazy dog lady and anything I can do to help animals in need makes my soul extremely happy.

animal shelter volunteer

We had a great time walking some of the dogs around Foal Farm‘s beautiful grounds, and after spending time with them I just couldn’t believe how many gorgeous, friendly, and just generally loveable dogs there are waiting to find their forever homes. If you are able to open your home to a dog, in my experience, rescuing is honestly one of the most rewarding things you could ever do.  Two of my dogs have been rescues and they are some of the most loving, loyal dogs you could ever meet.

animal shelter volunteers

All of the dogs that we we walked/spent time with were special in their own ways, like the lovely Stanley above, who has the most gentle soul and is extremely well behaved on the lead.

I particularly fell in love with this gorgeous boy Rex ▽▼▽▼▽. Five dogs wouldn’t be too crazy, right?! Seriously though.

border collie cross springer spaniel

All in all, my first volunteering experience was amazing, and I am so grateful that I can now hang out with all of these lovely doggies on a regular basis. Foal Farm is an incredible no-kill rescue that relies solely on voluntary contributions, legacies and money made from fund raising events, and I feel so humbled to be a part of it.

Have any of you volunteered at an animal shelter? I’d love to hear all of your stories, you know I can talk about animals all day!