How do I sign up to go on a trip?
If you'd like to travel to Nicaragua, Nepal, and Mexico with GRID Alternatives, visit our list of upcoming trips to see the available travel opportunities. To sign up, please contact us and we’ll get in touch with you with instructions about how to register and pay the initial 25% deposit to confirm your participation.
What do I need to know before getting involved?
Please check out GRID Alternatives' Volunteering & Training Guidebook, which outlines opportunities, requirements, safety measures, and conduct expectations for all participants in GRID Alternatives' projects across our internatinal and U.S. regions.
If I am a Nicaraguan citizen living in Nicaragua, how can I apply to be a project participant?
Please fill out this form and we will contact you when we have an opportunity.
What do participants do during the installation?
Our projects are led by GRID staff who give the project participants direction about what to do and how to do it. Participants are welcome engage as much or as little as they would like. We typically work in small groups and each project is different. Some examples of things participants do include: installing solar modules and racking, mounting and hooking up batteries, hanging and wiring inverters and charge controllers, and installing and wiring light sockets, outlets and switches inside the building, digging trenches and laying irrigation tubes, and installing cook stoves. Beyond the installation, participants can also move or clean equipment, play with the kids in the community, rest, take photos, create a community map, or perform other tasks related to the project. The group usually works from morning until evening for three days, but there is no set schedule since each installation is unique.
Do I need to speak Spanish or Nepali?
Volunteers are not required to speak any Spanish or Nepali. Our guides are bilingual.
Is solar experience required?
No solar experience is required. GRID’s staff ensure the solar installation goes smoothly and everyone can play a part, so participants are free to lend a hand as much or as little as desired during the project. Technical solar experience is always helpful for those that have it, but not expected or required.
What are the meals and accommodations like?
- Nicaragua: While the group is working in a rural community, the meals are generally provided by host families and often consist of rice, beans, corn tortillas and coffee or a fruit drink made from purified water. Meals may also include local fruits, cheeses, vegetables, and sometimes beef, chicken or fish. GRID provides purified water for the families to use when cooking or making drinks for the group. Before and after the installation, meals will be more varied since the group will be eating at restaurants and can choose what they like from the menu. Some of the restaurants have Nicaraguan cuisine, and some have Asian, American, Italian, and other dishes to choose from. If you are a vegetarian, a vegan, or have other dietary restrictions, your trip leaders can help you ask for what you need.
- Nepal: While the group is immersed in a remote community, the meals are generally provided by a kitchen staff hired by our local trekking partner, who cook meals for the group from locally available ingredients. In general, most meals in Nepal consist of rice, lentils (“daal”), cooked vegetables, potatoes, curries, and sometimes meat. In the community, you will likely be eating as a group in one central dining tent. Before and after the installation, you will eat at a variety of restaurants, which will serve traditional meals as mentioned above and local favorites, like “momos” (Nepali dumplings) or soups. There are some restaurants that offer continental food, including American, European, and other South Asian cuisines. Nepal is very vegetarian-friendly! If you are a vegetarian, a vegan, or have other dietary restrictions, your trip leaders can help you ask for what you need.
- Nicaragua: While working in the community, participants often stay with host families in very rural houses that consist of a few small rooms, little or no lighting at night, usually no running water, and very basic furniture. Before and after the installation, the accommodations vary depending on the itinerary but are usually small to mid-sized hotels with moderate accommodations. While in Managua, the group stays at one of the nicest hotels in the city, complete with a pool, air-conditioned rooms, a spa, and a restaurant and bar.
- Nepal: While immersed in the rural community, accommodations will consist of camping in tents in some cases, sleeping in rustic tourist towers in some cases, or staying with local host families. Accommodations depend on the type of communtiy you are working in and the environment in that area. Before and after the installation, the accommodations vary depending on the itinerary, but are usually small to mid-sized hotels or eco-lodges around the country with moderate accommodations and reputable hotels with nice amenities in Kathmandu.
How many people work on a project?
Groups have up to 10 project participants, plus members of the beneficiary community.
How old do you have to be to travel with GRID?
People of all ages are welcome! Children and teenagers under 18 may travel with their parents. Travelers must be prepared to endure the heat and rustic rural conditions, be able to walk long distances, and be in good health overall. We have had people from 9 years old to 65+ years old travel with us.
Are there any physical fitness or health requirements to travel with GRID?
Travelers must be prepared to endure high heat and humidity, very rustic rural conditions, be able to walk long distances, be okay with sleeping on the ground if camping or in a basic cot if staying with a host family, and be in good health overall. If there is an aspect of your physical abilities or health that you think might prevent you from doing any of the above, we encourage you to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to have a conversation about it before you officially register for a trip.
Once registered, travelers are required to fill out a form GRID sends you to note any allergies, medical requirements, and health issues so that your trip leaders can be aware and prepare accordingly.
Once I sign up for a trip, can I go ahead and buy my plane ticket?
Yes, once you sign up for a trip, feel free to buy your plane ticket. If you are traveling to Nicaragua, you can arrive to Managua (MGA airport) anytime on the first scheduled date of your trip and can depart anytime on the last date of your trip. If you are traveling to Nepal, you can arrive to Kathmandu (KTM-Tribhuvan Intl. airport) on the first scheduled date of your trip, but please be aware that for most flights from North America you will need to leave the previous day in order to arrive in Kathmandu by the first scheduled day of your trip.
If you would like to arrive on a date before the official program starts or leave on a date after the program concludes, please let us know. You will need to arrange and cover the cost of your accommodations, meals, and transportation during your extended stay. We’re happy to recommend things to do during your extra days in the country.
When is the trip fee due?
Space on our International trips is limited and trips are filled on a first-come first-served basis. In order to be guaranteed a spot on a trip, you must contact us to officially register and pay a 25% deposit. After you register, we’ll coordinate with you to fill out forms, gather travel information, and send detailed information about the community, the solar project, and what to expect while you are traveling with GRID. All forms, logistics, and final trip payments are due 45 days before your departure date. Please see our Payment Policies and Procedures.
Can you help me fundraise for my trip?
While the 25% deposit must be paid out-of-pocket to officially register, many people fundraise for the remainder of their trip fee. GRID Alternatives will provide you with everything you need to set up your own fundraising page through our online crowdfunding platform. You can share your personal fundraising page with friends and family, and all donations processed through this page will go directly to GRID but are automatically earmarked for your trip.
Is my trip deposit refundable if I cancel?
Please read our Payment Policies and Procedures.
I’m already going to be traveling in Nicaragua or Nepal, can I just stop by and help out?
Our projects are made possible by the trip fees that participants pay. If you will be traveling in Nicaragua or Nepal during one of our project dates, you are welcome to work on the project if there is space available, but we cannot waive or discount the program fee.
What should I bring with me on my trip to Nicaragua or Nepal?
Packing lists will be customized for each trip based on the country and project, and GRID will send you a comprehensive recommended packing list before your trip. Feel free to ask us any questions you have about packing in advance by emailing email@example.com.