2017 Best Volunteer Abroad Programs, Organizations, & Projects
(Updated for 2017 trips)
We’re taking the guesswork out of choosing a great volunteer abroad program. Using our database of 800 international volunteer organizations; 2,500 program reviews; and 10,000 volunteer abroad fundraisers who have collectively raised $2,000,000 for their trips, Volunteer Forever has crunched the numbers to identify our top volunteer abroad opportunities.
We also took into consideration the history of each organization to include the number of volunteer alumni and our 5 years of intensive interactions with programs over email, phone, and in-person meetings. Read on for our list of top recommended programs!
*Photo credit: Jess Bercovici, Traveller Not Tourist
2017 Best Volunteer Abroad Programs
If you’ve resolved to travel and make a difference in 2017, there’s no shortage of amazing volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs awaiting you.
All of the organizations outlined below have excellent reviews from very happy volunteers, interns, and teachers here on Volunteer Forever--read on to see what they’ve said and to find the perfect volunteer abroad, internship abroad, teach abroad, or language program.
Whether you’re a student, or you’re taking a gap year, or you’re a professional or a career break traveler, you’re guaranteed to find a volunteer placement, language immersion opportunity, or hands-on internship such as a teach English abroad internship (no teaching experience required) from the award-winning organization, Global Vision International, that will allow you to explore the world, make a difference, and meet new friends.
If you're looking to add real skills to your resume, consider enrolling in a Teach English as Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate program from ITTT to become qualified for English as a Second Language (ESL) jobs around the world. Native English speakers with TEFL certifications are in very high demand around the world.
Or if volunteering with animals in exotic locations suits your fancy, then check out Fronteering, which offers a Husky Ranch volunteer project in Canada and Predator Research Internship in the Amazon.
If you are in high school and looking for a teen volunteer abroad opportunity, then be sure to check out the under 18 projects offered by Global Leadership Adventures, an organization whose founder was recognized by President Obama! If you're interested in volunteering in Cuba, then be sure to look into Global Works and Global Volunteers, two outstanding organizations that offer service trips to the island nation for participants in grades 9-12.
Founded in 1997 by Richard Walton, Global Vision International (GVI) is an award-winning organization that provides volunteer and internship opportunities in Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. GVI has sent more than 25,000 volunteers overseas on programs ranging from construction, to animal care, to education, and beyond with 95% of past volunteers stating they would want to travel again with them again.
GVI is unique from other volunteer programs in three ways:
*They operate their own volunteer projects to ensure real, sustainable impact on the ground
*They provide 360 degree support before, during, and after your placement
*Their alumni network provides increased access to higher education and career development opportunities
GVI's differentiators and their emphasis on volunteer safety make the program very appealing to first-time international volunteers and teen / high school / under age 18 volunteers. Their projects start from one week and can last up to one year. Projects mix community service with global and cultural awareness to inspire and encourage volunteers to continue learning and serving even after they’ve returned from their trip. Lastly, many of their alumni end up working for GVI full-time, so if you are looking for a meaningful, international career, you should definitely check out a GVI project!
GVI Opportunities to Check Out
Through this program, you’ll work with local research team to track animals, study behavior, and learn more about the wildlife of South Africa. You’ll get started with a training session to get you acquainted with the project and the types of animals you’ll study, and from there work day-to-day tracking wildlife, conducting research, assisting with data entry, and even participating in community education about conservation. This program starts from two weeks at $2,390.
If you’d like to visit Asia, GVI has an amazing opportunity right now in Thailand to volunteer with elephants that have been rescued from working in the tourist industry. Through this program, you’ll help rehabilitate elephants and work with trainers to care for the animals, and may even help with community education and outreach programs. This amazing project starts from one week at $1,840.
Through this placement, GVI invites you to teach English to Buddhist novice monks in Luang Prabang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site close to the Mekong river and other gorgeous areas. You’ll work directly with monks in a temple school and learn about Lao culture, history, religion, and much more. This program starts from two weeks at $1,890.
On this project, you’ll travel to Caqalai Island in Fiji to work with a local NGO in collecting data on fish species, mapping coral reefs and mangrove, developing an environmental education and awareness program for local schools, and assisting with the development of best practices in conservation on the island. For the first part of your project will start with an initial training phase, where you’ll learn to identify fish and coral species through a series of dives with guidance from GVI staff. This program starts at $4,000, and you’re invited to stay from four to 24 weeks.
GVI Program Review: Amelia, Costa Rica Community Development Program
“I was in need of a career break, and was looking to do something out of the ordinary. I was looking to get far away and do something worthwhile. After some heavy research GVI continued to be the organization that ticked all the boxes.
They were incredibly helpful when I was choosing my location, and the onsite assistance and support throughout the entire journey was fantastic. I was so lucky to be involved in the Community development program of El Cocal, the children were amazing, I made some friends for life and hopefully one day soon I'll return for a visit! It really was an unforgettable experience!”
Maximo Nivel is Volunteer Forever’s top-ranked program with over 120 reviews and a 5-star rating. Their programs are very affordably priced, starting at just $595 (for one week) and appeal to a broad base of participants from high school students to graduate students and working professionals.
Maximo Nivel was founded in 2003 and has hosted over 25,000 participants for its volunteer abroad, internship abroad, study abroad, Spanish Immersion, Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), Semester Abroad, and High School Abroad programs. Maximo Nivel offers its projects in three countries in Latin America: Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru.
Whether you’re looking for a one-week adventure or a full gap year experience, Maximo Nivel is definitely worth checking out if you are looking for a high-quality, affordable, and enriching experience in Latin America.
Maximo Nivel Opportunities to Check Out:
Right now, Maximo Nivel is offering TEFL certification courses for travelers who want to teach English and gain new skills abroad. You’ll start with an intensive, four-week, accredited certification course in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru (online courses also are available), after which you’re free to look for paid teaching abroad placements.
Maximo Nivel provides lifetime job-seeking support for their alumni, and even hires three to five graduates each month to work as teachers in their Native English Program in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru. There are lots of different types of teaching opportunities Maximo Nivel will help you find, including business English teaching, private tutoring, school teaching, and much more, depending on your skills and interests.
On this two-week volunteer adventure, you’ll spend five days volunteering, and six days traveling in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru. A few volunteer projects you can take on include working with kids, teaching English, construction, conservation, animal care, or medical / healthcare.
For the tour portion of your trip, you’ll go zip lining, touring on a catamaran, hiking through a national park, visiting waterfalls and volcanos, and much more, depending on which country you decide to visit. This is an excellent opportunity to combine international community service, learning, and adventure.
If you're currently studying education, secondary education, or a related field at your college or university, you are invited to take part in Maximo Nivel’s education internship abroad. Through this placement, you’ll work alongside professional teachers to gain insight into teaching in classrooms for early childhood, elementary, middle school, and high school students. ESL-specific placements also are available.
You're invited to stay for a minimum of four weeks and can expect to work four to six hours per day Monday through Friday each week. As an intern, you’ll have the wonderful opportunity observe classroom instruction and management, help with planning and conducting lessons, learn about Latin American culture, and develop your teaching and leadership skills.
Maximo Nivel also offers a micro business internship for students interested subjects such as business development and management, marketing, sales, client services, accounting, and much more. For four weeks, you'll work with a local company or entrepreneur in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru to assist with marketing, client needs, administrative work, and other tasks that can help keep the company running, scale it appropriately, and set it up for success over the long-term.
You must have intermediate Spanish language ability to apply, and you’re encouraged to enroll in Maximo Nivel’s online Spanish class or native Spanish program to gain the language skills you’ll need to be successful on your internship.
Maximo Nivel Program Review: Alexa Hart
“I went to Cusco, Peru on a one-way ticket back in 2009 and had the time of my life. Maximo was a big contributor to my positive experience. I volunteered with underprivileged kids and helped paint a battered women's shelter. I also took inexpensive Spanish lessons with them.
The accommodation they provided was great (I recommend Arcopata Family House). I lived with fellow participants of the program in a house and was provided really good meals. When I got sick, they had a doctor come to the house to check on me and give me medicine too.
After volunteering, I became TEFL certified with them during a 4-week course. All in all, I was very impressed, and I would recommend them to anyone. The experience changed my life."
Founded in 2007 by Dan Radcliffe, International Volunteer Headquarters offers over 150 affordable volunteer trips to 28 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. IVHQ has placed more than 63,000 volunteers overseas on projects ranging from teaching, to healthcare, to childcare, and more. Programs last one week to 24 weeks and start at $180. Given the affordability of IVHQ's programs, volunteers could vary well volunteer abroad for free by fundraising on Volunteer Forever and applying for our volunteer abroad scholarships!
IVHQ Opportunities to Check Out
Volunteers on this program help support underprivileged children by teaching English, French, or information technology--marketable skills that will allow them to build careers later. Tasks may include running workshops, assisting local teachers, organizing educational games and activities, and helping out at summer camps. This program starts from one week at $310.
Through this program, volunteers assist local NGOs, government institutions, and hospitals with care and support for those infected with HIV. Volunteers also educate vulnerable populations about the disease through school and community group outreach. This medical volunteer abroad opportunity starts from one week at $270, and while participants do not need prior experience working with those affected by HIV/AIDS, a knowledge of the issue is helpful before arrival.
Volunteers on the Sri Lanka Temple Renovation program learn about local construction methods, while assisting with temple painting and construction, as well as helping to establish youth centers. By working alongside locals and meeting children within the village, volunteers may gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of Sri Lankan culture and history. This program starts from one week at $260.
Through this overseas healhcare volunteer program, volunteers assist in rural clinics, orphanages, or small communities to provide checkups and basic medical care. Depending on background medical experience, Spanish language proficiency, age, and ability to lead, volunteers may have a certain degree of independence within their placement. This program starts from one week at $324.
Volunteering Solutions (VolSol) is an international volunteer organization that was started in 2006. Since then, they have hosted over 10,000 volunteers in projects across 20+ countries, including popular destinations such as Nepal, India, Thailand, South Africa, Peru, and Costa Rica.
In addition to their 120+ volunteer projects, Volunteering Solutions also offers intern abroad opportunities, the highlight of which are their international medical internships.
Volunteering Solutions Opportunities to Check Out:
Right now, Volunteering Solutions is offering several different medical internships in Nepal, India, Peru, and Thailand. As a medical or healthcare intern with VolSol, you can choose from projects focusing on nursing, medical care, dentistry, and physiotherapy while earning hands-on experience in your field.
Depending on your placement, you can work in local government or private hospitals and clinics, and you’ll have the amazing opportunity to work alongside local medical and healthcare professionals to learn about their practices. Internships can be customized to your university requirements, and you’ll earn a certificate of participation upon successful completion of your program abroad.
Internships start from two weeks at $650, with your program cost varying based on which placement you sign up for. Learn more about medical internships with Volunteering Solutions here.
If you’re passionate about human rights, check out Volunteering Solutions’ NGO support and human rights volunteer program in Rabat, Morocco. As a volunteer, you’ll work with local organizations that confront a variety of important social and political issues, including human rights, children’s support, women’s rights, education, skilled learning, government accountability, and much more.
Depending on your background, skills, and what’s needed by your program site, you can assist with marketing, planning community events, helping with reporting and documentation, and assisting with development activities at your partner NGO. You’re invited to stay one week or longer, starting from just $410 for your first week in Morocco. Click here to learn more and to sign up.
Another excellent volunteer program being offered right now with VolSol is their sports coaching project in South Africa. Through this placement, you’ll coach sports, teach life skills, and encourage healthy habits among children at a local primary school.
During your stay, you’ll help lead three physical education periods per day, while assisting teachers with their lessons and guidance in classrooms in between those periods. If you’re creative, flexible, and ready to be a mentor to students in South Africa, this program is for you! You’re invited to stay two weeks or longer, starting at just $495 for your first two weeks in South Africa - learn more about coaching sports here.
Volunteering Solutions Program Review: Sarah, Thailand Elephant Program
“I participated in the Elephant Camp Program in Chiang Mai in Summer 2015.Before arriving in Thailand, I was a bit apprehensive and nervous , however after arriving in Chiang Mai, everything went smoothly. I dad a very informative orientation session with the local team. The Chiang Mai city tour was fab too!
My 3 weeks stay at the elephant camp was definitely the highlight of my Thailand trip. I enjoyed meeting other volunteers from around the world and getting involved in different tasks at the elephant camp. On the weekends, we enjoyed our time in Chiang Mai thoroughly exploring the night market, going to Doi Suthep and other plenty of Thai temples. I would definitely recommend doing the Elephant Camp project in Chiang Mai. ”
Founded by a brother-sister team, Love Volunteers is a low-cost international volunteer organization that provides meaningful, life-changing projects in over 34 countries around the world.
Every year, thousands of Love Volunteers from all over the globe are placed into 1 week to 6 month projects in Central and South America, Asia, Africa, The Middle East, and Europe.
Love Volunteers’ volunteer abroad programs start at just $175 for a one week placement along with a one-time $249 registration fee when you submit your application.
Love Volunteers offers 120 community-based development programs in healthcare, education, sports and coaching, law and legal assistance, social services, engineering and architecture, special needs, construction, environmental protection and in many more areas.
We LOVE Love Volunteers because it is an affordable volunteer program with lots of options in terms of placements.
Love Volunteers Opportunities to Check Out
Through this program, volunteers work in multiple schools in the city of Arusha. Volunteers are especially needed to English and as such, volunteers should consider a TEFL course prior to volunteering (though this is not required by the program).This program starts at one week for $175.
This program is located in Kathmandu in order to assist people with disabilities. Volunteers in this program help the participants in the special education program to develop technology skills, develop their conversational English skills, and the life skills needed to live an independent and dignified life. This program at 1 week for $195.
Love Volunteers Program Review: Delaney and Jordan
"Love Volunteers is such an amazing organization. I can't stress enough how kind and helpful they were doing the whole trip process. They were happy to answer any question I asked, and made the process as smooth as possible. I would recommend Love Volunteers to everyone. I can't thank them enough for helping give me this opportunity. It easily was the greatest experience of my life, and I can't wait to do it again."
Founded in 1995, Cross-Cultural Solutions offers international internships, gap year experiences, volunteer trips, and high school volunteering programs in 9 countries throughout Africa, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. Programs focus on important topics such as child development, girls’ and women’s empowerment, and global health. To date, nearly 35,000 volunteers have traveled with Cross-Cultural Solutions (with a 99% approval rating from past participants), which offers year-round presence their host communities, a full-time team of local expert staff to support their volunteers, and among the highest standards of safety and well-being in the volunteer travel industry. This organization has received such recognition as Special Consultative Status with the United Nations, as well as GreatNonprofits’ top award for the third year in a row, and is accredited by the American Gap Year Association.
Cross-Cultural Solutions offers several different volunteer opportunities in Ghana, including child development, global health, and girls’ and women’s empowerment. As a child development volunteer, you will be able to work with a community group or in a daycare to assist teachers, conduct early education programs, teach English language skills, and more. If you’re more interested in global health, you can provide support with various public health projects including malaria prevention campaigns, vision screening, and oral health campaigns. And as a girls’ and women’s empowerment volunteer, you will play a part in helping Ghanaian women achieve financial independence. Learn more here!
Right now, Cross-Cultural Solutions is offering several different volunteer placements in Dharamsala and New Delhi, India. In Dharamsala, a more rural region of the country, you can help to support children in community centers or daycares, promote oral hygiene in school, help with public health projects, or help women pursue new economic opportunities. In New Delhi, you will have the chance to fight urban poverty by volunteering with children and families in slums and low-income communities through financial development, public health, and childcare.
Another volunteer opportunity you can check out through Cross-Cultural Solution is their program in Morocco, where you can contribute to children’s educational development programs, assist with much-needed support to the country’s healthcare system, and help girls and women develop their leadership skills to build bright futures for their families and create stronger communities. Learn more about volunteering in Morocco here!
Founded in 2011, Plan My Gap Year (PMGY) offers among the world's most affordable placements for travelers who would like to volunteer in childcare, teaching, wildlife conservation, community projects, and mental health projects in Africa and Asia. PMGY prides itself on transparency and accountability, with all programs personally inspected and vetted by the PMGY team to ensure project safety and to be certain that you will be matched with an initiative that complements your skills and interests. And with recognition such as the Shell LiveWire Grand Idea Award, Thailand Green Excellence Award, and Special Recognition from the United Nations in Sri Lanka, Plan My Gap Year is a wonderful organization to check out if you want to make sure you’re helping with sustainable, impactful projects.
Plan My Gap Year Opportunities to Check Out
Located in Ambalangoda, the Southern province of Sri Lanka, this program invites you on several different volunteer experiences, including child care, English teaching, medical care, turtle conservation, and much more. As PMGY’s most popular destination, there’s plenty of opportunity for exploration, adventure, and impactful volunteer work that you can take on in Sri Lanka. This program starts on the first and third Saturday of every month, and is based in a gorgeous island beachside location. You can stay from two weeks to over six months, and depending on the project you sign up for, your first two weeks abroad cost only $400.
Another wonderful opportunity to check out with Plan My Gap Year is their Bali, Indonesia volunteer program, where you can care for children in need, teach English in a classroom, and much more. Bali is also featured in PMGY’s Ultimate Round the World Tour, which takes you to 9 different destinations over 36 weeks. Based in Tabanan, PMGY’s Bali volunteer program is extremely affordable, starting from just $330 for your first two weeks onsite.
If you have always dreamed of visiting Africa, PMGY has many different meaningful volunteer projects in Ghana, including supporting disabled children, teaching English, providing medical care, and even helping out with mental health and psychology initiatives. As a volunteer, you’ll be based in an urban neighborhood of Kumasi, and have the chance to visit Cape Coast, Elmina, and Mole National Park. This program starts from only $375 for your first two weeks in Ghana, and you can stay up to six months, depending on the project you sign up for.
Founded in 1993, International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT) is one of the world’s leading TEFL and TESOL course providers for aspiring English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers. If you are a native English speaker and want to earn a living abroad, this is a great opportunity as your skillset is in very high demand around the world.
ITTT provides training through an online course, in-class courses in 27 different countries, and a combined course, with more than 7,500 graduates each year. With worldwide accreditation for their TEFL courses, ITTT offers lifetime job support for their graduates - including exclusive leads on unadvertised jobs, unique databases of potential employers, CV and resume review, cover letter assistance, contract consultation, and interview preparation.
Online courses start at $249, in-class courses start from $1,490 for four weeks, and combined courses start from $1,195.
ITTT provides high-quality, internationally accredited online TEFL courses for students of all learning styles - meaning you can earn TEFL certification at your own pace, with or without tutor support, and from the comfort of your home. Through this program, you can earn TEFL certification in Teaching Business English, Teaching English to Young Learners, and even an advanced Diploma in TEFL. Courses range from 60-hour introductory programs, to 50-hour specialized classes, to 250-hour TESOL diploma classes. Online classes are open to learners aged 17 or older, and you must be a native English speaker or fluent in English to start.
ITTT also offers in-class courses to receive TEFL and TESOL certification in more than 25 locations in 15 different countries, such as Australia, China, Greece, India, Japan, Spain, and beyond. These courses start from $1,495 for a comprehensive four-week program, which is divided into six main areas: teaching practice, foreign language experience, language awareness, student profile, teaching techniques, and a materials project.
One in-class course you may want to check out is ITTT’s TEFL Costa Rica program. Through this placement, you’ll visit Costa Rica’s gorgeous Pacific coast, where you will learn to teach English while also exploring beaches, jungles, and much more. Demand for English teachers is high in Costa Rica, so once you’ve completed your course, you’re welcome to apply for TEFL positions in any of the cities around the country.
If you’ve always wanted to visit Japan, ITTT also offers a course in Tokyo. During your stay, you’ll earn a TEFL certificate in one of the world’s most high-tech and fast-paced metropolitan areas. And once you’ve completed your certification, ITTT will provide job support to help you quickly find a placement teaching ESL in Tokyo or beyond.
If you’d like to mix your online training with in-class experience, check out ITTT’s combined courses, which start with a 120-hour online education program, followed by one to two weeks of onsite training. This course costs $1,195, and allows you to study at your own pace with assistance from a highly-experienced personal tutor.
For the online portion, you’ll learn about language awareness, teaching theory, and general methodology. Once that’s complete, you can choose to take a five-day in-classroom course in one of more than a dozen locations in the US or Canada, or an eight- to 10-day program in Spain, Thailand, Italy, France, or the United States. You’ll receive full TEFL certification after successfully completing both portions of the combined course.
Founded in 2004, Global Leadership Adventures provides teen and high school programs abroad that combine community service with hands-on learning and adventure. With an emphasis on safety - outlined in Global Leadership Adventures’ five-point safety system - this organization sends thousands of travelers to nearly two dozen countries throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America every year.
As a leader in youth development, Global Leadership Adventures has a database of nearly 2,000 references willing to vouch for the impact of their programs - and in fact, GLA’s co-founder was recognized by President Obama for making a positive impact in Africa.
Global Leadership Adventures Opportunities to Check Out
On this spring break program, you’ll volunteer with rural communities in the Dominican Republic and learn about their challenges in accessing daily necessities. A few projects you can take on include building schools and community centers, assisting in reforestation or water filtration projects, or building vertical gardens or clean-burning stoves. You’ll also have the opportunity to check out the beach, explore freshwater lagoons and caverns, and much more. This eight-day program costs $1,899 - click here to learn more and to register.
Another amazing program you can sign up for in the Dominican Republic is Global Leadership Adventures’ Global Health Initiative. Perfect for students who want to pursue an education in medicine or public health, you’ll meet with community leaders to discuss health, sustainability, and education, assist traveling doctors and Peace Corps volunteers with their work, and lots more. On the adventure portion of your trip, you’ll zip line through the jungle, hike through waterfalls, and explore coral reefs on a snorkeling expedition. This 14-day program costs $3,399 - learn more here.
If you’re passionate about protecting animals and their natural habitats, check out this program in the Galapagos Islands, where you can help to restore the habitat of native wildlife. On Isabela Island, you’ll volunteer in a tortoise breeding center, and on San Cristobal Island, you’ll help to clear invasive species to allow tortoises and birds to re-inhabit the area. You’ll also be able to go snorkeling, swimming, kayaking, and hiking during this two-week program. Click here to learn more.
GLA also invites you to Ghana, where you’ll teach children in a village primary school or orphanage, make bricks for construction of new facilities, and play soccer and other team games and sports with the kids. You’ll also learn about Ghanaian culture through workshops in cloth dyeing, drumming, and local Ewe or Krobo language - and you’ll have the opportunity to meet with local tribe members and chiefs to learn about religion, social construction, and much more.
During the adventure portion of your trip to Ghana, you may have the chance to explore mountains, hike waterfalls, and explore outdoor markets. This 21-day summer trip costs $4,999, and is an amazing way to spend your summer break. Click here to learn more and to sign up!
Founded in 1984, Global Volunteers offers volunteer trips and teach abroad placements in 17 countries worldwide. More than 33,000 volunteers have traveled with Global Volunteers - and as one of the longest-running volunteer vacation providers in the world, this organization was granted Special Consultative Status with the United Nations in 1999, and formalized a relationship with UNICEF in 2008.
Coined the “granddaddy of the volunteer vacation movement” by USA Today, Global Volunteers has been featured as part of Oprah’s Angel Network, which initiates and supports charitable projects making a difference worldwide. When you sign up with Global Volunteers, you can be sure that your safety comes first: team leaders are certified in CPR and first aid, volunteers serving outside of the US are provided emergency medical evacuation insurance as part of their placement, and emergency contact is available for all travelers 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Depending on where you travel, placements start from $1,045 for your first week, and may be tax-deductible for volunteers in the US.
Global Volunteers Opportunities to Check Out:
Through this placement, you’ll teach English to youth and adults for one week or longer. Because English is increasingly important for conducting business globally, this is a vital skill for students to learn as they build their community and find employment prospects. You’ll help students practice conversational skills, including pronunciation, vocabulary, idioms, sentence structure, and much more – and you don’t need formal teaching experience to sign up. This project starts from $2,695 for your first week, and in your free time, you’re encouraged to explore the community of Beja, take a weekend trip to Lisbon, and much more.
On Global Volunteers’ St. Lucia volunteer program, you’ll support children who are facing challenges in nutrition, healthcare, and education. In partnership with local schools and community organizations, you’ll provide maternal and infant support, present childcare workshops to parents, help with early childhood education, teach health and hygiene lessons, assist with building repair and maintenance projects, tend school gardens, and much more. This project starts from one week at $2,695, with family and group opportunities available as well.
Global Volunteers also is offering an amazing opportunity to volunteer in Cuba, where you’ll travel to Havana, Ciego de Ávila, or Sancti Spíritus to work alongside community partners to practice conversational English, tend community gardens, improve local buildings, help women with sewing and other crafts, and much more. You’re invited to sign up for one week or longer (starting at $2,595), and in between project work, you’ll have the chance to engage in people-to-people cultural and educational exchange activities.
If you want to visit South America, check out Global Volunteers’ Ecuador volunteer placement, where you can visit Quito and teach children, improve playgrounds, repair and paint classrooms, and more. Since 1996, Global Volunteers has provided essential services, volunteer hours, and materials to daycare centers that support and educate children whose mothers are at work during the day. This program starts from one week at $2,495, and in your free time during evenings and weekends, you can explore the city and surrounding areas – and even take a side trip to the Galapagos Islands.
If you’re looking for a volunteer experience that’s unique, exotic, and off the beaten path, look no further than Fronteering. With volunteer and internship projects located in 14 different countries, Fronteering offers impactful programs for travelers who want to visit unspoiled locations and make a positive difference in environmental conservation, wildlife research, indigenous communities, and more.
Fronteering’s volunteer and intern abroad opportunities start at an affordable $695 for your first week onsite - and if you’d like to stay longer, the organization also offers placements up to 24 weeks.
Fronteering Opportunities to Check Out:
For four to eight weeks, you’ll have the chance to feed, groom, and walk huskies, help with ranch maintenance, go dogsledding and snowmobiling (if you’re volunteering in the winter), clear and prepare dogsled tracks, and more. Located in British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, or the Yukon, this program is excellent for volunteers who love animals and the outdoors, and starts from $1,395 for your first four weeks.
If you’ve always wanted to visit the Amazon, Fronteering invites you to help with bush dog research and monitoring in the rainforest, with tasks such as setting camera traps, collecting data, helping with community activities, performing research, and much more. This opportunity starts from one week at $695, and you’re invited to stay up to six weeks to help further research, get to know the community, and rough it in the Amazon Rainforest.
Through this program, you’ll delve into the jungles of Guyana to help an indigenous community create a sustainable, eco-friendly infrastructure through construction, maintenance, wildlife research, and more. And depending on your skills and background, you can also teach IT skills, build wildlife viewing camps, and much more. You’re invited to stay two to eight weeks, starting at $1,695.
Founded in 1994, i-to-i offers TEFL certification, adventure trips, paid internships, and jobs for travelers who want to teach English abroad. More than 175,000 graduates have completed i-to-i’s fully accredited TEFL courses, with certificates recognized by thousands of employers worldwide.
Right now, i-to-i has an impressive 90% approval rating from their past participants and students, who have embarked on amazing journeys like four- to five-month paid trips to China and Vietnam, and even shorter-term TEFL experience trips to Thailand, Cambodia, and several other countries. Read on if you would like to learn how to get paid to travel!
For five months, i-to-i invites you to teach English in China, where you’ll have the chance to immerse yourself in the culture while educating students in a local school. To get started, you must be TEFL qualified - and as part of this internship, i-to-i provides free training, which includes a 120-hour online course, plus 20 hours of classroom training over two days in China.
From there, you’ll travel to one of i-to-i’s partner schools across China and can expect to teach English in your classroom five days per week. You’ll also receive accommodation, meals, and a living allowance of about $260 per month - plus a completion bonus of $320 at the end of your internship.
This program costs $1,199 for training, orientation and support, five months’ practical teaching experience, airport transfer, and much more. Click here to learn more!
Through this internship, you’ll have the wonderful opportunity to teach English in Vietnam. As with i-to-i’s China TEFL Internship, you’ll begin with 120 hours of online TEFL training to help you teach English confidently, followed by 20 hours of classroom training in Vietnam.
After your orientation week in Vietnam - where you’ll learn about culture, history, and even some phrases in Vietnamese - you’ll begin your teaching experience, where you can work with students aged 4 to 18. Each month, you’ll earn a living allowance of $700, plus housing with fellow interns.
This program costs $1,249, which includes training, orientation, support, and much more. Learn more here!
If Thailand is on your must-visit list, check out i-to-i’s Thailand TEFL Experience! Through this adventure, you’ll be able to explore this gorgeous country for two months while teaching English to students in a rural village. You’ll start with i-to-i’s 120-hour online TEFL course to learn the basics of teaching English, and from there, you’ll begin your journey through Thailand.
i-to-i will provide an orientation in Ayutthaya, where you’ll meet fellow travelers, learn about Thai history and culture, and much more. After that, you will head to Kanchanaburi, a rural area where you’ll teach for about two months in a classroom with beginner English students. You’ll finish your trip with a visit to the exotic island of Koh Samet - the perfect way to relax and hang out at some of the world’s most beautiful beaches.
This adventure costs $1,099, which includes TEFL training, orientation and support, 7 weeks’ practical teaching experience, a 5-night stay at Koh Samet, and much more. Learn more and sign up here!
Agape Volunteers is a UK-based non-profit organization that operates low-fee volunteer projects throughout Africa. Agape's project fee starts at USD $510 (GBP £330) and already includes the registration fee and travel insurance, making it one of the most affordable volunteer programs in the world!
Agape Volunteers was founded by Oxford graduate, Guillaume Lefevre, in 2011 and boasts a perfect 5-star rating on Volunteer Forever. The program offers volunteer projects in Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, and Tanzania with projects ranging from medical volunteering to coaching a football academy in Nairobi.
Currently, Agape places hundreds of volunteers a year into their owned or funded schools, orphanages, clinics, hospitals, and community projects. What we especially like about Agape is that they directly manage their volunteer projects in Africa, ensuring that volunteers only work in projects that are beneficial to the local community and the volunteer.
In addition to their volunteer projects, Agape offers a wide range of extra activities that can be added to your trip, including safaris and mountain climbing.
And just to drive this point home because it is quite unique among volunteer programs, Agape offers free comprehensive travel insurance as standard with all of their packages. Be sure to check out Agape Volunteers if you are looking for a reputable and affordable volunteer abroad program in Africa.
Agape Volunteer Africa Opportunities to Check Out
As an Agape wildlife volunteer in South Africa, your days will contain a huge range of activities. You will participate in game drives, where you will get up close to some of the exciting animals who live on the wildlife reserve. You will also participate on leopard tracking projects and other activities around the reserve, including game capture, monitoring and counting the animals, checking the fences for poachers, and clearing overgrown plants.
You'll also get the chance to hike and trek and explore the area, as well as take trips to the nearby beaches. In the evenings, you'll be relaxing with the other volunteers, cooking and having barbecues under the South African stars.
Your program will include accommodation, three meals a day, transfers to and from the airport, and all the activities included in your itinerary. The project also offers a dedicated trip adviser who will be able to answer all of your questions. As a reminder, Agape offers fully comprehensive insurance as part of all of their volunteer abroad placements.
Agape offers teaching, orphanage, medical and music placements in Ghana. Volunteering with Agape gives you the opportunity to focus on your desired volunteer program, whilst also getting involved with their core humanitarian projects. Agape Volunteers works with the Shamah District Health Authority to place volunteers in medical placements at local hospitals
These medical volunteer abroad placements offer a range of different experiences suited to different levels of qualification. Please remember to have an open mind as healthcare standards in the developing world can be vastly different from the developed world.
After being introduced to the doctors and other staff members with whom you will be volunteering, you will be eased into work and home visits, assisting with rounds, assessing new patients, and checking the condition of overnight patients.
As a student, it is unlikely that you will play a significant role in major procedures, but you may observe and the doctor may call on your help if they feel you are capable. Qualified doctors and nurses will have more leeway but you should expect things to be approached on a case by case basis. As a reminder, be careful not to participate in any medical procedures for which you are not qualified to do in your own home country.
Agape Volunteer Abroad Program Review: Ben Leftwich, Kenya Teach Abroad Program
"I had heard about Agape Volunteers through a university advertisement, the prospect of doing something different and fulfilling for summer was exciting for me, so I applied. All of my expectations for a memorable summer were met and more.
There were many projects to get involved with but my main placement was teaching at a local school. I found this extremely rewarding and also challenging since I was in charge of a class of 20 children 5 days a week. However, this allowed me to really get involved with their education and form some lifelong bonds with the children.
One of the uncertainties for me before leaving was the other volunteers: were there going to be any others, and if so, would I get along with them? These worries were dashed instantly when I met everyone. I made friendships with a large number of other volunteers from all over the world, some which I fully intend to meet again.
The Agape staff were very helpful and able to answer any questions that I had regarding my placement or Kenyan differences. I would highly recommend volunteering through Agape for a memorable, rewarding experience which you'll never forget!"
A Broader View Volunteers was founded in 2007 by Sarah and Oliver Ehlers. Their team has sent more than 5,000 volunteers to 245 programs across 25 countries, and has raised and distributed more than $1 million in donations worldwide.
A Broader View’s goals are to provide developing countries with volunteer assistance while educating those volunteers about the communities in which they serve. Projects can include wildlife conservation, childcare, teaching, and more, and start from one week at $745, depending on the location and placement. Many of their projects are offered year-round, which provides you flexibility in terms of your start date.
A Broader View is one of the best rated programs on our site and has over 100 positive reviews on Volunteer Forever!
A Broader View Opportunities to Check Out
Volunteers in the Quito Hippotherapy program assist with rehabilitation and recreational programs with horses for those with mental or physical disabilities. Through this placement, volunteers feed and groom horses, prepare them for and handle them during therapy sessions, and may provide horseback riding lessons to the general public. Gardening and canine therapy placements also are available. Placements range from one to 12 weeks and start from $895. Volunteers must have intermediate Spanish knowledge, and immersion courses are available for those that would like to gain a greater language proficiency.
In this conservation program, volunteers work in reforestation, organic farming education, and sustainable growth at a Peruvian national park in the Madre de Dios region. Projects can include flower inventory, research, replanting, clearing holes, animal rescue, and other tasks. This program lasts one to 12 weeks and starts at $895. Spanish language background isn’t required, but is helpful while assisting on community outreach programs.
Volunteers in A Broader View’s Social Welfare program assist a local center that cares for children from 18 months to five years old, and that educates single mothers about child care, nutrition, and hygiene. On this placement, volunteers help provide lunch, assist in the kitchen, teach preschool lessons, and play games with the children. This program starts from two weeks at $995.
Based in the Bulenga community, this program provides the opportunity for volunteers to support two healthcare centers that offer maternity, ultrasound, and contraceptive services; treatment for malaria, typhoid, and diarrhea; infant care; antenatal care; and HIV/AIDS testing and counseling. Volunteers also assist with outreach and education for expectant teen mothers within the community. This program starts from two weeks at $995.
A Broader View Program Review: Logan, Honduras Medical Program
“I had a great time in La Ceiba, Honduras. I did not feel unsafe or threatened at any time. My work was great and fulfilling at both the old hospital and the school. My host family was excellent and accommodating, and the food – especially the local food – was very delectable.
“All of the people, from the children to the patients at the hospital were very nice and respectful. I had a lot of fun with the other volunteers and I highly recommend being outgoing and personable… it will make you life way easier if you can hang out with friends and commiserate after a long day of work.
“I had very good Spanish entering into the program, but after 2 weeks of immersion my Spanish is crisp and fluent; I truly valued the ABV experience as a life-changing event. I am willing to speak with others about my experience.”
Since 1989, Global Works has combined community service, cultural exchange, language immersion, and adventure for an incredible travel experience both for students and groups. To date, more than 10,000 travelers have signed up with Global Works, which offers summer service adventures for high school students and custom group travel for educators, schools, and private groups.
Trips run 8 to 21 days, and can focus on Global Action community development projects, conservation, language immersion, and pre-med or public health. And with destinations such as Cuba, Fiji, Spain, Nepal, and beyond, Global Works has lots of amazing opportunities worldwide for adventurous travelers who want to have fun and effect positive, impactful change in the communities they visit.
GLOBAL WORKS OPPORTUNITIES TO CHECK OUT
On this 8-day program, you’ll have the opportunity to travel throughout the San Jose Central Valley and Tortuguero Beach while learning about Central American culture and lifestyle. You’ll start with an orientation, and from there you’ll visit a sustainable coffee farm and take an overnight rafting trip on the Pacuare River. For the volunteering portion of your trip, you’ll take a tour of a leatherback sea turtle hatchery, patrol beaches at night for nesting turtles, and even kayak through Tortuguero National Park. You can also extend your journey with Global Works’ Costa Rica La Pura Vida Program if you have some more time to travel.
After the earthquake of 2015, there’s much need to help Nepal rebuild - and as a volunteer, you’ll have the chance to help repair classrooms and facilities in Bandipur. You’ll start with a trip to Kathmandu, with a visit to Durbar Square, Swayambhunath, the monkey temple, and more. Then you’ll travel to the village of Bandupur to volunteer for five days, where you can assist with rebuilding, participate in exchange activities with the school children, and much more.
Once you’ve finished the volunteering portion of your trip, you’ll travel to Chitwan, Nepal’s best wildlife viewing park, where you can see tigers, elephants, sloth bears, and many more exotic animals. And to finish your 16-day trip to Nepal, you’ll visit Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha, and have the wonderful opportunity to spend time with Buddhist monks in training.
On this 13-day adventure, you’ll get to experience Fijian lifestyle, embark on an eco-adventure, and take part in a service project within the local community. You’ll start with a stay at an eco-resort on Fiji’s Sunshine Coast, where you’ll get to know your fellow volunteers, and help with volunteering activities at a school. After that, you’ll stay with a local family in a rural mountain village while immersing yourself in Fijian culture and helping with other community development projects, which may include building nurses’ stations, restoring classrooms, teaching English, or planting trees. After volunteering, you’ll travel back to the Sunshine Coast where you’ll take a boat excursion, a SCUBA course, a waterfall hike, and much more.
Naturally Africa Volunteers (NAV) coordinates sustainable, community-centered projects throughout Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, Ghana , and Namibia. Their projects tend to run from two to twelve weeks and are perfect for volunteers who are seeking shorter term opportunities in Africa. Naturally Africa Volunteers seeks to solidify its change on two levels-- by coordinating high-impact, well-researched volunteers programs and by supporting its international volunteers from the moment they join the project.
NAV is dedicated to making sure that each international volunteer has the best experience possible and is able to work in close conjunction with communities across the continent. Volunteers are currently urgently needed in Malawi to assist with medical care, childcare, teaching, and sports coaching. Participants from Volunteer Forever are eligible for a reduced program fee that starts at an affordable $925 for a two week placement, which includes your room & board, transportation (including airport pickup), and contribution to the host community.
Naturally Africa Volunteer Opportunities to Check Out:
Naturally Africa Volunteers supports programs in many areas of interest, including volunteer teaching, medical volunteering, sports coaching, community outreach, and wildlife and conservation. Volunteers who are interested in a short-term volunteer project (2-3 weeks) will especially be interested in NAV’s Wild Coast School Project, which places volunteers in underfunded rural South African schools supporting full-time staff and volunteers. Volunteers will have the opportunity to work with students aged 6-14 promoting computer literacy, often through traveling through rural schools alongside state-of-the-art technology education equipment including laptops that the students usually lack access to.
Naturally Africa Volunteers Program Review:
"My time in Malawi was amazing. Meg, Sam and Aug were the main reason. They provided a balanced view on how to go about my role as a volunteer. I can not describe how inspired I was by the whole trip and the staff at the cottage.
The structure of the project was brilliant. You can clearly see the priorities. Keeping a good relationship with the village population and the elders was their main focus. Providing amazing support to the wound clinics, HIV support groups, nursery and home based care groups was incredible. I am very lucky I was part of the development of the different village I visited.
At the weekends I got to experience other parts of Malawi. Like the landscape and culture outside the village. I wish I could have stayed for longer. I hope to return to Malawi in the near future. - Maria, March 2015"
Founded over 25 years ago, Frontier combines community development, capacity building, ecosystem protection, economic growth, and the development of civil society through collaboration between local communities, researchers, and volunteers of all ages.
From their first program in Tanzania - a marine park still operating today, developed in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund - Frontier has expanded to include more than 400 projects in 72 countries around the world.
This nonprofit scientific research organization employs dedicated staff who have been published in more than 450 articles in peer-reviewed journals - and whether you’d like to take on an internship abroad, volunteer project, gap year, or teach abroad / TEFL program, Frontier is a fantastic way to travel the world and make a positive impact.
FRONTIER OPPORTUNITIES TO CHECK OUT:
On this program, you’re invited to gain practical research and conservation experience while helping to conserve the natural habitats of Costa Rica’s wildlife. Costa Rica has one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems, and your work will be vital to protecting it and ensuring endangered animals have a place to thrive. A few activities you’ll take part in include beach patrols to research turtle nesting habits, surveying and collecting data on big cats, walking primate transects to collect data on different species, and more. This program starts from one week at $1,445.
Through this placement, you’ll have the opportunity to aid conservation research on Beqa Island, Fiji. You’ll locate and map coral reefs, conduct a reef census to discover which species live there, assess coral bleaching and damage, record marine life feeding habit observations, and much more. This research is provided to local stakeholders, research groups, and government entities to help develop plans for protection of the island and its marine ecosystem. This project starts from one week at $2,095.
Costa Rica is home to more than 500,000 animal species in need of protection from deforestation, encroachment on natural habitats, and poaching. On Frontier’s animal rescue project in Costa Rica, you’ll volunteer in a rescue center that provides a sanctuary to animals that have been injured or that have been rescued from captivity, with the goal of reintroducing them into the wild. You’ll work alongside local staff to care for the animals - such as monkeys, sloths, raccoons, and other wildlife - and educate visitors about wildlife protection and environmental conservation. This program starts from two weeks at $1,145, plus $395 for each additional week if you’d like to stay longer.
If you want to go off the beaten track, take a look at this marine conservation program in Madagascar, where you can dive nearly-untouched coral reefs while studying marine life and providing valuable research into sustainable management of the island’s natural resources. A few tasks you’ll take on include charting coral reefs, recording healthy fish populations, identifying different species in the reef, studying how fishing communities utilize marine resources, and more. This volunteer program starts from one week at $1,745, with PADI Open Water and Advanced Open Water training available at an additional cost.
As one of the newer volunteer abroad programs featured here, Volunteering Journeys got its start in 2014, and is growing quickly as an impactful volunteer organization in India, Thailand, Nepal, Cambodia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, and Bali.
Volunteering Journeys’ founding story informs and inspires the work carried out by its team and travelers every day: after quitting her career as an investment banker in London, founder Ridhi Patel took time off to volunteer for three months in South Africa in 2009. This life-changing experience encouraged her to develop a volunteer organization in her home country of India, where she could bring together travelers who wanted to explore the world, give back to the communities that welcomed them, and learn more about themselves along the way.
Volunteering Journeys prides itself on personal attention for all participants, tailored travel experiences, high-quality service, and placements that actively engage scientists, doctors, teachers, and community leaders. And programs are generally affordable, starting at less than $1,000 for two-week placements in community development, medical care, wildlife and marine conservation, and even summer and gap year programs, as well as family programs.
Volunteering Journeys Opportunities to Check Out
Based in Southern Sri Lanka, this program invites you to coach sports at a local school, orphanage, or community center to encourage teamwork and development for children and youth who are in great need of support. As a volunteer, you’ll help children in an underserved community develop self-confidence, hone their talents, and develop lifelong friendships through playing cricket, volleyball, badminton, netball, and other games.
A few ways you can help include organizing sports clubs, planning coaching sessions and matches, running warm-up routines and stretches, teaching rules and regulations of different games, and much more. During your weekends, you’re invited to visit the beach, go diving or surfing, or even visit the cities of Colombo and Galle.
On this program, you’ll have the amazing opportunity to conserve Africa’s Big 5 - lions, elephants, buffalo, leopards, and rhinos - in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. In addition, you’ll learn about the dozens of other animals protected by the five-star private game reserve you’ll volunteer with through tracking and monitoring.
As a volunteer, you will take part in animal identification, reserve maintenance, game capture, birding orientation and classification, sustainable food production, and much more. Your work will contribute to ongoing and vital efforts to protect some of the world’s most endangered creatures - and during your free time, you’ll be able to go for night drives and guided walks, relax on the beach, visit the city of Port Elizabeth, and much more.
Another amazing program to check out is Volunteering Journeys’ winter and summer volunteering program in India. For three weeks, you’ll embark on an immersive and adventurous experience that will let you explore and learn about India and its culture. Your first two weeks will take you to Kerala, where you’ll volunteer to teach English, work with disabled children, or support a women’s empowerment programs - through your help, you can help develop life skills and confidence among those living in an underserved community. During your third week, you’ll go on a Golden Triangle tour of North India, where you will visit Delhi, Agra, and Jaipur, including a stop at the Taj Mahal.
Projects Abroad was founded in 1992 by Dr. Peter Slowe, and currently sends more than 10,000 people overseas every year. With 150reviews, Projects Abroad is one of the most popular and highly-rated programs on Volunteer Forever. As a large and established organization, Projects Abroad volunteers and interns have the opportunity to assist with a wide-range of programs focusing on agriculture, teaching, sports, archaeology, and more, with projects open to teens, gap year travelers, university students, and professionals.
Projects Abroad works with more than 600 staff to support volunteers in 27 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Latin America & the Caribbean, and the South Pacific. Projects Abroad's volunteer and intern abroad programs start from one week at $1,720 for this very well-known organization in the volunteer abroad space and many would-be volunteers and interns have been able to successfully fundraise for their trips here on Volunteer Forever.
Projects Abroad Opportunities to Check Out
Volunteers on this program partner with the Phnom Penh state hospital or the pediatric hospital. Your role will be to shadow local medical professionals and observe procedures. The medical volunteering program is open to participants with at least one year of medical studies or other related studies (3 years of training are required for the pediatric hospital). Feel free to contact the staff directly to see if your academic background contains the necessary pre-requisites to participate in this internship. This program starts from four weeks at $3,480.
Volunteers on this program partner with the Samoa Rugby Union to teach rugby to elementary school children and to coach teen and young adult leagues. The rugby coaching program is open to skilled coaches, experienced referees, and volunteers interested in the game and who’d like to promote involvement throughout Samoa. This program starts from two weeks at $2,490.
Through the Agriculture and Farming program, volunteers assist on an organic farm in Cordoba. No previous experience is required, as all participants are trained by a local specialist. Tasks include planting seeds, building and fencing enclosures, harvesting, selling, and teaching workshops about sustainable farming locally. This program starts from two weeks at $2,970.
Projects Abroad Program Review: Blake, Moldova Project
“I had the opportunity to volunteer abroad this summer for five weeks in Moldova with Projects Abroad. Having volunteered abroad numerous times with various organizations, this was one of my best experiences by far.
The staff at Projects Abroad Moldova went beyond my expectations and made this placement such a success. In fact, their preparedness and hospitality really sets them apart from other organizations. When I first arrived until the day I left they were in contact with me every day to make sure that everything was going smoothly and that I was comfortable with everything from going to work alone everyday, to working in my placement to getting along with my host family.
In fact, they placed me in one of the best host families that I have ever had the opportunity of staying with. I was well taken care of! I had my own room, access to multiple bathrooms and a shower daily. The food was the best food I had while in Moldova and the host parents were very friendly and hospitable. The best part about Projects Abroad Moldova is that they make you feel not only welcomed to Moldova, but a part of their country and as if you are family.
I strongly recommend this organization to anyone!”
Founded in 2010, Reach Out Volunteers provides fun, high-impact volunteer programs designed to make a difference in impoverished communities, help endangered wildlife, and to immerse volunteers in a new culture. To date, about 3,500 travelers have signed up with Reach Out Volunteers, with an additional 1,000 expected to embark on trips this year. With a focus on local solutions to local issues, Reach Out Volunteers places travelers on projects created by the communities they serve, ensuring long-term program success. Trips with Reach Out Volunteers start at one to two weeks, at $1,499 for your first week abroad - this includes airport pick-up and drop-off, ground transport, food, housing, excursions and activities, project materials, educational materials, and much more.
Reach Out Volunteers Opportunities to Check Out
On this two-week program, you’re invited to Peru, where you’ll explore the incredible city of Cusco, the Inca Trail, and Machu Picchu. As a volunteer, you’ll work alongside a local village to build greenhouses, which help to extend the short growing season to boost the community’s food supply. This is incredibly helpful for families whose children otherwise would suffer from malnutrition. During your trip, you’ll visit local artisans, take a cooking lesson, take a walking tour of Ollantaytambo, and much more.
Another excellent volunteer opportunity to check out is Reach Out Volunteers’ Cambodia Village and Elephant program, where you can spend two weeks volunteering at a local school, visiting temples, and working at an elephant sanctuary. You’ll start with an orientation and tour of Siem Reap, followed by a few days of renovation work for classrooms. After that, you’ll visit Angkor Wat before continuing on to the elephant sanctuary, where you’ll feed elephants, build dams to create baths for the elephants, learn about how the sanctuary protects these animals, and lots more.
If you’re looking for a longer stay abroad, take a look at Reach Out Volunteers’ South Africa Volunteering Adventure, which invites you to work at a daycare center while exploring and pursuing adventure on a 35-day program. Your volunteer project will take part at a local crèche, or day care center, where you’ll help with building new classrooms, assisting with lessons, and much more. You’ll also have the chance to visit a Zulu village, visit a cheetah rescue and rehabilitation center, help with elephant patrol and rhino monitoring initiatives, and many other tours and projects that will give you a truly immersive experience during your stay in South Africa.
International Service Learning (ISL)
Founded by Michael Birnbaum, ISL’s mission is “To support cultural awareness, service-based learning, and sustainable development projects through experiential and responsible volunteer travel programs that inspire local and global service.” ISL has provided healthcare and other services worldwide for more than 20 years while giving volunteers experience in pre-health, pre-dental, medical, nursing, optometry, pharmacy, physical therapy, public health, and veterinary programs. Programs start at $995 depending on the project length and location.
ISL Opportunities to Check Out
This program invites volunteers to provide healthcare services to rural communities while embarking on multi-day hiking trips. This program is perfect for groups, with a minimum of eight participants required. Most volunteers on the Hike for Humanity program are healthcare students or professionals, though this isn’t a requirement. Hike for Humanity programs take place over two weeks and cost $1,895 to $1,995.
Mexico and Belize: Nursing Program
Based in Baja, Mexico and Belize City, Belize this nursing program invites volunteers to work alongside global health agencies, local health ministries, and other NGOs to support local clinics and community health programs. Placement on the Mexico program starts from one week at $1,050, and placement on the Belize program starts from two weeks at $2,280.
This program provides health checks and education for underserved children in developing communities. Volunteers work alongside medical practitioners to promote long-term health and wellness within their communities by performing home visits and pediatric care within a field clinic. Volunteers of all backgrounds are encouraged to apply--no healthcare experience or certifications are necessary for this program. This year, Well Child International teams will work in Mexico and Nicaragua. Programs start from one week at $965.
ISL Program Review: Brandon, Belize Program
“I'm not usually one to give 5 stars across the board, but my experience with ISL to Belize was honestly the best experience of my life. The Belize staff welcomed us with open arms and by the end of the trip, we were starting to feel like family rather than acquaintances from different countries.
In addition, from the planning and organizational efforts of our state-side reps, our welcome at the Belize City airport, and our sad departure for home, everything was so incredibly perfect! Definitely recommend a trip through ISL! As students at The University of Toledo, we even created a student organization based around ISL trips specifically because we love them so much. We'll be sending 3 groups out for the first time ever in May 2015!!!”
International Student Volunteers (ISV)
Since 2002, ISV has provided volunteer and adventure travel programs to more than 30,000 students across six continents. Programs range from conservation, to education, to infrastructure development and beyond, and in addition to ISV’s standard volunteer programs, students are welcome to join for internships and college credit supported by more than 300 universities worldwide. Volunteer programs through ISV start at $3,695, depending on the location. To learn more about International Student Volunteers, be sure to read our program spotlight article on ISV.
ISV Opportunities to Check Out
South Africa: Children’s Programs
ISV partners with local organizations to support children who are poor, orphaned, or otherwise vulnerable. Volunteers with this program may teach English and assist with after-school programs, and on some placements, will educate teenagers about HIV/AIDS prevention. Some projects may include light construction work as well. This project costs $3,995 and lasts four weeks, with a two-week volunteer project and two-week adventure tour.
Thailand: Environmental Conservation
Through this program, volunteers work with ISV to preserve endangered Asian elephants. In one placement, volunteers help care for elephants have been rescued from forced labor, have been orphaned, or have been displaced due to tourism threatening their natural habitat. Through another placement, volunteers work at a sanctuary for old, sick, disabled, or abused elephants by promoting health and well-being of the animals and maintaining their habitat.
For each conservation program in Thailand, volunteers assist with community and tourism outreach, education, and development. This project costs $3,995 and lasts four weeks, with a two-week volunteer project and two-week adventure tour.
ISV Program Review: Ryan, Thailand Environmental Conservation Program
“I cannot leave a review capable of expressing the impact that volunteering with ISV has had on me. I spent this July in Thailand working at the [Elephant] Nature Park and with the local villagers of Ban Lao on conservation of the species and learning about responsible tourism. This was my first experience outside of the U.S. and what an eye opening experience it was. If you are looking for an organization to travel and volunteer with, you won't do better than ISV.
“The people are caring and driven. You will learn, you will work hard, and you will play hard. The last thing I want to say is, go into this with an attitude that you're going to do this, no fail. It's a lot of money to raise, but persistence is the key. Show people you are driven and committed and you will get there. If you tell yourself that will accomplish this task no matter what, trust me you will. Put the good foot on it. Get out there and see the things worth seeing. Do the things worth doing.”
Since offering its first volunteer project in 2000, IDEX has hosted over 19,000 volunteers from over 25 countries. IDEX currently offers over 45 different projects in India, Thailand, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and Nepal.
IDEX projects are especially appealing to young travelers as their projects are affordably priced, located near beaches and major sightseeing attractions, attract like-minded individuals, and tend to run between two and four weeks (perfect for summer or winter break).
Some especially noteworthy IDEX projects and destinations include their India Travel Experience program, which is geared towards participants aged 18-28. The India Travel Experience program, which is offered June through August of each year, brings together young travelers to volunteer and sight-see India's most notable attractions including the Taj Mahal, trekking through the Himalayas, a camel safari in the desert, and enjoying the beaches of Goa. To learn more and apply for the program, please click here.
Other noteworthy IDEX programs include their volunteer and travel program in Goa, India (an idyllic beachside community), their Sri Lanka Turtle Conservation Program, and their Teaching Children Program in Vietnam. IDEX also offers special travel programs just for teens.
P.S. If you're still looking for a volunteer opportunity, check out our list of gap year programs and recommended volunteer projects in Asia, South Asia, Africa, Central America, South America, and Thailand. You can also read about 7 Great Medical and Veterinary Volunteer Abroad Projects, 10 Dental Volunteer Abroad Program and Medical Mission Tips for Pre Dental Students, and nursing volunteer abroad projects for students and nurse professionals. Or, if medical volunteer projects aren't for you, be sure to read about our sports and coaching volunteer abroad, wildlife conservation and veterinary abroad, teach abroad, and intern abroad programs. Lastly, if you're under age 18, you may be interested in a teen volunteer abroad program from one of our many great partners.
Sarah Vandenberg has been a volunteer travel researcher and consultant since 2005, and has volunteered throughout Central America and the Caribbean. She's currently based in Brooklyn, where she works as the Managing Director at Frayed Passport.