(New! Updated for 2020 trips)
Since 2015, Volunteer Forever has compiled the original list of best volunteer abroad programs worldwide. Using our database of 1,000 international volunteer abroad organizations, 6,000 program reviews, and 13,500 fundraisers who’ve collectively raised $3 million for their trips, we have crunched the numbers to identify the top volunteer abroad opportunities. To take some of the guesswork out of choosing a program, we considered the history of each organization, number of alumni, and our seven years of intensive work and research in the volunteer abroad world.
Read on for our list of the top recommended volunteer abroad programs!
2020 Best Volunteer Abroad Programs
If you’ve resolved to travel and make a difference this year, there’s no shortage of amazing volunteer abroad, intern abroad, study abroad, and teach abroad programs awaiting you. All of the volunteer abroad organizations showcased below have excellent reviews from very happy participants on Volunteer Forever – on this list, you’ll see some of the many different volunteer abroad experiences you can embark on and you’ll learn how to get there.
While traveling abroad can be expensive, we feature wonderful volunteer organizations such as International Volunteer HQ, which are super affordable and available in over 50 different destinations, including Bali, South Africa, Costa Rica, Peru, Fiji, Nepal, and Spain. They have supported over 100,000 travelers to volunteer abroad safely since 2007 and have an experienced team of volunteer travel experts who will ensure you are well prepared for your trip. Their top rated volunteer abroad programs and focus on safety are what makes IVHQ the world’s most popular choice for solo travelers, couples, families, and groups. They also have the world’s largest range of projects to choose from with volunteer opportunities in Healthcare, Childcare, Teaching, Conservation, Construction, Wildlife and Animal Care, and more. Some of the most popular destinations to check out are Madagascar, Vietnam, Kenya, Cambodia, Spain, and Thailand, and they’ve recently opened new programs in Jamaica, Greece, Australia, Belize, Belgium and USA – New Orleans.
Plan My Gap Year is another excellent organization offering affordable & trusted volunteer projects overseas. They’re transparent about fees and are a wonderful choice for solo female travelers (93% travel solo and 83% of volunteers are female). Their most popular destinations are Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Bali and they recently opened projects in Costa Rica, Peru, and Ecuador.
If you’re interested in an immersive volunteer abroad trip to Latin America, check out Maximo Nivel, which offers impactful and educational placements in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Some of Maximo Nivel’s volunteer abroad opportunities include construction, conservation, teaching English, working with kids, and working with indigenous communities. You also might consider earing your certificate by enrolling in a Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certification program, which offers job-placement workshops and prepares you for ESL job placements around the world – or on the flip side, if you’re looking to learn a new language, be sure to check out Maximo Nivel’s Spanish Immersion programs.
If you’re a current or aspiring doctor, nurse dentist, or other healthcare professional, you will find a ton of medical volunteer opportunities and internships below. Some great volunteer projects include Plan My Gap Year’s mental health placement in Ghana, and Agape Volunteers’ HIV/AIDS support program in Kenya.
Or if you’re interested in volunteering with animals, then check out Plan My Gap Year’s wildlife conservation projects, some of the most popular in the world. If you want to work with animals in exotic locations, then check out Fronteering, which offers a Husky Ranch volunteer project in Canada and Predator Research Internship in the Amazon.
Ready to plan your trip? Read on!