Updated for 2023
If you want to make a meaningful impact while traveling abroad during a short school or career break, then check out the 11 volunteer programs below. You will be surprised to learn that even a few weeks of your time can be incredibly beneficial to a community in need while giving you the opportunity to explore a new culture and destination.
Short-term Volunteering: How to Volunteer When You Have Endless Passion and Limited Time
Have you ever wanted to volunteer but worried that you didn’t have the time? Are you unable to take a lengthy career break but desperately want to dedicate your time and hard work to producing positive change in a community in another country?
You may not think that volunteering abroad is an option with your busy schedule and possibly limited funds, but we believe that great volunteer abroad opportunities exist for everyone who has the hands and the heart to work.
Everyone knows that volunteering abroad can be life-changing, but what many people don’t realize is that you can have substantive, beneficial volunteer abroad service trips that are as short as one week long. In fact, there are plenty of organizations such as Volunteering Solutions that offer tons of 1 week volunteer trips. Volunteering Solutions has many amazing opportunities where you can travel from one to two weeks (or longer) in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and beyond on impactful programs. GoEco is another great choice if you are short on-time: many of their projects can be as short as one week and are designed for you to maximize your impact in a short period of time.
There are projects of all kinds that allow passionate volunteers to donate their time as they are available. In this article, we’ll introduce you to some of the benefits of short-term volunteer abroad opportunities, introduce you to some of the opportunities that our volunteers love the most, and even let you hear from volunteers just like you– who didn’t think they had the time of funds to volunteer but found the perfect program that helped them create the change that they wanted to see– all within a few weeks.
You’ll also learn about the top programs that offer short-term volunteer opportunities, including Maximo Nivel, which offers lots of one- to two-week volunteer abroad programs throughout Latin America, from teaching, to sea turtle conservation, to medical care, and beyond. Maximo Nivel is particularly well-suited to short-term volunteers from the United States due to the close proximity to Latin America. If you are interested in volunteering in Africa, then we recommend checking out the award-winning volunteer organization, African Impact, which offers two-week projects in the areas of wildlife conservation, public health, and more! Lastly, if you’re passionate about climate action programs and promoting sustainable fashion, then check out this 1-week Fast Fashion Awareness project in Cambodia!
How to Find the Perfect Short-term Volunteer Abroad Opportunity
There are many pros to short-term volunteer abroad trips. Because of their length, shorter volunteer abroad trips are typically much less expensive than their long-term volunteer abroad counterparts, not just because of the shortened time frame but because of the less-independent nature of many of the volunteer abroad opportunities.
As an example, Volunteering Solutions, which is very popular with single, female travelers, offers one-week trips starting at just $260.
Also, because many projects are especially designed to meet the needs of volunteers with limited time and funds, the projects are much more likely to be able to connect you to reasonable and convenient housing options or even provide housing on-site for volunteers.
Short-term volunteer projects are also good in that they may be a more appropriate option for groups or corporate volunteer teams as short-term volunteer projects do not require volunteers to take lengthy breaks from work.
One- to three-week volunteer opportunities are also great for travelers passing through an area who are interested in volunteering for a shorter time period so that they can either continue with their travels or experience the region in other ways. Finally, short-term volunteer opportunities are perfect for professionals, students, or anyone else who wants to put their time and energy into a volunteer project despite their busy schedule.
The world is flush with short-term volunteer abroad opportunities, catering to every kind of specialty, geographic location, or even the type of volunteer interested. The perfect program is out there waiting for you– but finding it can sometimes be the most stressful part of your experience.
To make things easier for you, we’ve made a short list of must-have attributes of short-term volunteer abroad experiences and have even put together a list of different organizations who will meet your needs and have been vetted by volunteers just like you. These volunteer organizations aren’t just highly ranked by real volunteers just like you, but also dedicated to helping short-term volunteers make an impact that lasts.
Read on to learn more about these fantastic 1 week, 2 week, 3 week, and 4 week volunteer abroad opportunities.
Short-term Volunteer Abroad Opportunities Worth Checking Out:
About the Program: Volunteering Solutions, or VolSol, as it has been nicknamed by its 17,000 volunteers and volunteer alums, has been in the business of connecting passionate volunteers with great international projects since 2006. VolSol was founded by volunteers who wanted to help international volunteers connect to highly specialized, community-based local projects.
VolSol has a full staff of experienced coordinators who assist volunteers before, during, and after placement, providing resources such as international insurance, a connection to a network of passionate global citizens over 10,000 strong and resources on how to volunteer ethically and mindfully. VolSol is one of the most affordable programs in the world with one week projects starting at just $200 USD (UK readers can check out their program fees here).
Where to Go: Volunteering Solutions has programs all over the world on six continents. Volunteers can’t go wrong with projects like Volunteering for Child Care in Cusco, Perú, where volunteers have the opportunity to work with local at-risk children to teach them to become global citizens or Volunteering in Koh Samui, Thailand where volunteers are lucky enough to work in local schools in one of the most beautiful islands in Thailand– and that’s saying something! Volunteers can search through programs by visiting VolSol’s project page on Volunteering Forever, where all projects are described and rated by volunteers like you.
Teach English to Monks in Thailand
If you have two weeks to volunteer, why not check out Volunteering Solutions’ amazing opportunity to teach English to novice Buddhist monks in Chiang Mai? As a volunteer, you’ll work at one of five different monastery schools to teach English to students aged 12 to 18.
A few activities you can take on include working alongside local teachers to conduct lessons, teaching conversational English to students, helping out with other subjects such as computer literacy, and sharing new ideas and views with your students through conversation and activities. You’re also encouraged to take weekend trips throughout Chiang Mai and visit ancient temples, heritage sites, marketplaces, and much more.
Short-Term Volunteering in Peru
Another adventurous, two-week volunteer opportunity you can sign up for right now through Volunteering Solutions invites you to Peru to volunteer and travel to some of South America’s most spectacular sites. You’ll start with an orientation and intercultural project for your first week in Cusco, where you’ll volunteer in a rural nursery school to provide love, care, and attention to children from impoverished families.
After that, you’ll have some time to explore Cusco by yourself before embarking on a guided Sacred Valley tour, and then an amazing tour of Machu Picchu. This is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in Peruvian culture while exploring the Inca Trail and bringing a smile to the face of some of the country’s neediest children.
Sports Coaching in South Africa
If you’ve always wanted to visit Africa, Volunteering Solutions is offering a chance for you to coach sports at a local primary school in Cape Town. Physical education has only recently been introduced into the school curriculum in Cape Town, so many schools are still building up their resources to accommodate these programs. As a volunteer, you’ll be a mentor to these children, assist teachers with lessons when you’re not coaching, and you’ll teach children how to stay physically fit and motivated to keep a healthy lifestyle. In addition to your volunteer work, you’ll be able to travel throughout Cape Town and visit areas such as Table Mountain, Robben Island, Lion’s Head, and more to gain the most from your adventure in South Africa.
What Volunteers Have to Say:
I volunteered twice with Volunteering Solutions – once for 3 weeks in Arusha, Tanzania and once for 2 weeks in Cusco, Peru. I had a great time with both programs, though they were quite different.
I worked in a hospital in Tanzania and mostly shadowed a nurse in the surgical unit for a majority of the time. We mostly worked with babies that had burns to help clean them and keep their wounds dressed. It was quite sad but really interesting work.
I stayed in a volunteer house which I loved since the community of volunteers was really great and we all got to be great friends. In Peru, I stayed in a homestay, which was a very different experience than the volunteer house. It is great for immersion into the culture – you get to live amongst the people, eat their food, and live like they live. However, I found it a bit isolating since I was the only volunteer in Peru at the time. I think it would have been better if I was a little better at Spanish – as I think the language barrier contributed to the isolation. I didn’t have any problems not knowing Swahili in Tanzania.
I worked in a daycare in Peru, and the kids were REALLY cute and super fun to play with. Other volunteers would teach English in the same daycare if there were older kids there – but there happened to be younger kids (3-4yo) when I was there. Overall, I would highly recommend Volunteering Solutions as a company to volunteer through. Though the programs vary greatly – there’s definitely something for everyone! — Kirsten Nedd, January 2016
If you’re looking for a one- to two-week volunteer abroad opportunity, Maximo Nivel may be the right fit. Based in Latin America, this organization has provided accredited language courses, internships, volunteer abroad programs, and more since 2003 to 25,000 travelers from all over the world.
Maximo Nivel’s short-term volunteer abroad programs are extremely affordable, starting from just $595 for one week. Each project includes airport pickup, 24/7 emergency support, orientation, certificates, wifi, salsa dance classes, Spanish books and materials, and lots more.
Volunteer in Construction
As a construction volunteer, you’ll help build and improve schools, homes, and shelters. You’ll be placed alongside a local team in a rural village, with your project led by professional foremen, architects, and engineers.
As a volunteer, you’ll take on work such as digging, removing dirt, carrying bricks, mixing cement, painting, cleaning, and more. Construction programs are available in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru, and you can expect to work 3 to 4 hours per day, Monday through Friday, on morning and afternoon shifts. To learn more about this program, visit: http://maximonivel.com/volunteers/construction/
Volunteer in Animal Care
Perfect for animal lovers, Maximo Nivel’s animal care program invites you to Guatemala or Peru to work in a dog rescue shelter, an amphibian/reptile rescue center, or a small zoo. Your work will vary depending on your placement, though it can include caring for the animals, helping with obedience training for the dogs, feeding animals at the zoo, cleaning cages, hosting zoo visitors, and providing general assistance and maintenance at the reptile and amphibian center. This program starts from one week, and you’ll work Monday through Friday, for 3 to 4 hours per day. To learn more about Maximo Nivel’s animal care volunteer opportunities, visit: http://maximonivel.com/volunteers/animal-care/
If you have two weeks to travel, check out Maximo Nivel’s volunteer adventure, which invites you to take on five days of community service and six days of travel through Peru, Costa Rica, or Guatemala. Volunteer activities you can take on include working with children, teaching English, helping with construction, assisting with environmental conservation efforts, supporting animal care, and providing medical or healthcare services.
The adventure portion of your trip depends on where you travel: in Costa Rica, you’ll go on a city tour, visit to Poas Volcano and La Paz Waterfall, a catamaran Tortuga Island tour, and a trip to Manuel Antonio National Park. In Guatemala, you’ll hike to Volcano Pacaya, take surf lessons, take a zip line adventure, and spend the night in Tikal. And in Peru, you’ll go on a tour of Cusco city and the Sacred Valley, a two-day tour of Machu Picchu, and a two-day tour of Lake Titicaca and Puno. Learn more about Maximo Nivel’s volunteer adventure trips at: http://maximonivel.com/adventure/full
Volunteer with Kids
Through this placement, you’ll be able to make a positive impact on children’s lives in Latin America. As a volunteer, you’ll provide care and support to children at a daycare center or school who are homeless, impoverished, abused, or whose families suffer from lack of education and resources.
You’ll work alongside local staff to support some of the neediest children in Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru, through educational programs, emotional support, hygiene, and so much more. Your assistance will keep vulnerable children off of the street and able to build a bright future for themselves. You’re asked to stay at least one week, though if you have two weeks to travel, you’ll gain more from your amazing experience abroad. Learn more about volunteering with children at: http://maximonivel.com/volunteers/working-with-kids
Since 2006, GoEco has offered affordable volunteer abroad programs and internships in over 45 countries throughout Africa, Asia, Australasia, Central America, Europe, the Middle East, North America, and South America. With more than 170 different long-term and short-term programs, GoEco is a great organization to check out if you’re looking for a variety of impactful trips to choose from, from wildlife conservation to teaching English. GoEco was recently recognized as the Top Volunteer Abroad Organization from GoAbroad, Top Eco-Enthusiast by Greenmatch, and has been recommended by Buzzfeed, Huffington Post, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification and more. As a volunteer, you will have 24-hour support from the GoEco team, from start to finish.
China – Giant Panda Center
Spend a week with China’s most fascinating wildlife species – the giant panda! The efforts of this center have been successful in removing the giant panda from the “endangered list” and now you can be a part of it! Volunteers will prepare food and feed the pandas, as well as care for their living areas. Learn more here.
South Africa – Great White Shark Conservation
For one week to three months, you’re invited to South Africa to promote marine conservation and education within the local community and to tourists. Through this program, you’ll work along with marine biologists to track sharks, go cage diving, educate tourists about conservation and biodiversity, go on “chum trips” to bring sharks close to the research boat to assess populations, and observe whales, dolphins, penguins, seals, and sea birds. If you’re traveling between June and November, you also have the option of volunteering with a whale conservation initiative. Learn more and register here!
Israel – Desert Wildlife Program
Another GoEco trip that starts from only one week brings you to the Israel Nature and Parks Authority to protect endangered desert animal populations, preserve native wildlife, and educate the public about desert conservation. This program starts from a very affordable $450 for your first week in Israel, and some of your volunteer work can include preparing food and feeding animals, cleaning and maintaining reserve facilities, and accompanying and assisting park rangers. Learn more and sign up here!
Akha Hill Tribe Experience
If you’re looking for a culturally-rich and immersive experience, check out GoEco’s Akha Hill Tribe Experience in Northern Thailand. On this trip, which lasts two to six weeks, you will live and work alongside the indigenous Akha tribes – a minority in the area – and learn about their way of life while contributing to local development efforts. As a volunteer, you can help with bricklaying and other construction projects, developing an education system specific to the needs of the tribe, assist with agricultural work, and much more. Akha Hill Tribe Experience. Learn more and sign up here!
About the program: Projects Abroad has the mission to provide the gold standard of staff support and safety, so its volunteers and interns can fulfill their potential, discover themselves, and create positive change in the world. Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad has sent more than 120,00 volunteers abroad.
With the help of passionate volunteers and interns and the support of dedicated in-country staff, Projects Abroad focuses on implementing long-term, sustainable solutions, not on quick fixes. Each project solves a specific problem in a specific place. This might be to save sea turtles from being wiped out in Mexico, or to fight gender inequality in Ghana.
The projects run year-round, no matter how many volunteers it has, so you can choose your own start and end dates. Projects Abroad also offers several projects where you can participate for one to two weeks. Even if you’re only there for a short time, you’ll become part of ongoing efforts to make a difference.
Projects Abroad programs are some of the most highly reviewed on Volunteer Forever. Volunteers praise the deep connections they’ve built with local communities and their level of expertise in each of the fields they serve.
Where to go: Projects Abroad runs sustainable, long-term projects in developing countries, from Africa to Asia. Here are some of the most popular project options available worldwide:
- Support early childhood development and work with kids at a Childcare Project.
- Protect endangered ecosystems and animal species, like the Amazon Rainforest in Peru or sea turtles in Mexico, on a Conservation Project.
- Help run medical outreaches in areas where healthcare services are severely limited through Public Health Projects.
- Build important infrastructure like toilets, houses, and classrooms in struggling communities on a Building Project.
African Impact is an award-winning, responsible travel organization that offers volunteer and internship opportunities in 7 countries across Africa. It was founded in 2004 and has since hosted over 35,000 volunteers. African Impact has over 20 different projects, ranging from teaching in Zambia to marine conservation in Zanzibar. The organization is known for its long-term objectives and measurable change. It is also recognized as a trusted specialist on volunteering and interning in Southern Africa. African Impact offers internships, as well as group, family, and high school projects. The minimum age requirement for their projects is 16, making African Impact a great option for teen and high school volunteers.
Big Five and Wildlife Conservation, South Africa
For two weeks or longer, you’ll have the chance to monitor and study the African Big 5 (leopard, rhino, lion, buffalo, and elephant) and help local researchers and foundations with protecting endangered species. Based in the game reserves of the Greater Kruger Area, your volunteer tasks can include researching animal behavior and movements, helping with reserve conservation work such as clearing brush and maintaining waterholes, compiling data at the research lab, and much more to help understand animal behavior and maintain a healthy ecosystem. Learn more here!
Sports Coaching and Development, South Africa
Located in Cape Town, South Africa, this program is a great way to get active, coach sports, and provide support for physical education programs in schools. As a volunteer, you’ll assist coaches with PE sessions around Cape Town, help design fitness tests and games at schools, teach sports at after-care programs, and much more – plus, you can combine this volunteer program with other activities where you can work with orphaned and vulnerable children, teach and help with youth development, help with a healthcare program, or join a gender empowerment project. Learn more and register here!
Education and Community Support, Tanzania
Based near Mount Kilimanjaro, this 10-day volunteer trip gives you the chance to help build stronger communities through education and support. A few tasks you can take on include facilitating activities for children with disabilities, leading income-generation sessions for a women’s group, teaching members of the Maasai tribe to read and write, and teaching English in a local community program. Learn more and sign up here!
Looking for an exciting and personalized short-term internship experience abroad? Consider Cerca Abroad, a leading international internship provider. Founded in 2016, Cerca Abroad currently offers more than 20 internships in fields such as engineering, medical, dental, art and more.
What sets Cerca Abroad apart from other short-term volunteer and internship organizations is its personalized approach. Programs run all year round, and you can select dates that work for you. Fees start at just $1,900 for a two-week program. For instance, through Cerca Abroad, you could join the following internships:
- Marine Conservation Internship in Greece: This hands-on internship is through the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation.
- Physical Therapy Internship in Greece: Shadow physical therapists and doctors in Athens at state-of-the-art hospitals and clinics.
Even better, Cerca Abroad offers a program upgrade in cooperation with Webster University (Athens Campus), allowing you to gain transferable US university credits for all in-person and remote internship programs.
If you’re looking for a 1- or 2-week volunteer abroad or intern abroad program, Cerca Abroad is a great option. You can boost your resume while helping others. Check out two programs below:
Social Work Internship in Greece
You can apply for a short-term two-week social work internship in Athens with Cerca Abroad. During the program, you’ll work side-by-side with professionals, assisting with everything from home visits and data recording to writing articles and creating webinars. Your work will directly help those in need, as well as raise awareness around issues such as poverty, migration, domestic violence, and other social challenges.
Want to learn more about this internship? Click here.
Dental Internship in Greece
Gain valuable experience in dentistry and explore Greece with Cerca Abroad’s Dental Internship. During the program, you’ll shadow dentists for up to 40 hours per week in state-of-the-art clinics. Designed for pre-dental and graduate students, this program will help you fortify your medical school application while helping those who need affordable dental care. Program duration can be as short as two weeks.
Want to learn more about this internship? Click here.
With more than 20,000 volunteers placed on meaningful programs overseas since 2009 (and 4,000 just in the past year), Love Volunteers is one of the fastest growing volunteer organizations that you can be a part of right now. All of their volunteer trips and internships are affordably-priced, starting from only $199 for your first week abroad, depending on where you travel. Right now, Love Volunteers works in 34 countries worldwide, with more than 120 different projects. Some of their popular destinations include:
- Asia: Nepal, Thailand, Bali
- Latin America: Peru, Costa Rica, Ecuador
- Africa: South Africa, Kenya, Zambia, Tanzania
Love Volunteers is dedicated to traveler safety as well as sustainability of their programs, and maintains strong relationships with registered NGOs in each of their host countries.
Great Barrier Turtle Conservation
Based in Cairns, Australia, this volunteer program brings you to the Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre, which provides care and rehabilitation for turtles suffering from disease as well as injuries caused by boats and polluted waters. A few tasks that you can help with as a volunteer include preparing food and feeding the turtles, cleaning and maintaining their tanks and enclosures, scrubbing algae off of the turtles’ backs, transporting and releasing the turtles, assisting with monitoring and research in the reef, and much more. This program starts from one week at $959 – learn more and sign up here!
Elephant Village Program in Thailand
Based in Surin, the elephant capital of Thailand, this volunteer trip gives you the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to care for elephants that have been abused and neglected. These elephants were first used as beasts of burden for logging work, which was outlawed in the 1980s, and later they were used as tourist attractions in cities for their owners to pay for their care. Through Love Volunteers, you can work with an initiative that takes the elephants out of the cities and cares for them in their natural habitats, while also providing livelihood support for their mahouts. This program starts from one week at $619 – click here to learn more!
Community Development in Tanzania
Another excellent program to check out with Love Volunteers brings you to Arusha, Tanzania to assist with a variety of community development initiatives. A few projects that you can get involved with include working on grant applications and fundraisers, educating communities about health issues, helping out with school infrastructure projects, and assisting staff with administration and program development. You also can help with tree planting, sustainable gardening, recycling, and other sustainable projects locally. This program starts from one week at $199 – learn more and apply here!
Medical Internship in Ecuador
On this internship, you will travel to Quito, Ecuador, where you will assist in a hospital, clinic, or care facility. To start, you’ll shadow a local healthcare and medical professional during your placement, and depending on your education and experience, you can assist with different procedures or help doctors and nurses with their day-to-day work. This internship is open to students and professionals as well as volunteers interested in learning about medical care – if you do not have relevant education or experience, you may only be able to observe, but you will still learn a great deal through your experience in Ecuador. This internship starts from one week at $549 – learn more and apply!
What Volunteers Have to Say:
“I volunteered through Love Volunteers for 2 and a half months in Kenya and Tanzania in 2012 and loved every minute of it. Love Volunteers were extremely helpful and quick to respond to any questions I had.
Prior to leaving I was nervous to fly out to Kenya but had email and skype contact with the coordinators in both Kenya and Tanzania. The country guide Love Volunteers sent out was informative and really useful for planning my trip. Love were also very flexible as I changed plans while away and stayed longer and this was all handled seamlessly. I also managed to have the opportunity to do some traveling and day trips while over there.
The projects I and the other volunteers worked on were amazing and while I was taken out of my comfort zone on occasion it was truly worthwhile and everything I had hoped for in my trip to Africa. Overall my experience with Love Volunteers was fantastic and I can’t wait to do more volunteering through them.”- Amanda Susan, January 2013
About the program: Based in the United Kingdom, Agape Volunteers mobilizes volunteers across the world to provide humanitarian support in volunteer projects in Kenya, Ghana, Tanzania, and South Africa. Agape sends volunteers to schools that it either funds or operates itself. Volunteers are always working directly for Agape and have the opportunity to purchase educational or adventure excursions to supplement their trip at a low additional cost. In order to best support and recruit passionate volunteers, Agape works hard to maintain reasonably-priced volunteer trips beginning at £510 for a short term trip, which already includes your room & board, registration fee, and free comprehensive travel insurance.
Where to Go: Music enthusiasts will be especially interested in volunteering with Agape’s flagship music school in Ghana. Volunteers will have the opportunity to work with children who would normally not be provided any music education at all. Volunteers plan and run music classes for students of all ages and work with full-time instructors in order to make use of resources available. Classes are offered in basic keyboarding, singing, and music theory. The school owns several organs, keyboards, an acoustic guitar, a bass guitar, and a battered drum kit that volunteers are able to use as they plan lessons to benefit the students. Volunteers on a budget may also want to check out Agape’s Kenya Program, as a one week all-inclusive (minus airfare) trip costs just under $520 USD and volunteers have the opportunity to choose from working in the areas of medical care, sports, HIV/AIDS, and teaching English to schoolchildren.
What Volunteers Have to Say:
“If you want your eyes opened and have a top experience this is the place to go, and Agape Volunteers was there to help at every step. I stayed in Kenya for just under a month – if it wasn’t for the day job dragging me back I’d still be there.
Wanting to do something a little different this year I set about searching the web for things to do – every site I went on seemed either really expensive for what you got or just too complicated to sort out. Luckily a friend had recommended Agape so I decided to book with them.
Not a seasoned traveler I wasn’t too confident in what I was doing – I considered trying to sort everything out myself and ‘going alone’ but looking back the facilities and guidance which were provided helped massively and I’m glad I booked via them. ” – Tim Holmes, May 2015
For over 25 years, Global Works has combined community service, cultural exchange, language immersion, and adventure for a fun, impactful travel experience for high school students, educators, and groups. Summer adventures start from 8 days – perfect for short-term travelers – and can focus on conservation, community development, pre-med or public health, and language immersion. A few of the wonderful places you can travel to with Global Works include Puerto Rico, Nepal, Costa Rica, Martinique, and beyond.
Fiji Islands: Sulus, Sun, and Service
With Global Works’ 13-day excursion to Fiji, you’ll have the amazing opportunity to immerse yourself in Fijian lifestyle, take an eco-adventure, and volunteer within a rural village. You’ll spend the first few days of your trip at an eco-resort on the Sunshine Coast, where you’ll take part in an orientation and welcome, and even volunteer at a local school.
After that, you’ll travel to a remote mountain village, where you’ll volunteer in the community – a few tasks may include building nurses’ stations, refurbishing classrooms, teaching English, or planting trees. You’ll finish your trip with a boat excursion of the Sunshine Coast, an optional SCUBA course, and a waterfall hike.
Guatemala: Mayan Explorer
If you have 12 days to travel, take a look at Global Works’ Mayan Explorer opportunity in Guatemala. You’ll start with an orientation in Quiché in the Guatemalan highlands, and home to the largest indigenous Maya population. After that, you’ll visit the Mayan ruins of Iximche and travel to the town of Chajul, where you will learn about Maya culture and language, and work alongside local community members on projects such as classroom construction, library volunteering, English and photography course teaching, and more.
Once you wrap up your volunteer work, you’ll travel to Lake Atitlán to go kayaking, shopping, and zip lining – and finally finishing your trip with a visit to Antigua, where you will take a salsa dancing lesson and reflect on your amazing Guatemalan adventure with your fellow travelers.
Puerto Rico: Building Communities
Another short-term adventure not to miss is Global Works’ 8-day community building program in Puerto Rico. You’ll start with an orientation and guided tour of San Juan, where you’ll see some of Puerto Rico’s historic sites – such as El Morro fort and the Rio Piedras Market – and you’ll even take a dance lesson. On days 2 through 6, you’ll volunteer with community development projects in Villa del Río, a small village where you’ll refurbish homes, help with education programs, and immerse yourself in the culture. You’ll finish your trip with an excursion to Toro Verde Nature Adventure Park, and a celebratory dinner to reflect on the great work you did for a community in need.
Plan My Gap Year
Founded in 2011, Plan My Gap Year places travelers on affordable volunteer projects ranging from childcare, to teaching, to wildlife conservation, and much more in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific. All of PMGY’s programs are personally inspected and vetted by their team to ensure project safety and transparency, and to be sure that you’re matched with a project that complements your skills and interests. With recognition including 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 a positive impact.
Volunteer in Sri Lanka
Based in Ambalangoda, an exotic beachside location in the Southern province of Sri Lanka, Plan My Gap Year offers several volunteer trips including child care, English teaching, medical care, turtle conservation, and others. As PMGY’s most popular travel destination, Sri Lanka is a wonderful place where you can embark on an affordable and impactful adventure. PMGY’s Sri Lanka trips start from one week at $375 – learn more and sign up here!
Volunteer in Bali
Another island destination to check out with Plan My Gap Year is Bali, where you can teach English, care for children, work in wildlife conservation, or gain experience in medical care for one to two weeks or longer. Bali is PMGY’s top up-and-coming travel destination, and offers lots of amazing scenery and activities for travelers who want to enjoy the beach, go hiking in mountains, and much more. PMGY’s Bali programs start from only $270 for your first week – click here to learn more!
Volunteer in Ghana
If you’ve always wanted to travel to Africa, Plan My Gap Year has several different chances to volunteer in Ghana right now: from supporting disabled children, to teaching English, to providing medical care, and more, PMGY is a great way to immerse yourself in this West African country while making an impact. Volunteer placements in Ghana start from two weeks at $375, with the opportunity to visit Cape Coast, Elmina, and many other locales. Learn more and sign up here!
Mini India Experience
Experience the diversity and beauty of India with Plan My Gap Year’s mini, two-week adventure and volunteer program! After spending five days in Kerala volunteering to care for and teach English to some of India’s poorest children, you’ll explore the tea-covered hills of spice plantations in “God’s Own Country.” Highlights of this trip include yoga lessons, seeing a Bollywood movie, sleeping on a houseboat drifting on the backwater, trekking through Munnar’s tea-growing countryside, learning about the iconic Mahatma Gandhi, trying exotic foods, and wandering through the seaside town of Kochi. This enriching, inspiring program is a two-week journey with fees starting at only $435.
Volunteer in Bali with Wildlife
Spend a week at Plan My Gap Year’s Bali Wildlife Rescue Centre, where you will spend time caring for rescued animals! As a volunteer, you will have the opportunity to care for endangered animals that once were victims of poachers and wildlife traffickers – a few tasks that you will take on include assisting in feeding, enclosure cleaning, performing general maintenance, and spending time socializing with animals to help them overcome their mistrust of people and of each other. With more than three dozen species of animals at the center needing care, you may have the opportunity to assist the veterinarian as well. This program starts at $270, and you can sign up to start on the first and third Sunday of any month.
About the Program: If you’re ready for an adventure that’s exotic, unique, and truly off the beaten path, check out Fronteering, which offers volunteer programs in wild locations worldwide starting from one week at $695. Destinations include unspoiled locations throughout North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australasia, with projects ranging from indigenous community support, to wildlife research, to environmental conservation. Check out these three short-term volunteer programs you can sign up for with Fronteering!
Where to Go: Right now, Fronteering is offering short-term volunteer opportunities all over the world, and no shortage of adventurous projects to choose from. In Australia, you can volunteer at the Kangaroo Island Wildlife Sanctuary with different species of animals you won’t find anywhere else in the world – like koalas, kangaroos, wallabies, and echidnas.
If you want to visit Africa, check out this whale conservation program, where you’ll research and conserve dolphins and whales on the South African coastline. And in South America, Fronteering invites you to Guyana, where you can volunteer with an indigenous community, and help with sustainable development, teaching, and much more. Learn more about Fronteering and its many unique volunteer and intern abroad programs here!
Looking for short-term volunteer abroad programs in South Africa? Then look no further than Via Volunteers. Based in Cape Town, Via Volunteers has over 15 years of experience looking after volunteers in South Africa and is passionate about ethical volunteering.
As a short-term volunteer with Via Volunteers, you can have a rewarding and meaningful experience on a variety of projects, including childcare, community development, and conservation initiatives. Via Volunteers provides excellent support, from pre-departure planning and airport transfers to orientation, accommodation, and in-country support. To date, they’ve hosted volunteers from more than 60 countries. Via Volunteers only supports sustainable projects where there’s a genuine need, so rest assured your short-term volunteer work abroad will have an impact!
Cape Town Children’s Hospital Program
Help special youngsters recover and thrive at Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital! As a Children’s Hospital volunteer in Cape Town, you’ll promote learning and growth through interactions and activities, and reduce children’s stress and strain through play, relaxation, and socialization. To reduce the burden on hospital staff, you’ll also assist with administrative tasks.
Ready to get these amazing children back on their feet? Fees begin from $302 per week. You can join for one week or longer. Volunteer with children in Cape Town today!
Homeless Feeding Program in Cape Town
Join Pastor John and his staff on this impactful homeless program. When you volunteer with the homeless in Cape Town, the core focus will be to get essential meals to residents and visitors. Beyond that, you’ll help underprivileged children with homework, take daily attendance, collect donations, and more. Your help will ensure the residents have a better path to stability and happiness.
When you’re not volunteering, explore the city. The Via Volunteers app has a Cape Town bucket list feature so you can experience all the famous sites and activities.
Ready to combat homelessness in Cape Town? Fees begin from $320 per week. You can join for one week or longer. Volunteer to help the homeless today!
Vervet Monkey Rehabilitation in South Africa
Want to volunteer with monkeys? Then head to a non-profit primate sanctuary near Kruger National Park. There, you’ll care for over 500 injured, abused, and orphaned vervet monkeys. Duties include:
- preparing food, cleaning cages, and washing blankets
- hands-on care of baby monkeys
- assistance with giving medications
- general monitoring of the monkeys
- participation in educational outreach
Sound like the volunteer adventure for you? The vervet monkey rehab project begins from $305 per week. You can join for two weeks or longer. Click here to register!
What Volunteers Have to Say:
“I had the most wonderful experience through the Children’s Hospital Play Programme. Emmy, the volunteer coordinator, is wonderful and loves her volunteers with such an overwhelming passion! I was so blessed to serve the patients and their families. The happiness that these children brought to my life is ten times the amount of happiness than I could ever have brought them. Such a life-changing experience! Also, Ed and Heather are amazing! They made my time spent in South Africa stress-free.” – Charlotte, a volunteer from the USA, on the Children’s Hospital project
A Broader View Volunteers Corp (ABV)
About the program: Founded in Pennsylvania, A Broader View Volunteers (ABV) coordinates volunteer abroad projects all over the world for passionate volunteers on a budget. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, ABV offers support through every aspect of volunteers’ travel and prides themselves on serving their communities and volunteers to the best of their ability.
ABV places all of its volunteers in low-income communities so that their service is able to enrich the lives of those who need it the most. ABV also provides housing so that its volunteers are able to live as part of the same community that they serve and allows volunteers to serve in the areas of daycare work, community development, teaching, animal conservation and rehabilitation, and community development. A Broader View is currently one of the top-ranked programs on Volunteer Forever with over 100 positive reviews of its projects.
Where to Go: A Broader View offers plenty of strong volunteer abroad programs including programs in Guatemala, Ecuador, and Costa Rica. Each of these programs has stunning features that might make it the perfect volunteer opportunity for you.
Premedical, pre-dental, or pre-nursing students who wish to volunteer abroad have three programs to choose from in each of the countries in which ABV coordinates volunteer abroad projects. Medical students interested in traveling to Guatemala should check out their program in Quetzaltenango (Xela). Volunteers who work in Xela have the opportunity to work with a local organization that runs a therapy clinic and assist medical professionals with different types of therapy.
If you’re a medical or dental student interested in volunteering abroad, you should check out ABV’s program in Quito, Ecuador, where volunteers work with a local organization that supports local children and families. Volunteers help local professionals provide a variety of services ranging from the common day-to-day medical needs of children to specialized work including working with children who have learning disabilities or helping physical therapy professionals.
A Broader View’s final pre-nursing/pre-dental/pre-medical program takes volunteers to San Jose, Costa Rica. Volunteers will be placed in a children’s hospital working with doctors and other professionals covering duties such as assisting doctors on their rounds, running meal time for children, assisting with language therapy and other special projects as assigned by doctors. All programs can be combined with an immersive Spanish Language program for an additional fee.
A Broader View also offers orphanage support programs for volunteers interested in working with children and helping children receive services such as basic English lessons, training on how to healthily care for themselves, and whatever other duties as necessary.
Volunteers interested in volunteering in Guatemala should become familiar with their program in Quetzaltenango (Xela). Volunteers in Xela help provide daily child care that includes participating in educational activities for children, leading after-school activities, and facilitating important activities such as mealtime and storytime that help make the kids’ lives much more enriching.
A Broader View Volunteers also coordinates an orphanage support program in Quito, Ecuador. Medical students interested in serving in Ecuador work in a public hospital that especially serves people without health insurance. Volunteers can help further the mission of the hospital by rotating along with the doctors through different departments of the hospital including pediatrics, cardiology, neurology, and pulmonology. All medical volunteerism projects can be included with an optional Spanish immersion program that volunteers may find beneficial to their overall experience.
Volunteers passionate about working with people who are homeless or endangered of losing their homes will be interested in working with A Broader View’s Welfare Shelter Program in Quito, Ecuador. Volunteers have the opportunity to work with Quito’s poorest residents, helping them meet their most immediate needs such as helping run the shelter, provide clothing and bathing materials, and connecting them to services that support drug addiction and alcoholism. Volunteers may also be interested in working with the shelter’s technology programs, which teach residents valuable skills in order to thrive in today’s job market.
All ABV volunteers have the benefit of choosing their own start date so that they are able to arrange the program as it best fits their needs. All program fees are a donation and are therefore fully tax-deductible and although ABV does not arrange flights for volunteers, they are happy to support volunteers with whatever they need.
What Volunteers Have to Say:
A Broader View provided me with a once in a life time opportunity that I will cherish for the rest of my life. ABV enabled me to go on this amazing adventure, and provided me with every little detail that I needed to have an amazing trip. My accommodation, meals and feeling of security was amazing!
I feel like I have a second family and a second home in Costa Rica. The beds were super comfy, something I was not expecting. There was never a time where I didn’t feel safe, and I couldn’t be happier with the living and eating provisions I was given. The A Broader View Support before traveling was stellar. I was provided with detailed packing manuals, instructions and pieces of advice as to how to adapt to the new culture I would be immersed in. Any and all questions I had were answered effectively and promptly.
ABV was also very accommodative of my itinerary, as I was traveling for five days after volunteering, and they even suggested some travel agents, companies, and activities. To me, ABV is more than just a company providing volunteer opportunities, but a company built by people who are caring, and passionate, and want to provide their customers with the best experience possible. – Kimberly Moore, November 2014
Global Vision International
About the program: As one of the most popular and consistently well-rated programs among our volunteers, the award-winning Global Vision International is well-known for coordinating well-planned, productive volunteer opportunities for volunteers of all ages.
Global Vision International seeks to mix cultural awareness and critical project work through providing programs that are research-based, community-supported, and fully responsive to the needs of the area or community.
Due to Global Vision International’s widespread network of relationships with local NGOs across the world, volunteers are able to find programs in the areas of marine conservation, women’s empowerment, teaching English, and healthcare. Global Vision International also supports volunteer abroad opportunities for volunteers under 18 through specialized trips and group opportunities.
Where to Go: Global Vision International coordinates all kinds of volunteer abroad projects from volunteering with coral reef conservation in Seychelles to working with women’s empowerment in India. Volunteers who are interested in a particularly unique volunteer abroad trip may be interested in volunteering with with Buddhist novice monks in Laos.
Volunteer with Buddhist Novice Monks in Laos
On this program, you will visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site and city of Luang Prabang to teach practical and conversational English to Buddhist novice monks and to other local lay students. Monday through Friday each week, you will plan and carry out English lessons, which will greatly help your students find better employment opportunities in the future and build a better socio-economic status within their community. This program starts from two weeks at $1,900 – learn more and sign up here.
Volunteer with Elephants in Thailand
Another short-term volunteer program you can sign up for with GVI invites you to Chiang Mai, Thailand, where you will work with mahouts to care for elephants rescued from the tourist industry. During your stay, you will have the chance to conduct health inspections on the elephants, go on forest walks with the elephants, and observe the animals to collect data on social interactions and food preferences. You also can teach English and help with other local initiatives within the community. This program starts from one week at $1,840 – click here to learn more and to register!
Community Development Expedition in Fiji
For a tropical island adventure, check out GVI’s community development expedition to Fiji, where you will help with a variety of local projects to help build a sustainable community. The five core focuses of this expedition include WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), health and nutrition, income generation, education enrichment and empowerment, and environmental management and protection. This is a wonderful way to get a glimpse of how sustainable community development programs operate – you’re invited to stay two weeks or longer on this volunteer program in Fiji, which starts from $2,290.
Wildlife Research in South Africa Expedition
On this volunteer trip, you’ll have the chance to work alongside a local wildlife research team to track animals, study their behavior, and learn more about the diverse wildlife of South Africa. You’ll get started with a training session to get you acquainted with the program and the types of animals you’ll study, and from there you will volunteer each 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 – learn more and sign up here.
What Volunteers Have to Say:
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! ” – Amelia Rogers, May 2015
Since 1984, Raleigh International has offered expeditions for youth and adults to volunteer in Nepal, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Tanzania. Projects include clean water and hygiene, natural resources and sustainability, and community development. So far, 400,000 travelers have signed up with Raleigh International, plus another 800 are expected to go on trips this year. As part of their commitment to quality and safety, Raleigh International helped design and currently holds the BS8848 Safety Standard for organizing and managing visits, fieldwork, expeditions, and adventurous activities outside of the UK. Volunteer trips with Raleigh International start from five weeks, depending on the program you sign up for.
If you’re looking for a meaningful trip to augment your summer vacation, check out Raleigh International’s Tanzania expedition. Starting from five weeks, this trip combines volunteering and adventure – as a volunteer, you will help with community development projects to improve access to clean water, environmental programs to promote sustainability, and much more. During the adventure portion of your trip, you will test your wilderness survival skills on a trek to the Southern Highlands, and have the chance to view animals and learn about conservation at Ruaha National Park. Learn more here!
Global Leadership Adventures
Another great program to check out if you’re looking for a meaningful short-term trip is Global Leadership Adventures. Geared toward high school travelers, Global Leadership Adventures has combined community service, experiential learning, and adventure travel since 2004. Because GLA specializes in youth development through travel, they place a great emphasis on safety and support, which you can see outlined in their five-point safety system. Global Leadership Adventures also has a database of nearly 2,000 references ready to speak to the impact of their programs – in fact, the organization’s co-founder was recognized by President Obama for making a positive impact in Africa.
Dominican Republic: Spring Break Service Adventure
If you’re planning a spring break adventure, check out Global Leadership Adventures’ program in the Dominican Republic. This one-week trip invites you to help with sustainable development initiatives such as building homes and schools using recycled materials, helping with community health projects, constructing vertical gardens, and much more. You’ll also have the chance to learn about Dominican culture, meet with local community leaders, go snorkeling and zip lining, and much more. This eight-day trip costs $1,899 – click here to learn more.
Galapagos: Preserving Nature’s Wonders
If you’re most interested in spending your trip abroad helping with animals and environmental conservation, Global Leadership Adventures offers an amazing opportunity to volunteer in the Galapagos Islands. With two different projects on Isabela Island and San Cristobal Island, you’ll volunteer in a tortoise breeding center, and help to clear invasive species to allow tortoises and birds to re-inhabit the area. During this program, you’ll also have the chance to go swimming with sea lions, birdwatching, and much more. This 14-day program has a tuition of $4,599 – learn more and sign up here.
Founded in 1995, Cross-Cultural Solutions offers international internships, gap year experiences, volunteer trips, and high school volunteering programs in throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe. 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 staffing and support within their host communities, a full-time team of local experts to support volunteers, and among the highest standards of safety and well-being in the volunteer travel industry. Volunteer opportunities with Cross-Cultural Solutions start from one week – perfect for short-term travel!
Volunteer in Ghana
Cross-Cultural Solutions is offering several different volunteer opportunities in Ghana, including child development, global health, and girls’ and women’s empowerment. For one week or longer, you can volunteer on projects to teach English, help with malaria prevention, foster economic opportunities for women, and much more in Ghana’s Volta region. During this trip, you will be able to take a guided walking tour of the city of Ho, or even view monkeys, birds, and elephants during a visit Kakum National Park. Learn more here!
Volunteer in India
If India is on your must-visit list, take a look at Cross-Cultural Solutions’ volunteer trips to Dharamsala or to New Delhi, where you can volunteer for one week or longer on a variety of projects, including:
- Supporting children in community groups and child care centers
- Providing public health outreach, education, and care to vulnerable children and adults in low-income communities
- Helping women create financial independence and leadership skills to support their families and communities
Depending on which trip you sign up for, you can go on a scavenger hunt through Dharamsala, take a tour of New Delhi, visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar, or even visit the gorgeous Taj Mahal.
Volunteer in Morocco
As a volunteer with Cross-Cultural Solutions in Rabat, Morocco, you will have the chance to help with children’s development, girls’ and women’s empowerment, and global health programs to support low-income communities. During your stay, you can tour the city of Rabat, visit the Chellah ruins, take Arabic language lessons, learn about Islamic history, and much more for one week or longer. Learn more here!
Naturally Africa Volunteers (NAV)
About the program: Naturally Africa Volunteers (NAV) coordinates sustainable, community-centered volunteer abroad projects of two to twelve weeks throughout Kenya, South Africa, Malawi, Tanzania, and Ghana. Naturally Africa Volunteers seeks to solidify its change on two levels– by coordinating high-impact, well-researched volunteers programs and through supporting its international volunteers from the moment they join the project. NAV is dedicated to making sure that each volunteer has the best experience possible and is able to work fruitfully in communities across Africa.
Where to Go: Although Naturally Africa Volunteers supports programs in many areas of interest, volunteers 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.
What Volunteers Have to Say:
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
Global Volunteers is a renowned volunteer travel organization, connecting people of all ages and skill levels on placements 16 countries worldwide. Volunteer help establish mutual understanding between people of diverse cultures as they work on meaningful projects in the areas of teaching conversational English, math, science, and computer literacy; building, repairing, and painting community facilities; providing health, hygiene, nutrition, and infectious disease education; establishing school and household gardens; caring for at risk children, and more. Founded in 1984, Global Volunteers has connected more than 34,000 volunteers of all ages with impactful programs on six continents. The organization is led by experts in human and economic development, and its in-country managers are highly educated nationals. Its sustainable programs are developed through community-based partnerships. Global Volunteers was granted Special Consultative Status with the United Nations in 1999, and has partnered with UNICEF since 2008. Service program contribution, airfare, and visa expenses are tax-deductible for U.S. citizens. First-time volunteers are eligible for deep discounts from Global Volunteers on a limited basis. Ranging from $50 to $500, discounts are available for full-time students, groups, and even for early registration. Earn $100 credit for referrals, with no limit on the number of referrals. Alumni volunteers appreciate the $200 discount when traveling on international programs, and the $50 discount for U.S. programs with Global Volunteers. Read more about how you can save money traveling abroad with Global Volunteers.
Global Volunteers in the United States
At a time when there’s a spotlight on America’s richest 1%, a look at the country’s 310 Indian reservations, where many of America’s poorest 1% live, can be more enlightening. Many of the nation’s people who live on Indian Reservations are the poorest of the poor. There are many contributing factors, one being that property is communally held and individuals do not prosper from increasing property values. Indian Reservations are not located in economic centers capable of provide family-sustaining jobs. Another devastated community, the Appalachian region of America’s East Coast, West Virginia, is another option. Read on to learn more about Global Volunteers and its programs in three underserved communities in the United States. Your contribution fee begins at $1,095. Choose from one- or two-week stays, which includes accommodations, meals, transportation to your project, and educational materials.
Volunteering on the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana, USA, requires a courageous and sensitive heart. The Native American people have suffered greatly, and their needs are unique. Your unique social skills can benefit the Children’s Summer Program by supervising field trips. You will be able to improve the quality of people’s lives by repairing community buildings. Volunteers also assist at the Elder Care Center and visit one-on-one with Blackfeet elders. Depending upon your professional experience, you may help teens who are in protective custody due to a family trouble. Volunteers are needed to do crisis work, and your compassion and care will lessen their problems. As you immerse yourself in the Blackfeet Culture, you will be provided an insider’s perspective of Native American life, including their food, music, and art. Nestled in the foothills of Glacier National Park, every day you will be able to rest your soul and soak in the Big Sky of Montana. Read about volunteering with Blackfeet Indian Reservation.
South Dakota, USA
Amid the plains of South Dakota, Rosebud Reservation is home to the Sicangu Sioux people, one of the seven tribes of the Lakota Nation. On Rosebud Reservation, poverty is at an all-time high, with unemployment over 80%, and 76% of the working residents living below the poverty line. The community is at risk with its primary need: quality shelter. Volunteers on this program focus on repairing homes and community buildings, and those with electrical and plumbing skills are especially needed. Labor assistance will make an enormous difference, and volunteers who help split and deliver firewood will know they are keeping people warm and safe in the winter. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to use your hands and skills to improve the living conditions of the people here. Learn more about volunteering with Rosebud Reservation.
West Virginia, USA
West Virginia is a beautiful state, and so are its residents, resilient people who are economically devastated by the closing of the coalfields. Volunteers are needed to help rehabilitate dilapidated and energy-inefficient homes and community buildings. Many trades are needed to assist in the labor-intensive projects, but if you don’t have experience, don’t worry. You will have lots to do, scraping, sanding, and painting. If physical labor isn’t your forte, volunteers also are needed to help elementary children read with their Summer Enrichment program. You’ll make a tremendous difference by tutoring a teen or young adult to complete their GED. The Appalachian idea of heaven will seep into your soul as you experience the homemade farm-to-table delicacies, music, and hospitality of West Virginians. Learn more about volunteering in West Virginia.
Reach Out Volunteers
Founded in 2010, Reach Out Volunteers offers culturally-immersive volunteer placements to travelers who’d like to embark on adventurous and impactful volunteer trips worldwide. Whether you’d like to work with animals on a wildlife preserve, teach English to school children, or help renovate classrooms, there are many opportunities to choose from with Reach Out Volunteers. To date, about 3,500 volunteers have signed up with this organization, with 1,000 more expected to travel this year. Reach Out Volunteers strives to ensure long-term success of all of their programs, placing travelers on projects created by the communities they serve and employing local, skilled labor for all of their programs. 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.
Cambodia: Scuba Diving and Marine Conservation Program
If you’re looking for a lot of adventure in a short amount of time, take a look at Reach Out Volunteers’ marine conservation and scuba diving program in Cambodia. Through this two-week placement, you’ll earn PADI scuba diving certification while volunteering on an environmental conservation project to rejuvenate a coral reef and marine life surrounding a tropical island. A few tasks you might help with include assisting with local construction initiatives, taking on beach and village clean up, sanding and coating coral pods, and preparing concrete feet for pod deployment. You’ll also be able to go shopping at local markets, visit historic temples, or just relax on the beach. markets and shops, visiting temples, and relaxing at the beach.
Volunteer in Peru: Machu Picchu Inca Trail
If Peru is calling to you, Reach Out Volunteers offers an excellent placement here where you’ll have the opportunity to hike Machu Picchu, explore beautiful cities and towns, learn about traditional Incan crafts and food, and volunteer on an impactful project. As a volunteer, you’ll work with a small village to build greenhouses, which help to extend the short growing season much longer and provide healthy meals for individuals and families who otherwise would be at risk for malnutrition. Along the way, you’ll also be able to go zip lining, take a cooking class, and lots more to immerse yourself in Peruvian culture.
Since 2014, Volunteering Journeys has provided volunteer opportunities throughout Asia and Africa, perfect for travelers who want to volunteer for short-term stints in community development, medical care, or wildlife and conservation.
The basis for Volunteering Journeys was created when founder Ridhi Patel quit her job in 2009, and volunteered for three months at Kruger National Park in South Africa. This life-changing experience encouraged her to build Volunteering Journeys in her home country of India, with a goal of providing the opportunity for travelers to explore new places, give back to the communities that welcome them, and learn more about themselves during their trips.
Volunteering Journeys sets itself apart by providing personal attention and tailored trips for its participants, committing to high-quality service, and engaging doctors, teachers, scientists, and community leaders on all programs.
Construction Projects for Groups
If you’re looking for a short-term volunteer project where you can travel with friends, family, or other like-minded volunteers, check out Volunteering Journeys’ construction program in Asia. For one to two weeks, you’ll have the chance to build or renovate homes, community centers, schools, day care centers, or other structures in India, Nepal, or Thailand. A few ways you can help include renovating a run-down school, rebuilding a home damaged by natural disaster, or even improving clean water access through development of safe and hygienic harvest tanks. Learn more and sign up at: https://volunteeringjourneys.com/construction-group-volunteering
Teach English in Asia
Teaching English overseas is one of the best ways to broaden your horizons and develop new skills – even if you only have one or two weeks to travel. Right now, Volunteering Journeys is offering an English teaching program in India, Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Bali, where you’ll have the opportunity to volunteer in a local school, community center, or charity. Through this program, you’ll work alongside teachers and other volunteers to support long-term literacy programs through improving teaching standards in poor communities, helping children and adults get the education they deserve, and much more. Click here to learn more about teaching English abroad with Volunteering Journeys: https://volunteeringjourneys.com/teaching-english
Women’s Empowerment in India
If you’re passionate about human rights and equality, Volunteering Journeys invites you to take part in their women’s empowerment program in India. Gender inequality affects all areas of women’s lives, including education, employment, healthcare, and social status – and in poor areas of India, women may be confronted with forced early marriage, domestic violence, improper healthcare, and many other issues that negatively impact their lives as well as their families and communities. As a volunteer, you’ll travel to Kerala or Kolkata to work in a community center, women’s college, school, or girls’ home to teach English, life skills, computer skills, and much more – you’ll also be part of a supportive group that will allow and encourage women and girls to discuss issues important to them. You’re invited to stay one week or longer on this program – learn more and register at: https://volunteeringjourneys.com/womens-empowerment-volunteer-india
For over 16 years, Pod Volunteer has specialized in connecting volunteers with small charitable organizations overseas where they can truly make a meaningful and lasting contribution to the local communities they serve.
Extensive knowledge of their placement countries and long term partnerships with structured programs have laid the foundation for some of the best programs in: Conservation, Animal Rescue, Teaching, Child Care, and Community Development.
In 2016, alone, Pod Volunteers sent 687 volunteers overseas for an amazing 71,008 hours of community service. Although the cost varies by program area, Pod Volunteer offers programs starting at 1 to 2 weeks in duration from $640.
Elephant Care in Thailand
It’s hard to believe that an animal which can stand as tall as 12 ft. and weigh as much as 7 tons would gladly eat a banana—well lots of bananas—from the palms of your hands and allow you to give it a mud bath or take it for a walk. Your experience at Pod Volunteer’s Elephant Care project, located at an elephant sanctuary 3 hours south of Bangkok, will be even harder to forget!
In addition to hands-on care, you will have the opportunity to tend to the sanctuary’s farmland, create enrichments for the elephants, and keep their enclosures clean. Volunteers, age 18 and over, can apply for trips from 1 to 6 weeks in length, starting from $640. (The under trip is open to 16-17 year olds!)
Marine Conservation in South Africa
Join this program and take a dive for global conservation! You can help to expand the current knowledge base about sea turtles and some of the most fascinating denizens of the sea—whale sharks, manta rays, reefs, and megafauna—alongside marine researchers at the iSimangaliso marine park in the KwaZulu-Natal Province.
You will learn how to use underwater camera equipment and other data collection devices. Pod Volunteers’ Marine Conservation program has plenty to offer a wide range of divers from the beginner to Qualified Open Water divers, 18 years of age and older. Programs last from 2 to 12 weeks, starting from $1615.
About the program: GIVE Volunteers is a U.S.- based organization that operates group-based service learning trips to Laos, Tanzania, Thailand, and Nicaragua. GIVE differs from other volunteer abroad organizations in that they operate at the intersection of service work, adventure travel, and experiential learning. If you are a student, we recommend checking out and applying to GIVE three big reasons: 1) their projects are sustainable and are based on the academically-proven Asset-Based Community Development Model, 2) You may be able to earn academic credit for your volunteer trip, 3) After your trip, you’ll gain access to post-trip resources to build your professional network. Their two to four week service learning trips are perfect for students who have a limited amount of time to make a positive impact on the world!
Where to Go: GIVE operates two volunteer projects in Zanzibar, Tanzania. The first project is an initiative to develop eco-friendly infrastructure by assisting the host community in building critical structures out of eco-friendly materials, such as recycled bottles. The second project is education-based, with the goal of broadening the horizons of local children with conversational English lessons and lessons in hygiene, computers, sports, and other subjects! All GIVE volunteers will also have the opportunity to add a Tanzanian excursion, which includes an overnight safari, swimming with dolphins, and climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro while assisting communities in need!
What Volunteers Have to Say:
“A completely life changing experience. You get put into a new environment with a bunch of people you’ve never met before, and you all help change the world just a little bit, how often do you get to do that? This experience truly changes your life, and you gain an all new appreciation for it. If this sounds inspiring, you have to do this trip..make this story, your story! ” -Ellie Muniak, Mar 2013
Volunteer Eco Students Abroad (VESA)
About the program: Volunteer Eco Students Abroad is a unique volunteer abroad program that works to connect passionate volunteers with indigenous communities around the world. VESA works hard to help volunteers harness their passion and work ethic to create positive change. Each volunteer program is tailored specially to the needs, skills, and interests of each volunteer so that all volunteers are able to develop their skills while working in close partnership with the local communities. VESA places a strong emphasis on volunteers’ immersion in the local culture and coordinates optional adventure excursions to enable volunteers to learn and do things that they never imagined.
Where to Go: VESA has four incredible programs located around the world in South America, Southeast Asia, Fiji Islands, and South Africa. Adventurous volunteers interested in teaching English or helping rural villages access basic needs like running water may want to check out VESA’s Volunteer in South America program.
Volunteers who are passionate about preserving the heritage of endangered cultures or working with animals on the brink of extinction should get to know VESA’s South Africa Unearthed Program, which takes volunteers to the St. Lucia World Heritage wetlands area. Anyone who is passionate about marine conservation or teaching English to rural Fijian schoolchildren will want to take a look at VESA’s Fiji Islands Program and finally, volunteers who are interested in traveling to Southeast Asia to work in an elephant sanctuary and help teach English to local schoolchildren should check out VESA’s South East Asia Encountered Program.
What Volunteers Have to Say:
“Before going on a volunteer trip with VESA, I had never really had the opportunity to travel or to really impact a community but always knew that I wanted to. From the moment I signed up, VESA was there by my side the entire time. Sending me emails and calling to ensure everything was running smoothly and that I had all the information I needed.
I went on their Fiji program and it was above and beyond anything I could have hoped for. I was completely submersed in such a beautiful and loving culture. We got to stay in a Fijian home and they become such a family that you don’t want to leave them! They are some of the most appreciative and joyful people I have ever met. I loved every second of getting to give back to their community but they truly gave me so much more. I had never felt so joyful, at peace, or more confident that I was doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing.”- Ashley Mullins, March 2015
Founded in 1983, Rustic Pathways offers volunteer trips, gap year travel, and much more for students in high school and college. By combining education, travel, and philanthropy, these volunteer trips take you to destinations such as Cuba, Fiji, India, Peru, and many more. More than 8,000 students are expected to embark on Rustic Pathways trips this year, and with recognition as WYSTC’s 2015 Best Youth Tour Operator, plus decades of experience from local staff, unparalleled commitment to safety, and excellent support for travelers on a budget – including more than 100 scholarships awarded each year – this organization is a great choice for a short-term volunteer adventure.
Spring Break Trips
Rustic Pathways offers spring break trips designed to let you get the most from a one-week experience abroad. Perfect for first-time travelers, these service trips offer the chance for you to explore the world and give back to the communities you visit. Looking for inspiration? Check out Rustic Pathways’ Spring to Fiji trip, where you will go zip lining, kayaking, or just relaxing on the beach, while also getting involved with education and infrastructure volunteering projects. Learn more about spring break trips here!
Sticky Rice Service Adventure
On this program, you will travel to Laos to engage in meaningful service work and cultural exchange in a rural village. For the service portion of your trip, you might build a classroom, pave a road, or help with other infrastructure projects to help with community development and education. Aside from volunteering, you will have the opportunity to visit the Kuangsi Waterfalls, explore the Pak Ou caves, view Buddhist temples, and much more. Click here to register!
Get going on your short-term volunteer abroad trip!
Now that you know that time is not an issue when volunteering abroad and have an idea of some of the incredible programs that are out there, your only question should be, “When?” Each of the volunteer abroad opportunities above is perfect for the volunteer with limited time and funding and these programs are representatives of a much larger pool of sustainable, short-term volunteer opportunities. In almost any country, there are dozens of fantastic opportunities just like the ones above. All you have to do is use Volunteer Forever’s tools to find the perfect volunteer abroad opportunity for you and take the steps to creating change that is truly extraordinary– all within a few weeks.
P.S. If you’re still looking for a volunteer opportunity, check out our list of best volunteer abroad programs and recommended volunteer projects in Africa, Central 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 18, you may be interested in a teen volunteer abroad from one of our many great partners.
Brittany Edwardes · Guest Volunteer Travel Writer
Brittany Edwardes is a Fulbright Scholar who spent a year teaching and living in Southeast Asia. Brittany is very passionate about service learning, spending time outdoors, and making her own pasta.