Why are volunteering holidays abroad so popular?
Quite simply, it’s because doing charity work abroad can be a wonderful way to explore the world, meet new friends, and make an impact wherever you go. Perhaps that’s why volunteering holidays are becoming increasingly popular, especially among young adults.
Whether you’re looking to volunteer for turtle conservation in Bali, take part in meaningful medical projects abroad in Namibia, or to teach English in Brazil, there are a wealth of opportunities available to you.
To help you on your way, read our guide on volunteer holidays around the globe—and discover some of our top recommended programmes in each continent.
Make An Impact In Asia
Asia is the world’s most populous continent and has everything from big cities and rural villages to remote jungles, cozy beaches, and massive mountains. Whether you’re traversing the busy streets of Hanoi or hanging out on top of the world (literally) in Nepal, you can have a uniquely marvellous holiday.
Needless to say, there are a variety of charity work abroad projects to consider for those volunteering in Asia. Countries in the region have a need for volunteers to assist with programmes in many areas, including education, childcare, community development, medicine, environmental conservation, human rights, and business support. Listed below are some great volunteer and working holiday programmes in Asia.
Volunteer for special needs care in Xi’an, China
Make the trip to China with International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ), a highly reputable organisation that has sent more than 95,000 volunteers abroad in their first 11 years. You’ll be based in Xi’an, the country’s ancient capital. Main duties include assisting children, teenagers, and adults who have a range of physical and mental disabilities. You’ll serve food, clean, and host games and activities. It’s a lot of fun and you see your impact right away. As centres are understaffed and under-resourced, your work goes a long way in helping those who are unable to receive an education in the mainstream school system.
When you’re not busy, you can explore Xi’an, a city rich with historical sites like the Terracotta Army. Sound like the right charity work abroad programme for you? Fees start at just $280 USD for one week. Find out more here!
Empower Children in Faridabad, India
When it comes to the best volunteering holidays in the world, put Plan My Gap Year’s programs in India at the top of your list. An award-winning travel organisation, Plan My Gap Year places volunteers at a daycare center outside Delhi. There, you’ll care for abandoned and neglected children, as well as those who can’t get the family support they need due to poverty. As a childcare volunteer in India, you’ll do everything from tutor English and help with homework to prepare meals and arrange fun activities. It will be eye-opening and rewarding, and you’ll feel proud as you watch the children grow and move towards a brighter future.
Additionally, know that Faridabad is a large city with plenty to do. You can combine your volunteering holiday with time spent seeing the sites in nearby Delhi as well. Interested? The programme fee starts at just £369 for two weeks. Get even more details here!
Volunteer with elephants in Surin, Thailand
Head to Surin with Love Volunteers, a greatly respected organisation known for their transparency, affordability, and commitment to making a positive impact. Surin is a province known for its development of ethical elephant encounters. So, you’ll stay in a traditional Thai farming community and help care for at-risk elephants. The main goal is to stop the abuse of elephants as tourist attractions and enable local mahouts to earn a sustainable living caring for these amazing creatures. You’ll even get to feed and wash the elephants, which is truly incredible. As one past volunteer has said:
“It was wonderful to contribute in a small way to the quality of life for the people and animals.”
During free time, you’ll have plenty of ways to enjoy your holiday, as you’ll be near gorgeous places like Khao Yai National Park. Sound exciting? Fees start at £484 for one week. Learn more and apply here!
Spend Your Volunteering Holiday In Africa
A vast and diverse continent, Africa makes for an exciting destination for volunteering holidays. The continent encompasses a fascinating and diverse mix of cultures, and is full of natural paradises.
Almost any type of volunteering programme in Africa can be found, from teaching positions in remote villages to internships in global cities to environmental conservation work. For instance, you could assist with childcare in Malawi or help out with chimpanzee conservation in Zambia. Check out the projects here, and go where your heart directs you and where your hands can make a difference.
Do a medical internship in Kampala, Uganda
If you’re seeking medical internships abroad, look no further than this programme in Ugandaoffered by Love Volunteers, an organisation focused on cost-effective, impactful initiatives. Your primary responsibility will be to provide quality medical care to impoverished locals, and could consist of helping out with HIV/AIDS testing, administering immunizations, caring for newborns and mothers, assisting with outpatient care, and more. The benefits of this programme are far-reaching with inter-cultural exchange benefitting both locals and participants.
This volunteering holiday is available year-round, and you will have free time to explore the culture and entertainment of fast-growing Kampala. Sound like the programme for you? Fees begin at £335 for two weeks. To learn more, click here!
Join a shark diving and conservation programme in Western Cape, South Africa
Encounter great white sharks up close as you learn about marine life and conservation strategies. Organised by Fronteering, an organisation that provides real, raw experiences in off-the-beaten-path locations, this volunteering holiday programme takes you to a small fishing town in coastal South Africa. The project is a founding member of the Great White Protection Foundation. In addition to diving with sharks to gather data and genetic samples for research, you get to educate the public and tourists about conservation and protection of great whites.
Does this shark diving and conservation programme seem like a great idea for a working holiday abroad? Fees begin at $1,750 USD for one week. To find out more, read here!
Lend A Helping Hand In South America
South America sets the stage for an adventure of a lifetime. The region is headlined by world-class nature, like the Amazon rainforest and Andes Mountains, and rich history. A gorgeously diverse region, you’ll find an exciting mix of cultures and a variety of places here, including global cities and unspoiled jungles. It’s an amazing destination for a volunteer holiday.
When it comes to volunteer abroad programmes in Latin America, most projects work to improve childhood education, environmental conservation, healthcare, infrastructure, and the lives of indigenous peoples and disadvantaged communities. See some of our recommended programmes below.
Join a volunteer programme in Cusco, Peru
Head to Peru and join Maximo Nivel, an organisation that specialises in high-quality study, volunteer, and intern abroad programmes in Latin America. Maximo Nivel has numerous projects going on in Cusco. You could teach English, take part in Amazon reforestation, work on building projects, assist at the Cusco University Zoo, help an indigenous community, or assist at a hospital.
During free time, see Inca ruins around Cusco and learn Spanish (Maximo Nivel can arrange those classes). Interested? Programme fees begin at $645 USD for one week. Get all the info you need to know here.
Volunteer on a community project in Buenos Aires, Argentina (and learn Spanish)
Organised by Frontier, this project combines Spanish learning and work with disadvantaged members of the community in Buenos Aires. Responsibilities will include things like helping children with homework, cooking meals for families with parents that work long hours, and getting the youth involved in sports, arts, and other activities. Many past participants have great things to say about the project, like this volunteer:
“I never imagined such a warm welcome and to be made to feel so much a part of the projects. It opened my eyes to the poverty in Buenos Aires but I also found the fight and drive of the people inspiring and motivating and the love and joy of the children very touching.”
When you’re not volunteering, check out what Buenos Aires offers, from its great shopping, food, and nightlife, to the important sites like Casa Rosada. Sound like what you want to do for your volunteering holiday? Fees begin at $1,995 USD for two weeks. Find out more here!
Work at a wildlife sanctuary in Ecuador
Ecuador features some of the most beautiful land on earth. As a volunteer with Frontier, a trusted organisation that began in 1989, you will help rehabilitate and care for Ecuador’s precious wildlife. Typical daily duties including feeding the animals, administering medication, building enclosures, and assisting with park maintenance.
When you’re not working, there’s plenty to do, such as going on jungle hikes, touring the Galapagos Islands, or shopping in the city. Immerse yourself in Ecuador’s vibrant culture, and you will have an unforgettable time. Ready to go? Fees begin at $1,095 USD for two weeks. Click here to apply!
Choose Among Volunteering Holidays In Oceania
Consisting of Australasia, Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia, Oceania is a fascinating tropical paradise. Volunteering holidays in Oceania are popular for travelers that want to learn more about indigenous cultures here, as well as those that want to engage in community development and preservation of the region’s biodiversity and breathtaking beauty.
Whether you want to support NGOs in New Zealand on environmental projects or work on a village project in Papua New Guinea, know there are programmes that match your preferences and budget. Have a look at some reputable projects below:
Intern in nutrition in Fiji
Use your passion for health and wellness to help reduce health issues in disadvantaged communities in Fiji. The people of Fiji face health issues like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. As a nutrition intern, you’ll do health checks and organise various wellness classes and exercises to raise awareness in the community and change lifestyles.
Hosted by Projects Abroad, one of the world’s largest volunteer organisations, this programme is based in Nadi, a charming town. You will have ample opportunity to enjoy the beaches and immerse yourself in Fijian culture. Ready to set your clock to Fiji time? Know fees begin at $2,900 USD for two weeks and $3,660 for four weeks (it gets cheaper per day the longer you stay). Apply here!
Coach rugby in Samoa
Offered by Projects Abroad, who have been around since 1992, this programme is perfect for fans of rugby. Teach and train local youth from disadvantaged communities. Not only will you be helping them discover a passion and build teamwork and discipline, you also will be giving them a healthy activity they can do well into adulthood. Obesity is a growing problem in Samoa, and sports like rugby give them something fun to do to combat that.
The programme is based in Apia, the biggest city in Samoa. It’s right next to the ocean and has sites like the Museum of Samoa. Interested to learn more? Apply on the site!
Work For Good In North And Central America
Volunteering holidays in North and Central America mean the chance to do some good in a variety of fields, whether that be teaching English, providing medical assistance for impoverished communities, preserving untouched natural areas, or caring for wildlife. It also means the chance to see some famous cities, like New York City, and parks, like Jasper National Park.
Without a doubt, North America and Central America are solid choices because you can combine volunteering with travel so conveniently. For example, you may care for exotic animals in Hawaii or lead an English language camp for youth in Belize. Take a look at some of our recommended programmes to get you started.
Work with wildlife at a rescue centre in Antigua, Guatemala
Pack your bags and get ready to travel with Maximo Nivel, an impactful organisation that has offered a wide variety of volunteering holidays (among other programmes) in Latin America since 2003. The centre in which you will work focuses on the three “R’s”: rescue, recovery, and relocation. Help to care for reptiles such as alligators and snakes!
During free time, explore the beautiful colonial city of Antigua, or venture to Lake Atitlan. Programme fees begin at $645 USD for one week. Apply today!
Volunteer at a Bear, Deer & Wolf Haven in Ontario, Canada
Join Fronteering, a volunteer organisation committed to protecting wildlife and nature. There, you will be on a team that has the privilege to care for Ontario’s diverse animal species, including deer, wolves, bears, moose, beavers, and coyote. Primary tasks include rescuing, rehabilitating, and even releasing the animals. You can hand- and tube-feed animals, which is a really cool experience. You’ll also help maintain records and clean enclosures.
Be sure to explore Ontario during free time. Visit Toronto and Niagara Falls if you can! Programme fees begin at $1,095 USD for four weeks. Learn more and apply here!
Volunteer in medical care in San Jose, Costa Rica
Are you preparing to work in medicine or already a professional? Make a difference on your volunteering holiday by making the trip to San Jose. Offered by GoEco, a volunteer organisation that was created by experienced volunteers, main tasks include assisting with check-ups, distributing medications, taking vital signs, and providing companionship. Note: for this programme, the healthcare placement is for students of health science, pre-med, and nursing, while the medical placement is for licensed professionals.
So, is Costa Rica calling your name? There is so much to do in San Jose and around the country (hike in the rainforest!). Know fees begin at $790 USD for one week. Get even more info here!
Do Charity Travel Work In Europe
You don’t always have to travel far for volunteering holidays. You can make a difference and have a fantastic experience close to home. Europe, with its epic history, awe-inspiring scenery, and dazzling cultures, may just be your dream destination this year.
There is no shortage of programmes for volunteering holidays in Europe. There are many areas where your help is needed in communities across the continent, from education to wildlife conservation to construction and renovation. For example, you could teach English in Naples, or work on a highland conservation project in Scotland. Check out a few of our recommended projects below.
Join a volunteer programme in Miercurea Ciuc, Romania
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) offers projects for volunteer holidays in more than 40 enticing destinations worldwide, including numerous countries in Europe like Romania. For Romania, you may choose from a varied programme that may include teaching, childcare, after-school support, special needs care, agriculture, or animal care. Programmes are offered year-round. For many, IVHQ’s programme is Romania is powerful, as a past volunteer states:
“I stayed in Romania for two months with the special needs programme. It’s hard to put my experience into words, but to start it was incredible, enlightening, and life-changing. The people I met, the staff and children I worked with—I’ll truly never forget them. Romania is a beautiful country and fairly undiscovered by hordes of tourists so it’s a lot of fun to travel around.”
Interested to learn more? The project costs start from $330 USD for one week. Read all the details here!
Volunteer to protect sea turtles in Bay of Kyparissia, Greece
Want to protect one of the most important loggerhead turtle nesting areas in the region? Head to Greece and join this programme offered by Global Vision International (GVI), a volunteer and intern abroad organisation that’s been around since 1998. Main duties include recording nesting activity, protecting the eggs from predators, and educating locals and tourists about the importance of conservation efforts.
What’s also nice about volunteering on this project is that you can experience Greek culture and enjoy the seaside town and beaches when you’re finished working. Sound like a great way to spend your holiday? Programme fees begin at £1,150 for two weeks. Learn more here!
Ready For Your Volunteering Holiday?
No matter where you hope to go and what you want to do, you can find charity work abroad that’s right for you. Let this article be your starting point for planning your holiday volunteering trip.
Know you can also use sites like Abroadly, Volunteer Forever’s new booking platform, to quickly search for reputable programmes according to your budget and interests. In minutes, you can find the right volunteer abroad project there.
Additionally, for even more ideas on where to go and what to do for your volunteer holiday, have a look at some more articles featuring affordable and meaningful programmes around the world!
Short Term Volunteer Abroad Programs & Mission Trips (1 Week & 2 Weeks)
Wildlife, Marine Animal, Veterinary, & Conservation Volunteer Abroad
Teen & High School Volunteer Abroad Programs | Under 18 Mission Trips
Nick Callos · Writer
With a BA in English Literature & Writing from Boston College, Nick researches and writes about volunteer, intern, and teach abroad programs worldwide. He has studied abroad and taught English in Chengdu, China, and aims to help fellow travelers make a lasting impact on the communities they visit.