Boomers, seniors, retirees, and over anyone over 50: are you looking for a wonderful vacation that not only will let you explore the world, but also to make a positive impact on the community you visit? Consider a volunteer vacation!
There are so many reasons seniors and retirees should embark on volunteer trips – and some volunteer organizations, like Global Vision International, offer specialty trips for travelers over 50. Other organizations, such as Love Volunteers, offer a wide variety of trips for travelers of all ages and backgrounds. Our friends at Projects Abroad are an excellent resource for older travelers, with over 122,000 travelers from around the world and more than 25 years’ experience placing participants on impactful volunteer programs. Their programs range from short- to long-term, and can use expertise that comes with age. Projects Abroad even put together an extensive volunteer abroad guide for travelers over 50, which includes their top programs for adults. You can learn about their special over 50s volunteer program in Ecuador, Nepal, and Cambodia here.
Your experience and knowledge can be incredibly valuable to share with a community organization that’s striving to make a difference for people in need, and by volunteering, you can make a direct impact while also learning about a new culture and enjoying free time to explore your country of choice. From helping to prevent HIV in Kenya to teaching English or life skills to underprivileged girls and women in Laos, to providing legal insight for an NGO that supports disadvantaged communities in India, to promoting conservation efforts in the Galapagos, and so much more, there is no shortage of ways you can combine volunteering with your vacation.
Your volunteer trip doesn’t have to be all work and no play, however: many organizations you’ll travel with as a volunteer provide side trips and activities that allow you to explore a new culture, learn the history of the country you’ll visit, and meet local professionals and artisans. You can take cooking classes and dancing lessons, attend workshops.
Read on to learn more about some of the many over 50 volunteer abroad opportunities perfect for older travelers!
Featured Volunteer Abroad Organizations and Activities for Seniors
For over 25 years, Projects Abroad has offered volunteer programs throughout Africa, Asia, Europe, the South Pacific, Latin America, and the Caribbean. As one of the world’s largest volunteer travel organizations, Projects Abroad sends more than 10,000 volunteers on high-quality programs each year, ranging from archaeology, to teaching, to child care, to medical assistance, and much more. Projects Abroad offers many different volunteer programs perfect for older travelers, particularly skilled placements in areas such as medical care, journalism, or NGO support.
You’re never too old to change the world! That’s why Projects Abroad offers Grown-up Specials for volunteers aged 50+. Volunteering abroad has been popularized by teens, college kids and gap year students, but there’s no age limit to doing good globally. If you’re 50 or older, you have a wealth of knowledge and experience to share with the rest of the world.
Grown-up Specials are ideal if you’re in retirement, or are considering a career break. Traveling to a new country can be a complicated process. Projects Abroad will help you every step of the way to make sure you get the most out of your trip, and importantly, impact those in need. Whether it’s teaching English in local communities, protecting the environment through conservation activities, or renovating a school, there are different ways for you to make a difference.
The Grown-up Special trips follow set itineraries filled with a balance between altruistic, cultural, and leisure activities to give you a holistic experience of the country you visit. You’ll be placed in a group with other like-minded volunteers—an opportunity to make new friends and connections around the globe.
Grown-up Specials to look out for:
- Help through education at a local school in Nepal
- Protect the rich biodiversity of the Galapagos Islands
- Immerse in the local Khmer culture of Cambodia
Project fees start from $925 per week.
Reawaken your spirit of adventure. Make the most of your senior years by helping those who need it most while seeing the world.
With more than 20,000 travelers placed on service trips and internships abroad since 2009 (and 4,000 in just the past year!), Love Volunteers is one of the fastest growing international volunteer organizations in the world. With volunteer trips starting from $199 for one week overseas, a few of Love Volunteers’ popular locations include:
Love Volunteers has placements in 34 countries worldwide, with more than 120 different projects.
Based in Surin – the elephant capital of Thailand – this volunteer trip gives you the opportunity to care for elephants that have been abused and neglected. Years ago, elephants were used as beasts of burden for logging work – a practice that was outlawed in the 1980s. Later, to help pay for their care, mahouts began bringing elephants into the cities to perform for tourists. Outside of their natural habitats, these elephants suffer from abuse and neglect – fortunately, you can make a difference by volunteering with an initiative that brings the elephants back into nature, cares for them and rehabilitates them, and even provides livelihood support for their mahouts.
In the slums of Kathmandu, some of Nepal’s poorest children suffer from a lack of quality education – something vitally important to breaking the cycle of poverty. As a volunteer, you can help these children by working with schools in need of manpower and resources – a few ways that you can be a part of the change including assisting teachers with their lessons, teaching conversational English to the students, and even teaching important life skills and the importance of good hygiene for long-term health.
If you have at least four weeks to give, and if you have background and education in medicine, Love Volunteers has an amazing program to support those suffering from or impacted by HIV/AIDS in Kenya. You will start with a two-week HIV/AIDS support course, after which you will help those living with the disease through medical care and other services, such as providing food or other support. You also will educate local adults and children about HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and provide much-needed care to children who have been orphaned due to the disease.
Based in Cairns, Australia, this program invites 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 ways that you can help include prepping food and feeding the turtles, cleaning and maintaining their tanks, scrubbing algae off of the turtles’ backs, transporting and releasing the turtles, assisting with monitoring and research in the reef, and much more.
Founded in 2003, Maximo Nivel offers many different programs in Latin America for travelers who want to volunteer, intern abroad, teach abroad, learn Spanish, and more. More than 25,000 travelers have signed up with Maximo Nivel, which offers affordable placements in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru starting from just $595 for one week abroad. For senior volunteering, Maximo Nivel can be an excellent option for solo travel, to learn Spanish abroad, or even to vacation with your spouse or family.
If you’ve always wanted to become fluent in Spanish, now is your chance: through Maximo Nivel’s Spanish language immersion programs in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru, you can take courses customized to your learning requirements. Group classes range from 2 to 8 participants, allowing for a great balance between engagement and personalized attention. You also can choose to take private classes while visiting Central or South America, where you can learn at your own pace and choose how intensive your instruction is – whether you would like to take a full day of classes every day, or even just one hour of tutoring while exploring the area and immersing yourself in the culture, Maximo Nivel is an excellent way to learn a new language while spending time abroad.
Maximo Nivel offers several different volunteer programs that can let you use your skills and knowledge – or pick up new skills while exploring Costa Rica, Guatemala, or Peru. Programs include:
- Working with children
- Teaching English
- Conservation and the environment
- Animal care
- Working with indigenous communities
No matter your background or age, Maximo Nivel has wonderful opportunities to make a difference in communities in need. And if you’re traveling with a group or with your spouse or family, Maximo Nivel can arrange meaningful and engaging trips as well.
If you have time on your hands and would like to volunteer in Africa, consider Agape Volunteers, a reputable and affordable volunteer travel organization that’s also a registered UK charity. Founded in 2011, AV specializes in volunteering, tourism, and development work, with programs available in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, and Tanzania. All participants are covered by the Agape Travel Policy, provided at no extra cost, and there is no registration fee. Accommodations, airport transfers, food, and orientation are included in the program fee, making Agape Volunteers the most affordable option for those who would like to volunteer in Africa. And with side trips and excursions provided, there’s plenty of variety for sightseeing!
Help children learn the value of teamwork, develop their skills, and unlock hidden talents on the field of play when you volunteer as a sports coach in Kenya. Soccer is immensely popular in this country, and being part of a team that plays well can foster as sense of family and identity. In addition to coaching sports, you can assist the PE teacher with school studies and physical education. After school, join the players on community leagues and be a positive role model. These teams often consist of young men who are unemployed and need structure. There’s plenty to do in Kenya during weekends and free time, including safaris, hiking trips through national parks, and visiting beaches of the Indian Ocean. Program fees start at £590 for one week.
Calling all retired teachers: renew your sense of wonder when you volunteer teach with schoolchildren in Tanzania. Hold classes each day for eager students who want to learn English, and help them improve their language skills. Volunteers live at Maisha Cottage, a lovely guesthouse near the center of Arusha. The cottage has hot showers, wifi, and space for you to socialize with other international volunteers. On weekends, plan a safari to the Serengeti or an excursion to the Moshi Waterfalls and Chemka Hot Springs. Stay one week, or give yourself an entire gap year in Tanzania, with program fees starting at £695.
If you have experience in health care, or are a retired nurse or doctor, consider a trip that invites you to volunteer with a medical program in Kenyan clinics and hospitals. This hands-on, active opportunity has far-reaching impact on patients, and you provide much-needed support for the stretched healthcare teams onsite. Your tasks will vary depending upon your experience level, but you’ll shadow professionals during your first few days in Africa. Help to perform basic procedures under supervision, including distributing medicines, dressing wounds, and assisting with births. Weekends give you plenty of time to sightsee in Nairobi, and plan extended excursions. Fees start at £590 for one week.
For more than 20 years, Cross-Cultural Solutions has offered international volunteer programs in nine different countries throughout Africa, Latin America, Europe, and Asia. A world leader in the field of international volunteering, Cross-Cultural Solutions’ programs focus on child development, girls’ and women’s empowerment, and global health. To date, more than 35,000 volunteers have traveled with this organization, which offers year-round presence in their host communities, a full-time team of local expert staff to support volunteers, and among the highest standards of safety and well-being in the volunteer travel industry.
Travel to the Volta region of Ghana with Cross-Cultural Solutions, where you can make an impact in child development, global health, and girls’ and women’s empowerment. 29% of the country’s citizens live below the poverty line, and on average, girls receive two years’-fewer schooling than boys. As a child development volunteer, you will have the opportunity to work with a community group or childcare center to provide support to single mothers through teaching, conducting early education programming, and more. If you choose to focus on global health, you can participate in outreach, education, and care, and take part in malaria prevention campaigns, vision screening, and much more. And as a volunteer on the girls’ and women’s empowerment program, you will play a part in helping Ghanaian women achieve financial independence. Outside of senior volunteer opportunities, you can learn to speak ewe, learn to dye batik cloths, visit the city of Accra, and much more.
Visit India’s “Village in the Sky”, Dharamsala, where you will be able to take part in children’s development and global health programs. Inequality throughout India takes a major toll on those living in poverty in particular – not to mention those afflicted by HIV/AIDS, those who are migrants, those from rural or tribal populations, and even women and children nationwide. In the highlands of Dharamsala, home to the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetan refugees, you will have the chance to help people in need while immersing yourself in a vibrant culture. As a child development volunteer, you can help out in a community center to provide childcare for single mothers, teach English, and give extra attention to children who otherwise may not receive the support they need. If global health is more aligned with your interests, this program gives you the chance to provide much-needed support to low-income children and adults through vision screening, oral health campaigns, and promotion of good hygiene practices in schools.
A leading ecotourism company, GoEco was created by experienced volunteers who have carefully vetted every project to ensure high standards for safety and quality. Founded in 2006, the organization placed more than 15,000 volunteers in programs around the world in their first 12 years. They’ve also been recommended by the Boston Globe, USA Today, and others. With more than 150 initiatives, GoEco offers plenty of volunteer abroad opportunities that specifically suit senior citizen volunteers and retirees. Have a look at some of the great programs below.
Head to the tropical island of Nusa Penida, Indonesia with GoEco. Work closely with sea turtles and contribute to conservation strategies. Daily tasks including cleaning and feeding the turtles at the center, as well as assisting with public outreach. You’ll also collect turtle eggs brought by fishermen who’ve saved them from being taken as pets or eaten.
Right next to Bali, Nusa Penida is known for its gorgeous beaches and incredible nature. You’ll stay at a volunteer house that’s right near all the action. Take time to enjoy the island during free time. Sound amazing? The program starts from $980 for two weeks.
Journey to South Africa, where you’ll work to create sustainable community projects for impoverished communities. Duties include teaching children at education centers, arranging sports activities, assisting nonprofits with fundraising, educating the public on important health issues like HIV/AIDS, and working in vegetable gardens. You’ll get to immerse yourself in the local community and you’ll feel your impact right away.
You’ll stay in a volunteer house (can upgrade to a private room), and you’ll have free time to check out sites in Cape Town like Robben Island. The program starts from $990 for two weeks.
Make the trip to the village of Requijada on a project that aims to revive traditional farming and preserve the land through the use of new technologies. A truly exciting project, you’ll get to care for horses, research azure-winged magpies, plant vegetables, and help with facility maintenance.
You’ll stay in a straw bale cabin, which is super cool. You’ll also get to make a lasting connection with the family that manages the land. Are you ready for a volunteer vacation in the Spanish countryside? Project fees begin at $990 for one week.
Founded in 2013 and based in Cape Town, Via Volunteers focuses on ethical volunteering. The team has 15+ years of experience looking after volunteers in South Africa. Through their community, childcare, wildlife, and conservation volunteer projects in South Africa, volunteers can make a positive impact and create lasting memories.
Via Volunteers has hosted volunteers from more than 60 countries, including many seniors and retirees. Past volunteers praise their projects for their commitment to doing good, the life-changing experiences they provide, and truly excellent volunteer support. Via Volunteers is with you every step of the way.
Via Volunteers offers plenty of great volunteer opportunities for seniors and retirees. Whether you hope to volunteer for a few weeks or a few months, they come ready to serve retirees that seek something more meaningful. Their volunteer projects include pre-arrival preparation, accommodation, orientation, and in-country support so that everything goes smoothly and safely for you—from start to finish.
A terrific place, Fikelela Child and Youth Care Centre provides home-based care for children between 0-8 years of age. Many of the children have been neglected, abused, and/or abandoned, so your help as a volunteer goes a long way in ensuring they can learn, grow, and play in a secure, loving environment. Tasks include reading sessions, prepared lessons for children not attending school, and workshops to improve fine and gross motor skills. As a volunteer, you’ll help disadvantaged children achieve basic Maths and English literacy. And your presence and care will boost the emotional and mental wellbeing of the children, giving them more self-confidence and joy.
Great for retired teachers and caregivers, and anyone else who loves working with children, this program gives you free time to travel. You can use the Via Volunteers app, the first ethical volunteering app, to organize all your bucket list activities in Cape Town, like touring Robben Island and sunbathing on Boulders Beach. Sounds splendid, right?
Past senior volunteers, such as Janet from the USA, have terrific things to say about the project:
“My experience opened my eyes to a world beyond my own, and the children opened my heart in ways I’m still experiencing. The challenging moments only made the experience more valuable. And there were a lot of funny, joyful moments too. The children made sure of that!
This was my first time volunteering abroad and I’m glad I chose Via Volunteers. From the minute I signed on until the day I left South Africa, I was in good hands. Heather and Ed Scott’s personal commitment to their volunteers, to their projects, and to ethical volunteering made me feel confident, supported, and safe. I recommend Via to anyone considering volunteer work in South Africa.”
Program fees start from $328 per week. Sign up today to volunteer at the Fikelela Child and Youth Care Center!
As a volunteer for the homeless in Cape Town, you’ll work under the guidance of Pastor John. This project supports homeless people through counseling, temporary housing, and assistance with finding work. Your responsibilities include providing essential meals, helping children with homework, interviewing and recording profiles, collecting donations, taking attendance, and more. In short, you’ll play a vital role in making the place a home and stepping stone for its residents.
This project places you in the heart of Cape Town. By using the Via Volunteers app and getting advice from Via Volunteers staff, you can plan all your bucket list activities in the city.
Previous senior volunteers applaud the program, such as Kumud from the UK:
“The commitment of volunteers, and the constraints they work within, is truly something that has to be admired. I had the privilege of meeting John Philmon, director of the Night Shelter, who grew up in a Township himself, and started this night shelter from scratch—truly admirable! And, of course, I wouldn’t have known about these projects had it not been for Via Volunteers.
Ed and Heather, thank you so much for providing an invaluable service and opportunities for young people, and some old too! It is a wonderful way to learn about a country, its people, and culture—truly a very special kind of experience.”
Program fees start from $320 per week. Have an amazing retirement experience by volunteering to help the homeless in Cape Town!
A Broader View began in 2007 with the goal of offering people a way to travel while doing meaningful service work. The organization has 245 programs across the world (and counting).
ABV offers programs specifically focusing on the plight of young woman and destitute woman in impoverished communities. These programs aim to help the women by giving them support, guidance, and life skill training. Volunteers work with grassroots woman’s groups and teach English; they also help to initiate income generating activities and to create sustainable solutions to the challenges the woman face on a day-to-day basis. Locations include Colombia, Nepal, India, Tanzania, Peru, Guatemala, and Nicaragua. As a volunteer, you will assist with training woman in several life and income generating skills and to carry out research to find alternative solutions to fight poverty. There are no specific requirements to sign up, except willingness and enthusiasm to help women. The mission on this program is to help foster the growth of independent, self-sufficient, decision-making women, by encouraging self-empowerment.
In communities around the world, there is a an ongoing need for native English speakers to help provide lessons and instructions in rural and urban schools. Most of the schools A Broader View places volunteers in are in poor neighborhoods and rural locations, and the schools lack native English-speaking teachers. As an education volunteer, you will help children learn the correct use of English words and master English grammar. Location include Tanzania, India, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica, India, Ecuador, Uganda, Ghana, Nepal, and more. Children are very eager to learn and develop their conversational English, and as a volunteer you will not only assist teaching, but your presence is also a proven morale booster to the teachers, parents, and students alike. You do not have to be a teacher to volunteer on this English teaching project. Volunteers receive assistance from the local teacher with lesson plans.
Delve into a new language: Spanish! A Broader View Language & Cultural Immersion programs provide the opportunity to volunteer in a humanitarian mission (clinic, schools, and more) while learning Spanish at the same time. These Immersion programs range from one week to one month. Students at all levels are welcome to join, and lessons are provided two to four hours per day Monday to Friday (depending of the country). The remainder of your day will be spent in the local school, clinic, or other project of your choice. Choose from programs in Chile, Peru, Honduras, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Guatemala.
Looking for a program that offers something different? Consider Fronteering, an organization known for taking you off the beaten path to remote and unspoiled locations. Operating in more than 15 countries across the globe, Fronteering offers plenty of exciting volunteer abroad opportunities for retirees and senior volunteers.
From helping save the koalas in Australia to pre-school teaching in South Africa, Fronteering has a unique variety of options. You’re certain to find a program that suits you.
Ready to look for volunteer abroad opportunities with Fronteering? Begin searching here. And check out the awesome retiree and senior volunteer programs below!
Join a team that has the privilege to care for Ontario’s diverse animal species, including bears, deer, wolves, racoons, moose, beavers, and coyote. Main duties include helping raise, rescue, rehabilitate, and even release wild animals. You’ll get to hand and tube feed animals, maintain records regarding health and feeding, clean enclosures, and more. It’s an amazing experience getting to be so up close and personal with these creatures.
Please note that the only priority is a passion for wildlife and the outdoors. Check with your healthcare provider about vaccines before going. You’ll stay at a shared rustic accommodation and have plenty of time to explore Ontario during free time. Visit Toronto, Algonquin Provincial Park, and Niagara Falls, and more. Program fees start at $1,095 for four weeks. You can volunteer for up to eight weeks.
Nestled among the rolling hills of southern Mississippi, the Children’s Autism and Therapy Ranch aims to make a difference for kids with special needs through interactions with horses and other therapy animals, such as dogs and goats. Your main responsibilities will be to nourish and care for the therapy animals, which includes cleaning enclosures, feeding the horses, and grounds maintenance. You’ll also get to assist with therapy sessions and help the kids. It’s heartwarming to see the positive effects.
What’s also great is that you can go horse riding every day while volunteering. Program fees start at $1,295 for one week. You can volunteer for up to four weeks.
If you’re passionate about helping indigenous cultures preserve their way of life, this volunteer teaching program in Guyana is right for you. You’ll serve as an assistant in a village primary school, helping out mostly with English and math lessons but also sports as well. Other duties may include teaching villagers IT skills, helping out with building construction, and providing additional support for the local Amerindian community. Your service is crucial in making it possible for the indigenous community to support itself and maintain their way of life.
When you’re not volunteering, take advantage of the opportunity to learn even more about Amerindian culture. From ancient legends to natural healing remedies, there’s a lot to learn. Please note prior teaching experience is preferred (but not mandatory). You should also be physically and mentally fit. Be sure to check with your local doctor about needed vaccines and medications before departure. Program fees start at $1,795 for four weeks. You can stay up to 12 weeks.
Volunteer Forever’s new booking platform Abroadly invites you to research and compare impactful, responsible, and high-quality volunteer programs all over the world, based on your interests and skills.
Abroadly connects travelers with more than 150 programs from vetted partners that that commit to ethical and sustainable social impact in the areas of child and youth development, construction and community development, education, health and medicine, human rights, sports and recreation, and wildlife and environmental conservation.
Help refugee children whose families have crossed the border from Cambodia, seeking employment and a better way of life, by joining uVolunteer at a Buddhist Temple in Trat, Thailand. Language is a barrier for children who don’t attend school, and the monks at Wat Klong Phet offer an alternative to school through its community education program to help children develop skills they need to succeed, including conversational English. This is where you’ll be able to assist – you’ll also interact and engage students in sports, games, and show them life skills such as preparing food and practicing proper hygiene.
Spend your free time visiting sacred and religious sites, specialty museums, and cycling tours of the area. Trat lies along the Cardamom Mountains, with a coast on the Gulf of Thailand – and there are numerous islands nearby with white-sand beaches and coral reefs. Program costs start at $935, and you’re invited to stay three to 12 weeks. Learn more and apply here!
If you’re enthusiastic about conservation, you’ll love this wildlife volunteer project at the Cango Wildlife Ranch in Oudtshoorn, South Africa. The ranch cares for a variety of animals, including pygmy hippos, cape vultures, lemurs, meerkats, leopards, white tigers, and cheetahs. You’ll attend lectures and workshops to gain insight into breeding programs for endangered animals.
Tasks include food prep and feeding for birds and animals, cleaning enclosures and exhibits, providing animals with enrichment toys, making notes about their progress, assisting with maintenance tasks. When you volunteer with Cango, you become an ambassador for conservation, helping with a larger goal to positively change the way people behave, and how you care for animals.
Spend time touring local sites and landmarks, including Cango Caves, visit a working ostrich farm, go whale watching and shark cage diving, and more. Program fees start at $1,000 for two weeks, and you may stay up to four weeks on this project.Learn more and apply here.
Take moonlight strolls on exotic beaches to a new level with as a volunteer with Maximo Nivel, helping to protect and conserve the sea turtle populations of Costa Rica. Your work on this important project helps to support biologists and researchers performing important conservation work at turtle nesting grounds. You’ll be placed on either the Pacific or Caribbean coasts, depending upon need and weather, and you’ll take part in nightly beach patrols, tagging turtles, relocating nests into hatcheries, counting eggs and turtles, and more. You also will be able to take part in a community outreach program that promotes conservation practices.
To sign up, you’ll need to be physically fit and ready to live and work in a remote beach camp, but no Spanish language skills or prior experience is needed. While in San Jose, enjoy the sights and visit the Avenida Central, where it’s easy to walk to museums, parks, outdoor plazas, shops, and restaurants. Stop at the Teatro Nacional, or National Theater, for plays, dances, concerts, or even the opera! Check out the Park Cafe, a fusion of antique shop and French restaurant that’s a haven for foodies. Program fees start at $1,105 for two weeks, with stays up to 12 weeks on this hands-on project. Learn more and register here.
The Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa cares for impoverished young people after their conditions have been stabilized, and through Khaya Volunteer Projects you can help provide assistance to these vulnerable children. As a volunteer, you’ll work with children from birth to 12 years of age affected by malnutrition, tuberculosis, cerebral palsy, fetal alcohol syndrome, physical and sexual abuse, or the medical impacts of HIV/AIDS.
Your help is needed for various tasks from food preparation, managing donations and toys, tidying play areas, and providing mental stimulation through reading books and singing. You also can work with the staff, teaching English speaking skills and computer literacy to nurses.
Spend time off exploring the adventure, culture, and culinary arts that abound in Cape Town. Take a morning trip to Table Mountain and enjoy spectacular views of the city. Head for Boulders Beach to see the enormous penguin colony there. Learn about the city’s apartheid history at the District Six Museum and Robben Island. Immerse yourself in the city’s mixed Afrikaans and Muslim traditions at the Bo-Kaap and Greenmarket Square. Vineyards abound in this area, so take in a wine tasting while abroad. Fees for this program start at $1,345 for four weeks, but stay up to eight weeks. Click here to read more information and to apply.
With your help, the endangered elephant population of Thailand not only can survive, but thrive, when you volunteer with Global Vision International near Chiang Mai. Spend a week or more in this fascinating Southeast Asian country where you’ll be a part of an “elephant retirement community” – gentle, giant retirees from the tourism industry who finally get to live a life of leisure: exploring, eating, socializing, and sleeping in the forests and fields.
Most of your work is observational and supportive, but this GVI program has long-term goals that include promoting the ethical treatment of elephants, creating a viable ecotourism program, assisting elephants as they return to the wild, improving the natural resources management system, and improving the living standards and job opportunities of the people of the Huay Pakoot village. You’ll spend time in the forests and fields with elephants, and maybe even assist with a health checkup! You also can help out with the local school, teaching basic English and sharing your admiration for ecotourism.
Relax during your days off, enjoying scenic walks with mountain vistas, and appreciate the relaxed, easygoing way of life here. Fees for this program start at $1,840 for one week, with stays up to 12 weeks. Read more here!
Share your love for pets on a project in Cape Town, South Africa, assisting Love Volunteers at an animal rescue center. Work with stray dogs and cats at a nonprofit rescue organization that works proactively to protect animals and responds to the over-breeding problem with a catch, treat, sterilize, and adoption system.
This volunteer project requires you to be flexible as your help with day-to-day tasks, caring for neglected and abandoned animals in the impoverished Philippi farming community in Cape town. You’ll feed and play with animals, walk dogs, clean kennels, and even work on fundraising initiatives and cultural outreach. No experience is needed – just a compassionate and caring spirit.
From the Cape of Good Hope to Table Mountain, South Africa is a country with dramatic landscapes and beautiful scenery. Visit Boulders Penguin Colony, home to thousands of African Penguins, or Robben Island, former home to prisoners, including Nelson Mandela. Now a World Heritage Site, this locale has been preserved as a memorial to those unjustly incarcerated here. Fees for this project start at $748, with stays from two weeks to 12 weeks. Click here to read more.
Global Volunteers works in 16 countries worldwide, placing families, groups, couples, or individual travelers on meaningful projects that are developed through community-based partnerships with host leaders. Founded in 1984, the organization is led by experts in human and economic development. More than 34,000 volunteers of all ages have worked in 202 host communities on programs that range from 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. Global Volunteers was granted Special Consultative Status with the United Nations in 1999, and has partnered with UNICEF since 2008.
Retirement isn’t the time to slow down. Join like-minded people making a positive impact on the lives of students through a service program for retirees and seniors with Global Volunteers. Travel the world and take time to make new friends, and mentor a young person, help a community in need while on a travel opportunity abroad. Program costs range from $1,095 to $3,595 for one to three weeks, and includes all meals, comfortable lodging, daily bottled water, airport transfers, transportation in country, an experienced team leader, and Global Volunteers program management and administrative expenses. A plus for U.S. retirees is that service program contributions and travel costs are tax-deductible! Global Volunteers offers discounts, ranging from $50 to $500, for first-time volunteers, full-time students, and children 12 and under, and for registering six months in advance. Professional, faith-based, educational, and corporation groups with 10 or more people qualify for savings that range from $200 to $500, depending upon the total count. Referrals also earn you credits towards for future trips, as well as repeat travel trips. Learn more about discounts here.
Come to Poland and bask in the warmth and hospitality of the Polish people. This is an adventure of a lifetime, immersing yourself in Polish culture and, at the same time, bringing meaning to the lives of the people you meet. Volunteer as a tutor, teaching basic English in rural schools, and helping the students during their summer break. You’ll have the opportunity to work one-on-one or in small groups with their conversational English. You can practice pronunciation, vocabulary, phrases and idioms in classrooms with elementary and middle school students during the school year. Another opportunity is assisting at the Children’s English Summer Camp, where eager young students are waiting to speak English with you and share their rich, illustrious culture. At camp, you’ll help to bridge their summer break to the school year with fun activities in English such as skits, games, songs, field trips and more. On weekends, explore the picturesque Tatra Mountains, one of the oldest mountain ranges in Europe. Through volunteer work, cultural activities and personal adventures, you’ll learn about Poland and remain forever invested. Your contribution fee begins at $2,695. Choose from a one or two-week stay, which includes accommodations, meals, transportation to your project, and educational materials. Click here to read more.
Volunteering in Vietnam is an eclectic experience, where you’ll be immersed in a rich multicultural community with Chinese, French, and Russian influences. And Hanoi, one of the most ancient capitals of the world, is filled with amazing people, ancient architecture, and exquisite food. Join Global Volunteers abroad and you will have the opportunity to appreciate it all. Guide the future leaders of Vietnam when you volunteer to teach English at a variety of academic centers: a public university, a private K-12 school, a center for visually impaired adults, and at the Vietnam Institute for Development Strategy. Many Vietnamese schools lack teachers with sufficient competencies to teach practical English beyond basic writing and speaking skills. You’ll focus on improving students’ pronunciation, listening and speaking skills, as well as organizing games and other activities within the classroom. No experience is needed. Teaching is not the only thing you’ll do when you travel to Hanoi. Your free time will be spent visiting the ancient temples, exploring the stunning countryside, and enjoying the vibrant nightlife. Be sure to tour the famous Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, and catch the colorful Water Puppet Theater during your stay. Your contribution fee begins at $2,795. Choose from one- and two- week itineraries, including accommodations, food, transportation to projects and educational materials. A trained leader is on site all year. Read on to learn about this exotic locale and its volunteering opportunities.
Travel to Ecuador with Global Volunteers and care for the children of Quito, providing essential services in one of two programs: Early Childhood Education or Repair and Maintenance. Follow in the footsteps of thousands of other volunteers who, since 1996, have helped to provide safe learning spaces for children while their mothers work. As an educator, you can offer at-risk children the attention they deserve, and mentor them in social skills and more. This program lets you play with toddlers, and teach them important lessons in health and nutrition. Or, get your hands dirty and help to repair and maintain daycare facilities by painting and cleaning. Your plumbing and electrical skills are needed to upgrade classrooms, and your carpentry skills can help to improve playgrounds. No experience is necessary, but you’ll be thrilled to know that your lifelong learning can contribute to the advancement of young, eager students. You’ll stay in a tourist-class hotel with 24-hour reception. The comfortable rooms are double-occupancy with private baths. Amenities include laundry service, telephones, and television. Meals are enjoyed at area restaurants, providing authentic cuisine. Your contribution fee begins at $2,317. Spend your free time enjoying the natural and cultural attractions of Ecuador, including Calderon’s Masapan sculptures, which you can watch being made, and buy in small shops around town. Visit markets, parks, historical museums and architectural sites in Quito, or travel north and see Otavalo, an Indian village and market, or revel in the natural beauty of the cloud forest in Mindo. Other side trips are a trek up the 16,000-foot Cotopaxi Mountain, or the Galapagos Islands. Choose from a one or two-week stay, which includes accommodations, meals, transportation to your project, and educational materials. Read more and apply here.
Global Vision International (GVI) offers many different volunteer abroad opportunities for travelers of all ages, including those over 50. With more than 150 different volunteer programs in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Australasia, GVI offers impactful opportunities in a wide variety of project areas. So far, more than 24,000 travelers have signed up with GVI on projects ranging from conservation, to teaching, to construction and beyond.
Based in Luang Prabang – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – this program invites you to contribute to sustainable women’s empowerment initiatives locally. From English teaching, to life skills workshops, and beyond, you can make a difference in women trying to improve their quality of life and the future of their family and community. Along the way, you will immerse yourself in Lao culture and learn about its history, food, religion, and language, and you will even be able to enjoy a weekend break along the Mekong River. Optional side trips include a visit to the Pak Ou Caves, which hold thousands of Buddha images, a tour of weaving villages, and much more.
If your background is in healthcare or medicine – or if you have an interest in these initiatives – you’re invited to volunteer with GVI in Thailand, where you can work with a local community to improve their health and hygiene through education. Based in Phang Nga, this program invites you to volunteer with children, as well as some adults who are physically or mentally disabled, through a variety of activities such as arts and crafts, exercise, basic English teaching, and health and hygiene education in schools, care centers, and community centers. During your free time, you will have lots of opportunity to visit beaches, parks, and caves, and even take optional side trips to Khao Sok National Park, Phuket Island, and much more.
Another excellent healthcare program through GVI that’s perfect for retirees and senior volunteers takes place in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, where you will volunteer alongside Integral Care Center to support children and young people with special needs. As a volunteer, you will play a role in empowering children and others in need by providing different types of therapies, such as aqua and physical therapy, as well as equine therapy. You also will be able to help with basic to advanced education, as well as teaching basic life skills that will allow youth to perform day-to-day activities. During your free time, you will be able to go snorkeling, visit Mayan archaeological sites, and more.
One more wonderful volunteer opportunity you can sign up for right now brings you to Fiji, where you will be able to enjoy a tropical island getaway while also lending a hand to a local community development initiative. On this program, you’ll have five areas of focus: WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene), health and nutrition, income generation, education enrichment and empowerment, and environmental management and protection. If you want to empower people to build healthy lifestyles through sustainable development, this is a great way to do it. GVI’s Fiji expedition also has the option for side trips, where you can visit world class dive sites, see dolphins, and even relax at an island resort.
For a unique and meaningful opportunity with GVI, travel to Laos to volunteer to teach practical and conversational English to Buddhist novice monks and to other local students. Each week, Monday through Friday, you will plan and teach English lessons or help local teachers to carry out their lessons, all of which will help your students to find future employment opportunities, build bright futures for themselves, and become even more productive members of their communities. During your free time, you are invited to explore the Kuang Si waterfall, take a boat ride on the famous Mekong River to the Pak Ou Caves to see thousands of Buddha images, or even visit the Royal Palace Museum. If you would like to travel beyond Laos, you are a short trip from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand as well. This program starts from two weeks at $1,900, and you are invited to stay longer.
Ready to Travel?
These were just a few of the many different amazing volunteer abroad opportunities available to travelers over 50 – whether you would like to teach, care for children, or put your years of experience and carefully honed skills to use for a community abroad, you’re sure to find an engaging and worthwhile trip. If you’d like to learn more about volunteer programs open to seniors and retirees, please click here to start searching for the perfect opportunity.