Volunteering is a great way to travel the world, make a difference, help other people or animals, and meet new friends. Whether you are a college student, a university graduate, or a professional on a career break, you can be sure there is a volunteer program for you. These days, there are thousands of interesting volunteer abroad programs available in many countries all over the world. For today’s post, we took a closer look at some of the best volunteer programs that might be interesting for you. From protecting sea turtles in Costa Rica and teaching English in Bali to farming projects in the Caribbean and castle renovation in France, here are 25 Volunteer Travel Experiences You Should Try.
Feature Image: Daniel Thornton via Flickr
Husky Ranch in Canada
Dog lovers will certainly enjoy volunteering at a husky ranch in Canada. The main tasks include working directly with the dogs as well as plenty of dog-sledding trips where the volunteers will help with guiding the trips and training the huskies. Available all year round, this program offers durations of 4 to 12 weeks.
Wildlife Research in South Africa
Have you dreamt about having a hands-on experience with huge African mammals such as lions, elephants, leopards and rhinos? Try the Wildlife Research in South Africa Expedition volunteer program. This program allows you to spend up to 24 weeks at a Big Five game reserve in South Africa and volunteer alongside an international team assisting in vital conservation work. You will learn to track animals, study their behavior and get familiar with them.
Heroes on Horseback in India
Provided by Relief Riders International, the Heroes on Horseback program brings all-encompassing relief to poor villages around Rajasthan, India. Volunteers participate in the unique experience of riding on horseback through the desert to provide numerous welfare programs for poor villagers: free eye surgery, free dentistry, free pediatric care, HIV/AIDS prevention awareness, donating livestock to widows etc.
Go Remote in the Amazon, Ecuador
Provided by the Pachamama Alliance, this unique program immerses volunteers with the Achuar People, one of the most remote and intact indigenous cultures on the planet. Volunteers will participate in this Amazon tribe’s traditions, and they will help to protect their lands and culture.
Build Community in Thailand
Help to promote community-based tourism in remote areas in Thailand with this program offered by Local Alike. The volunteers will support local villages through cross-cultural engagement and engage in many interesting activities such as mountain climbing, camping, tours etc. It is a great program for people who want to explore Thailand and get familiar with its traditions and culture.
Teach English in Haiti
English in Mind Institute, a non-profit organization, helps Haitian adults find long-term, meaningful employment by teaching them English. Participants of the program spend mornings volunteering at orphanages and afternoons teaching English to adult students. The program also includes a tour of Port-au-Prince, Haiti´s capital and some beach time.
Appalachian Trail Conservancy, USA
Passing through 14 US states, the Appalachian Trail is one of the most popular and beautiful hiking trails in the US. Each year, more than 6,000 volunteers help to keep the trail available for all to use. They are active in all aspects of trail work, from basic maintenance to major projects, such as building bridges and shelters and relocating sections of the trail.
Protect Sea Turtles in Costa Rica
As a marine conservation volunteer, you will take part in night surveys, monitoring nesting sea turtles, relocating eggs to the hatchery, releasing baby turtles into the ocean, and helping with local environmental education and ecotourism projects. You will also make new friends, have time to explore the pristine Costa Rican wilderness and have the opportunity to experience local culture. You can join for 1 week up to 12 weeks from July to January every year.
Help the Disabled in Guatemala
Provided by Viamistad, a non-profit organization that assists people with disabilities in Guatemala, this program builds bridges of understanding between mainstream and marginalized communities in the country. In support of its mission, Viamistad hosts recreational camps for people with severe disabilities where Spanish-speaking volunteers are needed to help organize activities such as swimming, horseback riding, sports, field trips etc.
Help Children in Tanzania
If you consider volunteering in Tanzania, check volunteer programs offered by Iko Poran, a non-profit organization based in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The organization provides the most affordable programs to volunteer in Tanzania such as teaching at a nursery/primary/secondary school, training a soccer team, leading a dance club, volunteering at an orphanage etc.
Teach English in Sudan
Teach English in one of the world’s most impoverished countries with the Sudan Volunteer Programme, a London and Khartoum-based charitable organization. Placements are at schools or universities, but many volunteers help with community projects in addition to their teaching. Volunteers must pay for their airfare but all other costs are covered, and a small monthly stipend is provided.
Ridge to Reef Organic Farm, Virgin Islands
Experience an unforgettable stay at an organic farm located on the Virgins Islands, a tropical paradise in the Caribbean. Get your hands dirty in the fields, explore the rainforest, or just lay back and enjoy the slow pace of an active farm, island style. You can stay for a few nights, a week, or the whole season.
Teach English in Bali
As Bali has become an extremely popular tourist destination, learning English is increasingly important for the locals. Therefore, more and more volunteer English teachers are needed in this exotic country. They will help the locals pursue their professional careers while learning a great deal about the family life and values of the locals in Bali.
Explore Magical Tibet
Conscious Journeys provides several volunteer programs that will allow you to experience the breathtaking landscape of Tibet as well as local culture. Staying at Tibetan family homes instead of at hotels will give you a great glimpse into daily life in the region. Volunteers will participate in service projects and/or explore the country with locals.
Cheetah Conservation Fund, Namibia
Cheetahs used to be widespread in most African countries, but poaching and habitat loss have caused them to slide towards extinction. Cheetah Conservation Fund has been working diligently for the past few decades to educate communities, conduct research, and utilize best land use practices to benefit both animals and people. The volunteers care for the resident cheetahs and wild cheetahs held for relocation.
Archaeology Volunteering in Romania
Archaeology fans will certainly appreciate the Project Abroad program Archaeology in Romania. As a volunteer of this program, you will be based in various locations throughout the country. You will work with a number of archaeological groups, including Romania’s Museum of History where they investigate ancient Dacia and the medieval environs of Transylvania.
Atoll Volunteering in Maldives
The Maldives, a tropical archipelago located in the Indian Ocean, is a top-notch tourist destination, but you can spend some time in this wonderful country as a volunteer, too. With friendly people, miles of sandy beaches and beautiful coral reefs, the Maldives offers a unique volunteer experience. While volunteering as a children soccer coach or a fitness instructor, you will make lifelong friends and create memories that will last forever.
Canine Therapy in Bolivia
Those who love dogs and children will be happy to serve as volunteers in the Canine Therapy program provided by Projects Abroad. Set in a dog training center in Cochabamba, Bolivia, this program enables you to work closely with trained dogs conducting specialized therapy sessions with local children of all ages who are faced with a variety of disabilities.
Teach English in Malawi
H.E.L.P.’s International Volunteer Program continues to grow and evolve around the students’ needs at Nanthomba Primary School in Malawi. Volunteers, who come from all over the world, encourage local learners to be confident in their English and help prepare them for the national exam into secondary school. A minimum of three months commitment is required for this program.
Children's Program in Dominican Republic
Dominican Republic is famous for its beautiful beaches, year-round sunny weather, and superb holiday resorts, but many local people still struggle with poverty. With the Children’s Program by ISV, volunteers will teach basic English, Math, Geography, Sciences, and Health Education to children who have little access to education.
Fiji Shark Conservation Project
Maligned, hunted, and struggling in increasingly polluted waters, sharks are amazing marine creatures that require human intervention to battle extinction. The Fiji Shark Conservation Project provides shark lovers with a hands-on opportunity to make a difference. Located in Pacific Harbor, on the south coast of Fiji’s main island of Viti Levu, the project allows volunteers to work directly with shark research scientists and marine biologists.
Australia Volunteer Project
In the last two centuries, Australia has lost many of its iconic species and has one of the worst mammal extinction rates in the world. As a volunteer, you have the opportunity to work alongside local Australian organizations that have partnered with ISV to develop hands-on conservation Volunteer Projects. Your efforts will help to protect and restore the unique and fragile Australian landscapes which provide habitat for Australia’s threatened flora and fauna.
Agriculture & Farming Project in Jamaica
The Agriculture & Farming program in Jamaica offered by Projects Abroad combines elements of farming and agricultural management with a community focused role. The project is open to volunteers taking a gap year, career break, or a volunteer vacation. Volunteers do not need any specific experience to work on this project, just an interest in agricultural issues and a desire to help the Jamaicans working within this field.
Castle Renovation in France
Thousands of American tourists come to France each year to admire local magnificent medieval castles, but you can do more than just that. Volunteers For Peace, a Vermont-based nonprofit organization, offers several volunteer programs that involve renovation, construction, historic preservation and archaeological work on some of these castles. Most of these projects are 2-3 weeks long and entail volunteering in an international group.
Galapagos Islands Project in Ecuador
The Ecuador Conservation Project via Projects Abroad organizes volunteer tours for those who want to preserve the unique marine and terrestrial ecosystems of the Galapagos. Volunteers are based in the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, in San Cristobal, and work closely with the Galapagos National Park. Their main focus includes monitoring sea lions, Galapagos tortoises, marine iguanas, and sea bird populations on thrilling hikes.
Photos: 25. Kazisdaman via wikimedia commons, 23. David via Flickr, 22. Francisco Chaves via Flickr, 20. International Disaster Volunteers via Flickr, 19. Blinute via wikimedia commons, 18. Claudio Giovenzana via wikimedia commons via www.longwalk.it, 15. UNESCO via wikimedia commons, 13. Yves Picq http://veton.picq.fr via wikimedia commons, 12. Antoine Taveneaux via wikimedia commons, 10. user:omarshehab via wikimedia commons, 6. Feed My Starving Children via Flickr , 5. Terry Goss via wikimedia commons, 3. The Tahoe Guy via Flickr, 2. Andreallrns via wikimedia commons