Guide to Volunteering Abroad
Get inspiration for a life changing trip today and read more information about volunteering abroad. By applying to volunteer abroad you will be able to make a difference, meet new people, immerse yourself into a new culture and most of all enjoy really fun experience which will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. On our website you can read more information about volunteering or search opportunities and holidays to destinations worldwide.
Why Volunteer Abroad
We help thousands of people find and arrange volunteer trips every year and you can read on for information on why you might want to volunteer and how you can set up a dream trip. There are no specific reasons why you might choose to volunteer abroad. Maybe you are looking to do something different or you are planning a family holiday and you want a rewarding experience which is totally different to anything you have ever done before. Explore a new region of the world and also make a real difference by volunteering and being far more than just a tourist.
Volunteering abroad is a chance to do something different and help other people, communities, wildlife and find out about yourself. By joining an international volunteer program you will get to live and immerse yourself in a foreign country, meet people from all around the world and be able to have a real hands on learning experience. Gain new skills, improve your confidence and work / life experience. Lots of people volunteer simply because they enjoy it and it makes you feel good, Ghandi once said the best way to lose yourself is in the service of others and not many feelings compare. Not only is volunteering abroad a wonderful experience, it’s also one that you can take home with you and show to your friends and families through the memories you have, friends you've made and pictures you have taken.
How to Choose a Volunteer Abroad Program
Where you go and what you do is really your choice. You have the option to apply direct with local projects and NGO's or arrange your trip through an international travel / volunteer company who will be able to arrange you a placement. Even if you apply by yourself you won't be alone volunteering. Most organizations have lots of volunteers helping at anytime, so you are very unlikely to be alone. If you are worried please enquire direct before applying, or join a group volunteer program.
Types of Volunteer Projects
There are hundreds of really amazing projects and organisations which need assistance all year round and by viewing our volunteer abroad directory you can find volunteer work with communities, conservation, wildlife, education, teaching, orphanages and more. Whether you are looking to gain experience for a future career or just spend a holiday doing something rewarding there are projects for everyone. Some projects can be join for a short period of less than a week whilst on others you can stay for over a year.
Popular Volunteering Destinations
You can find volunteer programs all around the world, we find Thailand, China, South Africa, Tanzania, Vietnam, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, Costa Rica and Peru are some of the most popular choices. Each country is different and depending on what you are looking for you will be sure to find a project and location to suit you.
Popular Volunteer Projects Overseas
- Working to help and protect elephants in Thailand
- Volunteering at an orphanage in Kenya
- Teaching English in Brazil
- Working on environmental programs in the Galapagos Islands and The Amazon
- Helping nature and conservation programs in Australia
- Getting close to sharks on marine projects in South Africa
- Working with lions and rhinos in Zimbabwe
- Helping bears in Romania
Benefits of Volunteering Abroad with an International Sending Agency / Travel Company
By volunteering through a travel agent or volunteer organisation, you should get a safe and structured trip. Most things should be taken care of including the journey, travel information and pre-project briefings. With a volunteer sending agency you get in-country support and there will always be someone available via phone or e-mail to assist you whilst abroad. If it is your first time volunteering abroad or if you are going solo it is recommended applying to volunteer abroad through a volunteer sending agency.
A travel or sending agency will be able to plan your trip and reduce the stress of the experience. Volunteer sending organisations are able to accommodate individuals, groups, school trips or employees on trips abroad. They will arrange placements, help with flights, maybe even place you on group flights with other volunteers, let you decide on time / departure and make sure everything runs smoothly. A lot of volunteer organisations employ staff overseas to directly help with travel arrangements and help with any problems volunteers may encounter whilst abroad.
Volunteering Abroad with a Disability
It is possible to volunteer abroad with a disability but you might be restricted by some program requirements. Most volunteer organizations make provisions for any special needs volunteers may have and the priority is always to ensure each and every volunteer enjoys a safe and comfortable experience on a volunteer project. You may be asked to get in touch with an appropriate medical contact whether it is your GP or a specialist in order to gain more information to help them help you choose the best possible placement for you. Some volunteer projects overseas will not be suitable to people with certain disabilities but with some good research and information you should be able to find a suitable volunteer project abroad.
Best Time to Volunteer Overseas
There is no deadline or best time to volunteer. Please research all countries before signing up to a program, you might also want to check the weather reports, it might not be an idea to volunteer in Thailand during monsoon season for example. Some organizations allow you to book a program over one year in advance. Sometimes its good to book the program early as this reserve your spot, some projects only need a limited number of volunteers so can fill up quickly. You should also be able to change your program dates if needed.
If you are wondering if any previous experience is needed to join volunteering programs most organizations allow non skilled volunteers to sign up. You will need to be enthusiastic and have a desire to good apart from skilled volunteer programs like medical and healthcare programs which usually require specific qualifications and previous experience. Most volunteer programs have a general requirement of level of English to participate, and you will need to be in good health.
Paying to Volunteer Abroad
You may be shocked to discover you sometimes have to pay to volunteer overseas. If you are applying with a volunteer sending agency they usually include flights, accommodation, transport, transfers and meals whilst the price also covers administrative costs. Even local and grass roots NGO projects can charge a fee to apply, some projects rely entirely on the fee that volunteers pay / donations to keep their projects running. For more information please view our Why Pay To Volunteer page. You can also view cheap and affordable volunteer programs abroad on our website.
Lenght of Volunteer Programs
You can volunteer from as little as a day, to over a year. The minimum and maximum program lengths really depend on the organization / program. Most organizations have a minimum of one week and sometimes it is best to stay longer so you get make a real difference. Please note being away from home on a long term volunteer program will impact relationships, holidays, and finances. Therefore, these things should be considered before joining a year long placement for example, and you might want to consider a short term program.
What Nationalities Can Apply?
Most volunteer organisations welcome all people from any country to join programs. Participants usually come from the UK, USA, Canada, Australia, Ireland, France, Germany and other European countries. However, it is not uncommon to find international volunteers from countries like Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Korea, Singapore and other worldwide countries. You will need to be eligible for a tourist visa for the destination you would like to volunteer in. If you speak Portuguese you can view more information about our website and opportunities here: Trabalho voluntário no exterior com a One World 365.
If you are wondering how old you need to be to volunteer abroad most organizations require you to be 18 to volunteer by yourself on a project overseas. But some companies specialize in trips for 15-17 year old's, these are usually structured and short term programs organized in conjunction with schools. If you are under this age limit you might need to volunteer with your family, there are family volunteering holidays available worldwide but certain restrictions apply.
A lot of organisations welcome families to join programs, these are a great way to take a break with a difference. Some organizations have a minimum age limit to join the programs thought you will need to check prior to signing up. These trips can be really fun and a lot more interesting and rewarding than just sitting on a beach.
What to Expect when Volunteering Abroad
Volunteering abroad is certainly no normal holiday, sometimes working hours can be long and exhausting so please beware of this before applying. If you would like to see a country and just sit on a beach then volunteering might not be for you. But if you have the enthusiasm to want to help and you are open to new experiences then you might relish the challenge volunteering abroad offers.
Every day will be new and there will be lots of free time for you to relax or travel and see more of the country you are volunteering in. Usually when volunteering you will develop strong bonds with your fellow volunteers and you might make friends to last a life time. We hope you take away lots of positive memories from volunteering in a foreign country, most people really enjoy the experience and are able to make a contribution to projects around the world.
Who Benefits from Volunteering Abroad?
Before volunteers depart on volunteering placements abroad one popular question is 'who is this going to benefit?' and 'will I be able to make a difference'. By deciding to travel overseas and help a volunteer program you will be able to help others whilst helping yourself develop personally. You will benefit from volunteering, this is especially true if you are placed on a volunteer program which is right for you. If you have certain skills, experiences or career background you might be more suitable to some placements than others, if you are applying through a volunteer sending agency they will be able to help you with this.
Developing countries benefit from international volunteers as a lot of places lack the people and skills to help make a difference. New volunteers bring new ideas and skills and can also help programs develop overtime by working with local staff. By education people and volunteering you will be able to help improve the environment or issues like wildlife poaching. Tourism is also a massive boost to any country, the presence of international volunteers provides money for destinations and for projects, of which a lot of volunteers pay a fee to help. By traveling and volunteering you will be buying local food or staying in accommodation which will boost others indirectly.
Sign Up to Volunteer Abroad
Our volunteering abroad directory should give you some really inspirational ideas on where you can go and what you could do. You can find volunteering programs which will be perfect for a meaningful holiday, gap year or career break. We do not direct offer placements, we promote organizations who do and you can search opportunities below. Traveling and volunteering and abroad can be a life changing experience, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions or need any help.
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