International Volunteer HQ
International Volunteer HQ/Facebook

37 Volunteer Programs That Give You A Chance to Travel

View Slideshow
International Volunteer HQ
International Volunteer HQ/Facebook

Feel Good While Doing Good

Feel Good While Doing Good Maybe you had a bad experience RVing last summer, you’re leery of vacation homes, or you want tosave the world but still relax a little. Voluntourism may be the answer, so long as you're willing to commit to some volunteer work along with your sightseeing. In exchange for your efforts, these programs usually offer numerous chances to connect with locals and other travelers, as well as discounted expenses such as room and board. Here are some feel-good getaway options to consider, which includes destinations in the U.S. and abroad.

Related: 26 Companies That Are Doing Good Deeds With Your Dollars

Workaway Nightime Harvest
Workaway/Facebook

Workaway

Workaway is an online community that connects travelers, or “workawayers,” with hosts offering a place to stay and food to eat in exchange for roughly five hours of labor a day. With more than 40,000 hosts in 170-plus countries, there’s no shortage of options, including rural farm work, home renovations, childcare, or rehabilitating abused animals. Most have minimum stay requirements starting at a week on the low-end and require travelers to secure their own travel. Membership for access to these opportunities costs $42 a year, or a discounted rate of $54 for couples.

Americorps VISTA
Americorps VISTA/Facebook

Americorps VISTA

You don’t need to travel abroad to find impoverished people in need, so Americorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) has been working with volunteers to eradicate poverty in the states since 1965. By committing to either a full year or eight to 12 week program, VISTA members dedicate their skills to build capacity at nonprofit organizations and public agencies anywhere in the country. In exchange, they receive a biweekly living allowance and, upon completion, their choice of an $1,800 stipend or a Segal Education Award valued at $6,000 for educational expenses.

 International Volunteer HQ
International Volunteer HQ/Facebook

International Volunteer HQ

The world’s leading volunteer travel company, International Volunteer HQ offers opportunities for those passionate about supporting environmental projects and achieving long-term community goals all around the world. Their programs are generally categorized by destination, so you can find unique options for meaningful work ranging from animal care to English teaching in regions as diverse as Bali (starting at $325 for one week), Rome (starting at $955 for two weeks), and Brazil (starting at $525 for two weeks).

Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity/Facebook

Habitat for Humanity

Habitat for Humanity is a well-known volunteer organization whose participants help construct shelters for communities in need around the world. This can mean volunteering near home or traveling abroad to experience a new culture while you build, with more than 30 countries to choose from through their Global Village program. These short-term trips tend to last between one and two weeks while costing upwards of $2,000, and can focus on advocating for policy and helping vulnerable populations like orphaned children or drought-stricken neighborhoods.

United Planet
United Planet/Facebook

United Planet

United Planet is a non-profit organization that connects volunteers with opportunities to make a difference in communities across more than 30 nations, including Peru, Vietnam, China, New Zealand, Spain, and the U.S., and with program lengths varying from one week to more than six months. Their major project categories are healthcare, education, and environmental conservation, and costs (which include insurance, accommodation, and home-cooked meals but not flights) vary from under $1,200 for short-term programs to $14,000 and up for a full gap year.

American Hiking Society
American Hiking Society/Facebook

American Hiking Society

An advocacy organization working to preserve and increase access to the USA’s rich natural landscapes,the American Hiking Society (AHS)hosts a series of volunteer vacations each year for outdoor enthusiasts, who work on trails by day and socialize around the campfire by night. It costs $365 for your first trip plus a one-year membership with AHS, which includes meals, lodging, and park fees for the duration of your stay. No trail maintenance experience is required, but good physical condition is a must, as projects require 30-40 hours of labor per week depending on the project’s rating from easy to strenuous. The trip schedule for 2020 will be released this month.

Sudan Volunteer Programme
Sudan Volunteer Programme/Facebook

Sudan Volunteer Programme

Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) programs represent some of the most accessible and popular voluntourism programs, requiring a single multi-week course and certification for native English speakers to qualify. The London- and Khartoum-based charitable organization sends graduates to teach English at public higher education institutions across Sudan with no application or administration fees required. University graduates or near-graduate volunteers receive a stipend for their teaching along with the opportunity to pick up some Arabic, too.

WWOOF
WWOOF/Facebook

WWOOF

If you have a passion for agriculture, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or WWOOF, is for you. Focused on cash-free exchanges, this “worldwide movement” links volunteers of all experience levels with organic farmers for extended rural stays, where “WWOOFers” learn about sustainable agriculture firsthand alongside their hosts in more than 120 nations. Expenses include travel, insurance, toiletries, mobile data access, and a WWOOF subscription fee in one’s destination country, and the duration of one’s stay is up for negotiation between the host and volunteer.

APPALACHIAN TRAIL CONSERVANCY
Appalachian Trail Conservancy/Facebook

Appalachian Trail Conservancy

Running from Georgia to Maine, the Appalachian Trail is a walking path through American history and ecology, and it depends on volunteers putting in more than 240,000 hours per year to preserve it. These free (and relatively freewheeling)opportunities range from single-day commitments to overnight backpacking trips depending on the trail area being maintained, with most concentrated in the summer around Gatlinburg, Tenn., the gateway to Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

GoEco
GoEco/Facebook

GoEco

GoEco is an eco-tourism company providing more than 150 affordable, ethical volunteer opportunities abroad, focused on developing community as well as conserving wildlife and environmental resources. Through them you can help nurse injured animals at a wildlife sanctuary in Zimbabwe, rehabilitate sea turtles in the Maldives, teach English to young Buddhist monks in Nepal, and much, much more. Programs usually require at least a two-week commitment and are competitively priced starting around $1200, which covers accommodation, meals, orientation, and airport transfers.

Related: 21 Places to Safely See Wild Animals Up Close

African Conservation Experience
African Conservation Experience/Facebook

African Conservation Experience

Founded in 1999, African Conservation Experience is southern Africa’s original conservation travel company, empowering eco-minded voyagers to provide hands-on support for ethical regional initiatives. The nature of volunteer work varies from conserving and monitoring wildlife out in the field, rehabilitating them at nature sanctuaries, working alongside a wildlife veterinarian, studying ecologically important marine creatures, or ones focusing on specific species like lions, elephants, and rhinos. These start at £1760, or $2300, for a two-week experience.

Earthwatch
Earthwatch/Facebook

Earthwatch

Earthwatch is an international environmental charity that connects individuals with world-class scientists to support their work in supporting wildlife ecosystems, countering climate change, maintaining ocean health, and uncovering archaeological history. Their expeditions are on the shorter and more expensive side, starting around seven days long and $2000, but offer a variety of locations in the US, Americas, and beyond, with educational subject matter to suit whatever your area of interest.

REI Adventure Volunteer
REI Volunteer Trips

REI Adventure

Along with more traditional tourist opportunities, REI, the outdoor recreation outfitter and co-op, hosts a series of 1-2 week volunteer vacations each year, with destinations ranging from Yosemite National Park ($990 for a week) to Patagonia ($3,885 for 13 days) and the Galapagos Islands ($4,880 for 11 days). The work is concentrated on repairing recreational trails or conserving endangered species, interspersed with conservation lessons from park rangers and communal camping experiences with intimate groups of no more than 12 people.

All Hands and Hearts
All Hands and Hearts/Facebook

All Hands and Hearts

Virtually anyone over 18 can volunteer for free (minus out-of-pocket travel costs) with All Hands and Heartsto assist recovery after major disasters, of which there’s no shortage given the quickening pace of climate change. A typical eight-hour workday can involve repairing homes and infrastructure, cleaning up debris, drywall insulation, mold sanitation, painting, and carpentry. Current project areas include Mozambique, Puerto Rico, the Philippines, Peru, Nepal, Texas, and the Bahamas.

Blue World Institute
Blue World Institute/Facebook

Blue World Institute

The Blue World Institute offers volunteers the chance to become amateur biologists while staying on the Croatian island of Lošinj for 11 days at a time. They assist in collecting scientific data and recording observations of the Adriatic Sea’s endangered bottlenose dolphins and other species, with leftover time to explore the island, snorkel, and enjoy meals with fellow travelers from all over the world. Standard prices are 930 euros, or $1,036.

Casa Guatemala
Casa Guatemala/Facebook

Casa Guatemala

Casa Guatemalais a registered NGO (non-governmental organization) that relies on donations and volunteers to provide care and education for up to 300 children living in extreme poverty. Whether committing to a long-term stay of three months or a flexible short-term vacation by the week, the program requires a $300 donation, which is collected just once or per week, respectively. This covers accommodation, meals, and transportation within Guatemala, and volunteer duties vary from teaching English or arts and crafts to longer-term teaching and administrative positions. Basic knowledge of Spanish is a must.

Eco Volunteer UP
Eco Volunteer UP/Facebook

Eco Volunteer Up

Eco Volunteer Upis a volunteer program offering homestays in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands costing just $150 and $210 per week, respectively. In the mountainous capital city of Quito, volunteers can help with childcare for struggling families, assist at a public hospital, or teach English in public schools. On the island of San Cristobal, there are options to teach English or help out on an organic farm. Stays include daily meals and accommodation with a local family, plus time off on the weekends to cram in some sightseeing.

A Broader View Volunteers
A Broader View

A Broader View

A Broader View is a non-profit boasting a wide variety of volunteer abroad programs in 26 countries across Asia, Africa, and Central and South America. Their program focuses include teaching, medical work, orphanage childcare, HIV/AIDS prevention and care, midwifery, museum assistance, sports coaching, women’s empowerment, and more. Fees vary by the country and apply on a weekly basis, starting around $895 for one week and topping out around $2,400 for 12 weeks.

Hands for Help Nepal
Hands for Help Nepal/Facebook

Hands for Help Nepal

Hands for Help Nepalconnects volunteers with opportunities in the Central Asian nation to teach Spanish, build schools, provide healthcare, assist at orphanages, and teach English in Buddhist monasteries. Program costs begin at just $280 for a week’s stay with meals and accommodation in Kathmandu. To bookend your stay, the organization also offers mountain treks into the Himalayas lasting 11 to 17 days, including camping and tea house accommodation starting at $800.

 Himalayan Education Lifeline Program
Himalayan Education Lifeline Program/Facebook

Himalayan Education Lifeline Program

The Himalayan Education Lifeline Program (HELP) is a nonprofit organization relying on volunteer teachers to provide education to young Himalayan children in India and Nepal. They look for mature individuals with at least a TEFL certification (as well as doctors and dentists for certain regions) and require a commitment of at least eight weeks. The program requires several low-cost fees: a one-off administration fee of about $230, a one-off donation of $400, and a variable room and board fee paid to your host family for each month, rarely exceeding $300.

 Volunteer World/Habiba Community
Volunteer World/Habiba Community/Facebook

Volunteer World/Habiba Community

Volunteer World is another top-notch aggregator of meaningful volunteer travel experiences around the world, so the programs they have on offer are too numerous and diverse to try to catalog here. Voluntourists can search for the right experience for them by destination, project focus, duration, or even budgetary requirements — with low-cost options as cheap as $135 per week to rehabilitate animals and conserve the Amazon rainforest.

 SEED Madagascar
SEED Madagascar/Facebook

SEED Madagascar

SEED Madagascar (Sustainable Environment, Education & Development in Madagascar) is a British charity focused on conservation projects in the southeastern part of this island nation. Their conservation program combines scientific research and species conservation with community outreach to preserve the Saint Luce area’s littoral (coastal) forests, 90% of which have already been eliminated. Volunteers stay for anywhere from two to 10 weeks for fees starting at $1,000, not including such out-of-pocket fees as flights, travel insurance, visas, and vaccinations.

Sharing Dreams Project
Sharing Dreams Project/Facebook

Sharing Dreams Project

Sharing Dreams is a non-profit devoted to developing and improving quality of life in parts of the Peruvian Andes most affected by poverty and social, economic, and cultural exclusion. Volunteers are expected to contribute just over $200 a month (or 50% less after the first month) for the opportunity to participate in meaningful weekly work teaching at-risk children, empowering marginalized women, and developing infrastructure and living spaces. Your contribution covers accommodation, orientation, daily breakfasts, and group excursions around the area, but not travel insurance or transportation.

Sustainable Bolivia
Sustainable Bolivia/Facebook

Sustainable Bolivia

Sustainable Boliviaaims to alleviate poverty and promote environmental conservation in the Bolivian Amazon through volunteer-led education and research, community ecotourism initiatives, and reforestation/resource management projects. Volunteers pay a modest monthly fee starting at $175 for their lodging at communal homes or homestays and are placed in one of their programs based on ability and interest, which can mean grant writing for NGO support, conducting intercultural art research and exchanges, or joining an integrative plant medicine retreat.

Related: 14 Under-the-Radar Destinations in Latin America

Twin Work & Volunteer
Twin Work & Volunteer by Twin Work & Volunteer (CC BY-ND)

Twin Work & Volunteer

Twin Work & Volunteer is a UK-based company providing meaningful travel opportunities ranging from multi-week volunteer work to gap year internships and even paid work — though still requiring an initial deposit and payment of at least 400 and often exceeding 1,000 pounds. Some of their most popular projects include assisting in the conservation of lions and other big games in South Africa, protecting elephants from exploitation in Thailand, and working as a teacher’s assistant at Buddhist monasteries in Nepal.

Volunteers for Peace
Volunteers for Peace/Facebook

Volunteers for Peace

Volunteers for Peace is a non-profit with more than 3,000 volunteer service opportunities available in more than 90 countries geared toward intercultural education, social justice, and environmental sustainability. Some of their most popular destinations for meaningful volunteer work include France, Iceland, Ecuador, Botswana, Vietnam, and the USA. VFP charges a starter fee of $400 for placement (including room, board, and pre-departure support) for adults or $500 for teens, with additional fees around $100-200 for some listings.

Honduras Children
Honduras Children/Facebook

Honduras Children

Honduras Children operates a school for young children called Kinder Sí Se Puede in the impoverished community of El Porvenir. Volunteer crews teach everything from counting and the alphabet to hygiene and appropriate school behavior while also providing resources like clothing and improving living quarters. There is a $150 confirmation fee payable upon approval, plus a weekly stipend of $29 per week to cover living quarters.

Related: 18 Things You Must Do While Travelling Central America

 International Humanity Foundation
International Humanity Foundation/Facebook

International Humanity Foundation

The International Humanity Foundation (IHF) is a nonprofit providing education and safe housing to marginalized and impoverished children through five outposts in Indonesia, Kenya, and Thailand. They seek volun-tourists of all ages and backgrounds to both learn from the local villagers and children while simultaneously developing resources for community projects. Costs are $350 a week for individuals, $450 for couples, and $800 for families of three to five people and cover tours and activities as well as lodging.

KVCDP
KVCDP/Facebook

KVCDP

The Kenya Voluntary & Community Development Project, or KVCDP, is a nonprofit NGO based in Nairobi dedicated to empowering youths and improving quality of life for local citizens. Two- to eight-week programs start at $470 for airport transfers, orientation, and meals and accommodation with a host family, with different areas of focus including teaching, healthcare, environmental work, and work at an HIV/AIDS clinic. They also offer more tailored “VolunTravel” experiences that pair several days of service work with catered sightseeing and safari expeditions, starting at $1,360 per person.

One World Center Volunteers
One World Center

One World Center

One World Center is a nonprofit organization tackling the root causes of worldwide poverty and climate change through educational efforts that cultivate sustainable social change. Their shortest program is nine months with a tuition cost of $2,000. That covers three months of humanitarian training at their Michigan campus; four months of project work involving farm labor, education, and/or healthcare in Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, or Brazil; and two months back in the US to digest and evaluate their experiences to help the program going forward.

Red Lotus Foundation
Vietnam Volunteer

Red Lotus Foundation

The Australian-owned Red Lotus Foundation connects volunteers to several child-oriented programs in rural areas around Hanoi, Vietnam, including a physical and behavioral therapy clinic, a disability center, and a Catholic orphanage/disability center. A placement fee of $560 (or $460 for second-timers and $360 thereafter) covers onsite accommodation and three meals a day with a minimum time commitment of two weeks.

Working Abroad
Working Abroad Projects/Facebook

Working Abroad

Founded in 1997, Working Abroad is a pioneer in worldwide volunteer/travel opportunities whose programs now run in more than 30 countries, partnering with international NGOs with focuses on conserving the environment and developing rural or marginalized communities. These multi-week reforestation and wildlife research projects can take you as far afield as Indonesia, Iceland, Ecuador, Cambodia, and the Seychelles, or in natural areas closer to home like protected lands in North Carolina, Nevada, and California. Costs vary from $250 on the low end to $2,000 on the high.

Plan My Gap Year
Plan My Gap Year/Facebook

Plan My Gap Year

Plan My Gap Year is a platform for finding your ideal program, whether your interests lie in medical care, childcare, teaching, wildlife conservation, or community projects. They operate in 15 countries across Asia, Africa, and Central and South America and also offer multi-destination opportunities that let volunteers explore entire continents while making a difference all along the way. Their Ultimate Round the World Encounter, for example, spans 10 nations lasting anywhere from 20 to 40 weeks for $5,775. The bad news? Flights aren’t included.

Maximo Nivel
Maximo Nivel/Facebook

Maximo Nivel

Maximo Nivel is a top-ranked volunteer abroad program concentrated in Latin American nations of Peru, Guatemala, and Costa Rica. Their offerings check all the major areas of interest for most volun-tourists, including teaching English, providing health and childcare, developing indigenous communities, conserving natural areas and wildlife, and developing sustainable agriculture. Fees start at upwards of $500 for one week and cover shared accommodations with a host family and breakfasts and dinners seven days a week.

 Love Volunteers
Love Volunteers/Facebook

Love Volunteers

Love Volunteers places volunteers in programs lasting upwards of one week in 34 countries across the world, with multiple areas to choose from. Would you rather do construction or teach sports and creative arts in Brazil, complete a medical internship in Cameroon, or support displaced Syrian refugees in Turkey? Love Volunteers makes it easy to find projects around the world and boasts price transparency, meaning there’s no added or hidden fees beyond the initial cost of placement, which range from $250 to $1,500.

Fronteering
Fronteering/Facebook

Fronteering

With programs in 14 countries across all continents except Antarctica, Fronteeringspecializes in volunteer experiences “off the beaten path.” Depending on the program, you can venture into unspoiled but threatened rainforests in Guyana, teach English or surfing skills to indigenous Amerindian communities, take care of sled dogs in the Canadian Arctic, or save sea turtles in Sri Lanka. Such programs last anywhere from one to 24 weeks and start at $695.

Via Volunteers
Via Volunteers/Facebook

Via Volunteers

Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Via Volunteers offers sustainable long-term projects serving urgent community and conservation needs, but whose flexible offerings range from short-term to full gap years. A sampling of their programs features opportunities to feed urban homeless populations, teach and care for local youths at hospitals and care centers, alleviate ocean plastic pollution, and research and rehabilitate just about any exotic animal you can imagine, from lions and chimps to penguins and snakes. Placement costs start around $340.