Volunteer Vacations: Put Your Mark on the World

You’ve decided it’s time for some time off.  Great!  But maybe your budget or bucket list are a bit out of reach.  Consider taking a volunteer vacation.  These vacations often offer travel to unique and beautiful places on a budget, for a little of your time.  You’ll return with a sense of accomplishment and a deeper awareness for other cultures. Plus, you will help make the world a better place. Next Step? Choosing the right volunteer vacation for you…



Photo by Frontier / CC BY

Environmental Conservation

Environmental Conservation is one of the most popular types of volunteer vacations, and for good reason. Most of the volunteer work has mass appeal and the options are endless. You can preserve ecosystems, survey plant life, aid in wildlife rehabilitation, and maintain parks. International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) is known as one of the most affordable volunteer travel organizations available today. Programs range from forest restoration to agricultural aid and will send vacationers all over the world including Bali, Madagascar, New Zealand and Spain. They even have a program in South Africa that includes fossil excavation.


Photo by Frontier / CC BY

Wildlife and Animal Care

Wildlife volunteer vacations are also extremely popular because, well, who doesn’t loves animals! From big cat sanctuaries to sea turtle rescues and animal shelters, there’s something for everyone.  Go Eco, an organization that fosters the belief of leaving a place in a better condition than how you found it, has a large selection of wildlife opportunities in South Africa, Thailand, and more. You can even go diving in Seychelles. Want to get the family involved? Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Utah offers a closer-to-home option for kids (6+ years).  In the summer, the Best Friends Kids Camp lets kids learn and take care of the many animals at the sanctuary.



Photo by Charlie / CC BY

Education and Teaching

Many children (and adults) all over the world have a lack of educational resources. Volunteering to teach your expertise or passion to a community in need is a one of the best gifts you can give.  Projects Abroad offers many programs in many different areas, so you can teach whatever you like to anyone, pretty much anywhere. A few of the places you can go include China, India, Fiji, and Madagascar. The awesome thing about Projects Abroad is they don’t require you to be a certified teacher. You will receive a packet of resources with tips and lesson ideas for that specific location after your application goes through. As a volunteer, you can teach English, French, art, music, sports, computer skills, and much more.



Photo by Alison Chaiken / CC BY-SA


If you like to work with your hands, construction is a good option. You would be helping villages and families improve their standard of living. Most volunteer vacations in this field include building houses and school renovations. Locations all over the world need better buildings, such as Cambodia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Zambia. Love Volunteers is an organization that offers such programs. The cool thing about a construction volunteer vacation is helping with the renovations; you aren’t just constructing a building. Renovations include the insides of the building: adding blackboards to classrooms and replacing missing mosquito nets. Meeting the people that you’re giving a home or a school to is also pretty cool.



Photo by Frontier / CC BY

Scientific Research

Going on vacation for research sounds like a family trip to me! Oceanic Society offers family vacation packages for marine research trips. Most of the time, volunteer vacations that are research-based involve marine communities. During a marine research volunteer vacation, you can expect to monitor marine life, research coral reefs and debris. Learning how to scuba and snorkel is an amazing benefit to doing marine research, as well as interacting with all of the life under the sea.