Volunteer travel can be a great way to get to know a place AND contribute to a local community at the same time. It’s also a fun way to meet other travelers and locals. After you’ve found cheap flight deals, contacted an organization in the city or country you’re traveling to, and done some thorough research on their mission and reputation (to make sure their work aligns with your values, skills, interests, and resources), you can start on a whole new adventure!
Here are six great ways to begin your foray into volunteer travel.
Help the Sea Turtles in the Caribbean
There are organizations throughout the Caribbean that support sea turtles, and you can too. From education to conservation efforts, you can be a part of making sure sea turtles stay safe for years to come (similar opportunities exist in Australia and Costa Rica).
Hang Out with Elephants in Thailand
In Thailand, there are several organizations that work to rescue and rehabilitate elephants and care for them in designated sanctuaries. They can’t do this important work of protecting an endangered species without the help of volunteers – and that’s where you come in. Some programs have volunteers stay at the sanctuary itself – so you’d be surrounded by majestic elephants all day and night.
Work on Safe Water Initiatives in Haiti
Given the natural and economic disasters Haiti has faced over the last decade, water scarcity has become a major concern on the island. There are several US organizations that partner with non-profits on the ground in the country to build wells and provide education about sustainable water use. This can be a great way to make a lasting impact on a community.
Build Homes in US Cities
There are many organizations in the U.S that do great work surrounding affordable housing. Habitat for Humanity has been a leader for decades in building affordable homes for people throughout the U.S. Sign up to work on a Habitat and build in a city you’ve never visited before. It’s a great way to met new people, explore a new place, and change lives.
Teach Kids in Morocco or Sudan
Put your teaching skills to use in Morocco by helping kids with their English (or French, if you’re a francophone) while volunteering in a grade school for a week. Similar opportunities are available in Sudan, where English speakers work with children, university students, and community members to hone language skills.
Be a Conservation Volunteer in Australia and New Zealand
Working on short-term conservation projects in Australia and New Zealand can be a great way to explore these countries. Work in teams to protect local habitats and promote ecotourism (while experiencing it yourself!).
Have you booked cheap flight deals to go on any volunteer trips? What was your experience like? What would you recommend to others? Let us know in the comments section.