The Best Volunteer Vacations Abroad for City-Loving Travelers


If you love to travel and love to help people than the best volunteer vacations abroad can combine both. Doing two things that you love to do makes travel so much more exciting. The best volunteer vacations abroad that you find listed here will give some great opportunities to combine the things you love to do.

What Is Volunteer Travel?

When you think of volunteering do you think about your public animal clinic or do you think about going to Kenya to volunteer to keep poachers at bay? If you think of the latter as a great volunteer opportunity, you are on track to volunteer travel. Not every volunteer opportunity is in your own backyard. The world is a big place with a dire need for volunteers all around the world.

Volunteer travel is an opportunity to travel and help people at the same time. The perk is that most of the travel costs can be covered either by the agency you are volunteering with or through fundraising to cover the costs. Volunteer travel is exactly what it sounds like help you volunteer in places where helps is needed the most and you have to travel to.

Bring Water to People Who Need It

A large percentage of the world does not have access to clean fresh water. There are a lot of volunteer programs that combine travel with water well drilling and other activities with the goal of bringing fresh safe water to villages, cities, and townships in regions where water is not readily available. In the United States, we take the convenience of having water running in our homes for granted. In other regions, typically, women are tasked with walking miles and miles to find clean sources of water for cooking, drinking, and washing.

Organizations that focus on bringing water to people that do not have access pay for travel and training. You may wind up doing some well pump repair in Costa Rica or the West Coast of Africa. Working with these organizations can provide you with the best volunteer vacations abroad. It will provide you with a fulfilling experience where you can really make a difference in people’s lives.

Travel the Seas and Help Save Them

There are international organizations that offer the best volunteer vacations abroad to help save the seas. Not only is this a great way to travel, but there are so many things that you can learn in the process. For example, you can learn about aquatic ecotoxicology (chemicals that harm aquatic life and pollute the oceans and other waterways). These volunteer opportunities can take you around the globe to combat things like pollution, restricted fishing sites, protecting coral reefs, and more. It can be one of the best volunteer vacations abroad.

You may spend a good amount of time on a ship, but you will port in some of the most famous port cities in the world to provide education. You will receive sea survival training to ensure you know what to do in case of an emergency. You will get to go to places you have only read about, and create amazing memories, all while making a difference to the planet and the people on it. It can be a very exciting way to make a difference, meet new people, and support a cause that you believe in.

Doctors Without Borders

You do not need to be a doctor to travel with Doctors Without Borders. Doctors Without Borders is made up of a group of humanitarians that believe access to expert health care should not be limited by borders. This group offers the best volunteer vacations abroad for anyone that wants to visit inner cities in other countries. You do not specifically need medical training to join this group, you can go as an assistant. However, if you have any type of medical training, your application to volunteer will take precedence.

Doctors Without Borders is not the only health care group that does this type of volunteer work. Dentists Without Borders do the same thing as do Maxillofacial specialists that specialize in repairing cleft palettes in children. Consider joining any of these groups to find the best volunteer vacations abroad.

Emergency Response Groups

There is a wide range of emergency response groups that respond to natural emergencies around the globe. These groups work with corporate partners to help people that have been affected by hurricanes, tornados, tsunamis, and other natural events. This is the best volunteer vacations abroad if you enjoy spur-of-the-moment travel and working with a wide range of corporate partners, from fiber optic distribution partner to corporate partners that supply laundry detergent. Volunteering for these organizations can be very rewarding and will take you to far-flung places around the globe where your help is needed the most.

In this capacity as a volunteer, your skill set will be capitalized on. For example, if you have cooking skills, you may be assigned to a soup kitchen to help everyone affected by a natural disaster get fed. If you work framing houses, your skills will be used to help people rebuild. Everyone has something to bring to the table. There is a niche for every skill set in natural disaster situations. Even if you do not do anything professionally but are good at organizing, you can help by working with LED light distributors to give out free lights to people that need them.

It’s Not Easy

There are a lot of perks to the best volunteer vacations abroad, but there are some downsides. You will see a lot of things around the world that may be disturbing. For example, you may have to work with local funeral homes to pick up people that did not make it through the natural disaster, or you may see children that are struggling because they have no water. It can be sad to witness how much suffering there is in the world.

There are some things to ensure that the best volunteer vacations abroad do not turn into sleepless nights full of nightmares. Keep reading to learn how to select the volunteer travel projects that will work best for you.

Volunteer for What Interests You

To find the best volunteer vacations abroad, look for opportunities that you are passionate about. For example, if you want to help children get an education, then look for opportunities with groups that are building schools for children. If you have other interests, look for opportunities that are in line with those interests. Doing something that you believe in will make the volunteer opportunity the best volunteer vacations abroad for you.

Do Your Research

It is very important that you fully understand what you are volunteering for and what your obligations are under the contract. Before you sign or agree to anything, make sure that you are fully aware of how much of the cost you will need to cover. In some cases, you will not have to pay anything out of pocket, but in other cases, you will. The best volunteer vacations abroad should not cost you anything out of pocket, but some will.

Make sure you go over the cost of lodging and who covers it. Also, ask about meals and whether they are provided. Finally, ask about travel expenses. Who pays for the flights? What about ground transportation, who covers that? It is important that you go into these volunteer opportunities fully informed and with your eyes wide open.

Learn more about COVID testing protocols of the organization and of the volunteer destination. You do not want to find the best volunteer vacations abroad only to find that you cannot go because you did not test or did not get vaccinated and the other country will not let you in.

Have a Plan in Place for Your Finances

Some of the best volunteer vacations abroad require a month-long or more commitment. Ask yourself how your bills will get paid while you are volunteering abroad. Remember, this is a volunteer travel opportunity, which means you will not get paid for the time you spend doing the work. You will have a great travel experience but you will not earn anything.

You should be sure that you have a few month’s savings to make sure bills and other financial obligations are taken care of while you are on the best volunteer vacations abroad. You do not want to find yourself in a financial hole when you get back home. You want to be prepared to fully enjoy the best volunteer vacations abroad without worrying about money.

Get Your Documents Together

You will need a passport to go just about anywhere in the world. It can take up to 18 weeks to get a passport, so you will want to apply for one as soon as you start making plans to take the best volunteer vacations abroad. You want to be sure that you have all your documentation in place. In some volunteer situations, the pace is fast-paced. You may volunteer for the group, go through the training, then not hear anything for a while, then be given only two weeks to get together to leave.

Volunteer groups that travel abroad typically do so on shoestring budgets, which means the go time can be any time they raise enough money to head out. Once you have decided on the group that you want to join and you have completed your training, you should prepare to leave at the drop of a dime.

Also keep in mind if you cannot travel when travel is necessary, you will likely be dropped from the program and someone else that is interested in the best volunteer vacations abroad will take your spot. All this means is that you do not make commitments to travel and volunteer until you are serious about it. Organizations that are operating on low budgets spend money on travel and typically do not like it when someone they have trained can not make the trip. It can be an issue that will leave you without the travel opportunities that you were hoping for. Having all your “ducks in a row” and being able to go at very short notice is part of the package.

Try It Out

Volunteer travel is not for everyone. It can be hectic, stressful, and in some cases, downright dangerous. However, the benefits far outweigh the potential negatives. You do get to see the world at little to no cost. You do get to make a difference for people. You do get to meet new people with common interests. It can be an awesome experience.

The only way to learn if the best volunteer vacations abroad are for you is to try it out. Choose an organization that you are interested in and start your research. Speak to other volunteers that have already traveled with the organization to get their feedback. You can learn a lot of “unofficial” things about an organization by talking to other volunteers.

If you find that the organization you have volunteered for does not work for you, there are plenty of other choices out there. You can switch around until you find the organization that you feel comfortable with. If you want to see the world, and you are interested in making changes in the world, volunteer travel is a great way to do it.

Nothing ventured is nothing gained. If you do not try it you will never know if it is for you or not. Get started with your research today and find the best volunteer vacations abroad for your lifestyle.

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