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13 Of The Best Summer Volunteer Abroad Programs in 2019/2020

Summer volunteer abroad programs 2019 - top opportunities

IVHQ has been running the world’s best summer volunteer programs for more than 12 years. These summer programs are designed to help you get out and truly experience some of the world’s most sought after travel destinations and give back through community-led initiatives.

To save you time, we’ve compiled 13 of our most popular summer volunteer programs:

Jump to your preferred summer program

  1. Summer childcare volunteering in Cambodia
  2. Summer teaching volunteering in Nepal
  3. Summer special needs volunteering in Vietnam
  4. Summer childcare volunteering in Tanzania
  5. Summer childcare volunteering in Kenya
  6. Summer surf outreach volunteering in South Africa
  7. Summer construction and renovation volunteering in Peru - Cusco
  8. Summer turtle conservation volunteering in Costa Rica
  9. Summer medical volunteering in Guatemala
  10. Summer teaching volunteering in Italy - Naples
  11. Summer youth support volunteering in Portugal
  12. Summer teaching volunteering in Spain
  13. Summer kindergarten volunteering in Fiji

If one of these summer volunteer programs doesn’t take your interest, feel free to explore our full range of volunteer programs available year-round.

Full range of summer programs

Why you need to take a summer volunteer program abroad!

The summer months are approaching and you’re faced with the exciting decision of how you’re going to make this your most memorable summer yet.

You’ve either been hard at study or working yourself into a frenzy over the past six months since you last felt that positive energy that only summer can provide. Naturally, you want to spend the summer months with friends, gaining new life experiences and feeling the sand between your toes. So, how does a summer volunteer program abroad provide you with a life changing opportunity? It lets you…

  • See the world and gain a new perspective
  • Make new friends and share incredible experiences with like-minded people from around the world
  • Gain career insights and the opportunity for self discovery
  • Make a positive impact through volunteer programs within a short-term, flexible timeframe

You can spend your summer volunteering in Central America, South America, Africa, Asia, Europe, the Caribbean or the Pacific.

All the continents you already wanted to travel to can now benefit from your valued volunteer efforts. Volunteering enables you to immerse yourself in the local culture, interact with locals and make new friends through community-focused initiatives. This experience allows you to see a country away from the sometimes artificial lens of tourist travel and provide you with a new found understanding of what makes a country beautiful.

Who are summer volunteer programs for?

We aren’t exaggerating when we say volunteer programs are for everyone! What it really comes down to is the type of volunteer work you’re best suited to and the country that fits your overall travel goals. With that in mind, we do have some handy tips based on the type of volunteer traveller you are:

Summer volunteer programs for university students

Volunteer programs in the summer months are perfect for university students who are looking to get hands-on career experience and see a different part of the world.

University students get all the benefits of a summer volunteer program and more, especially if it’s your first volunteer experience. For some, it’ll be their first trip abroad anywhere, which is extra special.

If it is your first time abroad, or you haven’t travelled to your volunteer destination before, our expert team is here to help you make the best decisions around your volunteer efforts abroad.

We recommend you do further research on volunteering abroad as a university student by reading through this helpful guide which outlines how to make it a rewarding experience for both you and the local community.

Our best summer volunteer programs for university students:

Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica with IVHQ
Start dates: Every Monday
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Registration fee: US$299
Program fee: From $4,825 (24 weeks)
Estimated flights: US$1,650
Volunteer Abroad in Cusco, Peru with International Volunteer HQ
Start dates: Every Monday
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Registration fee: US$299
Program fee: From $3,895 (24 weeks)
Estimated flights: US$1,500
Volunteer in Ubud, Bali with International Volunteer HQ
Start dates: Every Monday
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Registration fee: US$299
Program fee: From $1,680 (12 weeks)
Estimated flights: US$850
Volunteer in Guatemala with International Volunteer HQ
Start dates: Every Monday
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Registration fee: US$299
Program fee: From $3,895 (24 weeks)
Estimated flights: US$2,000

Summer volunteer programs for teens and high school students

Travelling and volunteering abroad at a young age can have major benefits, especially when it comes at a time in your life when you’re most impressionable and your outlook of the world is just taking shape.

In this environment, teens and high school students can grow through hands-on learning and truly have their perspectives changed through meaningful interactions. Ultimately, this makes for better global citizens.

IVHQ has created summer volunteer programs for teens and high school students with these goals in mind. Those under the age of 18 are unable to volunteer on all IVHQ programs, though there is still a wide variety of under-18 options all around the world. You can read more about our approach to high school volunteering here and find further opportunities.

Our best summer volunteer programs for teens and high school students:

Volunteer in Santa Elena, Ecuador with International Volunteer HQ
Start dates: Every Monday
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Registration fee: US$299
Program fee: From $1,685 (12 weeks)
Estimated flights: US$2,100
Volunteer in the Philippines with International Volunteer HQ
Start dates: Every Monday
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Registration fee: US$299
Program fee: From $2,380 (24 weeks)
Estimated flights: US$1,000
Volunteer in Lima, Peru with International Volunteer HQ
Start dates: Every first and fourth Monday
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Registration fee: US$299
Program fee: From $2,520 (24 weeks)
Estimated flights: US$2,100
Volunteer Abroad in Ho Chi Minh Vietnam with IVHQ
Start dates: Every Monday
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Registration fee: US$299
Program fee: From $2,525 (24 weeks)
Estimated flights: US$1,200

Can I travel alone or with friends this summer?

If you are travelling solo this summer, IVHQ has your back! Travelling alone with IVHQ is a safe and affordable way to explore the world as an independent traveller while being fully supported at every stage of your volunteer program. You will receive 24/7 support from our local team and have the opportunity to meet like-minded volunteers from across the globe, forming fast friendships with your fellow IVHQers. While you may arrive by yourself, you’ll never actually be alone.

If you’re organising a summer volunteer trip with your friends, you’re in luck! IVHQ has a team dedicated to supporting groups of volunteers travelling together. They will be able to work with you to make sure your group gets everything you want from your summer volunteer abroad trip.

With all of that in mind, here are the 13 best summer volunteer programs for 2019:

1. Summer Childcare Volunteering In Cambodia

Start dates: November - March, first and third Monday of the month
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Costs:
Registration Fee = US$299
Program Fee = US$360 (1 week)
Estimated flights = US$1,200
Costs include:
Airport pick up
Orientation
Accommodation
Meals
Average temp: 26°C
Best weekend activity: Angkor Wat

Best Summer Volunteer Abroad Programs Cambodia

Childcare centres in Cambodia are largely underfunded, meaning volunteer contributions are vital to helping them operate. Volunteers work under the supervision of local staff, helping with day-to-day care of children.

Work includes helping children with all aspects of their day, from activities and games to teaching, classwork, singing and dancing. This project is ideal for enthusiastic volunteers who are good with young children.

Fill your free time in Cambodia:

The Temples of Angkor Wat are a renowned UNESCO World Heritage Site that have wowed millions of tourists. Angkor Wat is a five hour drive from Phnom Penh so it’s better suited for an overnight weekend visit. Volunteers can also be placed in popular tourist town Siem Reap, depending on local need.

Learn moreApply for Cambodia

2. Summer Teaching Volunteering In Nepal

Start dates: November - March, starts first and third Monday of every month. Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Costs:
Registration Fee = US$299
Program Fee = US$250 (1 week)
Estimated flights = US$1,700
Costs include:
Airport pick up
Orientation
Accommodation
Meals
Average temp: 11°C
Best weekend activity: Weekend trekking

Best Summer Volunteer Abroad Programs Nepal

Depending on your summer ideals, it may be a foreign idea to head to the hills (literally) in the summer months. But, as soon as you touch down in Kathmandu, you’ll quickly realise why this is your calling.

Volunteers can expect to be placed in schools where you will be supported by local teachers to deliver teaching activities, assist with homework and other recreational activities.

Volunteers primarily teach English in Nepal, though it can include other subjects as required.

Fill your free time in Nepal:

It would go without saying that you need to take a weekend in the mountains - breathe the fresh air and enjoy the world-beating scenery.

Learn moreApply for Nepal

3. Summer Special Needs Volunteering In Vietnam

Start dates: November - March, starts every Monday
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Costs:
Registration Fee = US$299
Program Fee = US$245 (1 week)
Estimated flights = US$850
Costs include:
Airport pick up
Orientation
Accommodation
Meals
Average temp: 27°C
Best weekend activity: Cu Chi Tunnels

Best Summer Volunteer Abroad Programs Nepal

The effects of the Vietnam War continue to be felt by its people, many of whom still require assistance to deal with the effects of Agent Orange.

On this project, volunteers work in hospitals and community clinics with a range of people to help them overcome and live with a variety of disabilities.

You’ll be under the guidance of local staff, so prior training is not required, but this project is well suited to those with a passion for helping those less fortunate to get access to the care they need.

Fill your free time in Vietnam:

Vietnam is famous for its food, and food tours are popular excursions during the day and night. Markets provide a bustling atmosphere, the Mekong Delta is a popular overnight trip and there are plenty of museums and galleries to lose your hours in.

Learn moreApply for Vietnam

4. Summer Childcare Volunteering In Tanzania

Start dates: November - March, projects start on the 1st and 15th of every month Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Costs:
Registration fee = US$299
Program fee = US$270 (1 week)
Estimated flights = US$1,700
Costs include:
Airport pick up
Orientation
Accommodation
Meals
Average temp: 20°C
Best weekend activity: Serengeti National Park

Best Summer Volunteer Abroad Programs Tanzania

Low income families in Tanzania often have a reliance on childcare centres to help them with educating and feeding their children, and this is where volunteers come in.

You’ll help teach young children basic English and other subjects, play games, do activities and help prepare food.

This project is well suited to volunteers who enjoy working with children, particularly those from less fortunate backgrounds.

Fill your free time in Tanzania:

While you’re based so close to Mt Kilimanjaro, you really should take advantage and climb it. It takes a few days to get to the top, but if that’s not for you then there are other options for day trips that don’t require as much of a commitment. Otherwise, the African plains are there to explore, particularly the nearby Serengeti National Park.

Learn moreApply for Tanzania

5. Summer Childcare Volunteering In Kenya

Start dates: November - March, starts every Monday
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Costs:
Registration Fee = US$299
Program Fee = US$270 (1 week)
Estimated flights = US$1,400
Costs include:
Airport pick up
Orientation
Accommodation
Meals
Average temp: 20°C
Best weekend activity: Safari

Best Summer Volunteer Abroad Programs Kenya

Kenya: where it all started for IVHQ, and where your summer volunteer journeys can begin!

If you have previous experience in childcare work it will be a real advantage, however, if you have an outgoing nature and initiative then you’ll be well supported by local staff to deliver necessary support in community centres.

Work takes place in daycare and community centres, where tasks involve teaching basic English, maths, activities and games, as well as general care for the children.

Fill your free time in Kenya:

Nairobi has all the best things that African culture has to offer. It’s an under-rated gem waiting to be explored. Further afield, game parks are a must-do. Safaris with the Big 5 African animals are easy to find and a sure fire enjoyable day out.

Learn moreApply for Kenya

6. Summer Surf Outreach Volunteering In South Africa

Start dates: November - March, starts first and third Monday of every month Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Costs:
Registration fee = US$299
Program fee = US$250 (1 week)
Estimated flights = US$1,500
Costs include:
Airport pick up
Orientation
Accommodation
Meals
Average temp: 20°C
Best weekend activity: Table Mountain

Best Summer Volunteer Abroad Programs South Africa

It might sound too good to be true, but summer Surf Outreach volunteering in South Africa is an amazing project that enables you to support children in the community and see the real side of South Africa.

You don’t have to be Stephanie Gilmore or Kelly Slater to provide support on the surf outreach program. All that’s required is a love of the ocean and a genuine desire to improve the lives of others.

Working with children from disadvantaged backgrounds, you will play a key role in building children’s confidence in the water and facilitating activities to develop personal growth.

There is never a dull moment on the beach, so come prepared for some high energy volunteer days. Just don’t forget to pull a shaka!

Fill your free time in South Africa:

You’ll be living and working in an area renowned for its cafe culture and vibrant nightlife, and you’ll have the iconic Table Mountain on your doorstep. Plus, the beach is so close to the volunteer accommodation that a day on the sand is a go-to option for volunteers. On top of that, it wouldn’t be a trip to Africa without a weekend safari!

Learn moreApply for South Africa

7. Summer Construction And Renovation Volunteering In Peru - Cusco

Start dates: November - March, first and third Monday of the month
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Costs:
Registration fee = US$299
Program fee = US$310 (1 week)
Estimated flights = US$1,500
Costs include:
Airport pick up
Orientation
Accommodation
Meals
Average temp: 11°C
Best weekend activity: Machu Picchu

Best Summer Volunteer Abroad Programs Peru - Cusco

Construction and Renovation volunteers provide a great supplement to the building workforce in Cusco, working on projects that require extra help for a number of reasons. They could be building projects that have stalled, renovations that need a boost or upkeep of facilities in a range of buildings, schools, community centres and more.

Volunteers work alongside a local construction worker helping with building, painting or any other related construction work. This is an ideal project for fit, enthusiastic volunteers who like seeing the tangible rewards of their labour.

Fill your free time in Peru:

No trip to Peru is complete without seeing Machu Picchu with your own eyes. It’ll leave you spellbound. It takes just over four hours on the train from Cusco, or for the more adventurous, a four day hike along the Inca Trail will get you there. Further afield, you have the Peruvian Amazon, Lake Titicaca (South America’s largest lake) or Huacachina - a tiny picturesque oasis town in the desert to explore.

Learn moreApply for Peru - Cusco

8. Summer Turtle Conservation Volunteering In Costa Rica

Start dates: June - August, starts first and third Monday of the month
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Costs:
Registration fee = US$299
Program fee = US$355 (2 weeks)
Estimated flights = US$1,650
Costs include:
Airport pick up
Orientation
Accommodation
Meals
Average temp: 22°C
Best weekend activity: Weekend trekking

Best Summer Volunteer Abroad Programs Costa Rica

There’s something about turtles that makes them magical creatures, and this is especially so when you consider the fact they’re endangered in many parts of the world.

Volunteers work alongside local biologists to help preserve the population of Costa Rica’s four turtle species in remote locations across the country. You could be involved in beach patrols, building hatcheries, counting and tagging turtles, collecting eggs and more.

This is an opportunity for volunteers who don’t mind getting off the grid and prefer spending their time at the beach, not on their laptop.

Fill your free time in Costa Rica:

During weekends, you’ll have the opportunity to explore San Jose and travel further afield. You’re spoilt for choice with volcanoes, rainforests and beaches all easily accessible from your volunteer accommodation. Opt for a city tour around San Jose or tackle the Pacuare River and go white water rafting!

Monteverde, famous for its biodiverse cloud forests, is also packed with activities to fill

Learn moreApply for Costa Rica

9. Summer Medical Volunteering In Guatemala

Start dates: November - March, every Monday
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Costs:
Registration fee = US$299
Program fee = US$375 (1 week)
Estimated flights = US$2,000
Costs include:
Airport pick up
Orientation
Accommodation
Meals
Average temp: 18°C
Best weekend activity: Pacaya Volcano

Best Summer Volunteer Abroad Programs Guatemala

Sometimes you just need to get stuck into life and what better way to do that than some hands-on volunteering on the medical program in Guatemala?

Healthcare in rural areas in Guatemala is often not as good as it is in the city, though there are small clinics that aim to address that. Volunteers work in these clinics, that mostly serve poorer communities.

Medical volunteers at any level from pre-med to fully qualified are able to work under the supervision of local professionals doing work appropriate to your level of training.

Fill your free time in Guatemala:

No trip to Guatemala would be complete without a trip to the Pacaya Volcano. Located only 19 miles from the volunteer base in Antigua, it’s perfect for a weekend getaway. Go solo and meet fellow tourists along the way or take one of your new-found volunteer friends on an epic adventure.

Learn moreApply for Guatemala

10. Summer Teaching English Volunteering In Italy - Naples

Start dates: November - March, starts on the first and third Monday of the month.
Duration: 2 - 12 weeks
Costs:
Registration fee = US$299
Program fee = US$685 (1 week)
Estimated flights = US$1,800
Costs include:
Airport pick up
Orientation
Accommodation
Meals
Average temp: 10°C
Best weekend activity: Rome

Best Summer Volunteer Abroad Programs Italy - Naples

The home of pizza, Naples is a cultural old seaside city set under the iconic Mt Vesuvius.

Volunteers on the Teaching English project help to give local students valuable English language skills, which can make a remarkable difference to their lives. Many high school students prefer working on the street to education. Knowing English helps to keep them in school, and it also helps the job prospects for those that still choose to leave early.

Volunteers work either in a public school or on an after school program, with children aged from 4-18. Work is alongside local teachers and can be with other volunteers in the same classroom.

Fill your free time in Naples:

Naples is the beating heart of Italian culture - full of good food, passionate people and stunning scenery. Explore the magical city or head further afield to Rome or the Amalfi coast.

Naples is also home to many UNESCO World Heritage sites, including Mt Vesuvius and Pompeii.

Learn moreApply for Italy - Naples

11. Summer Youth Support Volunteering In Portugal

Start dates: November - March, starts second and third Monday
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Costs:
Registration fee = US$299
Program fee = US$375 (1 week)
Estimated flights = US$2,700
Costs include:
Airport pick up
Orientation
Accommodation
Meals
Average temp: 13°C
Best weekend activity: Cascais

Best Summer Volunteer Abroad Programs Portugal

Summer provides a chance for volunteer to help students to keep active during their school holidays. Volunteers work in organisations in Lisbon that help to provide young people with a safe and fun place to go while they’re not in school.

Work involves aspects of schooling and extra tuition, as well as helping organise and run fun activities like days at the beach. The idea is to help young people enjoy themselves, extend themselves and achieve something with their time.

School summer holidays run from early June to September, so there may be a chance to work in school before the holiday period starts.

Fill your free time in Portugal:

You can’t make a trip to Portugal without some time on the beaches of Cascais. Located west of the capital, Lisbon, a weekend getaway is a must-do!

Lay around on the beach all day, explore local museums or get out in the countryside. No matter your preference, you’ll gain some truly breathtaking lasting memories.

Learn moreApply for Portugal

12. Summer Youth Support Volunteering In Spain

Start dates: November - March, starts second and fourth Monday
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Costs:
Registration fee = US$299
Program fee = US$575 (1 week)
Estimated flights = US$2,000
Costs include:
Airport pick up
Orientation
Accommodation
Meals
Average temp: 12°C
Best weekend activity: La Sagrada Familia

Best Summer Volunteer Abroad Programs Spain

Summer youth support in Spain might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you’re planning potential volunteer programs, but it’s a rewarding experience that provides you with insight into the real Spain.

This project is perfect for those dedicated to social work or have a passion to improve outcomes for youth. Volunteers are placed at the heart of Barcelona, working with underprivileged children that require personal development and assistance in key life skills.

Working alongside education professionals, your tasks can include teaching English, education activities and physical education. The cultural exchange that takes place is also a key driver for the youth and you as a volunteer!

Fill your free time in Spain:

Barcelona is a city that has no limits to its exploration, from ancient heritage sites through to modern architecture, so you’ll need a few weekends to see it all.

No matter your interests, there is something for everyone. You can spend your summer days at the beach or you can take in the art and local cuisine. You will not be disappointed by the beauty of Barcelona.

Learn moreApply for Spain

13. Summer Kindergarten Volunteering In Fiji

Start dates: November - March, starts every Monday
Duration: 1 - 12 weeks
Costs:
Registration fee = US$299
Program fee = US$340 (1 week)
Estimated flights = US$1,400
Costs include:
Airport pick up
Orientation
Accommodation
Meals
Average temp: 24°C
Best weekend activity: Diving

Best Summer Volunteer Abroad Programs Fiji

If Fiji is most famous for its stunning island setting, its next best characteristic has to be its people. Fijians are happy and relaxed in everything they do, and that infectious enthusiasm makes your time in Fiji particularly memorable.

Working with children aged 4-5, the Kindergarten project involves playing games, helping with education and keeping children busy and interested throughout the day.

Volunteers in August will find duties are slightly different, as children are on holidays, but you can work in day camps that are very similar to kindergartens.

Fill your free time in Fiji:

With 333 beautiful islands, you’ll have plenty to explore in your free time. Volunteers can spend the weekends visiting Suva, or Colo-I-Suva, an oasis of lush rainforest, teeming with tropical plants and featuring 6.5km of walking trails to explore.

It is also easy to head to the Coral Coast, which is a stretch of beaches and bays between Nadi and Suva. Along this southern coastline is the Pacific Harbor (approximately 2.5 hours from Suva), which is the self-proclaimed ‘Adventure Capital’ of Fiji.

Learn moreApply for Ghana

If you still don’t know which summer volunteer program is best suited to you in 2019, try taking our interactive quiz to find the perfect program.!

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