Are you looking for volunteer opportunities for seniors? Whether you’re a mature traveller embarking on a career break, a senior seeking retired volunteer opportunities, or if you’re wanting to explore a meaningful form of travel, volunteering abroad as a senior provides the perfect opportunity to experience a new country and culture, while supporting volunteer projects in communities that value your support.
International Volunteer HQ is proud to support thousands of seniors and retirees volunteering abroad in over 50 destinations across Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, North America, Europe, the Caribbean and Pacific.
Keep reading as we cover some of the most frequently asked questions about senior volunteering overseas, and share some first-hand experiences from IVHQ’s senior alumni.
How does senior volunteering abroad work?
We’re here to make it easy and affordable to organise an international volunteer trip, no matter what your age. As an IVHQ volunteer, you’ll be connected with a dedicated volunteer expert to support you every step of the way. You can choose to volunteer at any time of the year, for anywhere between 1 week and 24 weeks, and program fees start from just $180 for 1 week.
Once you arrive to your volunteering destination, you’ll be greeted at the airport, transported to your accommodation and joined with a group of other international volunteers for your program orientation. Your weekdays will be spent supporting the project of your choice, while your weekends will be free to explore your host country.
Many of our senior volunteers tell us that they enjoy the opportunity to be accommodated in a local homestay, as they enjoy experience the local way of life and the chance to be immersed in a unique family setting, while sampling local cuisine, exchanging stories and learning about a new culture in an intimate setting.
Some people believe that volunteering is for young people, but at my age of 75, I just spent an extraordinary 3 weeks in Ghana with 9 outstanding young adults from around the world. It was the most incredible and rewarding trip in my 50 years of travelling. Volunteering is for anyone with an open mind and a desire for adventure. I strongly recommend it for capable seniors and retirees who can spend a few weeks helping in a community in need of assistance. There is no age limit to volunteering… there is no limit to giving. The IVHQ team is well organized, and everything is taken care of, staring with the airport pickup. I am recommending IVHQ to all my friends and now preparing for my next adventure with them. I have found the road to a fulfilling retirement. Julien Comeau, aged 75, IVHQ Ghana
Senior volunteering overseas during Covid-19
With Covid-19 restrictions easing, many seniors, older adults, mature volunteers and retirees are looking to combine an immersive cultural experience with a meaningful getaway. The majority of IVHQ’s volunteer programs are open and currently hosting volunteers in countries where local government and health guidelines deem it safe.
You can book with confidence thanks to IVHQ’s flexible booking policy, which enables you to change your travel dates, volunteer program and destination for free up to 14 days before your start date. We’ve also introduced a number of extra health and safety measures that have been implemented by all our local teams, in addition to our standard policies.
How many older IVHQ volunteers are there?
Did you know that around 15 percent of IVHQ volunteers are aged 30 years and older?
While the opportunity to volunteer abroad is popular among young travellers, an increasing number of senior travellers are choosing to volunteer with IVHQ each year, delivering a great deal of value to the communities in which we work.
The mix of life experience, skills and patience that senior volunteers bring is invaluable, and the younger volunteers always appreciate the opportunity to engage with and learn from volunteers of another generation.
In addition to volunteer vacations for seniors, IVHQ also specializes in hosting parents who wish to volunteer abroad with children. See our Family Volunteering page for more information.
Where are the best international volunteer opportunities for seniors and retirees?
All IVHQ programs are open to volunteers of all ages and we receive fantastic feedback from our senior volunteers who enjoy the opportunity to work alongside international volunteers, sharing their desire to assist a community in need and gain an authentic cultural experience through living and working with local people.
Depending on where you choose to volunteer, IVHQ offers various different accommodation options:
- Homestay accommodation with a local family
- Accommodation upgrade, where you can request to be accommodated in a private room at an additional cost
- Dormitory-style accommodation in a volunteer house (this is available on the majority of IVHQ programs)
Many of our older volunteers prefer the option to stay in a homestay or upgrade to a private room. See the list below to explore these accommodation options:
Destinations with accommodation upgrades:
If you wish to volunteer on one of these programs and be placed in a homestay or upgrade to a private room, please note your preference in the ‘Comments’ section when you apply and our local team will do their best to accommodate your preference.
For further inspiration, take a look at our top destination recommendations for volunteer work abroad for over 60s.
How long can older adults volunteer abroad for?
IVHQ programs allow volunteers the opportunity to volunteer for durations ranging from 1 to 24 weeks. For those seeking longer-term senior volunteer opportunities abroad, IVHQ offers the option to combine volunteer programs and create longer itineraries with the help of a volunteer expert from IVHQ.
Best senior volunteer programs abroad
Whether you’re seeking meaningful volunteer opportunities for retirees abroad, or simply wanting to explore a regenerative form of travel as an older adult - volunteering overseas as a senior provides the perfect opportunity to experience a new country and culture, while contributing to volunteer projects in a community that values your support. This could see you teaching English in Peru, supporting an NGO in Croatia, or even joining wildlife conservation efforts in Victoria Falls.
We’ve rounded up a few of the IVHQ older volunteer alumni favorites to get you inspired…
Volunteer in Zambia
A much-loved destination amongst IVHQ volunteers, Zambia offers a variety of meaningful community-based projects set in close proximity to the natural world wonder, Victoria Falls. The program is based in the laid-back tourist town of Livingstone, where volunteers can take part in Teaching, Childcare, Medical, Elderly Care and Community Development projects while being actively immersed in the local community. The relaxed and family-friendly environment makes this an ideal program for volunteers of all ages.
For animal lovers and the environmentally conscious, IVHQ’s nearby Victoria Falls Wildlife Conservation program is another popular option amongst active older volunteers.
Volunteer in Romania
Set against alluring castles and breath-taking natural beauty, Romania offers a special destination for volunteer travellers. Be immersed in one of the historical epicenters of Eastern Europe, living with a local family and contributing to empowerment projects within the community. The IVHQ program is based in the renowned region of Transylvania, where you have the opportunity to be immersed in the Romanian-Hungarian culture while assisting in Teaching, Special Needs Care or Childcare projects.
Spend your weekeneds exploring the cobblestone villages, medieval castles or ancient untouched forests. For the more adventurous, there is fantastic biking, kayaking, climbing, trekking, rafting and skiing on offer. As an added bonus, Romania is a cheap European travel destination, making for a budget-friendly option.
Volunteer in Argentina
If you’re seeking an immersive cultural exchange and the opportunity to practice Spanish, you could well suited to IVHQ’s volunteer program in Argentina. While volunteering in Argentina, you’ll be living near to Cordoba city in a family-style volunteer house, in the company of other international travellers. Here you’ll be well supported by the friendly local team while participating in Teaching, Childcare, Construction and Renovation, Healthcare, Sports Development, Special Needs Care, Community or Elderly Care projects.
During your free time, explore the mesmerizing architecture and cultural scene of Cordoba city, or venture further afield to Buenos Aires for a long weekend.
Volunteer in Portugal
With a stunning coastal location, easy public transport and buzzing cafe culture - IVHQ’s Portugal program is fast becoming a favorite amongst senior volunteers. While staying in the capital city of Lisbon, you can provide support to the local community by participating on Food Rescue, Construction and Renovation, and Youth Support projects. Those looking to join the Wolf Conservation project will be based in Mafra, while Environmental Scuba Diving volunteers are based in Albufeira. While you’ll always be in the company of other international volunteers, you can opt for a private accommodation upgrade, allowing you downtime whenever you need.
During your weekends, you’ll have the chance to see the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sintra, stroll the streets of Cascais, and enjoy a beverage at one of the many outdoor cafes along the way. If you’re drawn to the coast and intrigued by historical cities, Lisbon could be the perfect volunteer destination for you.
What do other senior volunteers say about their experiences?
Hear from four-time IVHQ volunteer Susan, who is 65 years of age and has volunteered in India, Kenya, Peru and Morocco with us…
“IVHQ is a wonderful gift to anyone of any age who wants to travel, have unbelievable adventures and live with local people to really experience another culture and way of life! When I was young I was able to travel often because my father was a travel agent and believed in the importance of seeing the world. I am delighted to say that I am now 65 years old and have gone on four IVHQ trips that have changed my life!
A few years ago I realized that I was not getting any younger and there was still a lot of the world I wanted to see. I started exploring ways to travel that were more interesting than the usual expensive, sanitized tourist trips. I discovered volunteer vacations but was still put off because they seemed so expensive. Then I discovered the website for IVHQ and my life has not been the same since!
I immediately contacted them to learn more about the programs they offered and then in October, 2009, I made my first IVHQ trip to India. I spent one week in New Delhi for orientation and then two weeks in a small rural village where I taught English to little children. I was hooked!! I met the most wonderful people – my two host families, the other volunteers from all over the world and the children and families I taught!! One of my fellow volunteers was also a senior citizen from North Ireland. But even the young volunteers accepted us as fellow adventurers.
The next year I couldn’t wait to do this again and so I went to Kenya in August 2010 to again teach English to children. This time I sent a few days in Nairobi for orientation and then went with other volunteers to live with a Maasai family. In India I saw the Taj Mahal and many Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim monuments. In Kenya I lived with a family without electricity and running water and again had the most wonderful time possible. I along with other volunteers taught at a school and helped at an childcare centre. Our home was below the Rift mountains and giraffes wandered around. I also went on a safari with other volunteers as a side trip I will always cherish.
So what can top India and Kenya!!? In May 2011 I again went on another IVHQ program to teach English. This time I went to Cusco, Peru with a side trip of a trek to the incomparable Machu Picchu! I again taught English to children and lived in a volunteer home with several other volunteers from Canada, Japan, UK, Australia and the US. The trek of 4 days to Machu Picchu was the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done and it was great!! By the way, the food in all my placements was excellent!
Finally, last year I had another 3 week adventure with IVHQ in Morocco! This time after teaching children in two different schools, I took a week long trip around the country with one of our local contacts in Rabat, Morocco. Again the people I lived with, worked with, stayed with and the volunteers from all over have enriched my life beyond my wildest hopes.
The programs are designed so that a volunteer has many options regarding what kind of work to do, how long to stay, different living arrangements, etc. Each one of my experiences has been so fulfiling and inspiring that I strongly recommend contacting IVHQ about joining up. I’m thinking this year of going to Cambodia to do another IVHQ program!! Come join me!” Susan Erdman, 65 years (Volunteer in India, Kenya, Peru and Morocco)
I have been a medical volunteer before and this experience was different in exactly the ways I wanted. I knew that in order to volunteer as a nurse outside of an organised mission I would have to give up some things, but I also knew I would gain others. With IVHQ, I did not get to practice nursing at the level that I would have if I had gone on a mission. However, I did get to participate in the culture, work alongside local practitioners, negotiate the city, and be a Peruana for a week. The IVHQ staff member also steered me to the program that would still allow me to do more than shadowing someone. I wish I could have stayed longer, but we all do what we can! Overall, it was a tremendous experience and I am so grateful for all the support I received. Holly Knight, 52 years (Medical Volunteer, Peru)
My project in Mcleod Ganj was perfect in every way, seriously. It was exactly what I wanted, and had been promised, working with young Tibetan refugees, who needed my help, my time and my love. I know I was appreciated, and I feel my time was completely worthwhile, as the five members of permanent staff would never be able to handle 30 plus children from 8 months to 2 and half years old, without extra volunteer help. Our help was crucial to the smooth running of the nursery. My accommodation for two months was exceptional, the young Tibetan family welcomed me like family. Debra Cooper, 53 years (Childcare Volunteer, India)
How do I apply for senior volunteer abroad opportunities with IVHQ?
- Browse our senior volunteer opportunities and choose a destination and the project you wish to volunteer on, as well as the dates you wish to volunteer.
- Complete the free online application form with the details of your chosen program and dates. You will then receive an email confirming that IVHQ has received your application. Within 48 hours (2 working days), you will receive an email from your IVHQ Program Manager acknowledging your application and confirming the country, project and dates of your volunteer program. In this email, you will receive instructions on how to pay the Registration Fee in order to confirm your booking with IVHQ.
- Log in to your MyIVHQ account to pay your Registration Fee. As soon as your Registration Fee has been received by IVHQ, you will be provided with all the information and support you need to prepare for your upcoming volunteer program. Your IVHQ Program Manager will be your point of contact throughout your preparations up until you finish your volunteer program.