Best Volunteer Abroad Programs For Solo Travelers
Hesitant to set off on an adventure because you haven’t found the perfect travel partner? Don’t be silly, all you need is yourself! Traveling and volunteering solo with IVHQ is a great way to grow as a person and become comfortable in your own skin. And trust us, you won’t be alone for long, you are about to become friends with a whole squad of IVHQers. We know that setting off with just your own shadow for company can be daunting at first but if you play to your own strengths it will be one of the best decisions you’ll ever make. We’ve made it as easy as possible for you by outlining some of the best volunteer abroad programs and why they’re perfect for solo travelers…
If you’re in need of a personal journey, with a side of yoga, dreamy landscapes and a health kick then no doubt Bali will be high up on your list. Actually, it’s pretty much your Mecca! As an IVHQ volunteer, you’ll be volunteering in Ubud, the cultural and spiritual centre of Bali. That is unless you choose the Turtle Conservation project, in which case you’ll have the beach as your backyard and be based on the Island of Nusa Penida, a 45 minute boat ride from Sanur. The Bali program is one of IVHQ’s most popular and consistently gets top-notch feedback from volunteers, so you can set off knowing you’ve chosen a proven winner.
Accommodation: You’ll be staying in volunteer houses in the village of Penestanan Kaja. This is great for two reasons. Firstly, with the accommodation located on the outskirts of Ubud you will be able to experience quintessential Balinese village life – roosters crowing and all! Secondly, being accommodated with other volunteers means you’ll be sharing your experience with other kindred spirits from the very start!
Travel: With an array of white sanded beaches and weekend activities, such as a sunrise climb of Mount Batur or island hopping to Lombok, Bali will keep you busy. You will never be bored… or alone! With 30 plus volunteers on the IVHQ Bali Program each month you’ll never be short of friends or epic adventures.
Bonus: The special five day orientation gives you the chance to meet volunteers staying in different accommodation and swap contact details for those soon to real weekend trips and outings.
Want to volunteer but also visit Europe? It doesn’t have to be one or the other! The IVHQ Italy program allows volunteers to experience the home of culture, art and divine cuisine, all while being placed on a meaningful project in Naples. For first time travelers and those flying solo it’s a great option as you will find that just like Italian food the people and culture are phenomenal. Also, depending on where you hail from, you’ll find the experience is just a gentle nudge out of your comfort zone, nothing you can’t handle with your friends pizza and Gelato by your side!
Accommodation: Volunteers are accommodated in a dormitory style, volunteer apartment in central Naples. This means straight of the bat it’s easy to meet like minded people, so while you may arrive alone you’ll be leaving with envy-worth memories and life-long friends.
Travel: Traveling around Italy is a breeze! So while you are cementing your friendships you can enjoy weekend escapes to lush destinations like the Almalfi Coast! Dream result.
Bonus: The office of the local team is also located within the same building as the volunteer accommodation so never fear someone is always close by to offer guidance.
Do you speak English? Then choosing New Zealand is a no brainer! It’s super laid-back and the people are friendly (because IVHQ is based in NZ we may be slightly biased, sorry not sorry). IVHQ’s volunteer program in New Zealand is perfect for travelers who want to throw themselves into an adventure and brave the unknown, all why being in an incredibly safe and welcoming country. Volunteers can choose from two meaningful projects - NGO Support and Coast and Waterway Conservation.
Travel: You will be based in Auckland so there are lots of nearby travel options! You can head North and go diving at the Poor Knights Marine Reserve, or turn the car South and lace up your hiking boots to tackle the Tongariro Crossing. With stunning natural landscapes (have you seen Lord of the Rings), epic beaches and a captivating culture there is always going to be something for you to see and do.
Accommodation: Volunteers are accommodated in a dormitory style hostel in Britomart, a trendy, centrally-located area of Auckland. The offices of the local team are a 20 minute walk or 10 minute bus ride from the hostel.
Bonus: Being based in NZ we are a treasure trove for insider information and epic places to visit on your volunteer weekends. So come on, what are you waiting for?
Whether you’re drawn to the capital, Lima, or the historic city of Cusco, volunteering with IVHQ in Peru is the perfect option for solo travelers. The Cusco program is a happening place! There are always people coming and going, which means it’s great for social butterflies. Through the local team there are lots of opportunities to travel and see the sights! Our Lima program is one of IVHQ’s longest-standing programs and offers volunteers our cheapest program fees and the chance to engage in community-driven projects, including Teaching English, Special Needs Care and Healthcare. So have a peruse of the Peru pages…
Travel: If you’re wanting to tick Machu Picchu off the Bucket List, both destinations offer easy access to this must-do!
Bonus: We all know that traveling is the greatest educator but you can also make it count on paper! For those seeking Course Credit, the Spanish Service Learning Course is available to Cusco based volunteers!
Solo travel doesn’t mean you have to do away with your passions! IVHQ’s Victoria Falls program is must for the animal lovers out there - the focus is conservation! You will be completing tasks such as alien vegetation removal, fence patrols, general cleanups, animal tracking and more. You’ll have to roll up your sleeves and muck-in but the meaningful outdoor work and tight-knit team of passionate volunteers around you will mean the hours will be some of your best! Feedback shows that 94 per cent of people would recommend the program. We’d say that’s a statistic to travel for!
Travel: You’ll be able to visit Victoria Falls, go zip lining, bungy jumping, gorge swinging, canoeing - the list goes on. You’re weekends are guaranteed to always be full, with activities galore and plenty of volunteers to enjoy it with.
Accommodation: Come night time you’ll rest your head in clean and comfortable dormitory-style accommodation! Oh and there will be the opportunity to camp out under the stars in a once in a lifetime experience!
Bonus: You get to experience a volunteer project set on a private game reserve, so remember to pack binoculars, as the wildlife and scenery is breathtaking!
Ho Chi Minh is always a star performer for feedback from our volunteers in Asia! Vietnam has it all for those who want to travel and make a difference - breathtaking sights, a deep history and purposeful projects. From the moment you set foot in Vietnam’s largest city you will be enthralled. With its ancient pagodas and towering skyscrapers, ramshackle markets and urban malls - Ho Chi Minh is a captivating city of contrasts. This is the ideal destination for solo volunteers looking to join a program with a good mix of work and play.
Travel: With Vietnam being a popular travel destination on the Asia backpack route there is a plethora of information to make hitting the road that much easier. Want to know which night train to catch, or the best beach to park up on for the weekend? You will have no problems traveling around Vietnam, and even better yet, you will have even less problem finding someone to join you! From a Mekong Delta boat ride to a weekend at the world renowned beaches of Phu Quoc Island, it’s a country that has a lot to offer volunteers!
Accommodation: You’ll be accommodated in a dormitory with fellow volunteers so there are plenty of opportunities to make lasting friendships and find travel buddies.
Bonus: Your volunteering experience will kick of with a five day orientation. This will equip you with all the basics (customs, rules, safety and expectations) and some fun activities (Vietnamese cooking class, a visit to the War Remnants Museum, Reunification Palace and the famed Cu Chi tunnels).
Cambodia is a perfect option for solo travelers thanks to an incredible combination of reasons. Khmer people are some of the most humble, friendly and sincere the world over. Then there’s the lush rice paddies, kaleidoscope sunsets and authentic experiences. Plus, there’s your awesome fellow volunteers that are there to support one of the five meaningful projects. As an IVHQer in Cambodia, you’ll be working with incredibly friendly locals on projects that are driven by the community, cementing those friendships. So not only will Cambodia become your home-away-from-home, but your fellow volunteers and host-family will quickly become your second family!
Travel: Cambodia has traveling sorted. There is a never ending list of destinations to be carried off to and it’s easy to make your way around. Plus, once you are in Cambodia you can live on the cheap, meaning you can make your hard earned dollars go further! Your weekends will never be dull, explore the markets, make your way to the beach, or float down the delta.
Bonus: You’ll be left in awe when you stand in front of Angkor Wat! It’s one of the most important archaeological sites in South-East Asia. For several centuries Angkor Wat was the center of the Khmer kingdom, now it’s on the top of every traveler’s must-see list when they venture to this breathtaking country.
Where will your solo travel take you? Check out our The Solo Traveler’s Guide to Volunteering Abroad for more information.
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