Volunteer Abroad Programs 2017
Interested in volunteering abroad in 2017? You’re not alone! Having hosted more than 60,000 international volunteers on our affordable programs around the world, we know that it can be tricky to pick a destination when you have more than 35 options to choose from. To help you out, we’re sharing some of our team’s recommendations for volunteer abroad programs in 2017.
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. New Zealand is known for its clean green image and our volunteer projects reflect this with a strong focus on the environment - NGO Support and Coast and Waterway Conservation. Volunteers are accommodated in a dormitory-style hostel in Britomart, a centrally-located hub of New Zealand’s biggest city. With stunning natural landscapes (have you seen Lord of the Rings?), epic beaches and a captivating culture, there is always something for you to see and do on your weekends. From Auckland, 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. Also, have we mentioned that IVHQ is based in NZ so we are a treasure trove for insider information!? See why New Zealand is an ideal option for first-time volunteer travelers here.
It was great learning about the Maori culture and history. I really liked working in nature! I will recommend my younger sister to volunteer here in the future. Everything was great, keep up the good work! LINGYAN HU
If you are looking for an authentic grassroots Asian experience, then you can stop your search. In the Philippines, you will come face-to-face with the culture, cuisine and people as you live like a local. The Philippines is a hidden gem just waiting to be explored and with more than 7,000 islands at your doorstep, it doesn’t get much better than this archipelago! While volunteering in the Philippines with IVHQ, you will be based in the Aborlan District, a laid back small community outside of Puerto Princesa City, bursting with friendly locals. Volunteers can work on Kindergarten, Teaching, Construction and Renovation, or Environmental projects. In your spare time, you can treat yourself to swimming, snorkeling, diving or chilling under a waterfall - and that is just on one Island. Imagine the wonders waiting for you, and you can do it without needing to spend up large, as island-hopping within the Philippines, or to nearby countries is cheap and easy.
I will definitely miss taking bucket showers, eating traditional food, playing find the word, exploring the place and seeing smiling faces every day. This experience really opened my eyes and my heart, made me appreciate and tolerate a different people, culture and way of living. GRETA PUODZIUNAITE
If you’re not sure where to travel to in South America but want to experience the best of the continent - try volunteering in Ecuador. While compact in size, Ecuador packs in the natural attractions that South America is celebrated for, including the Amazon Jungle, snow-capped mountains and no shortage of adventure sports! IVHQers in Ecuador are based Quito (considered one of the most beautiful cities in South America) and have the opportunity to live with local families in the company of other international volunteers. This program is well suited to those who want to take initiative, are willing to work long hours, and get stuck in to providing real value to the projects they’re supporting. Work hard, play hard is the motto here, and the volunteer opportunities are among the most rewarding of all our programs. In Ecuador, you can support Street Children Work, Teaching English, Summer Project, NGO Support, School Support or Kindergarten projects with IVHQ. Want to learn more about IVHQing in Ecuador? Read about Project Manager, Dallas’ experience volunteering in Ecuador here.
I can honestly say, hand on heart, that it was the most fulfilling, enriching experience I have ever had and I am so glad that I did this. The staff are amazing and so helpful and you can see how passionate they are about the work they do. LATANYA CLARKE
Ancient pagodas and towering skyscrapers, ramshackle markets and urban malls - Ho Chi Minh is a captivating city that you will quickly fall in love with. As an IVHQer in Vietnam’s largest city, you will have the chance to experience the culture, history and cuisine, and will be sure to make marvelous memories! From a visit to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, a Mekong Delta boat ride, or a weekend to the world renowned beaches of Phu Quoc Island - Vietnam has a lot to offer. During the weekdays, your enthusiasm and caring nature will be well rewarded here on our Teaching English, Special Needs/Childcare, or Food Outreach projects. Not to mention if you are a pre-med student or medical professional, the Medical project in Ho Chi Minh City is a rewarding experience. Vietnam is the ideal destination for volunteers looking to join a program with a good mix of work and play. Volunteers are accommodated in a dormitory with other volunteers from around the world, meaning you’ll have friends to share your incredible experience with right from the start.
I had a fantastic experience! I made some great friends and got to experience a hospital in Vietnam! Our coordinator for our placement was amazing. I felt supported the whole time. I would do the whole thing again! STEPHANIE WHITTLE
With the beautiful coast on your doorstep, a buzzing cafe culture and plenty of weekend adventures to be had, basing yourself in Lisbon as a volunteer traveler is an amazing idea. You can give back to the community by participating on Construction and Renovation, Food Rescue and Youth Support projects. IVHQers on the Wolf Conservation project are based in Mafra, while Environmental Scuba Diving volunteers are based on the coast of Portugal in Cascais. There is zero shortage of activities to keep your weekends bursting with adventure, check out the UNESCO World Heritage Site - Sintra, the Moon Hill, stroll the streets of Cascais and enjoy a beverage at one of the many outdoor cafes along the way, get amongst the surf in Ericeira - the first surfing reserve in Europe. If you like the mellow nature of coastal life and being in touch with nature and history, then the Portugal program is perfect for you.
My week in Portugal was amazing. It was challenging and rewarding at the same time. Having worked with IVHQ before, I knew I would not be disappointed and I was right. The local host team and accommodation staff went an extra mile to make sure we felt at home and were comfortable. MEHER MEHTAB
Our volunteer programs in Bali have stepped up to another level for 2017! Now you can choose to volunteer not only in Ubud and on the island of Nusa Penida for the Turtle Conservation Project, but also in Lovina. This slow-paced beachside town is located on the northern coastline of Bali and is the perfect place for volunteers who want to unwind while making a positive impact in the local community. There is heaps to see and experience around Lovina and when you are finished volunteering, you can easily set off from here to see more of the breathtaking sights that Indonesia has on offer. This additional volunteer opportunities in Lovina means that there really is something to suit everyone in Bali. If you want an action-packed volunteer experience, or to have enough time to stop and enjoy the pristine beaches - Bali will work! If you are coming alone or bringing your entire family - Bali is a fit! You can use this guide to help you find the right Bali program. With plenty of locations, program options, cascading rice paddies, lush scenery and a bounty of activities - what’s not to love about Bali.
It was an adventurous, perspective wielding experience for me working with a different culture, halfway around the world in an equatorial climate, something I’ll never forget. MATTHEW RICHARDSON
Based in Merida, IVHQ’s Mexico volunteer program draws volunteers from all around the world. It is not only the starting point for adventures into Yucatan and its archaeological treasures, but a thriving town with plenty of cheap eats, bustling markets, quaint streets and parks. Throw in the bonus of average daily temperatures above 70°F and you’ll be packing your bags in seconds. Locals are proud of their city and its beautiful architecture, inspiring cuisine and respect for tradition. Our Mexico volunteer program offers a small, safe community setting with a wide range of volunteer work available from Teaching English to Environmental Research. This program is great for those who have an existing understanding of Spanish, however the program also offers a great language lessons. Volunteers on this program should expect a slower pace of living while enjoying the incredible moments of volunteering in a community that is in much need of support. During your stay in Mexico, you will be accommodated in a quiet suburb and spend your free time relaxing pool-side, mastering Spanish, exploring the Mayan ruins, swimming in the cenotes and limestone sinkholes, and riding your bicycle into town to grab tasty local street-eats. Those seeking a full immersion into the Mayan culture can also experience a different style of living on one of three Maya Agricultural farms. If you need even more inspiration check out these athese incredible photos from our IVHQers in Mexico.
If you’re looking to get a new perspective on life, this is the best way to do it. Humbling, enlightening and exciting. I will definitely repeat the experience! Plus Mexico is an amazing country. SIMINA MARCA
Here’s a little gem of an opportunity that’s perfect for those with an interest in the environment and conservation. Actually, you won’t find another program with more of a focus on conservation than this one! Based on the rugged Cape West Coast and only 90 minutes from Cape Town, you will be kept busy from the moment you arrive. And, your bucket list will quickly double in size! Hike Table Mountain, visit Robbin Island, dine on the local cuisine or travel into Cape Town and check out the nightlife! If you have an interest in fossil excavation then you can opt for the Biosphere Conservation project; or if marine biodiversity is your thing then the Coastal Conservation project will be right up your alley; otherwise the Environmental Education project is a powerful way to improve local understanding of the surrounding environment, biodiversity conservation and the need for sustainable development. Volunteer placements are located in the town of Langebaan and around the Cape West Coast Biosphere Reserve. You’ll be accommodated in a volunteer house with other like minded people from around the world, so while you may arrive alone you’ll never actually be alone.
Volunteering for two weeks in South Africa was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I am very grateful to the local team. Thank you for your help and all your work and I look forward to reliving this experience in the future. NABIL GHOSN
Think majestic castles, breathtaking landscapes and a fascinating folk culture. The land that gave us Dracula offers a unique travel experience for volunteers. The IVHQ volunteer program is based in the east of Romania in Miercurea Ciuc, an ethnically-diverse community bringing together Romanians, Romanis and Hungarians. While you might not yet know where that is on a map, we are sure you’ve heard of region, Transylvania. Hosted by locals, volunteers are given the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in a unique mix of cultures while assisting the local community in Teaching, Special Needs Care, Childcare, After School Support, Agriculture and NGO Support. Weekend activities are endless. You can idle through the cobblestone streets of picturesque villages, get lost in the history with a tour of a medieval castle or hike through ancient untouched forests. For the more adventurous, there is great biking, kayaking, climbing, trekking, rafting and skiing (in winter months) on offer. Bottom line - volunteer in Romania! The locals are welcoming, the food is delicious and a bonus is that Romania is a cheap volunteer travel option for those eager to see what Europe has to offer. Take the leap and experience it for yourself!
I stayed in Romania for two months with the special needs program. It’s hard to put my experience into words, but to start it was incredible, enlightening, and life changing. OLIVIA MARTIN-SPISAK
When considering where to volunteer in Africa, Marrakech might not be the first destination that comes to mind but it should be! With an enthralling old city and vibrant new town, framed by the striking Atlas Mountains, you’ll constantly be reminded that you’re living the Moroccan travel dream. In your weekends you’ll be able to lace up your boots and go trekking in the mountains, travel via 4x4 vehicles through the desert (or if the slower pace appeals via camel back), or simply spend a weekend sampling (over and over again) the amazing local cuisine and food souks. Volunteers can enjoy working on either the Teach English or French, Childcare, Agriculture, Women’s Education or Special Needs Care projects. The Amazigh/Berber Immersion project offers a truly unique experience for volunteers as they work, live and learn in the rural villages of the Atlas Mountains. With all that Marrakech has to offer as a volunteer destination, you’ll barely be able to pause for breath as you have the experience of a lifetime!
I have way too many favorite moments from my volunteering experience in Morocco to put into words - from the times I spent with my students, to the time I spent with the staff and the adventures I experienced on weekends. MELISSA ORDONEZ
The Cusco program is a happening place! Between 25 and 60 volunteers start in Cusco each month so people are always coming and going, which means it’s great for those who want to make friends for life and volunteer with a diverse mix of people from a range of countries and cultures. Cusco is one of the oldest cities in South America and is situated in close proximity to the tourist mecca of Machu Picchu so you’ll be able to tick that one off the bucket list. You’ll have a hard decision on your hands when it comes to to choosing between the 10 meaningful projects. Volunteers on the Andean Immersion project will find themselves off the beaten track, living like a local and experiencing a true adventure. Or volunteers can opt for the Jungle Conservation Project and live and work in the dense Amazonian jungle, helping to protect endemic species and the incredible biodiversity. You can also volunteer on our Peru- Lima Program.
There is no camaraderie built, like the kind that can be built from reaching a shared goal. Volunteering with IVHQ not only brings you closer to the community of a country, but a community of volunteers who become your friends, your teammates, and your family away from home. BRIDGET DRAIN
Sri Lanka is the ultimate destination for 2017! With an abundance of wildlife, world-class national parks, heart-stopping beaches, staggering historical sites and no shortage of activities, it is the place to be. The people are some of the friendliest you will ever meet, traveling around the island nation is easy, the food is beyond tasty (you will never look at a curry the same) and it’s incredibly affordable, making it an all-round destination and great for solo travelers. You’ll quickly feel right at home and you will never want to leave! Volunteers are either located in the sacred city of Kandy, Nuwara Eliya, or within the Wasgamuwa National Park; and can choose from Teaching English, Special Needs Care, Rural Community Development, Childcare, Medical, Elderly Care, Temple Renovation and working within a Wild Elephant corridor. With all that Sri Lanka has to offer as a volunteer destination, you will come back a with a new found confidence, approach to life and global understanding. Oh, and a profound desire to return as soon as possible.
Sri Lanka is a truly amazing country to volunteer in. I went with not knowing much about the culture or country, but it is one of the best things I have done. I would recommend this volunteer program as it is a truly rewarding and life changing experience. LOUISE MORIARTY
Hola! Madrid is calling you! Spain’s central capital is a phenomenal city, known worldwide for its character, elegant boulevards, acclaimed art and of course, tapas! Fill your weeks by contributing to the Madrid community through meaningful projects, including Teaching, After School Support, Agriculture, Special Needs Support and Renovation. You will be using your skills to further the community and give back. And, when it’s time to kick back Madrid is full to the brim with diverse flavors, a rich history and striking sights, or you can skip the country to France for a long weekend, or even Portugal which is literally your next door neighbor. If you love the idea of combining big-city life with giving back to the local community, and have a soft spot for amazing cuisine, then it’s safe to say that you will enjoy volunteering in Spain!
I went into this adventure as a blank canvas, meeting new people and new experiences and came out with an incredible painting of friendship, confidence, freedom, love and a deeper understanding. MELINDA JENKINS
Whether you have 1 week or 24 weeks to commit to volunteering abroad, IVHQ and our local teams will ensure that you are contributing to sustainable and impactful projects by building on the work of previous volunteers, and paving the way for those to come. For more information, see our full range of volunteer abroad programs.
Latest Blog Posts
Carmen Liberatore talks about her experience traveling and volunteering in Peru. She was awarded the IVHQ Travel Blogger Scholarship in 2016.
Take this quiz to find out which program is the best fit for you, and your career path…
“Volunteering abroad on her gap year, IVHQer Kelly, was exposed to the school of life. Here’s why she thinks taking a gap year abroad should be a must-do for all high-school graduates.”