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2018 Volunteer Abroad Destinations + Best Programs & Projects

(UPDATED)2018 volunteer abroad programs + best destinations and projects

Where should I volunteer abroad in 2018? What volunteer abroad programs can I join and what projects are best?

Sound like questions you’re asking?

Having supported 80,000+ international volunteers on our affordable volunteer abroad programs, we are the volunteer travel experts and know that when it comes to volunteering abroad, picking where to go and what to give back on is an important and exciting decision. It’s worth asking the questions and taking the time to get it right! And, we’re here to help!

International Volunteer HQ has a wide range of volunteer abroad opportunities in more than 40+ destinations in Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, the Caribbean, Europe and the Pacific. This means there is a program to suit everyone’s motivations, travel dates, budget and skills.

Explore these recommended volunteer abroad projects:

Whether you’re a first-time traveler, a college student looking for summer volunteer programs, a young professional wanting to give back, or a retiree looking to volunteer overseas, our service trips focus on responsible volunteering with positive outcomes for the local communities that our international volunteers are immersed in. So you can set off, on what will be a life-changing trip, with confidence.

To help you make your goals a reality, here are our recommendations for volunteering abroad in 2018:

2018 volunteer abroad programs: volunteer in Greece

Volunteer in Greece

When you think Greece, you instantly picture vibrant turquoise waters, crisp white buildings set against romantic sunsets and sunbaked beaches. But there’s so much more to explore! As a volunteer, you’ll gain a unique insight into Greek life away from the hustle of the well-trodden tourist path. You’ll be based in Chios, the fifth largest island in Greece, and quickly fall into the local rhythms as you give back on either the Food Outreach, Kindergarten, School Support or Special Needs Care project. The island is situated in the Aegean Sea, off the Anatolian coast, which means in your weekends you can either try your hand at Greek island hopping (exploring authentic fishing villages, taking in the Instagram-perfect views and lunching on ouzo and olives). Or, you can be a bit more adventurous and make the 45 minute ferry journey across to the Turkish city of Izmir. Volunteering in Greece is a must-do, especially if traveling to Europe is on the cards for 2018!

  • Program fees from $340 for 1 week
  • 4 meaningful project options
  • Projects based in Chios, the fifth largest island of Greece
  • If you’re set on volunteering in Europe, also consider the programs in Spain, Italy, Romania, Portugal, or Belgium


2018 volunteer abroad programs: volunteer in India

Volunteer in India

Is India your 2018 adventure? It’s long been a place of self-discovery for travelers - and that’s never been more true than for volunteers heading here. It’s a vast and diverse country with many personalities - you can tailor your program choice to the kind of experience you are searching for! Whether it’s the laid-back vibes of Kerala, the beautiful-chaos of Delhi, or the mountainous spiritual-hub of Dharamsala that is calling your name, IVHQ offers volunteer programs in India that cater to all travel styles. With a wide range of volunteer projects available between the three programs, there’s definitely the perfect project for you. Consider Women’s Education in Kerala, or Eco-Agriculture Conservation in Dharamsala.

  • Program fees from $250 for 1 week
  • 3 program locations to choose from and 15 project options
  • Explore IVHQ’s India volunteer programs in Kerala, Delhi or Dharamsala

2018 volunteer abroad programs: volunteer in Jamaica

Volunteer in Jamaica

Are you ready to explore Jamaica? To skip the cruises and all-inclusive resorts and actually get to know the authentic Jamaican culture, Caribbean cuisine and warm-hearted people? Join IVHQ in Jamaica to make a meaningful contribution to the local community and spend your weekends diving into the hidden swimming holes, slotting into the rhythm of island life, or just relaxing at one of the beautiful beaches. As an IVHQer in Jamaica, you’ll be working with local people and like-minded international volunteers on one of 5 different projects - you can give back on Teaching and School Support, Kindergarten, Sports Development, Animal Care, and Business or Community Development. Sounds like it’s time to cross the Caribbean off your bucket-list while making a positive impact!

  • Program fees from $365 for 1 week
  • Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, breakfast and 24/7 in-country support
  • 5 meaningful project options

2018 volunteer abroad programs: volunteer in Belize

Volunteer in Belize

If you’re at home in the sea, passionate about marine conservation, or want to experience island life, then the IVHQ Belize program is perfect for you. You can literally dive straight in - all the volunteering takes place in the ocean around the island. You’ll become a pro at spotting and identifying marine wildlife, including lionfish, corals, whale sharks and queen conch. On a day-to-day basis, you’ll work alongside Marine Biologists to gather data, conduct surveys and remove invasive species. During your weekends, head back to mainland Belize to get your dose of life above the waves - start the day with an amazing coffee, then explore ancient Mayan ruins, wander through one of the many wildlife sanctuaries and finish the weekend off zip-lining through the jungle. What do you think? Yes, Belize!

  • Program fees from $690 for 1 week
  • Based on a small private island, 26 miles off the coast of Belize
  • PADI dive certification courses offered on the island

2018 volunteer abroad programs: volunteer in Madagascar

Volunteer in Madagascar

No other place will capture your heart quite like Africa - and that’s even more true for the island nation of Madagascar. As a volunteer, you can expect a mesmerizing setting and what is no doubt the best volunteer accommodation in the world. The beach huts and rustic camp is situated on the hillside - just a hop, skip and a jump from the ocean, which is perfect for those volunteering on the Marine Conservation project. Otherwise, you can see lemurs in real life on the Forest Conservation project, help increase access to education on the Teaching project, participate in a 10-day island tour as part of the Island Outreach campaign, or assist in improving island infrastructure on the Community Development​​ project. Magical Madagascar is ready for you!

  • Program fees from $550 for 2 weeks
  • 5 meaningful projects including Marine and Forest Conservation
  • Breathtaking marine and wildlife encounters

2018 volunteer abroad programs: volunteer in Costa Rica

Volunteer in Costa Rica

The IVHQ Costa Rica volunteer program has proven time and time again to be one of the most popular destinations and programs. Why’s that? Well, it could be the imagery of lush vistas, chasing waterfalls, or the opportunity to test yourself on one of the many adventure sports on offer. Or maybe, it’s the affordable flights, being immersed in the Costa Rican culture, and truly getting to know the friendly and passionate locals, as you work with them to create positive and sustainable outcomes for their communities. Regardless of the catalyst for the decision to choose Costa Rica as your volunteer destination, a transformative experience awaits you! The majority of projects are based out of San Jose, the capital and largest city of Costa Rica. You also have the option of volunteering on the Working With Children, Teaching English and Healthcare projects in Manuel Antonio, a popular beach town. Depending on the project you choose, you’ll be accommodated in a homestay or dormitory-style lodging. With between 40 and 80 volunteers starting in Costa Rica each month, there are loads of opportunities for you to get to know a range of like-minded people from around the world. As you experience volunteering and exploring the country together, your fellow volunteers will quickly become important people in your life!

  • 12 meaningful project options, including Childcare and Turtle Conservation
  • Program fees from $365 for 1 week
  • Projects based in San Jose, Manuel Antonio and throughout Costa Rica

I had the absolute best time in Costa Rica. There is so much to do in the country, so many beautiful places to see. The people are so welcoming to the volunteers and you feel so appreciated. I would go back and volunteer in a heartbeat, I had the best month there. Grace Chapman, Canadian, 19, volunteered in Costa Rica for 4 weeks

2018 volunteer abroad programs: volunteer in Bali

Volunteer in Bali

Bali has a culture and vibrancy that has captivated travelers for generations. As an IVHQer, you have the unique opportunity to go beyond the experience of typical travelers by immersing yourself in the Balinese culture, customs and way of life. You’ll be led by an engaged local support team that ensures the volunteer work benefits the community and is sustainable long term. On the Bali - Ubud volunteer program, you can choose between the Teaching, Kindergarten, Environmental Education, Healthcare Education, Construction and Renovation and Turtle Conservation projects (based on the island of Nusa Penida). Ubud, where the program is based, is the cultural, spiritual and arts hub of Bali. You don’t have to wander far for incredible sights and once you’ve worked up an appetite, there’s a mouthwatering selection of incredible restaurants - it’s paradise for vegan and vegetarian volunteers! As a volunteer, you’ll have the opportunity to re-center your life and priorities, as you take on the Balinese approach to life!

  • 6 meaningful project options, including Teaching and Construction and Renovation
  • Program fees from $295 for 1 week
  • Projects based in Ubud, while the Turtle Conservation project is based on the island of Nusa Penida
  • Also, consider the Bali - Lovina volunteer program

My time abroad in Bali was one of the most incredible and life-changing opportunities I’ve ever experienced. I’ve never met so many wonderful people all in the same place, with the same desire to help a community. It was amazing to grow and learn more about myself while dedicating my time to teaching children English. Emma Daun, American, 19, volunteered in Bali - Ubud for 8 weeks

2018 volunteer abroad programs: volunteer in Peru - Lima

Volunteer in Peru - Lima

If price is deciding factor for where you will volunteer abroad, the Peru - Lima volunteer program can’t be beaten! Fees start from $180 for 1 week and include accommodation, meals, airport pick-up, an informative program orientation, access to your volunteer placement and 24/7 support from an experienced local team to help you get the most out of your time abroad. This program strives to make volunteering abroad an affordable option for anyone with the passion and drive to give back on a global scale. Arriving on the program couldn’t be simpler, with the program based in the capital city of Peru, you’ll be able to fly into Peru’s biggest airport be picked up and taken straight to your accommodation. You will stay with other volunteers, in either a​ volunteer house run by the local coordinator’s family or in a homestay. With between 5 and 20 volunteers starting in Lima each month, you’ll be able to make the most of the coastline location with beach days, surfing the breaks, or take a long weekend and have an altitude adjustment as you trek Machu Picchu together.

  • 4 meaningful project options, including Medical and Special Needs/Childcare
  • Our most affordable program with fees from $180 for 1 week
  • Based in Peru’s capital city of Lima
  • Also, consider the Peru - Cusco volunteer program

Volunteering for IVHQ in Lima, Peru was by far the best experience of a lifetime. I not only got to give back to the community, but I also had the pleasure of getting to know the Peruvian culture down to its core. Arletys Gomez, Cuban, 20, volunteered in Peru - Lima for 4 weeks

2018 volunteer abroad programs: volunteer in Kenya with IVHQ

Volunteer in Kenya

When IVHQ started 10 years ago, founder Dan Radcliffe launched the first IVHQ program in Kenya. Since 2007, more than 4000 volunteers have given back on this program - so you can set off knowing you will be supporting a well-established, sustainable program that has community driven outcomes at its heart. While volunteering in Kenya, you can choose from a wide range of volunteer abroad projects, including Teaching, Childcare, Sports Education, Music Education, Special Needs and Women’s Education. If you’re wanting to volunteer in Africa, Kenya is an awesome option, with volunteers able to fill their days at meaningful placements and answer the call of the wild on their weekends. You can take a trip to the coastal city of Mombasa and relax against the pristine white coastline, or join your fellow volunteers for a safari and watch the migration of wildebeest and zebras, or spot a lion hunting on the savannah. You’ll never forget Kenya!

  • 6 meaningful project options, including Childcare and Teaching
  • Affordable program fee from $270 for 1 week
  • Based in and around Nairobi

Kenya - what a breathtakingly, amazing experience. The culture is so vibrant and the people so kind and welcoming. Make the most of your time. Push yourself out of your comfort zone, put your phones down and take everything in. You’ll experience nothing like it again. Oh and definitely go on safari! Jazmin Tanerau-Love, Australian, 30, volunteered in Kenya for 2 weeks

2018 volunteer abroad programs: volunteer in South Africa with IVHQ

Volunteer in South Africa

You’ll experience the best moments of your life volunteering in South Africa! With two programs to choose from the hardest part will be deciding which one is right for you! Program fees for the IVHQ South Africa program start from $250 for 1 week and you’ll be based in Muizenberg, 30 to 40 minutes from Cape Town. On this program, volunteers can align their skills with, and give back on, the following projects: Teaching, Childcare, Surf Outreach, Sports Development and Computer Training. You can start your volunteer program on the first and third Monday of each month. If you are less flexible with the date you need to start the program, then the South Africa Table View program might be a better fit for you, as you can start this program on any Monday of the year. The fees for this program start from $265 for 1 week, and you’ll be based in Table View, 30 minutes from Cape Town. On the South Africa Table View program you can choose between the Surf, Skate & Swim, Kindergarten, Sport Development and Special Needs Care projects. On both programs, volunteers are accommodated in volunteer houses, which fosters a strong and lasting connection between volunteers. After all, you’ll be sharing what is a life-changing experience with each other and there’s no better basis for a friendship. Oh, and regardless of which program you choose, make sure you hike up the truly iconic Table Mountain - the envy-inducing photos alone make the climb worth it!

I cannot say enough about this experience. It’s very rare that you come home from something saying it was everything you expected, but this really was everything I expected and more. You will fall in love with South Africa. The people there are incredible and there is always something new to see or somewhere new to go. South Africa has my heart forever. Madison Schade, American, 19, volunteered in South Africa for 4 weeks

2018 volunteer abroad programs: volunteer in Nepal with IVHQ

Volunteer in Nepal

Volunteers can explore the history and bustle of old Kathmandu on one day and soak up the mountainous scenery of Pokhara the next, all while enjoying the hospitality and kindness that Nepal is famous for. The IVHQ Nepal volunteer program has volunteer placements located in four main areas within Nepal – Kathmandu, Chitwan, Chitlang, and Pokhara - each with its own appeal. Kathmandu is the energetic capital city, Chitwan is located in the middle of a flat fertile plain that borders India and stretches right across Southern Nepal, Chitlang is rural getaway located in mid-hills along the Mahabharat range, and Pokhara is a popular tourist destination, renowned for its amazing mountain views. Regardless of where your specific skills and interests take you, Nepal is a country on the rebuild and your energy supporting incredible local projects is highly valued by the community. You can match your skills with one of the following projects; Teaching English, Childcare, Construction and Renovation and Medical Elective.

  • 5 meaningful project options, including Teaching English and Construction and Renovation
  • Program fees from $250 for 1 week
  • Projects based in and around Kathmandu, Chitwan, Chitlang, and Pokhara

I had an amazing experience volunteering in Nepal through IVHQ. This was my first volunteer project and the opportunity to teach in another country was unforgettable. I met other volunteers from all over the world and made some great memories with them. Nepal is such a beautiful country filled with peaceful and friendly people. I really enjoyed my time there, and I’m already planning my trip back. I highly recommend going! Holly Hutton, American, 30, volunteered in Nepal for 3 weeks

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.

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How to get started

Pick a destination + project and apply for free
Meet your personal volunteer travel expert
Pay the registration fee to secure your place and upgrade your MyIVHQ account
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