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Holiday Experience Volunteer Program in Guatemala - Antigua

Holiday Experience Volunteer Program in Guatemala - Antigua

Want to deck the halls and have a Holiday Experience as a volunteer in Guatemala? International Volunteer HQ’s Holiday program enables volunteers to help with a range of community initiatives over the festive season. These could include volunteering with disadvantaged children, coordinating holiday parties for residents in elderly care facilities, or helping in an animal shelter or at a coffee farm. It’s a great way to contribute meaningfully to the community over the holidays in a variety of areas when many volunteer projects are closed, while also getting to enjoy the sparkling atmosphere of Antigua over Christmas and New Year.

Highlights:
  • Only available the weeks of Christmas and New Years
  • Affordable fees from CA$668 for 1 week
  • Includes accommodation, breakfast and dinner, airport pick up, orientation and 24/7 support
  • Help arrange festive activities and make a difference during the holidays

  • Discover Guatemala’s incredible volcanoes and beaches

  • Celebrate Christmas and New Year with a local family or other volunteers

### Surf School (7 days/6 nights) - CA$1768 The Surf program is either in El Paredon in Guatemala or in El Zonte, El Salvador. Transportation to/from Antigua/El Zonte + housing for 6 nights in family-stay in Antigua and in dormitory-style housing at Surf School. Meals are NOT included, except with family-stay nights in Antigua, but there are various restaurants participants can choose from. Participants are led by expert instructors 2-3 hours/day. The surfboard is provided.

Key information

Support marginalized & low-income communities
Based in and around Antigua
Homestay or volunteer house
Volunteers aged 16+ and families
Fully hosted experience from CA$668 for 1 week
Durations from 1 - 2 weeks
Spanish language lessons available
Up to 5 hours volunteering a day

This program is ideal for:

Volunteers who want to try their hand at a variety of different volunteer activities over the holiday period and spread some holiday cheer.
Who is this program suited to?

What to expect and how you'll make an impact

The holiday period in Guatemala is vibrant, colorful and exciting. This special project is designed to help volunteers enjoy the festive season while pitching in with valuable community initiatives. Many projects are closed at this time of year, but this provides an inspiring way to still do something meaningful and contribute to the local community.

Please note, the order of this work may be subject to change based on local requirements. In 2024, this project is only available to volunteers who begin the weeks of 16th and 30th of December - volunteers should arrive on the day before the project starts.

See the Holiday Experience Schedule for 2023 to learn more about what to expect.

Why do Holiday Experience volunteering in Antigua with IVHQ?

When you volunteer during the holidays in Guatemala you’ll be adding value to the local community, while also developing personally and professionally by:

  • Bringing the community together over the holiday season
  • Connecting with the young and old
  • Practicing your Spanish
  • Developing your communication skills
  • Gaining a variety of volunteer experiences
  • Immersing yourself in Guatemalan culture
  • Experiencing the festive season in vibrant Antigua

Volunteer requirements

  • Volunteers under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian to participate in this program
  • Volunteers aged 16-18 are required to provide IVHQ with parental consent in order to participate on the program, and may be asked to provide additional documentation to the local team
  • All volunteers aged 13+ are required to provide a criminal background check to IVHQ prior to departure. Those aged 13-17, if unable to obtain a criminal background check, can provide two character reference letters instead
  • All volunteers are required to have adequate volunteer travel insurance
  • All volunteers must speak fluent English.
Are you eligible to volunteer?

Submit a free application so we can confirm your eligibility and check availability for your preferred dates.

Apply For Free

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What recent volunteers said about their IVHQ experience

AD
Anneliese Delgado-Cate
14 Feb 2024

There are always a million reasons not to go abroad – finances, time restraints, the unknown. But I would encourage anyone who is considering it to take the plunge and just say “yes.” Not only do I feel like I made a positive impact volunteering on an eco-farm in Guatemala, I also improved my Spanish, made new friends, played various sports in the evenings and experienced the rejuvenating tranquility that comes with traveling to a new part of the world.

...
MF
Michelle Fox
18 Jan 2024

It was wonderful in many ways - the work I did was impactful, the people I worked with were friendly and welcoming. They became my good friends. Antigua was beautiful and safe. The local team provided many opportunities beyond volunteering - Spanish classes, excursions, and local activities like dance and cooking classes. I will give a huge thumbs up for IVHQ and the local team.

...
CK
Christina Knollman
18 Jan 2024

I gained valuable insight into a developing country and have amazing respect for the fact they are determined to stay positive and hopeful in spite of their challenges. I would recommend anyone hesitant to read the reviews and do their research as I did!

...
MG
Manuel Garcia Estrada
18 Jan 2024

My experience of going to Guatemala to teach English was truly transformative. Not only did I have the opportunity to share my knowledge and skills with eager learners, but I also immersed myself in a rich cultural exchange that broadened my perspective on education and life.

One of the most significant gains from this experience was the deep sense of fulfillment that comes from making a positive impact on others. Teaching English in Guatemala allowed me to witness the power of education in empowering individuals and communities. The resilience and enthusiasm of my students were inspiring, and the bonds formed during my time there are cherished memories.

To those hesitant about embarking on a similar journey, I would wholeheartedly encourage them to take the leap. Teaching abroad is not just about imparting language skills; it's about fostering understanding, building connections, and embracing cultural diversity. The personal growth and the relationships forged during this adventure are unparalleled. My advice would be to approach it with an open heart, be flexible in adapting to new environments, and savor the rewarding moments that teaching and cultural exchange bring. It's an experience that not only benefits others but leaves an indelible mark on your own life journey.

...
MP
Megan Phillips
29 Jan 2021

It was wonderful to see our kids so excited about helping. They really threw themselves into the work. My job is stressful and our cases seem interminable, so I really appreciated the instant gratification of hoeing and painting. It was rewarding to know that the locals who passed by the weather-worn clinic in the morning would see a brighter facade on their way home that day and in the future.

...
JM
Juan Manivel
29 Jan 2021

The trip was very organized, dependable and clear; the folks in Guatemala were extremely knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. The host family where we stayed were outstanding hosts; everything clean, timely, and tasty! They are wonderful people! I really enjoyed the whole experience - volunteering, and the trips that we took to the Mayan ruins and volcano. Guides for the tours to the Mayan ruins and the volcano were extremely knowledgeable, courteous, kind and friendly; it was a real pleasure to enjoy these places and learn. Everything was really FANTASTIC! I have not said much about the volunteering activities; they were the most rewarding part of the trip. Perhaps we contributed a little, but we received more, way more than we gave.

...

To read all reviews, visit our reviews page.

Academic course credit through International Volunteer HQ and Intern Abroad HQ.

Academic course credit

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Volunteer Abroad in Guatemala with IVHQ

Location

When you walk the cobblestone streets of Antigua it is easy to see why it has been made a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Baroque architecture, Spanish colonial churches and brightly painted buildings can be admired on nearly every corner. The urban environment speaks to the rich history of the city which dates back to the 1500s and includes a number of destructive earthquakes which have seen it repaired and rebuilt over a long period of time.

IVHQ’s Guatemala program is based in Antigua with placements in the city and surrounding areas. At these placements you’re likely to see the struggle faced by many Guatemalans living with limited resources. Despite the beauty of the place and its busy tourism industry, Guatemala is one of the poorest countries in Latin America. Its citizens can benefit greatly from the support volunteers can give local initiatives which strive to improve their lives.

Antigua is located approximately 30 minutes from Guatemala City.

Arrival and orientation

WEEK 1: December 16th start date

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City on the Sunday before your start date.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Antigua. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are traveling in Guatemala prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up in Antigua on the day before your program orientation.

Orientation is hosted by our local team at their office in Antigua. Orientation begins on Sunday and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Guatemala – an introduction to Guatemala, Guatemalan customs, language training details, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Guatemala, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

Your check out is at 11am on the last Saturday of your program.

WEEK 2: December 30th start date

After you have registered for the program, please book your flights to arrive at La Aurora International Airport (GUA) in Guatemala City on the Monday before your start date.

When you arrive, you will be greeted at the airport by a member of the local team and transported to the volunteer accommodation in Antigua. Your accommodation is covered by your Program Fee and includes the night before your program orientation.

If you are traveling in Guatemala prior to your volunteer program, we can arrange for you to be picked up in Antigua on the day before your program orientation.

Orientation is hosted by our local team at their office in Antigua. Orientation begins on Monday and covers everything you need to know for your volunteer program in Guatemala – an introduction to Guatemala, Guatemalan customs, language training details, rules and expectations, safety, travel opportunities in Guatemala, and an introduction to your project and placement. The orientation will also give you a chance to meet other volunteers and swap contact details for weekend travel and socializing.

Your check out is at 11am on the last Saturday of your program.

Volunteer schedule example

Please note this is a sample schedule based on last year’s activities. We’ll be updating 2024’s schedule once activities are confirmed.

WEEK 1:

Sunday, December 17th Arrival & Orientation - Arrival, pick-up, transportation to housing and orientation
Monday, December 18th Holiday Party for the Elderly - Spread the Holiday Spirit at an elderly home by playing games, preparing a special holiday snack, dancing, and providing much needed company and conversation.
Tuesday, December 19th Conservation Project - Support eco-sustainable agriculture volunteering alongside local farmers.
Wednesday, December 20th Community Development - Paint, garden, work on light repairs or construction work. Work varies depending on community needs.
Thursday, December 21st Mayan Immersion - Enjoy a day of celebration with a local Mayan community and learn more about how they celebrate the holiday season!
Friday, December 22nd Children’s Holiday Party - Show the kids a great time for the holiday! Play games, arts and crafts– celebrate by bringing gifts and food to the project.
Saturday, December 23rd Departure

WEEK 2:

Sunday, December 24th Arrival & Orientation - Arrival, pick-up, transportation to housing and orientation
Monday, December 25th Christmas Day - Closed
Tuesday, December 26th Holiday Party for the Elderly - Spread the Holiday Spirit at an elderly home by playing games, preparing a special holiday snack, dancing, and providing much needed company and conversation.
Wednesday, December 27th Community Development - Paint, garden, work on light repairs or construction work. Work varies depending on community needs.
Thursday, December 28th Conservation Project - Support eco-sustainable agriculture volunteering next to local farmers.
Friday, December 29th Children’s Holiday Party - Show the kids a great time for the holiday! Play games, arts and crafts– celebrate by bringing gifts and food to the project.
Saturday, December 30th Departure

Accommodation and WiFi

Volunteers who are under the age of 27 are accommodated alongside other volunteers in a large, dormitory style volunteer house, and those over the age of 27 are accommodated in smaller local homestays. If you are traveling as a family, the local team will place you in a home-stay.

Living is comfortable with electricity, running water and western bathrooms. Low pressure showers should be expected and the water is not always heated. You will need to bring your own towel and toiletries, but bed linen is provided.

Bedrooms have single beds and bunk beds with bedding provided. You can expect to share a room with 2 - 6 other volunteers of the same gender. Private room upgrades are available in Antigua and cost $62 per person, per week.

WiFi is available at the volunteer houses and homestays. However, the connection may not be as reliable as what you are used to at home. You will also have access to computers and WiFi at the local team’s office in Antigua.

Please note, volunteers under the age of 18 who are traveling solo will be accommodated separately from those over the age of 18, in a homestay. If there are other volunteers under the age of 18 participating at the same time, the local team will do their best to ensure they are accommodated together.

Meals

Volunteers are provided breakfast and dinner at their accommodation. Breakfast will be bread or tortillas, spreads, fruit and eggs with tea or coffee. Dinner commonly consists of meat, beans, starches and vegetables.

Lunches are not provided to Antigua-based volunteers as they are usually away from their accommodation around midday. We recommend budgeting between CA$4 and CA$7 per day to buy lunch at local restaurants recommended by staff. Tap water in Guatemala is not potable and drinking water is not provided for you in your accommodation, however bottled water is easy to purchase and inexpensive throughout Guatemala. Tap water can be used for showers and brushing your teeth.

When you apply for the program, please be sure to notify us of any special dietary requirements so we can make arrangements for you.

Pricing

  • USD
Duration
Program Fee
Due 30 days before you start, or within 48 hours if you register inside of 30 days. Covers the cost of hosting you.
  • USD
1 week CA$668 Equivalent to CA$96/day
2 weeks CA$1145 Equivalent to CA$82/day
  • Accommodation
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • 24/7 in-country support
  • In-country program orientation
  • Pre-departure support from your Program Manager
  • Airport pick-up
  • Personalized preparation tools, guides and check lists
  • Access to IVHQ’s preferred insurance and flights partners
  • Discounts on language lessons
  • Discounts on travel and tour add-ons
  • Certificate of International Volunteer Service

Learn more about what's included in your IVHQ Registration Fee and Program Fee.

  • All programs attract a Registration Fee of US$329 (approximately CA$467) in addition to the Program Fee. This covers all pre-departure support services. IVHQ fees are priced in USD but you may elect to pay in CAD.
  • A 5% international banking fee is added at point of payment.
  • Additional things to budget for include: Visa, flights, travel insurance (mandatory), vaccinations, criminal background check, public transportation to and from your placement each day and return to the airport when your program finishes.
  • Recommended spending money: Volunteers in Guatemala generally find US$100 per week to be sufficient for expenses, such as lunches (except for Beach and Turtle Conservation and Mayan Cultural Immersion volunteers), in-country tours, and Spanish language lessons.

Free-time experiences & tours in Guatemala

Take your volunteer experience to the next level with IVHQ's affordable activity and tour add-ons in Guatemala! Explore your options below and learn how to book them once you've been accepted onto the IVHQ Guatemala program.

Coffee Farm Tour (Half Day)
Coffee Farm Tour (Half Day)

Step into the world of coffee excellence in the lush highlands of Guatemala

CA$112
Mini Adventure (6 days, 7 nights)
Mini Adventure (6 days, 7 nights)

See all of Guatemala’s major hot spots on this 1-week Mini Adventure tour.

CA$1578
Volcano Tour (Half day)
Volcano Tour (Half day)

Trek up Pacaya Volcano, a fully active volcano and national park. Enjoy breathtaking views and learn about Guatemala’s natural history.

CA$69
Mini Adventure (6 days, 7 nights)
Mini Adventure (6 days, 7 nights)

See all of Guatemala’s major hot spots on this 1-week Mini Adventure tour.

CA$1578
Coffee Farm Tour (Half Day)
Coffee Farm Tour (Half Day)

Step into the world of coffee excellence in the lush highlands of Guatemala

CA$112
Volcano Tour (Half day)
Volcano Tour (Half day)

Trek up Pacaya Volcano, a fully active volcano and national park. Enjoy breathtaking views and learn about Guatemala’s natural history.

CA$69

Affordable Spanish language lessons

Fluency in Spanish is not a prerequisite for the IVHQ Guatemala program, however on certain projects volunteer work will be restricted with limited language ability. We recommend that volunteers take advantage of the very affordable language lessons offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers by our partner staff in Guatemala. Past volunteers feel that taking these lessons help immensely with day-to-day volunteer work and communicating with local people. Volunteers interested in taking Spanish lessons can arrange these directly with the IVHQ Program Manager prior to departure. The language lessons are tailored to each volunteer’s current level of Spanish and classes run from Monday through to Friday. The cost is very affordable and offered exclusively to IVHQ volunteers. These lessons are not available for volunteers during the Beach and Turtle Conservation project, Mayan Cultural Immersion project, Eco-Agriculture project or Holiday Experience project due to the remoteness of these project locations. Volunteers on these projects can arrange lessons before or after their projects if they wish to stay longer in Antigua.

  • 2-hour Small Group Classes: from CA$92 per week
  • 1-hour Private Classes: from CA$99 per week
  • 2-hour Private Classes: from CA$199 per week

How to book IVHQ’s language lessons: When you apply for your IVHQ volunteer program, make a note in your application of the language classes you’re interested in.

Once you’ve paid your registration fee, your IVHQ Program Manager will be able to book your place on your chosen language classes.

Check what's required to visit Guatemala

Safety and support with IVHQ

Safety and support

IVHQ follows best practice and industry-leading health and safety procedures, which are regularly reviewed and optimized as part of the B Corporation recertification.

  • All volunteers encouraged to complete our interactive pre-departure training.
  • All local teams trained on best practice volunteer management & First Aid.
  • All IVHQ programs are required to adhere to IVHQ's Risk Management Policy.
  • All volunteers have access to 24/7 in-country support from our local team.
Learn more about IVHQ's safety

Essential country information

Capital Guatemala City
Population 15.08 million
Languages Spanish
Currency Guatemalan Quetzal (GTQ)
Time zone UTC−06:00

Weather and climate: Guatemala has a range of micro climates and the high altitude of Guatemala City results in a subtropical highland climate in this region. There aren’t distinct seasons in Guatemala and the temperature is typically mild year round. Temperatures range from 22°C to 28°C (72°F to 82°F) during the day, and 12°C to 17°C (54°F to 63°F) at night. The country attracts winds and rain during the months of May to October with the hottest month being April.

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