Looking for the best 2020 and 2021 volunteer abroad programs? Here you can find IVHQ’s list of top volunteer abroad opportunities, featuring 17 of our most recommended volunteer trips for 2020 and 2021.
As the world’s leading provider of top rated volunteer abroad programs, IVHQ is taking the struggle out of your search for the best volunteer abroad programs. With feedback from over 10,000 volunteers and insight from our experienced volunteer abroad support staff, we’re sharing the top 17 volunteer abroad trips that receive the best reviews from our volunteers.
Where are the best places to Volunteer Abroad in 2020 and 2021?
- Best volunteer opportunities in Africa
- Best volunteer travel programs in Asia
- Best volunteer opportunities abroad in South America and Central America
- Best volunteer abroad programs in Europe
- Best Volunteer programs according to the Lonely Planet Best In Travel 2020 Guide
- Best volunteer abroad programs for high school students
- Best volunteer abroad programs for college students
- Top volunteer abroad programs for older adults
- Best volunteer vacations for families
- Best medical volunteer abroad programs for 2020 and 2021
- Top volunteer programs for one week
- Best new volunteer programs
What makes a good volunteer abroad program?
Before we explore the best volunteer abroad programs for 2020 and 2021, here’s some important context to understand the criteria these volunteer programs are measured against…
Before you embark on your volunteer abroad experience, it pays to be supported by the best of the best. As the world leaders in volunteer travel, IVHQ has an easy to use website and specialist support team to help you find the right volunteer program to match your motivations, skills and the causes you care about. Once you’ve found the right volunteer program and registered to volunteer overseas with IVHQ, you’ll be connected with a dedicated Volunteer Travel Specialist to support you on your journey. You’ll also gain access to the full suite of preparation tools within your MyIVHQ account. Here, you can access your detailed program guide, online volunteer training and customised preparation checklist to ensure you’re all set to volunteer overseas. It’s IVHQ’s wrap-around support services and superior pre-departure tools which help to ensure you’re all set for the volunteer abroad trip of a lifetime.
24/7 support abroad
Once you’re registered to volunteer abroad with IVHQ, we work to ensure your international volunteer experience goes to plan. Our commitment to delivering the world’s best volunteer travel programs and attention to detail is continued by the local teams that we work with in each volunteer destination. You can count on them to support you throughout your volunteer experience, from the moment you step off the airplane. This includes organizing your airport pick-up, program orientation and 24/7 support while you’re abroad. IVHQ works closely with these local teams day in, day out to ensure that your volunteer abroad experience is the best it can be.
Responsible volunteer work with an ethical organisation
There are a large number of factors to consider when determing which volunteer abroad programs are best, however one of the most important aspects is always the volunteer work itself. IVHQ’s locally-led programs are designed to ensure you can make a positive contribution to important causes through your volunteer work abroad. This is achieved by working in collaboration with local people who are in the best position to determine where volunteer support is most needed. It’s crucial that when you’re looking for legitimate volunteer abroad programs, you consider how your time abroad will impact the community you’ll be supporting. Your focus should be on building capacity and working alongside the local community, so it’s important that your volunteer work is driven by their needs and you’re actively considering how you can add the most value through the program you choose to join.
What happens to my program fee?
That’s why IVHQ works with local organisations in each destination and operates with an open and transparent fee structure to help you understand exactly where your money is going. Your Program Fee is paid separately because this goes to IVHQ’s in-country local team to cover the expenses associated with your stay. This focus on the local community and transparent and fair fees are two defining aspects that help make IVHQ the world leader in volunteer travel.
Trusted accommodation and meals
After a day of volunteering, nothing beats coming home to a comfortable home away from home. When volunteering abroad with IVHQ, you’ll be living in the company of like-minded volunteers from around the world. The accommodation options vary from coutry to country but you can be confident that you’ll always have a safe and vetted place to call home. You could be living in a homestay with a few other volunteers, a volunteer house with dormitory-style rooms or you may wish to request a private room if that option is available. Depending on the volunteer program you choose to join, you can be served up to three meals a day. Volunteer meals are typically made up of local cuisine so you’ll have the opportunity to sample traditional home cooked meals that can often accommodate special dietary requirements.
The best volunteer abroad programs are the ones that deliver the biggest impact through mutually beneficial exchanges between international volunteers and their host communities. When volunteering abroad with IVHQ, you can feel confident that you’ll be contributing to locally-driven volunteer projects that are supporting important social and environmental objectives, while enabling you to gain an immersive cultural experience.
Without further ado, here are the 13 best international volunteer programs, as decided over 5000 reviews:
Best 2020 / 2021 volunteer abroad programs In Africa:
Volunteer Abroad in Victoria Falls in 2020 / 2021
Not only is this one of the best opportunities to volunteer in Africa with animals, Victoria Falls offers one of the top wildlife conservation volunteer programs. Volunteers are based on a private game reserve near the magical Victoria Falls - a once in a lifetime experience for volunteering abroad with animals! Volunteer work is focused on the unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience in conservation management activities and assist with ongoing research. Imagine volunteering abroad in a setting where your backyard has breathtaking views over a zebra-filled savannah - Victoria Falls is just that!
While the work is physically demanding, you’ll be beyond rewarded for your efforts with highlights including a night camping in the reserve itself! If you want to volunteer abroad with animals and are passionate about conservation and wildlife volunteering, IVHQ’s Victorial Falls program is sure to deliver an unforgettable experience that will stay with you long after you return home.
Volunteer Abroad in Ghana in 2020 / 2021
Volunteers on the Ghana program consistently rave about the immersive cultural experience and welcoming community vibes. The local people you’ll work with and the incredible support team will make you feel at home from the moment you land in Ghana. The local team has a long history of providing dedicated support to ensure IVHQ volunteers achieve positive outcomes across the communities they work within.
As a volunteer in Ghana, you’ll develop a strong sense of connection to your host community and your contribution will be recognised with a great deal of gratitude from your local hosts. There are also plenty of opportunities for volunteers to make the most of free time and weekends in Ghana. You’ll be able to explore Ghana’s best kept secrets, thanks to the popular tips the local team can offer. Explore our 2020 and 2021 volunteer opportunities in Ghana below.
Volunteer Abroad in South Africa in 2020 / 2021
If you’re a first time traveller, solo traveller or have never been to Africa, volunteering abroad in South Africa in 2020 or 2021 is a popular choice! It has the character of Africa with easy access to surfing, hiking and even weekend safari tours. Set in Cape Town against the striking backdrop of Table Mountain, the setting itself makes IVHQ’s South Africa program incredibly popular for those looking for a meaningful travel experience. Not only that, but the volunteer work in South Africa receives outstanding reviews from IVHQ volunteers, making it one of the best volunteer programs in Africa.
With volunteer projects like Surf Outreach, Teaching English and Sports Development, there is a significant focus on youth development and increasing access to education within under-resourced communities in Cape Town. As one of the most popular volunteer destinations, we offer projects options in two locations within Cape Town. Find out which South Africa volunteer project is best for you or explore more of our 2020 and 2021 Africa volunteer opportunities below.
Best 2020 / 2021 volunteer abroad programs in Asia:
Volunteer Abroad in India - Kerala in 2020 / 2021
India has captivated travellers for generations, and for good reason! It’s mixture of vibrant sights, sounds and colors, spirited people, dynamic cultures and vivid atmosphere all combined to create a truly remarkable country to visit. As a volunteer in India, you’ll build authentic connections with locals by supporting volunteer projects that meet the needs of the local communities. It’s a rare chance to be immersed within the Indian culture and to get an authentic sense of what the country is about.
When volunteering abroad in India with IVHQ, you’ll have access to a trusted support network and the help of a 24/7 local team which takes the hassle out of organising your India volunteer experience. As an IVHQ volunteer, you can choose to volunteer in Kerala, a laid-back region in southern India, or sign up for volunteering in Delhi, the fast-paced capital of India.
Volunteer Abroad in Vietnam in 2020
Vietnam is known for its culture, cuisine and natural beauty. As a volunteer in Vietnam, you’ll get to experience a mix of all that, as well as many local secrets and traditional traveller highlights. At the same time, you’ll help make a positive and lasting contribution to the Vietnamese community that you’re immersed in, making it the best way to experience Vietnam.
Volunteers are highly valued by the local community and the welcoming nature of the IVHQ Vietnam local team makes this volunteer program a firm favourites with Vietnam volunteer program participants. You can volunteer in Vietnam teaching English or if you’re on the path to a medical career, this is one of IVHQ’s best medical volunteer abroad programs. Learn more about becoming a volunteer in Vietnam.
Volunteer Abroad in Bali, Indonesia in 2020 / 2021
If you’re looking for the one of the top volunteer programs in Asia, look no further than Bali. As a volunteer in Bali, you can choose from two locations: Ubud - the cultural hub of Bali, or Lovina - the laid-back coastal beach town. (Find out where you should volunteer in Bali).
This volunteer program is perfect for surfers, nature lovers or anyone looking for a volunteer opportunity off the beaten path. The Bali program is one of IVHQ’s best volunteer abroad programs, with between 40-80 volunteers starting each month. There are six different projects available, with everything from Turtle Conservation to Kindergarten Support, so there’s plenty of variety to customize your meaningful volunteer trip to Asia.
Volunteer Abroad in Nepal in 2020 / 2021
Volunteer in Nepal in 2020 and 2021 and experience it all! It’s a country full of colour, culture, incredible landscapes and friendly people. One of the highlights of the Nepal program is just how varied the placement locations are with volunteer projects loacted in Kathmandu, Chitwan, Chitlang and Pokhara. IVHQ’s 2020 and 2021 Nepal volunteer program is perfect for volunteers looking for a wide range of volunteer opportunities in truly unique locations throughout the country.
Nepal is well known to be a safe option for volunteers travelling solo and IVHQ volunteers have found there’s plenty of sightseeing opportunities and local attractions to explore in your free time. A special one week program is also available if you’re looking for short-term volunteer opportunities in Asia.
Best 2020 and 2021 volunteer abroad programs in South America and Central America:
Volunteer Abroad in Colombia in 2020 / 2021
Something about the Colombia volunteer program means volunteers become incredibly passionate about their work and always go above and beyond to make a difference. With a diverse range of volunteer project options to suit every volunteer’s skills and motivations, paired with a local team that is driven and enthusiastic about their country and what they do, you’re guarenteed to have a meaningful volunteer experience in Colombia.
Volunteer Abroad in Ecuador in 2020 / 2021
Volunteers on our Ecuador volunteer program can choose from a range of volunteer abroad projects, including Teaching English, Street Children Work, School Support, Kindergarten, Summer Project and NGO Support. The program is based in Ecuador’s capital city of Quito and its hinterland. Nestled high in the Andes, Quito is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in South America. Despite this aesthetic beauty, there is a great need for volunteers to assist with the development of the city.
Past volunteers have told us they can see just how worthwhile their work has been. This means when it comes time to pack your bags, you can set off knowing you’ve signed up for a life-changing and meaningful experience!
If you’re looking for volunteer opportunities in Ecuador in a more costal setting, explore the volunteer project options in Santa Elena, based on the Pacific coast.
Volunteer Abroad in Peru in 2020 / 2021
For the many volunteers, their experiences volunteering in Peru are some of the best of their lives. With 10 different project options, you can choose volunteer work such as Amazonian Jungle Conservation or the Medical Volunteer project.
You can chosse to volunteer in Peru’s capital - Lima, or the gateway to Machu Picchu - Cusco. Lima volunteer programs offer some of IVHQ’s most affordable program fees, starting from $180 for 1 week, while Cusco is popular for volunteers wanting to experience life in the ancient city of Cusco. During your weekends, you’ll have easy access from either location to iconic Machu Picchu, as well as Rainbow Mountain, Lake Titicaca and the Salt Mines. It’s easy to see why Peru offers one of our top rated volunteer programs and such an incredible destination to explore!
Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica in 2020 / 2021
Volunteering in Costa Rica in 2020 and 2021 allows you to see many sides to this beautiful country. Known for its beaches, volcanoes and biodiversity, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the vast rainforests and coastlines during your free time. IVHQ offers a diverse range of volunteer locations in Costa Rica, including Costa Rica’s capital city, San Jose, and Manuel Antonio on the Pacific Coast.
In both volunteer locations, you can take part in Childcare, Teaching English, and Healthcare. Unique to our San Jose location is Eco-Agriculture Conservation, Construction and Renovation, Special Needs Care and Turtle Conservation volunteer project options.
When you’re not volunteering, there is no shortage of volcano, wildlife or island day trips right on your doorstep, and we can help you plan this before you arrive.
Best volunteer abroad programs in Europe:
Volunteer Abroad in Italy in 2020 / 2021
Volunteering in Naples, Italy in 2020 and 2021 will have you situated on the Southern coast of Italy. This picturesque city sits along the coastline, with the nearby Mount Vesuvius as its iconic backdrop. Volunteer opportunities in Naples include After School Care, Teaching English, Environmental and NGO Support.
Whether it’s the mouth watering Italian cuisine (welcome to pizza heaven), significant historical sites like Pompeii and Mount Vesuvius, or the stunning Mediterranean, Naples has you covered. You can experience all these in your spare time, and your IVHQ Travel Expert can help and local team can help arrange it for you. IVHQ volunteers can also join Italy volunteer programs in the capital city of Rome with options ranging from NGO Support to Feeding the Homeless.
Volunteer Abroad in Romania in 2020 / 2021
Is the appeal of Europe drawing you in? Our 2020 / 2021 Romania volunteer program is the stand-out option, with its misty mountains, vast forests and fascinating history. The IVHQ Romania volunteer program consistently gets fantastic volunteer feedback, with the in-country program support often singled out for special praise.
The local team in Romaina welcomes every volunteer into community, giving you a rare insight into authentic Romanian life and culture. There is plenty to keep volunteers busy in their downtime, with the rest of Europe on your doorstep. The program is based in the town of Miercurea Ciuc in the distinctive region of eastern Transylvania. IVHQ has a wide range of top rated volunteer abroad projects available in Romania - explore them here.
Volunteer Programs To Match The Best Lonely Planet Destinations In 2020:
Every year, the Lonely Planet Best in Travel guide gives travelers a look at the coolest up and coming travel destinations all over the world. In 2020, four IVHQ volunteer programs feature in some of Lonely Planet’s best places to travel:
Volunteer Abroad in India - Kerala
IVHQ’s India - Kerala volunteer program is based in the coastal city of Kochi, which is an eclectic old town recognised by Lonely Planet as one of the world’s top 10 cities to visit in 2020. This is India done differently - tropical, laid back and without the intense hustle and bustle of other parts of the country. With a perfect mixture of cool, contemporary cafes and shops and authentic cultural galleries and shows, Kochi is genuine and enjoyable.
The Kerala volunteer program has 6 top-rated volunteer programs in Kindergarten, Teaching, Women’s Education, Special Needs Care, Medical and Dentistry.
Volunteer Abroad in Morocco
Morocco’s biggest city, Marrakech, has been named Africa’s Capital of Culture in 2020. Not only that, but Morocco is one of Lonely Planet’s top countries to visit, as a unique cultural destination that’s made vast improvements in its infrastructure to make for a better tourist experience.
IVHQ has two programs in Morocco - one based in Rabat, Casablanca and Sale that has 6 community-based projects, and one in Marrakech that’s home to 5 volunteer projects. Morocco is a fusion of colourful European, African and Middle Eastern influences that result in an upbeat lifestyle perfect for travellers seeking an upbeat trip.
Volunteer Abroad in Costa Rica
Another one of Lonely Planet’s top countries to visit in 2020, Costa Rica is a shining light for sustainability across most of what it does. Many of the best attractions are based in nature, and it’s cosy enough that you can visit rainforests, volcanoes and beaches in just one day.
Costa Rica is one of IVHQ’s most popular programs, with 12 diverse and responsible projects that include unique Turtle Conservation and Eco-Agriculture Conservation options.
Volunteer Abroad in Argentina
Northeast Argentina is stunning, untouched country that Lonely Planet has recognised as one of the top 10 regions to visit in 2020. The famous Iguazú falls are a highlight, and the rugged beauty of the surrounding National Park will keep outdoor lovers happy and entertained.
IVHQ’s Argentina volunteer programs are located in the cultural hub of Córdoba and coastal capital, Buenos Aires, which are both within a short flight of the iconic Northeast Argentina region, making it an ideal weekend escape for volunteers.
Best volunteer abroad programs for high school students:
We’ve got 15 volunteer programs around the globe that high school students can take part in. Whether you’re travelling as an individual or with a group, read our comprehensive High School Volunteer Abroad Guide which details the destinations and projects available for high school volunteering abroad, as well as the dedicated support that’s provided for teen volunteering.
Also, new for 2020 is the chance to take part in a tailored experience just for teenage volunteers abroad! Our Youth Adventure Packages are set tours that offer the perfect mix of seeing the attractions of a new country and volunteering on meaningful projects as a teen. You’ll also be traveling with people your own age and have just the right amount of supervision to keep your parents happy!
Best volunteer abroad programs for college students:
Volunteering abroad as a college student is the perfect opportunity to broaden your career prospects and immerse yourself in a foreign community during your break period. If you’d like to learn more about how volunteering abroad can benefit you and discover our best volunteer abroad programs for college students, check out our helpful guide - Volunteer Abroad For College Students.
Whether you’re setting out for your first adventure abroad or you’re well traveled, here are some amazing volunteer destinations that are popular with college students because of their program price, flexibility and community impact.
Top volunteer abroad programs for older adults:
When we leave our youth, it’s all too common to lose our spirit for adventure and feel as though opportunities aren’t suited for us. Luckily, volunteering abroad has no barriers for older adults. If you’re looking for a new life direction or if you’re highly skilled at what you do, volunteering allows you to connect with a local community and provide meaningful support in your chosen field.
The best thing about IVHQ is that you can travel in your own style. Room upgrades are available in most of our volunteer destinations, so you can choose to have your own privacy or be immersed with other volunteers on your program. Take a look at our Best Volunteer Programs For Grown Ups Guide for all you need to know, or check out some of these recommended options:
Best volunteer vacations for families:
The family vacation has taken a different form in 2020, with more and more families looking for meaningful multi-generational travel experiences over traditional resort-style vacations. Volunteering allows families to work together in ways not possible on your average vacation, while still gaining all the perks of visiting a new destination, experiencing local cuisine and seeing the attractions. If you’re looking for recommendations for family volunteer opportunities, check out our helpful Volunteer Vacations for Families Guide and take the family on a trip they won’t forget.
Best medical volunteer abroad programs in 2020 / 2021:
Volunteering abroad has long been a popular option for college students working towards a career in medical fields. Put your theory work into practice as you provide meaningful medical volunteer assistance to underserved communities around the world. Medical volunteering abroad is the perfect way to make the most of your semester break, gain international healthcare experience and give back to communities that value your support. Check out our extensive range of medical volunteer opportunities in our Medical Mission Trips article.
Top volunteer programs for one week:
Strapped for time, but still want to volunteer in other countries and do meaningful volunteer work? IVHQ offers fantastic volunteer opportunities to suit a range of travel styles. Take a look at our Volunteer Trips Abroad You Can Take For 1 or 2 Weeks Guide, which details more than 10 destinations and the type of traveller they would suit.
If you’re looking for something else, here are a few other top programs based on FAQs:
Where’s the best volunteer abrod trip if you want a personalized volunteer experience?
If you’re looking for an awesome volunteer program that’s a bit smaller then look no further than volunteering in China.
What’s the best place to volunteer and then fill my weekends with adventures?
You can’t beat spending your weekend on safari in Tanzania.
Best new volunteer abroad programs for 2020 / 2021:
As part of our commitment to enabling volunteer travelers to see the world and use travel as a force for good, IVHQ is proud to offer four new volunteer opportunities in 2020:
Volunteer Abroad in Spain - Barcelona in 2020 / 2021
Take a volunteer adventure in Barcelona to discover the ins and outs of this cosmopolitan city. You’ll be placed at the heart of the city while volunteering on meaningful community-driven projects among the world-famous art and architecture. Volunteer placements include Marine Conservation, Youth Support and Special Needs Support. As an IVHQer, you’ll be immersed in this historic Spanish city, working alongide locals and other international volunteers and making valuable contributions to projects that value your support.
Volunteer Abroad in Jordan in 2020 / 2021
Jordan is experiencing a surge in hosting tourists from all over the world, as a place of vast tradition and ancient culture.Volunteering in Jordan offers the ultimate adventure for those wanting to experience the Middle East and get off the beaten track in the comfort of a modern city. Join volunteer projects in Youth Support, Teaching, Special Needs Support, Arts and Music, Women’s Education and a unique Ramadan option during April and May. As an IVHQer, you’ll be volunteering in the capital city of Amman and enjoying incredible attractions like the ancient city of Petra and the world-renowned Wadi Rum in your spare time.
Volunteer Abroad in Puerto Rico in 2020 / 2021
A stunning island in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is bursting with character and culture. The country is a unique melting pot of influences from South America, Europe, North America and the wider Caribbean, resulting in a laid back, tropical and Latin feel. Volunteer work in Puerto Rico is focused on assisting with widely felt social issues resulting from Hurricane Maria in 2017, with projects in Youth Support, Environmental Sustainability, NGO Support and Community Development. Puerto Rico is home to many things you can’t find anywhere else - from the brightly-colored Old Town in San Juan to some of the world’s only unique bioluminescent lakes!
Volunteer Abroad in Croatia in 2020 / 2021
A gem of the Mediterranean, Croatia is a glistening coastal country that has fast become a favorite for travelers to Europe - especially in the summer. Our Croatia volunteer program is based in the popular city of Split, which is vibrant all year round, and has become iconic as the film set to a whole bunch of Game of Thrones scenes. Volunteer projects include Marine Conservation, Youth Support, Teaching, Animal Care, Special Needs Support and a unique Creative Technologies opportunity. There’s nothing like watching the sunset over the Mediterranean coast from an idyllic beach-side perch.
If you want to volunteer in other countries and are still having a hard time deciding which volunteer abroad program is best for you, IVHQ has programs in more than 40 destinations around the world. So grab out the map and start planning your volunteer trip around the globe.