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Top Trip Memories

  • Working alongside locals to help protect endangered sea turtles
  • Watching animals being cared for before their release back to their natural habitat
  • Experiencing life in a Buddhist monastery in Northern India, teaching novice monks in a temple school
  • Learning Lao’s culture, history, food, religion and language
  • Assisting children with physical and mental disabilities
  • Giving a presentation about autism in Mongolia, via videos, pictures, and a translator.
  • Teaching the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears through song, in an underprivileged area of Buenos Aires.
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Tour Tips

  • When selecting a volunteering trip, do your research carefully, and make sure that the organization you volunteer with really benefits the community, as well as creating an enjoyable experience for you.
  • Think about what work you'd enjoy doing, not just about where you want to go. If you enjoy teaching English, great, but if not, there are plenty of other options to choose from.
  • Remember, volunteering can (and should) be hard work. If you want to make a real difference, be prepared to put in the effort and hours that you would put into your job back home. Needless to say, seeing the results of your effort makes it all worth it.
  • Different organizations offer different levels of support, so ask questions before you book. Will accommodation be provided? Will you be working with other volunteers? Will transport be arranged in advance? If this is your first extended trip abroad, or if you're going alone, you may want to choose an organization that places you with other volunteers and provides a higher level of support.
  • Don't expect outpourings of gratitude. Just because you're a volunteer doesn't mean your students won't act up, customers won't complain, or you won't be given menial tasks to do.
  • Speaking English isn't the only requirement to be a good English teacher. Consider doing a TEFL course to improve your teaching skills, and be sure to set time aside to create fun and engaging lesson plans.
  • Try to learn some of the local language, even if most of your interactions will be in English.
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Volunteering Travel Reviews & Ratings

4.8 out of 5

100%

recommend

15 Reviews

  • Excellent 12
  • Great 3
  • Average 0
  • Disappointing 0
  • Terrible 0

Rating Details

  • Value
    4.6
  • Guide
    4.7
  • Activities
    4.8
  • Lodging
    4.8
  • Transportation
    4.8
  • Meals
    4.8

Tour Reviews

I had a great time volunteering at Baphumelele with their day care center.

Township Community Center – Volunteering in South Africa

4.0
January 2017
Give A Day Global
Recommend: Yes
The children were amazing and it was easy to get there and get involved. I would highly recommend checking them out if you have some time during your travels in Cape Town.

I would recommend it to everyone!

Teach Arts and Crafts – Volunteering in Costa Rica

4.0
January 2017
Give A Day Global
Recommend: Yes
We volunteered on our Honeymoon in Costa Rica and I would recommend it to everyone! There is no better way to truly learn about a country and its people than to volunteer and give back to the community.
5.0
January 2017
Give A Day Global
Recommend: Yes
If you are seeking an opportunity to get to know the countries and communities you are visiting on a deeper level, definitely partake in Give a Day Global! The teams both at Give A Day Global and at FIMRC were exceptionally helpful and welcoming, leading to my very special volunteer experience in Costa Rica.

One of the more meaningful things I did!

Teach, Read, Learn – Volunteering in South Africa

5.0
January 2017
Give A Day Global
Recommend: Yes
Spending a day with Masicorp was one of the more meaningful things I did during my stay in Cape Town. They gave us a safe, exciting experience into the culture and provided us with the opportunity to give back to the community. It was wonderful having lunch with one of the businesses they support and seeing the beautiful coast of Cape Town.
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Good for tourism, not so much for learning

Wildlife Research in South Africa Expedition

4.0
October 2016
Global Vision International
Recommend: Yes
I did the GVI internship on April last year - which is basically the expedition but with a few extras. For that I spent 3 months on a game reserve and another 3 months in a work place.
First thing you should know: game reserves are, above everything else, a business. There's no truly wild place in South Africa. Being the property of someone and a profitable business, it must be managed. I would say the reserve is like a zoo without cages.
For that, we need to give way to the tourists satying at the lodges, going on game drives. As I said, the reserve is a business, and a lot of wrong decisions can be made, not regarding the well being of the wildlife. What we in our time in GVI is locating everyday the lions and the semi-imprinted cheetah (which sometimes you will get out of the vehicle and go into the block to locate her on foot). We take basic data as behaviour, location and wheater conditions and type it at the computer back at base. Only the volunteer responsible for data on that specific drive will do it, though. Other activities during drive include operating the telemetry equipment, doing vehicle check before drive, operating the spotlight on the way back to base when it's already dark.
We collect data on other animals we might come across, like rhinos, elephants, buffalos, hyenas, etc. But these we do not track, so it's not the priority to locate first, coming across them only by chance or if we have time left after finding the "key" animals.
Sometimes volunteers will do other tasks such as reserve work by cleaning the roads, educational bush walks, base work (which is a rotation of volunteers to look after the base - cooking, cleaning - during the day).
As an intern, you will have some extra activities that the common volunteers don't. That would be basically for your education about the bush and conservation through game reserves. You will have a few lectures and will have to do some assignments. You will have a mentor to talk about your goals. And you will learn about tracks, birds and trees. But most of your knowledge, will come from your own effort. There as several books available at base and staff members willing to answer your questions. But if you don't commit yourself with your self education, you won't learn as much as you could.
There's three bathrooms, two of them with shower (not the best of showers, but at least there's hot water). Currently there are three dorms for volunteers. Most of the matress are very old and used and you will sleep on bunk beds. It's something you can get used to quickly, sleep in a room full of people and later on you can even miss it. Most of volunteers go to bed early, before 9, as we need to get up before the sun rise. The meals are prepared by the volunteers in charge, a pre made menu that can be adjusted to any diet requirements.

My second part of the program was spent in CROW (Centre for Rehabilitation of Wildlife) based on Durban. Even if I had all the help from GVI to get there, with tips of flights, places to stay and transport, I had to deal with the costs.
CROW has nothing to do with GVI except the booking, so I won't give the feedback of my time there here. But I got there thanks to GVI. When calculating the fee for volunteering at CROW, through GVI the value is around 4 to 5 times more. So if you're interested, I recommend booking directly with CROW and not any travel or volunteering agency.

The cost for internship or volunteering with GVI is very high. There are plenty of game reserves that take volunteers for much less. Of course I can only talk about my experience with GVI, and in general I'm really thankful that it started a 2 year journey through South Africa. In the end was definetely worth it. I will always remember my time at the reserve and cherish deeply as one of the greatest moments of my life.

I recommend this program for whoever wants to do a safari in South Africa and take good pictures while making friends and getting closer to the environment. Is a much better way to know the wildlife and also to keep yourself busy during a trip. You will have an amazing experience. It just wouldn't be my first option for an educational internship.
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Top Tour Operators and Travel Companies


Volunteering Trips & Tour Advice

For those interested in going beyond simple responsible tourism, volunteering is an excellent avenue. Many guided tour companies incorporate this directly into their mission statement and focus on volunteering as a part of their tours. You might help build a home, volunteer at a local school, or help out at an elephant sanctuary. Do good and travel!

When choosing a volunteer placement, take into account what you are interested in, where you'd like to go, and how long you can volunteer for. Here are just some of the options for volunteering abroad.

Teaching

Teaching can be an incredibly rewarding experience, as not only is it a lot of fun, but you get to see the results of your effort day by day. Teaching English is a common choice for native English speakers who want to volunteer abroad, as English teaching placements are available in just about every country.

However, don't assume that just because you speak English means you can teach it. Being a good teacher requires creativity, knowledge of teaching methods, enthusiasm, and a lot of patience. Consider doing a TEFL course before your placement, and research fun and effective lessons plans. Be sure to set long and short term goals, and put effort into planning your lessons.

Remember, English is just one of many things you can teach abroad. Consider what you're interested in- maybe you could lead an after school art club, or coach a soccer team. It doesn't have to be in an English speaking country, as many schools abroad welcome lessons that are taught through English.

Conservation

Working for the conservation of forests in Myanmar, islands in the Seychelles, or beaches in Costa Rica, can be a rewarding way to spend your volunteering placement. Not only will you be helping to conserve an ecosystem, it's also a great way to immerse yourself in a new environment. This work is particularly suited to those who love the outdoors and physical activity. Be sure to choose a placement that is suited to your health and fitness levels.

Animals

From observing elephant behavior in Thailand, to researching wildlife in South Africa, to rehabilitating animals in Peru, volunteering with animals can be an incredible experience.

Before booking a placement, make sure the organization promotes sustainability and ethical treatment of animals. Also, have realistic expectations about what work you'll be doing. Your placement may involve less cuddling pandas, and more shoveling manure.

Construction

By volunteering with building projects, from houses to schools to wells, you help provide much needed resources to an area. The work can be physically demanding, but can also be rewarding, as you can see a project through from start to finish and also see how much it benefits the community.

Be wary of volunteering following a natural disaster. You may go with the best of intentions, but do your research thoroughly to see if you actually can contribute. Unless you are specially trained in disaster relief or construction, you may end up using up valuable resources, while not being of much help.

Childcare

Volunteering with children doesn't have to mean teaching. Placements can involve working with children in the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, or helping at an orphanage in Nepal, or taking care of children in Fiji. Working with children requires patience and enthusiasm, and can be a fun learning experience for both the children and for you.

Volunteering in Your Field

While some people may want to use their volunteering opportunity as a chance to try a different job, it's worth considering using your skill set when volunteering. For example, if you are a qualified engineer, your engineering skills will likely be far more useful than your English teaching skills. While it may seem on the surface that you are doing the same job as back home, bringing your skills abroad opens up doors for exciting new experiences and the chance to make a real difference. Or, you could look into training people abroad to do the work you do back home, especially if you work in a field that is newly emerging in another country. For example, an occupational therapist can provide useful training and advice in a country where this therapy is not yet commonplace.

Other

When choosing a volunteer placement, there really is no limit to where you can go and what you can do. So browse through Stride's list of volunteering trips and find the one that's perfect for you!

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