Top 5 Volunteer Travel Programs

GUIDES

5 Fun Voluntourism Travel Experiences

Combining fun, exploration and doing good into memorable travel experiences.

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We travel to relax. We travel to explore. We travel to experience other cultures. We travel to escape our lives even if just for a brief moment in time. Now, imagine doing all of that while changing the lives of others for the better at the same time; making a difference. Contributing to the culture and community you are visiting instead of just taking from it. It may seem like a novel concept, but more and more socially minded travelers are using their time off in search of more than just a beach or a posh resort. Immersive experiences that connect you with the place, the people and best of all, do good.

5 Fun Voluntourism Travel Experiences

It’s a proven fact: the happiest people in the world are the ones who feel they have ‘purpose’

Most people would love the opportunity to experience such a trip but don’t know how to go about it. So, in the interest of humanity and travelers everywhere, we have scoured the globe and found the five best “voluntourism” experiences. There are a variety of companies that offer volunteer travel programs, but we have honed the list to two of the leaders in the field:

  1. Global Vision International — a leader in voluntourism travel offering immersive experiences in more than a dozen countries ranging from two weeks to six months in the fields of conservation, education and empowerment to name a few.
  2. Earthwatch Institute — a non-profit whose trips are mostly centered on wildlife protection, ocean health, climate change and archaeology.

Both share the goal of positively impacting a local community while creating an incredible travel experience.

5 Fun Voluntourism Travel Experiences

Volunteerism travel is a great way to meet like-minded people

These trips of a lifetime include tracking wild animals in Africa to study migration patterns, working with under privileged children in third world countries, empowering communities of young women to achieve more, teaching English to students, studying and protecting marine life while receiving dive verification and so on. (Check out GVI’s Instagram to get an idea of what the trips look like.) Moreover, all of these opportunities are appropriate for travelers of all ages ranging from high school students to retirees. Plus, these trips are great fodder for your new voluntourism blog.

5 Fun Voluntourism Travel Experiences

Tip: no matter the destination, you can always find an animal shelter to volunteer at

And now, read on for our Top 5 “Voluntourism” Experiences:

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A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time in France, NYC, London and Switzerland, and travels extensively around the world. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She’s always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 131 Comments

  1. Melissa Moss

    I do not have any volunteerism experience to share yet. But I enjoy reading all the comments here. 🙂

    • Gloria Lili

      Haha! Me too. I wonder if all the stories here are true.

  2. Wanda Lee

    I love everything about nature. This development expedition in Fiji is one of the trips I am searching for. I am a diver and so I like swimming and anything about the sea. I want to enjoy the beach of Viti Levu Island while helping the community at the same time. Hitting two birds with one stone, right?

  3. Clare Wright

    This Earthwatch Expedition is really interesting. I do not know anyone who is interested in caterpillars. But now, I want to know more.

  4. Patricia Tucker

    It was my first time to travel outside of America and I am happy that I did it with GVI. They gave the best experience yet by showing me incredible places and letting me share it with the beautiful locals in Mexico. Something people need to try once in a while.

  5. Maria Rapier

    Even if I have been traveling for a long time now, my dad asked me this when I told him I was traveling to Mexico with other volunteers – “is it safe for you to travel there? I cannot blame him for not worrying after knowing a lot of bad news in Mexico. But still, I pushed through with the trip and went home happy and fulfilled. I told him all the good things happened from taking care, playing, and teaching less fortunate children to the beautiful places I was able to visit. He was then very proud of what I have done and for coming home safe.

    • Marjory Brooks

      I did mention this one to my parents too but did not let me join the first time I attempted. But knowing your experience, I would try to talk to them again and hopefully be able to experience this early next year. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Florence Frederick

    It is good to know that India is very much into elephants and tigers protection. With all the developments and technology worldwide, animals and nature are the true treasure we all need to protect.

    • Oxi Harger

      Yes, this is true. I watched my city progressed. I saw trees cut and grassland becomes a park. I hope nature can be preserved and animals can be protected too.

  7. Joyce McAllister

    From the congestion of the city, I wish there could be more safari or habitat people can conserve. Elephants, tigers and other animals must be kept safe from all the change happening. To volunteer in India is one of the steps.

  8. Francis Vest

    I really want to go to volunteer for elephants and tigers in India But I do not have much money to spend on this trip. But still thanks Urbanette for sharing this article for people who will be aware of these programs.

  9. Helen Boone

    Building and other big establishments are being built everywhere at the expense of nature. I am an animal lover myself and I would want to be part of any programs like this to help protect not only tigers and elephants but animals as a whole.

  10. Manuel Delgado

    I had a little research about the cost of these programs and they are all quite expensive. I already worked with animal conservation in the past and I really want this elephants and tigers conservation. does anyone have any advice on other companies which run projects like this which aren’t really expensive?

    • Alta Johnson

      Same question here my friend. I would love to try this but it cost a fortune.

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