Top 5 Volunteer Travel Programs


5 Fun Voluntourism Travel Experiences

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


Climate Change and Caterpillars in Costa Rica

Earthwatch brings together scientific research while providing a sustainable environment. On this Earthwatch Expedition, you’ll search the forests of Costa Rica for caterpillars and take specimens to the lab for state-of-the-art chemical analysis and observation. Volunteers in Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí (that’s in Heredia Province, in-between Rio Sarapiquí and Rio Puerto Viejo) can explore many cacao plantations and have opportunities to see wildlife — including ocelots and jaguars!

Not to mention, you’re driving distance from Playa Limon on the east coast, Tamarindo on the west coast (a great place to learn how to surf), and the capital of San Jose to take in the big city sights and sounds for a day and a half. On the project, hike for caterpillars, see how they interact with other species, and ultimately, help preserve biodiversity.

Earthwatch also offers climate change and critters trips in the Borneo and Ecuadorian rainforests, and in the Arctic.

[more about this trip]

5 Fun Voluntourism Travel Experiences

Have a great time helping the planet

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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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