Top Ten Volunteer Vacations


Need a rewarding getaway this summer? About about 100 getaways? Author Pam Grout has gathered a wide selection of fantastic–and fulfilling–trips to choose from in her book The 100 Best Volunteer Vacations to Enrich Your Life. Here are some of her favorites, with the full book excerpt here on Traveler’s site. Want the whole book? We’re offering a 20 percent discount – so order now and get going! 

1. Excavate Stone Tools; Cortez, Colorado

2. Blaze a New Trail; New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana

3. Collect Butterflies in Remote Amazonia; Huaorani Reserve, Ecuador

4. Produce the News; Cochabamba, Bolivia

5. Turn a Military Base into a School and Garden; Bethlehem, Israel

6. Bottle-Feed Orphaned Lion Cubs; Victoria Falls, Zambia

7. Research the Great White Shark; Gansbaai, South Africa

8. Assist the Kenya Wildlife Service; Kenya

9. Restore a Buddhist Monastery; Mustang Valley, Nepal

10. Go Carbon Neutral in Western Australia; Perth, Australia

Photo: Bottle-feed lion cubs with Amanzi Travel and help save the “king of beasts.” by Daniel Mallard/


  1. Jay
    July 1, 2013, 5:14 pm

    We just did a very awesome volunteer vacation at an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia. What was cool is that we went along with a group of flight attendants, who are very fun people!!! :-) Check out this video about it:

  2. KrishnaPokhrel
    February 25, 2013, 2:39 am


    I hope this is what you asked me for. Let me know if it is. Feel free to do any editing, I know it’s a little long.

    As a tourist in Nepal I went to the city of Pokhara to start a trek. I saw 4 children sleeping on the sidewalk covered with only woven plastic bags to try to stay warm. After several days in the mountains I returned, I found the little ones still sleeping on the sidewalk with no blanket and rags for clothes. I began to build a relationship with the kids. I brought them food, blanket and clothes. I feel in love with their innocence, joy and happiness for life.
    I began searching, trying to find a safe place for the children. I went to the Orphanage “The Love Company” and was very relieved to see 11 very cute, happy, and engaging children coming up to me asking “what is your name? ” Where are you from?”. My heart knew this was the loving and caring place I wanted my little ones to live. Krishna (the director of the orphanage) had to take the children into a rehabilitation center for street kids in
    Picture 027Picture 027
    Picture 027
    order to help them receive the skills they needed to live with the other children. Sadly one of the boys ran away but the others are doing very well. Now they are in the orphanage and will start school soon. I have taken on the responsibility for their childhood. I’m sponsoring them to live in the orphanage and go to school. I felt Spirit lead me to take care of these beautiful, amazing children who can’t care for themselves. I’m looking forward to watching them grow, learn, and seeing what their future will be.

    Calcutta, India
    January 23, 2013, 9:11 am

    Hello Everybody,
    Please check this site

    This is a small orphanage in Calcutta. If you are interested then please send us mail. Thank you..!


  4. andrew
    December 8, 2012, 2:06 pm

    Hi, we have started a site to connect people to low fee volunteer opportunities in Africa:

    let us know if you have opportunities to share.


  5. Bob Rhein
    Avalon, CA 90704
    July 18, 2012, 5:54 pm

    Volunteer Vacation on Catalina Island
    If you want to take a day-trip to beautiful Catalina Island just off the Southern California coastline, you should consider being there on a Thursday morning when there’s an excellent opportunity to volunteer at the James H. Ackerman Native Plant Nursery in the interior of the island. Free transportation to the nursery is available from Avalon, Catalina’s main city, at 7:30 a.m. every Thursday year-round. Typical projects include seed germination, seed collection, plant propagation, weeding, light construction and nursery maintenance, and last until noon.
    Another option allows volunteers to spend three days and two nights on the island helping to preserve the ecological wonder of the island. The trip includes lodging at the Hermosa Hotel as well as round-trip boat transportation from Avalon and boxed lunches for working days. Volunteers on this trip are expected to arrive on Wednesday ready to work, volunteer Thursday, and spend Friday enjoying the island. The trip fees are $249.
    Volunteers who commit to spending a larger portion of time on the island have the opportunity to clean beaches, conduct trail maintenance and explore Avalon. Long-term opportunities are made available on the Catalina Island Conservancy’s

  6. Joy
    April 26, 2012, 7:51 am

    Thanks for sharing such a nice list for volunteer travel opportunities…

  7. Amerie Parker
    Kerala, South India
    November 7, 2011, 8:24 am

    India is amazing and rightfully one of the top 10 destination for any traveller – novice or experienced. With its wonderful array of colours, smells and astonishing beauty combined with chaos & rapid development, India is emerging as the top destination for real volunteers and voluntourism. India should have been on the list above.

    Many companies now cash in on this increasing popularity amongst volunteers and there are a wide choice or projects and experiences to choose from. The key for real volunteers looking for any authentic and affordable projects is to volunteer with small organisation & local NGOs with a long term sustainable program that make a real difference to the people & communities that you want to volunteer your time and effort for.

    There are many genuine organisations all over India, and one such organisation is Yearoutindia ( which was I lucky to stumble upon during my quite frantic research for a volunteer project in India. Run by volunteers from around the world, and advertised only by word of mouth, the experience was incredible, worthwhile & life changing. They get a constant flow of intrepid travellers visiting and also helping out at very rural & unexplored parts of Kerala.

    South India, especially Kerala should be any travellers list and making a real difference to the local community while experiencing the sights & sounds of India through organisations like Yearoutindia is in my opinion the only intelligent way to travel! Take care !

  8. Alison Chambers
    September 1, 2010, 12:04 pm

    There are some excellent ideas for voluntary work during Gap years for students which will not only help others but also look good on the cv

  9. andrew wahba
    August 25, 2010, 1:05 pm

    Interesting list. Our organization, True Travellers Society, provides links to free or low cost volunteer opportunities around the world. Maybe some of the organizations listed will interest your readers.

  10. Claire
    April 13, 2010, 4:55 am

    We also have a program, called Hands On Volunteer Vacations (HOVV), here in the Philippines. Travelers may tutor local children, plant mangrove trees, make trails, feed kids, help a local community cottage industry. They can also opt to do it within the capital, Manila, or in the provinces. More information are available at

  11. Melisa
    February 1, 2010, 12:56 pm

    You have helpfull information here, people who are voluntier make a great job, I work like a voluntier also but in other kind of things, I love nature i’m kind of the person who like to care of our planet so woderful and if a wonderful to enjoy ourself, so each one of us dont’ need, HAVE TO care the nature and all that things around us. So congratulations for your info, the great job.

  12. Andrew B
    December 29, 2009, 5:22 pm

    I served as volunteer in Costa Rica for about 6 months and it was such a rewarding experience. It’s to bad that Central America is not even listed as top 10 on this volunteer vacations list. It might be because efforts in this region are more focus on environmental preservation than humanitarian help.
    Volunteer programs in Costa Rica are quite organized and often receive the support of the local government and private institutions. For those interested, I would highly recommend to contact your country’s embassy for more information about travel requirements and program enrolling.

  13. Caribbean Yoga Retreats
    September 17, 2009, 6:13 pm

    Given the economic downturn, charities are now facing reduced budgets and are being forced to find innovative fund raising mechanisms. REACH Grenada is one such organization that I came across. They combine Yoga, Chocolate and Eco Tours to raise both money and awareness to support the children of Grenada following the devastating hurricanes in 2004 & 2005. The retreat offers a way to connect with the local community in Grenada as participants have volunteer opportunities available to them while visiting the island for the Yoga, Chocolate, Charity event. In addition, a portion of the proceeds from the retreat are donated to REACH Grenada thanks to the generosity of Grenada’s Laluna Hotel.

  14. Sarah
    July 21, 2009, 12:13 pm

    With so many organisations out there offering volunteer work, gap year and sabbatical programs it can be difficult to differentiate between those which are genuinely great and worthwhile opportunities and those which maybe are not.
    Before planning any volunteer work take a look at This is an indpendent guide which sets out the sorts of questions you should ask any organisation you are considering volunteering with to make sure that not only is the work you are doing worthwhile, needed and sustainable but that you will be adequately supported whilst doing it.
    Quest Overseas specialise in gap year projects and expeditions in Africa and South America. We are committed long term to our projects and work closely with local partners and the Quest Charitable Trust to ensure the work our volunteers do is worthwhile and benefical.

  15. Lisbon Accommodations
    June 26, 2009, 10:09 am

    Nice post!
    When you’re planning a holiday the last thing you want is to have problems with the place that you’re staying in. You want a great place to stay, you want it to be clean and convenient. With the growth of World Wide Web, Online apartment reservation has become easier and a most popular task. It has brought a dynamic change in the field of apartment booking.

  16. Shane
    June 25, 2009, 2:12 am

    This is a good information for those people who seek for their next volunteer program destination.

  17. Andrea
    June 17, 2009, 4:26 pm

    Also check out American Hiking Society. They do Volunteer Vacations on trails in National Parks and Forests. They are cheap too!

  18. MEB
    June 17, 2009, 3:40 pm

    This is a wonderful, wide-ranging list of opportunities!