Deciding to spend your vacation volunteering is a noble decision. Volunteering lets you make a positive impact on the world, connect with a culture on a deeper level than a tourist ever could, and often helps you save money so you can spend more time abroad. You can literally volunteer in almost every country of the world but not all volunteer locations are created equal. Before deciding where you will volunteer abroad you should consider a few important factors like language and cultural barriers, finding a legitimate and respected organization, safety, etc. To help you out, below are a few of the best places to volunteer abroad right now.
The beautiful and peaceful Central American country of Costa Rica has long been a top volunteer destination. With a healthy tourist industry, volunteers here are welcomed easily, with many volunteer organizations run by bilingual staff. Costa Rica is a country that also more closely monitors volunteer programs so there are a lot fewer “scam programs.” My Adventure Store are a reputable “voluntourism” operator that you might like to check out. Top volunteer programs in Costa Rica include working at nature reserves and with endangered animals.
If you want to feel like you are really making a difference, South Africa is a wonderful place to volunteer. Programs here range from helping with orphaned children to building projects in the country’s many townships. International volunteers will appreciate the fact that English is widely spoken, making it easier to connect with and help local people. Due to the distance from North America and Europe, many volunteers here commit to weeks or months, bringing stability to programs and increasing the success of many of the volunteer projects.
A good number of the volunteer programs in Thailand and the surrounding Southeast Asia countries are in fact run by foreigners who came here on vacation, fell in love with the people and culture, and just never left. The country is filled with natural beauty, friendly people, and unfortunately many problems. You can make a difference by working with refugee families in the cities, helping to preserve the habitats of endangered species, or help educate less advantaged children.
If you speak Spanish well or want to learn, volunteering in Buenos Aires is a great opportunity. The city of Buenos Aires is often called the Paris of the South and will all its beauty and glamour, it also has high levels of poverty and crime. Working here will give you the chance to lift up poor communities through education and mentorship of at-risk youth. Outside of the city, there are also opportunities to volunteer in Argentina with disadvantaged native tribal groups and in the south, with endangered animal species.
One of the top destinations for work abroad programs, Australia also is home to many great volunteer programs. Language barriers will not be an issue, letting you get down to helping right away. Programs here often involve conservation and rehabilitation of endangered species and habitats like the Great Barrier Reef. Other programs include working with indigenous tribes in the Outback. For grassroots type programs, also check out the many wwoofing volunteer opportunities in Australia.