Here are a few resources to help you explore the growing field of Voluntourism. For those looking for a way to give back while diving deeper into other cultures.
Go Overseas — clearinghouse with articles, program listings and participant reviews, organized by destinations and types of activities.
Transitions Abroad – clearinghouse with articles, programs organized by country and region and participant reviews.
VolunTourism.org — information for travelers on program selection, trip preparation and how to process your experience during and after your service abroad.
A Broader View Volunteers – spring break journeys, gap year trips, humanitarian mission trip and Peace Corps alternative programs.
Cross Cultural Solutions – “CCS practically invented short-term international volunteering. Inspired by the Peace Corps and filling a need not addressed by most NGOs, Steve Rosenthal and his team have made international volunteering a valuable service to vulnerable communities and a life-altering experience for aspiring difference-makers. CCS was the right partner for CARE and continues as the standard bearer of international volunteering.” – Marilyn Grist, Former Executive Vice-President of External Relations at CARE and CEO at Help Age USA. For adults, high schoolers, families, gap year, groups to work with infants, children, elderly, people with disabilities, those affected by HIV/AIDS.
Earth Watch – “On an Earthwatch Expedition, you’ll help find solutions to some of today’s most pressing environmental challenges. Join respected scientists in the field where they’re investigating critical environmental issues. Our volunteers make hands-on contributions to research while experiencing the cultural and natural wonders of places around the globe. Travel the world while saving the planet.”
Global Volunteers – “Working hand-in-hand with local people since 1984, Global Volunteers is a long-standing NGO leader in special Consultative Status with the United Nations, and in partnership with UNICEF and the Food and Agriculture Organization.”
GVI – UK based; projects include construction, work with kids, marine conservation, sports, teaching, wildlife, animal care, healthcare.
i-to-i – “We’ve been sending eager volunteers to contribute within underprivileged communities in Africa, Asia, Australasia and Latin America for 20 years. We are the original volunteer travel company and we’re all passionate travellers who have seen the world and done our bit. 50,000 volunteers have made a difference abroad with i-to-i, and now it’s your turn!” Projects including construction, community development, teaching, conservation, work with children, wildlife, and sports.
Me to We – “Each Me to We trip takes place in a developing community where our charity partner, Free The Children, works. And, half of our profits are donated to Free The Children—helping you make an even bigger impact on the place you visit.”
Raleigh International — UK-based; focused on sustainable development. “We operate in partnership with communities, non-governmental organisations and governments. With permanent field offices in Borneo, Costa Rica, India, Nicaragua and Tanzania, we work at grassroots level using first-hand knowledge and local insight. Our volunteers live and work alongside communities and experience for themselves how sustainable development can transform our world for the better.”
United Planet – “The underlying principle of our programs is the concept of Relational Diplomacy – recognizing that the relationship between people of diverse backgrounds is the basic building block for uniting the world. United Planet’s innovative programs are designed to expose our common human bonds, generate respect and appreciation for our cultural, racial, and religious diversity, and enrich lives of our neighbors worldwide.”
Travellers Worldwide – “Our volunteer projects abroad suit everyone, from 16/17 year-old gappers to Career Breakers and Grown Up Gappers in their 20s, 30s, 40s or 50s, as well as for the more mature volunteers who have retired but have lots of experience and energy to give to society. Travellers volunteers fulfil a wide variety of roles, including that of teacher, coach, carer, nurse, researcher, builder and conservationist, and so on.”
Volunteers for Peace – “VFP works with large network organizations worldwide to promote International Voluntary Service (IVS) projects, historically known as ‘workcamps’. Through our international alliances, we exchange over a thousand volunteers each year who work together to help communities meet local needs and some of the goals of the United Nation’s Millennium Declaration.”
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms – “Usually you live with your host and are expected to join in and cooperate with the day to day activities. In most countries the exchange is based on 4-6 hours help-fair exchange for a full day’s food and accommodation. You may be asked to help with a variety of tasks like sowing seed, making compost, gardening, planting, cutting wood, weeding, harvesting, packing, milking, feeding, fencing, making mud-bricks, wine making, cheese making and bread making. The length of your stay at the farm is negotiated directly between you and your host. Most WWOOF visits are between one and two weeks, though some may be as short as two or three days or as long as six months.”
Adventures Cross-Country – for middle school through high school students; service and gap semester programs.
Bold Earth — teen service programs; “Since 1976, Bold Earth Teen Adventures has focused on leadership and teamwork in a supportive environment which has included 14,000+ teenagers on six continents.”
Putney Student Travel – for middle school through high school students; “Since the early 1990’s, Putney’s Community Service projects have sown seeds for progress throughout small communities in Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa, and Oceania.”
Rustic Pathways — service projects and gap semester programs for high school students focusing on education, infrastructure, environment, community health and economic development. My son has participated in their programs in Tanzania, Peru, India and Australia.