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How to find volunteer opportunities abroad

Complete guide on how to find volunteer opportunities abroad and how to be an ethical volunteer, plus 10 amazing volunteer positions all around the world.


volunteer opportunities abroad

Volunteer opportunities abroad are not just a chance to help others, but also an incredible opportunity for personal growth and cultural immersion. Imagine teaching English in Cambodia, working on conservation projects in Costa Rica, helping refugees in Greece or building a community center in Tanzania?

It’s like hitting two birds with one stone – travel with purpose! But how can you find good volunteer opportunities abroad, and how can you be a good volunteer? You’ll find the answers in this article.

Why look for volunteer opportunities abroad?

More and more people, especially young professionals, are seeking volunteer abroad programs. These individuals crave life-altering experiences that allow them to make a positive impact on global communities.

There are plenty of reasons to apply for volunteer opportunities abroad. If you're still not sure about it, we'll share some of them to help you make up your mind!

find volunteer opportunities abroad

Making a positive impact

We’ll talk further about the personal and professional benefits you can get from this experience, but before that, never forget that the priority is helping others. Make use of the skills and knowledge you already have, stay motivated and make an effort to understand the needs of the people who will be hosting you.

Be aware that you won’t save the world in a few weeks or months, but if you follow the advice on how to be a responsible volunteer that we’ll share later in this article you can have an actual positive impact. 

Always think critically about the effects of your presence in the host community and the ways in which you can help make a lasting change. Using your time and energy to improve other people's lives is one of the best feelings ever. 

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Immersing yourself in other cultures

Diving into the local culture while volunteering abroad provides an immersive experience far beyond typical tourism. You'll get acquainted with different ways of life, learn about unique traditions, customs, and beliefs - all of which can shape your worldview in profound ways.

This deepened understanding fosters empathy between people from diverse backgrounds - something critically important in our increasingly globalized society.

In fact, many who have previously volunteered report that their time spent living among local communities has been instrumental in breaking down stereotypes and promoting mutual respect between people from different backgrounds.

the best volunteer opportunities abroad

Fostering personal growth

The challenges encountered during volunteering often lead to increased confidence, with volunteers navigating unfamiliar environments and situations. Whether it's learning a new language or adapting to different cultural norms, these experiences foster resourcefulness that extends beyond their volunteer experience.

Broadening worldviews

Venturing outside one's own community also allows volunteers to see issues from multiple angles, beyond what they're used to back home, which helps broaden their worldview significantly.

This expanded perspective enables them to improve the volunteering experience while providing valuable context for decision-making both personally and professionally later on.

Leveraging professional skills

Being an international volunteer also allows you to develop transferable skills such as leadership abilities, problem-solving techniques, and communication capabilities. That go hand-in-hand with adaptability and resilience - attributes highly valued by employers.

why should you volunteer abroad

How to find volunteer opportunities abroad?

Unfortunately, the world is full of locations that require assistance, and you probably don’t have to go beyond your home country to be a volunteer. But if you want to make a positive difference while exploring different cultures, volunteering abroad could be the perfect choice.

Finding these international volunteer opportunities can seem overwhelming at first glance. However, through big organizations or innovative platforms such as Worldpackers, your search becomes much more manageable.

Make an impact with big organizations

One way to find volunteer opportunities abroad is through international organizations that are very well-known.

United Nations Volunteers program, for instance, provides numerous programs where skilled volunteers can lend their expertise in fields from healthcare to education.

Similarly, Habitat for Humanity's Global Village trips offer volunteer opportunities around the globe.

If medical care aligns more closely with your skills or interests, Doctors Without Borders is another fantastic organization providing critical support in different countries.

However, the volunteer programs offered by these organizations are often quite competitive and sometimes bureaucratic, so it might not be the best choice for everyone.

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Volunteer abroad with Worldpackers

Beyond traditional routes lie newer approaches like Worldpackers. This online platform helps you easily find the volunteer placement that best suits your skills and interests. There you'll find thousands of opportunities for contributing at social impact projects and initiatives dedicated to environmental protection in different parts of the world.

The necessary skills are quite diverse: you can help by teaching sports or languages, managing social media, content writing, video making, cleaning, cooking, farming, doing arts, caring for animals, gardening, constructing and many other tasks.

Anyone can see all the positions available on the website, but if you want to apply you should register and set up your profile. 

For more information about the platform you can check out our articles about how Worldpackers works and using Worldpackers works.

volunteer abroad with worldpackers

10 volunteer abroad opportunities around the world

There are thousands of opportunities for volunteering with Worldpackers, so it can seem a little overwhelming at first. But the platform has several filters that you can use to narrow down the options to what suits you best.

You can filter your search by destination, program type (work exchange, social impact or eco program), purpose of the trip, availability, skills needed, tasks required, host type and style (such as beach, mountain, contact with animals, vegetarian, spiritual etc.).

Here are some examples of social impact and ecological volunteer positions with top rated hosts from different corners of the world:

1. Teach English at a community center in Mexico

Volunteers at Pachamama's House in Mexico help at their local Community Center, teaching English to students of all ages. The students are very eager to learn and appreciate the support. You can flexibly combine this opportunity with helping for three hours on weekdays at their local kindergarten with kids aged 3 to 6.

volunteer opportunities in mexico

2. Help with social media and fundraising strategy at a non-profit school in Cambodia

As a volunteer at the Pagna Cambodian Education Fund, in Cambodia, you will take care of their fundraising strategy. They are also starting their social media presence, so they need help with content creation for Instagram and TikTok. 

volunteer opportunities in cambodia

3. Join a permaculture education project in Costa Rica

Your daily tasks at Finca Agroecológica Mirada Verde, which is part of Ecological Blue Flag, will allow you to collaborate with the care of animals in grazing and organic farming. It is also important to keep the facilities clean and contribute to food preparation. They welcome volunteers with a lot of energy and a desire to learn, and maintain a healthy and peaceful environment free of drugs and alcohol. 

volunteer in costa rica

4. Support a community center for refugees in Greece

The NGO Lifting Hands International, in Greece, operates a community center for the residents of a nearby refugee camp. They provide psycho-social support throughout different programs: Female Friendly Space, Children Friendly Space, Educational Program (English and German lessons), Arts and Recreation program (yoga/fitness/dance/guitar/piano lessons), and Warehouse (distribution of dry food/ clothes/hygiene products).

volunteer opportunities in europe 

5. Create art for the mural of a social project in Guatemala

At Casa del Niño de la Antigua Guatemala, the volunteer will be assigned a mural art project. Your first days in the project can be related to planning the art, suggestion and selection of materials to carry out the project, sketching, drawing and final art. The volunteer is required to make a mural in the organization, and should expect to work with youth in the community who want to learn more about art.

volunteer opportunities abroad 

6. Help build a community center and library in Tanzania

The project Kuzuri Tanzania is building a community center and library to support the needs of their local community. As a volunteer, you can help them build and set up the running of the center. This will include building work, DIY and painting, gardening, project support and planning, IT support and setting up educational programmes and resources. 

volunteer in tanzania

7. Foster the empowerment of women at risk at an NGO in Peru

Expand Perú looks for volunteers to help accompanying girls, adolescents and young people in support centers, shelters, groups and associations. There are women who have suffered some type of violence or mistreatment in their homes or environment. Psychological therapy, teaching of technical courses and personal skills, and medical visits can be provided, and above all accompaniment and emotional support.

volunteer in peru 

8. Make videos for a sustainable community in Australia

Jasper Hall Permaculture Farm is a sustainable community farm project in Australia, built over 30 years on the principles of permaculture. They are looking for a creative video content editor and creator to showcase the farm and community on YouTube. This is an excellent opportunity for someone who wants to create impactful content and help them generate income to sustain the project.

volunteer opportunities abroad 

9. Help create marketing materials in India

Poornodaya Vidyanikethan uses an holistic approach to connect children’s development with their natural environment and build strong relationships through active learning and social activities. They are looking for volunteers to provide administrative support in the creation of marketing materials and advertising campaigns. You would be an innovative assistant to support the team with marketing and photography.

volunteer opportunities in india 

10. Be a sports coaching volunteer for youth in rural villages in Ghana

Volunteer at AbroadGuru World sports project in Ghana and pass on your sports passion to kids. You can choose from a wide range of sports on offer so you can coach your favorite sport while exploring Ghana. This program helps youth in the rural villages to foster their talents and focus on safe and healthy after school activities.

be a volunteer in ghana

What to consider before volunteering abroad?

Becoming an international volunteer is an exciting prospect, but it also requires careful thought and planning. The world of international volunteering isn't all sunshine and rainbows. If you don’t make a conscious effort to be a responsible volunteer, you might end up having a negative impact instead of a positive one.

Here are some key factors you should consider when preparing for this experience:

Do your research

It's important to ensure that your proposed volunteer endeavor will truly make a positive impact on local communities without causing unintentional harm.

A good way to do this is by looking for organizations through platforms that do some sort of screening, such as Worldpackers. All hosts listed at the platform have been carefully selected.

You can also dig dipper to get more information: Google the name of the organization and use the Wordpackers’ messaging system to talk to hosts and ask them questions about the work performed by them and what they need from you.

It’s also possible to message previous volunteers and ask them about their experience. Gleaning insights from those who have previously volunteered allows you to approach your tasks with increased responsibility and sensitivity towards the needs of host communities.

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Use your skills

Worldpackers offers various roles and in most of them you don’t need to have previous experience, but it’s great if you can find a match between what the host community needs and the skills you possess. 

If the opportunity you like requires abilities that you don't have, but the host is available to teach you how to do it, be as commited as possible and make an effort to give a valuable contribution. When volunteering with social projects your positive impact matters more than your personal experience.

how to be a good volunteer abroad

Practice cultural sensitivity

It is essential to be aware of and demonstrate appreciation and respect for other cultures when traveling, particularly in unfamiliar environments and when you’re going there to help. 

This involves learning at least a few basic phrases of the country you're visiting and observing social norms so as not to inadvertently offend anyone.

Besides doing your independent research, you might message previous volunteers through the Worldpackers platform to ask them about cultural norms and other aspects you should be aware of.

Prioritize long-term projects

To have a real positive impact, aim to go beyond providing immediate relief. When looking for volunteer opportunities abroad, think about how you can contribute toward achieving long-term developmental goals.

There are plenty of organizations with projects that not only address urgent needs but contribute significantly towards longer-term goals aimed at overall community development.

volunteering abroad

Don’t think you know best

Prioritize projects that work closely with local partners, who understand their people's unique challenges best. Remember that you’re not these people’s “savior”, and you don’t know better than them about their daily lives and struggles just because you may come from a more industrialized place. You’ll be there to learn from them and perform the tasks that they need your help with.

FAQs in relation to volunteer opportunities abroad

Does volunteering abroad actually help?

Yes, when done responsibly and ethically, international volunteering can significantly improve living conditions, education, healthcare, and local economies in host communities.

Why is it important to volunteer abroad?

Volunteering abroad promotes cultural exchange and fosters personal growth for the volunteers while contributing positively to the development of underserved communities globally.

What does volunteering abroad teach you?

Beyond professional experience, it teaches resourcefulness, empathy, and expands worldviews by exposing volunteers to diverse cultures and global issues firsthand.

volunteer opportunities abroad 

Ready to start volunteering around the world?

A well-planned volunteer effort can lead to great positive impact in community development initiatives and ecological projects throughout the world. By engaging your expertise and enthusiasm in different kinds of volunteer opportunities abroad you can make a meaningful contribution through your travels.

However, it's crucial that we approach these opportunities with responsibility and respect for local customs and needs

You can have life-changing experiences while making a difference. Step out of your comfort zone and stay ready to learn, adapt and collaborate!

To start your journey, dive into Worldpackers, which provides you with an easy way to find volunteer opportunities abroad. Experience new cultures, make meaningful connections, and contribute positively to our global community.

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