Take a Trip, Make a Difference
We put together a list of the best ways you can volunteer and travel the world at the same time! Whether you’re in school, a recent graduate, a full-time employee or just taking life day by day, making a positive impact and venturing to new places are basically universal desires. Good deeds are their own reward – but some have better rewards than others – so for this list we’re looking at programs through which you can volunteer to help people and animals around the globe. Some are cost-effective, while others require some saving, but all are deeply worthy and have been vetted by the MojoTravels team. Be sure to check out the full video as well as all things travel on our YouTube channel, MojoTravels!
Where many volunteer programs or companies unfortunately aren’t free, TEFL, or Teach English as a Foreign Language, will actually pay YOU to travel the world. They’re constantly looking for native or high-level English speakers to go to different countries and help teach English, and most of the time you won’t need to have any knowledge of the home language to do so. The only potential downside of working for TEFL is the placements are often an entire year, or longer, so you’ll want to think carefully before applying – though a year abroad might be just what you’re looking for. They even pay your expenses!
9: African Impact
This volunteer organization has roots in eleven different African countries, including Zanzibar, Kenya, and most recently South Africa. It began in Zimbabwe, when locals wanted to give many well-meaning tourists opportunities to actually do something substantial in the countries they were visiting. That was in 2004, and today they have over 2000 volunteers, doing everything from helping children orphaned by HIV & AIDS, to working at wildlife sanctuaries, to assisting with conserving the continent’s diverse fauna and even teaching at local schools! Yes, a trip with African Impact might cost you a few thousand dollars, but few would say it isn’t worth it.
8: Turtle Teams
Marine conservation is always a great cause, and few animals represent the fight against ocean pollution as much as sea turtles do. That’s why there are thousands upon thousands of local groups all fighting to protect endangered turtles, and if you can get to the coastal beaches, they’ll be happy to have you. You can join the Turtle Island Restoration Network, which operates largely in the Gulf of Mexico, California and Hawaii, or you can join Wildlife Sense on the Greek island of Kefalonia. A good resource is The State of the World’s Sea Turtles partnership, who aim to study and protect turtles around the entire world, and there are many more groups as well.
7: Caring for Elephants
Through services like GVI, Global Vision International, and others, like Volunteering Solutions and Pod Volunteer, you can go all the way to Thailand and help rehabilitate abused elephants. Elephants often suffer greatly in Thailand thanks to the booming tourism and logging industries putting them to work. These elephants have a low quality of life, but once they’re rescued, you can apply to help out at a sanctuary. You’ll be cleaning them, feeding them, working at local farms, and generally improving the elephants’ lives. While it’s not free, you’ll be provided with nearby accommodation and plenty of time to explore Thailand for yourself.
6: Appalachian Trail Conservancy
This 2200-mile-long footpath is one of America’s most beautiful natural wonders, and it’s a constant draw for people looking to test their hiking mettle. But protecting it is a constant struggle, as volunteers and National Parks workers fight against increasing urban expansion, all of which puts the area’s 2000 endangered species at even greater risk. If you’re especially passionate about wildlife conservation, you can volunteer to go and work on the Appalachian Trail, helping maintain it and protect the many plants and animals who call the area their home. Just make sure you have a sturdy pair of boots (or two).
5: Helping Refugees in Greece
Instability in the Middle East has led to a worldwide refugee crisis, and one of the countries hit hardest by the sudden influx of people seeking help and asylum is Greece. With the country already reeling economically, the 62,000 plus refugee population is pushing the infrastructure to its limit. But if you’re passionate about both helping people displaced by warfare and visiting the gorgeous Greek islands, you can volunteer to help, through charities like Khora, One Happy Family, and ReVive Greece, just to name a few. You’ll be going to camps to provide education, legal aid, and improve conditions in the crowded camps.
4: Joining a Marine Conservation Expedition
Are you an ocean fan? There are Marine Conservation Expeditions around the world, including in Mexico, where volunteers will work to heal the Mesoamerican Coral Reef – the second-largest reef in the world. You’ll get to experience marine life in a way like no other, since you’ll also be working to become a PADI-certified scuba diver at the same time (There are also spots for experienced divers). You’ll be up close and personal with the coral reef and its inhabitants, becoming an expert on what lies beneath the surface. You can even work there for six months at a time and will be able to experience everything else Mexico has to offer.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is one of the world’s oldest “voluntourism” organizations, founded in 1971, and it’s still thriving. You can now visit 132 different countries by volunteering with them, working on farms and helping grow sustainable, organic produce. It’s expected that the farm owners will provide board and lodging to any volunteers, so the only thing a term will cost you is your flights. They’re also one of the most flexible charities, with farms taking people on for just a week or for a number of years. If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like to live on a farm, WWOOF is for you.
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“Animals are an integral part of Hana Tropicals, as we are a sustainable farm and try to operate on a full circle permaculture system. We have several bee hives for pollination and the occasional honey harvest; a flock of ducks and two flocks of chickens who all function to decrease pests, increase fertilizer inputs (poop), and boost our composting systems (poop and turning compost piles); four sweet goats who act as invasive plant species disposal and poop for fertilizer (as well as keeping whoever their caretaker is on their toes with their various escape attempts), two of the sweetest doggos in the whole world, and a plethora of loveable farm cats. Animal love is REAL at Hana Tropicals.” – @wwoof_at_ht 🐝🐔🦆🐕🐱
2: Peace Corps
It’s one of the best-known ways to do some good and see the world but is limited only by being a government program open exclusively to US citizens. So if you are an American looking to do good around the world, you can volunteer to go assist in a myriad of ways, in a wide variety of developing countries across the globe. As well as organizing this massive army of volunteers, the Peace Corps also provides free flights to the destinations, as well as full medical and dental coverage. They even provide paid vacation days while abroad. Maybe the Peace Corps is for you.
This respected organization sends willing and eager volunteers to dozens of different countries, and has won many awards for their programs. Their focus and priority is enabling eco-tourism, which has been growing in popularity for years, by offering people the opportunity to travel and help our struggling environment. These volunteering opportunities are, like others on our list, not free, but they’re certainly more affordable than some, and are among the most ethical around! You can, for example, go work in wildlife sanctuaries housing sloths, camels and pandas or you can help with community development in Vietnam and Thailand. With GoEco, the world really is open to you, and you can give back in a meaningful way.
If you’re interested in planning your next vacation or satisfying your wanderlust, MojoTravels is the channel for you! We’ve got insider videos on food, hot spots, hacks, adventures, beaches, and much, much more.
To find out more about these incredible opportunities to travel while making a difference, check out our video below!