Volunteer Vacations: Travel with Purpose

Author: AB Staff

Volunteer Vacations: Travel with Purpose

Editor's Pick Purpose Travel

As we age, we are told that we should make use of these “golden years” as best we can, and spend as much time as possible traveling and experiencing new parts of the world. However, data shows that more than two thirds of Americans are out of the full-time workforce by age 66 so traveling just to travel for the rest of your life after you retire gets boring, especially since more and more people in the United States are living to 100+. For this reason, travel companies that offer volunteer vacations for older adults are on the rise. The health benefits of volunteering, especially for older adults, are well documented and include decreased risk of developing depression, increased brain function, and increased sense of purpose and belonging. Below find 20 hassle-free websites that offer a variety of different volunteer vacation options. No matter your interests or budget, this list offers something for everyone.

1- Elevate Destinations

This travel website is geared towards older adults and it combines a luxury vacation with hands-on volunteer opportunities. The website helps customers design a unique volunteer vacation, tailoring the destination and type of volunteer work to the traveler’s specific interests and skills. Travelers can choose between a variety of different destinations in Europe, Central America, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, South America, and more. In 2015, the service made National Geographic’s “50 Tours of a Lifetime” list. In order to start planning your trip with the company, connect with an expert travel designer today.

2- International Volunteer HQ

This volunteer travel organization was established in 2017, and claims to place thousands of volunteers abroad every year in over 40 destinations around the world. The organization places high value on responsibility and ethics, prioritizing community needs and the protection of local children. The travel company prides itself on being “affordable and accessible to everyone” with volunteer programs starting from $180 for one week. Follow these stepsto start the process in booking your volunteer vacation today.

3-Global Vision International

This organization offers volunteer experiences dedicated specifically to adults 50 and older, offering a range of 150 different volunteer projects in Africa, Latin America, Europe, and Australia. The travel organization offers volunteer opportunities catered to a variety of different interests, including teaching, animal care, marine and wildlife conservation, and child care. When building its volunteer projects, the organization promises to communicate directly with local communities to ensure that their needs are constantly being met and that they’re benefitting from the volunteer projects in their specific location. Volunteer opportunity start at $995 for two weeks. Visit the site to apply for your next volunteer vacation!

4- Projects Abroad

This respected volunteer travel company has been around since 1992 and has its headquarters are in the UK, with offices and projects in over 50 countries around the world. The organization offers staff available 24/7 on location, so that volunteers can feel safe and have someone to turn to if in need of assistance during their volunteer vacation. Volunteers engaged in Projects Abroad trips are of all different ages and walks of life, from 16 year olds to 75 year olds, so this is a great opportunity for older adults who are looking to connect and learn from people of different generations. The cost of a trip starts at $345 per week. You can search for the exact price for your desired trip length and destination here.

5- Love Volunteers

With an average positive rating of 96 percent from past volunteers, this travel service offers a user-friendly website with step-by-step guides to help you plan your next volunteer vacation. Ten percent of the fees for volunteer programs offered by this organization cover international bank fees, the rest goes to the local charities and organizations hosting the volunteers. The website also offers a blogwhere past volunteers share their experiences;read it nowto get inspired and start planning your volunteer vacation.

6- Earthwatch Institute

Book a volunteer trip with Earthwatch Institute for the chance to work alongside world-class scientists to work on a variety of science research and education projects. For the environmentally conscious and for those who love a good science project, this is your ideal volunteer vacation! Whether you prefer working indoors or in the field, Earthwatch offers trips catered to your specific interests and needs. The organization offers expeditions that relate to Archeology and Culture, Climate Change, Ocean Health, or Wildlife and Ecosystems. To view offered destinations and prices, make use of their handy expedition search engine.

7- Habitat for Humanity International

This Christian non-profit volunteer travel organization is committed to providing affordable housing for low-income families in over 90 countries. If you derive joy from seeing concrete results from the effort that you put into helping others, this volunteer travel opportunity is perfect for you. You can select from locations in Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America for the chance to work on home construction projects alongside trained crew leaders. This volunteer vacation is ideal for those who are looking to get some physical exercise while helping others in a concrete, meaningful way.

8- Lead Adventures

This volunteer travel service offers volunteer trips to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands guided by local experts. Everyone on the Lead Adventures team is a born and bred Ecuadorian. Local guides offer travelers an in-depth look at local life as well as offering a variety of volunteer opportunities to benefit the local community. The organization allows volunteers to help with childcare education, volunteer in the Galapagos Islands, volunteer in the Amazon Rainforest, or spend time in a cloud forest. The travel service offers group and individual customized experiences, so that you can tailor your volunteer vacation to your specific needs and desires.

9- Global Service Corps

Since 1993, this organization has offered volunteer trips that combine community service and learning in Latin America, East Africa, and Southeast Asia. The length of volunteer programs ranges from two weeks to six months or longer. At the start of each program, the travel company offers in-country volunteer orientation sessions where you will learn about the history and take local language classes for the country that you have chosen to volunteer in. Visit the site,to learn more about dates and rates for the volunteer vacations offered.

10- Oceanic Society

Are you a lover of the ocean and passionate about protecting marine life? Then this is the volunteer vacation for you. Through conservation-based research and environmental education in Central and South America and the Pacific Ocean region, this nonprofit organization offers travelers the chance to help protect marine wildlife and the marine environment. Volunteers will have the possibility to engage in conservation-based research and environmental education. Find your perfect water-side volunteer vacation from the organization’s vast menu of options.

11- Orangutan Foundation International

Join scientist and wildlife researcher Biruté Mary Galdikas on her journey into the Borneo Rainforest for the chance to learn more about Orangutans in their natural habitat. The trip lets volunteers contribute to field research that aims to prevent the extinction of the endangered Orangutan species and their rainforest habitat. The volunteer trip starts at $875 per person. Contact the organization’s certified travel agent for more information.

12- Discover Corps

This travel service aims to offer private group, solo, and family volunteer vacations for individuals looking to immerse themselves into local communities and to give back by volunteering during their vacation. The company offers one to two week volunteer trips throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. During your trip to a desired location, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in cultural workshops, volunteer alongside locals, and learn from local experts about their community. The average cost for a ten-day trip is $2,795 per person.

13- Cross-Cultural Solutions

Cross-Cultural Solutions offers international volunteering in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, specifically for those who are 50 and older. A staff of locals will be on location to assist you with any needs you may have during your volunteer vacation, and to guarantee your safety. To improve the effectiveness and responsibility of its volunteer programs, the travel service communicates directly with local organizations to get feedback on local needs and objectives. The organization offers group tripsfor those looking to make some new friends along the way!

14- Global Volunteers

This private, nonprofit organization partners with 200+ local organizations and gives travelers the chance to assist with long-term local projects during one to three-week volunteer trips. The nonprofit’s mission is to promote peace and justice worldwide. Volunteers can choose from a wide variety of programs for the chance to teach conversational English and other basic subjects, care for at-risk youths, assist with health care, and build schools and community facilities. This trip is perfect for those looking to spend time with and help out children in need.

15- i-to-i

This international volunteer organization offers 300 different projects in 24 countries, with trip duration ranging from one to 24 weeks. Volunteer projects are varied, from teaching english to locals to helping with wild animal rehabilitation in South Africa, this organization has it all. One-week programs start at $995. Although most of the organization’s volunteers are in their 20s and 30s, with 25 percent of participants being 50 and up the presence of older adults is not lacking. For more information, visit the i-to-i site.

16- Go Eco

This volunteer travel service offers trips across Australia, Africa, Israel, Central and South America for older adults looking to participate in humanitarian, wildlife, or conservation projects. The organization claims to offer projects with volunteer tasks that are accessible and non-demanding. The service guarantees it will take care of your lodging and transportation during your stay. If you’re looking for a volunteer trip with a more laidback schedule, this one’s for you. Visit the Go Eco websitefor more details.

17- United Planet

United Planet offers volunteer abroad opportunities in 27 countries. The volunteer travel service allows you to customize your own travel and volunteer itinerary based on your unique skills, interests, and goals. United Planet offers volunteer programs that include classes, home stays, and meals. The organization aims to get you outside of your comfort zone while providing the assistance of their local staff in whatever country you choose to volunteer. Fill out their contact formto get more information.

18- REI Volunteer Vacations

This travel service offers volunteer vacations in Antarctica, Africa, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, Europe, Latin America, and North America. Volunteers will have the opportunity to work alongside expedition leaders and local park rangers to help conserve the wildlife and wildlife habitat of some of the most beautiful adventure travel destinations. Volunteer tasks will consist of trail maintenance, restoration of wildlife habitat, collection of native plant seeds, and much more. The volunteer programs provided will also include rest days during which you will have the opportunity to explore your surroundings in a more leisurely manner. Use the website’s expedition search toolto find an ideal trip that fits your budget.

19- World Teach

This organization offers volunteer vacation programs that give you the opportunity to teach English to children, teens, and adults in international destination that include Ecuador, Morocco, and China. Volunteer programs in some destinations offer opportunities to teach additional subjects to locals at an elementary level, including math, science, and computer skills. If you are a retired professor missing your teaching days or if you just love interacting with other humans, this might be your ideal opportunity to give back.

20- American Hiking Society

If you’re a nature-lover with a passion for environmental conservation who yearns to volunteer outdoors, this is the perfect volunteer vacation for you. The American Hiking Society organizes trips for those who enjoy hiking and who want to give back to the planet by working on trail maintenance and by helping construct new trail features. This organization’s trips span across the United States, from the Golden Gate National Recreation Area in San Francisco to the Appalachian National Scenic Trailin Maine. Visit their siteto learn more about volunteer vacations offered.

Whether you’re looking for a luxury vacation that also includes opportunities for volunteering, or if you’re yearning to immerse yourself into local culture on your next trip, participating in a volunteer vacation could help you discover new passions and purpose in life after retirement. Have you ever taken a volunteer vacation? If so, we would love to hear about your experience! Visit our forum to tell us all about it.