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Volunteer Opportunities Directory

Volunteer Vacations

Imagine: This year, your volunteer vacation could be teaching basic math to students in a rural African community struggling to modernize. Next year, you could volunteer abroad to help research scientists save endangered sea turtles from extinction. On your volunteer vacation the following year, you could assist nurses at a children's clinic in Romania, help build a home for a homeless family, dig for dinosaur bones, or control erosion on a remote wilderness trail in a US national park. And so on...

Volunteer Vacations are a Meaningful Way to Re-Energize

In just 1, 2, 3, or 4 weeks, volunteer vacations will give you a renewed sense of energy. You can gain enriching experiences, memories, and friendships that last a lifetime. An amazing sense of camaraderie and 'family' often grows among volunteer team members.

Compensation / Fees

Though a few (longer-term) projects pay a stipend to volunteers, most volunteer vacations will actually cost you money. Why? Because volunteers are asked to pay for their own travel expenses, and even non-profit agencies need to be reimbursed for recruiting costs, volunteer training, and on-site coordination. Volunteer vacation program fees range from $50 to $3,000+, depending on the agency's degree of involvement and the accommodation provided.

Volunteer vacation program fees are relatively small when accommodation is "basic", such as a tent in a national park, and when volunteers prepare their own meals. At the other extreme, program fees charged by organizations such as Global Volunteers can be as high as a few thousand dollars. But, in return for higher fees comes the comfort and safety you pay for: extensive pre-trip reading materials, someone to escort you from the airport, security when using public transportation in high risk areas, on-site training, hotel accommodation, prepared meals, a volunteer coordinator on-site at all times, assistance dealing with local officials, etc. As well, Global Volunteers will use part of your program fee to pay for supplies donated to the hospital, school, or community being served.

For US residents, part or all of your program fees and travel expenses can be tax deductible. Ask the volunteer organization you choose for more information.

Volunteer Vacation Expectations

Some people come home from their first volunteer abroad experience with a nagging sense of doubt about whether their contribution made enough difference. So, it's important to be realistic about what can be accomplished in a couple or few weeks. For perspective, think of your volunteer vacation as part of a relay race. You will take the baton from volunteers that came before you, and you will pass the baton to those that follow to finish the race. Every role is critical; a relay team cannot win without enough sprinters. 

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