By Seanna Pratt
Travel is an incredibly valuable experience in the way it shapes and enriches our lives. For some, just seeing a new place isn’t enough. For those who not only want to explore the world, but become immersed in local cultures and spend time giving back, we’ve rounded up nine travel tour companies that offer volunteer experiences.
Mission: “To engage people worldwide in scientific field research and education to promote the understanding and action necessary for a sustainable environment.”
Right now Earthwatch offers more than 50 expeditions worldwide in four different specialized interest areas. You could explore active volcanoes in Nicaragua, or help excavate the Roman Empire in Britain. Or maybe snorkeling in the Bahamas to protect coral reefs? The possibilities are endless.
Mission: As a globally recognised responsible travel organisation, over the last 20 years i-to-i has sent over 50,000 volunteers to projects that assist in the development of underprivileged local communities.
Some trip options that might peak your interest include teaching English in Kenya, or marine conservation in Belize.
Mission: African Impact believes in having volunteer projects and internship programs that make a long term, positive change to communities and conservation and they work with responsible partners across Africa and the world to achieve this.
Help conserve the legacy of lions through hands-on lion conservation in Zimbabwe, or get involved with sustainable development of communities in Madagascar.
Mission: “Cross-Cultural Solutions, also known as CCS, is a nonprofit working to address critical global issues by providing meaningful volunteer service to communities abroad, and contributing responsibly to local economies.”
Maybe you’d like to assist with the care of infants and children in Morocco, or provide comfort and care for the elderly in Thailand.
Mission: Founded in 1876, the Appalachian Mountain Club promotes the protection, enjoyment, and understanding of the mountains, forests, waters, and trails of America’s Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions.
While this may not be an international travel option, you have a wide variety of beautiful parks, like Acadia National Park or the Virgin Islands National Park, to do some invigorating conservation hiking.
Mission: It is Global Vision’s mission to build a global network of passionate people, to make a difference.
Here you can choose from over 150 projects running anywhere from a week to over a year. Some possibilities include teaching English to young Buddhist Monks in Laos, going on a wildlife expedition in Costa Rica, or improving children’s education in Nepal (and venture to the Mount Everest base camp).
Mission: Enkosini Eco’s goal is to create a self-sustaining model of responsible conservation that preserves Africa’s natural heritage (habitat and wildlife); enhances the South African economy through overseas capital infusion, local and international eco-tourism, and job creation; and promotes education and awareness of conservation issues.
Get a unique hands-on experience with baboons in the C.A.R.E Baboon Sanctuary, or care for various wildlife at the Noah’s Ark Wildlife Centre.
Mission: “ISV’s mission is to support sustainable development initiatives around the world through life-changing volunteer and responsible adventure travel programs designed to positively change our world and to educate, inspire, and result in more active global citizens.
Build community infrastructure in rural areas of the Dominican Republic or help launch environmental management initiatives in New Zealand.
Mission: “GoEco partners with organizations around the world which are dedicated to providing humanitarian aid in local communities and wildlife rehabilitation and ecological conservation within local parks and reserves. GoEco sends like-minded and philanthropic volunteers to contribute to the aims of these projects and gain meaningful experiences that enrich their lives much more than typical commercial travel.”
Help build an eco village in the Arava Desert of Israel, or do work in sea turtle conservation on the Mediterranean off the cost of Greece.
Seanna Pratt, Curator
Seanna Pratt is currently a Biology student at the State University of New York at Oneonta. Despite the scientific nature of her degree, writing is one of her true passions in life. She is a staff writer at Germ, an online magazine geared towards women of all ages, and is co-editor in chief of a nutrition and fitness webpage at her college. Her plans for after college have changed more times than she can count, but currently she hopes to pursue a graduate degree in journalism to really delve into the depths of this art form. Apart from writing, you will often find her binge watching her latest Netflix obsession, or spending way too much time at coffee shops. She hopes to someday make travel a part of her career and experience all the world has to offer.