It can be hard to find the time to give back, so scheduling in a few days as part of a longer trip abroad can be an excellent compromise. There are plenty of interesting opportunities to volunteer all over the world, and it can take many forms – from helping those less fortunate and caring for animals in their natural habitat to helping with construction work.

We’ve taken a look at some of the coolest volunteering programmes you can sign up to during your travels abroad so that you can see the world while also contributing to it.

Elephant Sanctuary

There’s much more to Thailand than island hopping and full-moon parties. Among other things, the country is home to a number of elephant sanctuaries which allow volunteers to help care for elephants, many of which have been rescued from appalling conditions. Volunteers can help feed and bathe the animals, and also learn about their past. Depending on the sanctuary, visitors can stay for as little as a day to a week or more.

Grape Picking

Is wine your drink of choice? Well, then grape picking could be right up your street (or rue). There are various vineyards across Europe, particularly in France and Italy, which look for volunteers to help out with everything from harvesting grapes to actually helping make the wine. It can be strenuous work but is often rewarded with copious amounts of bread and wine, as well as a roof over your head for the duration of your stay.

Marine Conservation

The beautiful beaches are just one of the features attracting tourists to the Seychelles, and with the beaches come an array of wildlife. Volunteering in the Seychelles can be pricey, but gives you the unique experience of scuba diving to collect data on coral and fish. The programmes see volunteers work as part of a scientific team surveying the numbers of turtles, whale sharks, octopus and lobsters. The programme tends to take five weeks, with the first two spent in intensive training sessions. 

Husky Training

Spending four weeks at a husky ranch is a demanding, yet fun way to see a different side of Canada. Located in remote areas of British Colombia, Alberta and Ontario, volunteers spend their time training huskies, getting trained themselves in the world of dog sledding and guiding dog sledding trips. If you love wildlife and the great outdoors then this could be for you, but it’s definitely not a walk in the park!

Temple Renovation

If you’re looking to experience authentic Sri Lanka and aren’t afraid of getting your hands dirty, then helping to renovate Buddhist Temples could be the one for you. Temples play a huge part in Sri Lankan life and culture, and restoring them to their former glory tends to involve basic construction work using traditional techniques (there isn’t any machinery in sight!). Individuals will also spend time repainting and cleaning, as well as getting to know the locals.

As you can see, there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer overseas, whether just for a day or two or as part of a longer trip. Have you ever taken part in one of these programmes? Let us know about your experience and share any alternatives in the comments below. 

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