Best International Volunteering Advice, Resources, and Experiences

International volunteering while on a Big Trip is a great way to experience local culture and open your heart to others, and, if you’re there long enough – even make a difference. But how does one do it? There are many organizations and articles out there to find the best program and begin to do it on your own big trip. I’ve volunteered three times in India on my Big Trips and can recommend the experience and these resources to plan your own volunteering abroad experience.

Voluntourism may have harmful implications however, please check the organization and your intended impact thoroughly.

If you have your own advice or experience – please leave a comment and let’s build a nice little resource list here for others.

Getting Started

Resource Sites

  • Volunteer Abroad: A searchable index of international volunteer programs with an easy to use interface and comprehensive descriptions. I searched for “women” and “Guatemala” and got 27 results. These many well-laid out opportunities meant that I filed this site and the resulting programs under, “Next Big Trip.”
  • Idealist.org: Want to help women in India? Itching to rehab lions in Kenya? Desire to teach arts and crafts in Morocco?  Search Idealist.org for country and cause specific organizations looking for volunteers.  Assignments range from one week to one years.
  • Transitions Abroad: I haven’t used this site, but it definitely answered my questions of “where can I find volunteer organizations.” The “Featured Programs” section provides a varied view of different programs around the world to help you answer those questions asked in “choosing a volunteer program” article.
  • Verge Magazine: Profiles, stories, and recommendations – this site has everything for the would-be volunteer.
  • 10 Volunteering Working Holidays: This list by Guardian UK covers the globe and range of causes.

In-Country Experiences

  • Volunteering In Thailand: @GoGirlGuides is coming out with a Thailand guide in the fall, but why wait? This article shares of a list of Thai volunteer organizations and shares why volunteering can be so rewarding.
  • Volunteering in Jordan and Nepal: Corporate runaway @ottsworld shares her experience volunteering for conservation corps in Jordan and teaching children in Nepal. Her articles are fun, inspiring, and informative about the actual “volunteering” part of volunteering abroad.
  • Volunteering in India: In an effort to open my heart on my first trip to India, I volunteered at Mother Theresa Mission Charities and taught street kids in Jaipur with the Shakehands organization. Both were rewarding and fulfilling experiences that met the a) open heart goal and b) get a little closer to the heart and soul of India.
  • Volunteering in Ecuador: Kim from @RTWsomanyplaces writes about her experience volunteering in Ecuador and shares her feelings about starting out.
  • Do Good as You Go: Muskoka Foundation: An organization that queries the needs of the local group and matches volunteers with specific skills to what’s most needed.  Read my profile here. 

Helping or Harming?

If you have your own advice or experience – please leave a comment and let’s build a nice little resource list here for others seeking heart opening experiences abroad.

Overall Tip

My recommendation is to thoroughly check out the organization by asking for references and other travelers. I’ve had several people contact me over Facebook or through my blog asking about my volunteer experiences – one of which I found through idealist.org. Do your homework and make sure the organization or experience is a fit for you and you are a fit for the organization.


“A person’s world is only as big as their heart”

-Tanya A. Moore

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8 Responses to “Best International Volunteering Advice, Resources, and Experiences”

  1. March 12, 2012 at 5:32 am #

    Big thanks for including me in this great list!
    - @WorldLillie

    • Kristin
      March 12, 2012 at 9:44 am #

      You are a great resource!

  2. May 17, 2012 at 2:17 pm #

    This is an awesome list of resources. We’d love if you’d also check out our magazine, which focuses on volunteering, studying and working abroad. (And if you’re interested in guest contributing, just drop us a line at contribute@vergemagazine.com.)

    • Kristin
      May 17, 2012 at 2:19 pm #

      Thanks Jessica! I’ll contact you this week!

  3. June 30, 2012 at 12:15 am #

    Volunteering definitely enriches any trip/adventure.

    What were your best experiences Kristin?

    • July 1, 2012 at 9:15 pm #

      HI Jesse,

      Thanks for you comment. Definitely when I volunteered in India in the three places: Mother Teresa Charities, Teaching school children in Jaipur, and then doing the ride along with the mobile clinic in Bihar.

      These experiences taught me to go outside myself and they exposed me to women and children’s lives in India.

  4. May 13, 2013 at 9:49 am #

    Great list of resources — thanks! When my husband and I took a year to travel in 2009-2010, we used http://www.helpx.net to coordinate all of our volunteer opportunities (in Central America and the US.) We found it to be an excellent resource.

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