Everyone knows volunteering is good for the soul, if you fancy volunteering in projects that are just a little bit different here are 50 unusual ways to volunteer abroad…
1.Volunteer in an off the beaten track country
Get well and truly off the beaten track and volunteer in unrecognised countries around the world. Ever heard of Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Gagauzia? Young Pioneer Tours organise volunteer groups.
2. Mix with celebrities at Cannes
Media junkies love to enjoy all of the movie stars and directors who attend this prestigious and famous film festival. Long stay volunteering between February and may or short stay just for the duration of the festival. You’ll need to apply in December the previous year.
3. Volunteer for the Dalai Lama
Get involved in the mountain village of Dharamsala, home to the exiled Dalai Lama. Varied volunteering opportunities are available in social, green and animal welfare schemes.
4. Champagne grape harvesting
When winemakers decide that it is harvest time, the grapes must be picked very quickly and efficiently. Many volunteers are offered a free bottle of bubbly for their hard work, so choose a vineyard in the Champagne region for a genuine luxury treat!
5. Beach cleaning on Bondi Beach
Regular beach cleans are organised by the community to keep Bondi beach clean and sandy, volunteers also pick up litter on the ocean floor in Camp Cove. Seaside Scavenge organises large beach clean-up days.
6. Tour De France volunteer
In 2014,12,000 UK volunteers helped with the UK stage of the Tour de France. You can do the same in France! Sign up online for the region you’re visiting to help with their stage.
7. Beekeeping in Hawaii
In the beautiful upcountry area of the island of Maui, volunteer with Maui Honey Bee Sanctuary. Help with the eco-project protecting and caring for honey bees.
8. Volunteer at Mexico’s Day of The Dead
Mexico is known for the celebrations in October and November of Día de Los Muertos. You can volunteer at this festival really getting into the celebratory spirit, painting the iconic ‘calavera’ face associated with the day of the dead, sell pan de Muertos, direct traffic, make icing and generally help setting and cleaning up!
9. Reptile conservationist
Monitor the population of endangered iguanas on a tiny tropical island, visiting the Mangrove swamps and forest to document them in their natural habitat. One of the more unusual animals to volunteer with. Original Volunteers offer a programme on the tropical Caribbean island of Utila just off the Honduran coast.
10. Help dogs rescued street dogs and cats
Work with Soi Dog Foundation as a shelter volunteer. At their shelter in Phuket, Thailand, volunteers socialise and walk the dogs, as well as socialising the cats and puppies to help them get homes.
11. Ski-ing volunteer
Visit some of the world’s most beautiful ski resorts, teaching disabled children and adults how to ski for the first time. Not all programmes require experienced skiers, many offer a crash course before you begin. You will save hundreds whilst giving putting something back.
12. Archaeology at Macchu Picchu
1.4 million people visited the deserted hilltop ruins last year making it Peru’s most visited tourist attraction. All of these visits do wear down the beautiful ruins. Don’t just trek it, save it! You can volunteer performing trail maintenance and archaeological restoration alongside park rangers.
13. United Nations Volunteering
With a variety of different volunteering programmes, you can work with the United Nations helping countries worldwide contributing to peace and development.
14. Refugee camp volunteer
There are more about 10 million refugees around the world. Many camps will still welcome volunteers who can hand out food and water and provide basic healthcare. The most enjoyable job may be helping the refugees prepare to leave the camp prior to actually resettling abroad. Closer to the UK, the organisation helprefugees.org is still in need of volunteers to help with refugees in Northern France.
Skilled professionals, students, and non-experienced volunteers are all welcome to join projects aiming to help children who live in poverty and without access to quality dental care, improve their oral hygiene.
16. Tea Leaf Picking Volunteer
Calling all tea lovers! Some plantations welcome volunteers who would like to explore the life of a tea picker and find out how much you would’ve earned that day if you were a local! By the way, no matter how well you think you did, you won’t earn much! Earnings are passed on to local tea pickers.
17. Physiotherapy volunteering
Ghana is home to some amazing volunteering experiences, one being volunteering in a physiotherapy clinic. Great for trained professionals or just those who are interested. Go and volunteer alongside a physiotherapist in their clinic.
18. Volunteer at the World Cup
Over 17,000 volunteers are involved in the FIFA world cup. Applications open two years before the world cup, you can apply online. Enjoy the atmosphere and even a chance to see the world cup final without any expensive ticket fees.
19. Anti-Slavery volunteer
Anti-Slavery organisations around the world encourage volunteers to get involved and stop human trafficking and modern-day slavery. Volunteers help at rescue centers and shelters and by educating those at risk of abduction.
20. Acting In Bollywood
We have all had the dream of being in a movie one day. That dream may not be as unrealistic as you think! Colaba Causeway is often on the lookout for western recruits. If you’re in the area you could be cast as an extra.
21. International Circus Volunteering Programme
The Palestinian Circus School aims to introduce a new art form to Palestine, empowering those who see it to become constructive actors in society. They welcome international volunteers to help and spread the word.
22. Tourist Police Officer
With a basic understanding of the Thai language, you can volunteer in The Phuket Tourist Police Department. As a tourist police officer, you would be looking after both the local and international tourists, helping communications between locals and tourists.
23. Prison volunteering abroad
Help inmates’ transition to halfway houses. Helping them re-adjust to life in a community and find employment.
24. Volunteer at The Rio de Janeiro Carnival
Participate in the preparation of the carnival, join for rehearsals and begin constructing floats and designing costumes. Learn how passionate Cariocas are about the carnival. To organise, join a Samba School a few weeks before the festival.
25. Radio volunteering
Whether you want to have a go in front of the mic, hosting your own show or have a go at editing, there are many local and online radio stations where you can volunteer, practice and learn new skills.
26. Work with Australian aborigines
Organisations in Australia work with Indigenous people helping with both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
27. Volunteer at funerals
Egypt, China, and other eastern countries often ask for people to attend funerals of people they don’t know so that there is more of an attendance. Some people get paid for this role and it is even a profession mentioned many times in the Bible.
28. Sewing to help
If you have a passion for textiles or want to help poorer communities, is a charity which helps teach poor communities how to sew and provides them with not just the skills but also the machines and equipment they need to start a small home business in dressmaking.
29. Aid convoy driver
Take trucks of Aid to areas in need. You could be delivering anything from water and medicine to donated goods. Different areas have needs for different things. Typically, a convoy truck has two drivers and the drives can vary in length.
30. Chocolate plantation
Sweet and tasty luxury chocolate isn’t just fun to eat, it’s also fun to farm! Costa Rica is a very popular place to begin learning about chocolate farming, from grinding the beans to tasting the finished product, it’s a great experience the whole way along.
31. Computer literacy
Teach refugees computer basics, from how to type to coding. You could also teach more advanced classes, teaching MS Pro classes and the importance of computer skill in today’s workforce. Contact PC Tech 101 directly for opportunities in Greece.
32. Helping bears rescued from bear bile farms
AnimalsAsia is an excellent organisation helping bears rescued from the horrific bear bile trade. If you’re trained in either veterinary science/vet nursing or qualified in wild-animal management, then you can help the bears in their sanctuaries in China or Vietnam.
33. Surfing volunteering
There are many destinations which combine volunteering with surfing. The top destination would be South Africa. The surfing industry is starting to take off in India as well, where some organisations are offering free lessons to slum kids.
34. Wedding guest volunteering
Some people dream of a large wedding with all of their families and friends, but what happens if some people can’t make it to the big day? It’s not uncommon for brides and grooms mainly in Korea and other Asian countries to invite complete strangers to have a fuller ceremony.
35. Women’s prison companion volunteer
Whilst travelling you may wish to visit a British prisoner abroad. Contact the local British Embassy if there is anyone in need. Guatemala has major difficulties with women in prison, non-sentenced prisoners make up the majority of the population and continue to be held after the expiration of their sentences.
36. Climate activist
Projects in the St. Vincent and Grenadines aim to be ready for climate change by being carbon neutral and having a secure healthy food source. Learn and help with biodiversity, organic farming, and global warming.
37. Become a human scarecrow
Usually considered as a joke career but it’s not that bad! Sit secluded in the middle of a field on a deckchair with a book and a guitar, getting some fresh air and enjoying the peacefulness of the countryside. That’s what an English graduate did in England. Why not offer your services abroad in a better climate?
38. Help Greek Donkeys
A donkey sanctuary located in Crete take in donkeys that are old unwanted and often abused and they live their last days in freedom. They are looking for animal loving volunteers who can help with the day-to-day running of the sanctuary.
39. Volunteer on a Kibbutz
A kibbutz is a communal settlement in Israel which was based around agricultural farming, combining socialism and Zionism Kibbutzim, they began as utopian communities. Kibbutzim fell out of fashion amongst the hippies and backpackers of the 1970s and 1980s, but many still welcome long stay helpers.
40. Mercy Ships
A small city is taken on board a ship which moors up anywhere in the world in urgent need. Mercy ships are always looking for cooks, teachers, receptionists, mechanics and IT specialists, they will take everyone with a skill to offer who can make a fixed term commitment. There are 400 volunteers on the hospital ship at any time, it is a great way to help and see the world. See more on the Mercy Ships Website.
41. Shark conservation volunteering
Sea life conservation is easy to find, volunteering with turtles and fish. What’s not as easily found is volunteering with sharks! Projects in South Africa preserve the amazing great white sharks and their environment aiming to end the slaughter of 100 million sharks annually.
42. Legal volunteering
Legal Aid volunteering options are endless, if you’re a qualified lawyer or understand the legal industry you could help charities writing fundraising proposals, help girls stay in school and improve those schools. Volunteer with NGOs and human and international women’s rights.
Join an organisation which lets you live and learn on an organic farm. Living alongside your host helping with daily tasks and experience life as a farmer, the organisation WWOOF offers farms in incredibly contrasting locations, many WWOOFers as volunteers are called, travel from one farm to another working their way around the world. Meals are often provided making it one of the cheapest ways to travel if you don’t mind getting dirty.
44. Foreign music festivals
Volunteer at a music festival abroad, make friends from all over the world and learn a new language at the same time! You can apply online for many festivals, jobs can include stewarding, selling lanyards, working in beer tents and ushering.
45. Food recycling volunteer
Every Tuesday in Paris, HopHopFood collects unwanted food from different locations and takes it to the hungry. Not only does this help feed the hungry it also reduces food waste. As a volunteer, you can help collect the food and place it in cupboards in Paris. www.francebenevolat.org
46. Helping refugees in Greece with their documents
Greek Council for Refugees (GCR) supports asylum seekers and refugees in Greece with legal counselling and social assistance. If you have knowledge of the legal industry you could help a refugee with their documents.
47. Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Tokyo will need over 90,000 volunteers for the 2020 games. All ages, genders, and nationalities welcome to apply. www.Tokyo2020.jp
48. Volcano trekking guide
Nicaragua Volcano day often look for people for 6 weeks to enjoy guiding and interacting with tourists and the beauty of the volcano and surrounding areas. All proceeds go towards charity programmes.
49. LGBTQ+ Gay Pride Parade in Amsterdam
An amazing 9-day festival which celebrates all walks of life. You can choose your own shifts to make sure you don’t miss your favourite events and still get to enjoy the festival.
50. Volunteer at the Grand Prix
There are many Grand Prix destinations where you can volunteer as a marshal. You can apply to volunteer for different destination online.
Written by Caroline at Original Volunteers.