Published On: Wed, Oct 20th, 2021

Alternative travel: See the world as a volunteer this year

Travel is an eye-opening experience at the best of times. Heading to foreign lands and experiencing different landscapes, cultures and languages can be a truly rewarding experience. However, if you have a yearning to help others, volunteering in another country is an even more worthwhile experience. Let’s take a brief look at some of the types of volunteering experiences available in this big, wide, wonderful world.

  • UN Youth Volunteers

The first option is for youngsters and is perfect for anyone who has completed their education and is taking a gap year before deciding what to do in their lives. This volunteering program has been launched by the United Nations (UN) for people between the ages of 18 to 29 years of age. The program allows volunteers to engage in development and peace initiatives around the world. Under the umbrella of the UN, people can work in vital climate change adaptation (a critical need right now), human rights, disaster management, peace-building and primary health care.

UN Youth Volunteers can help advance sustainable development and work towards peace, either in their own country or another country in the world. Most assignments run from six to 24 months and volunteers receive a basic living allowance. Assignments are regularly advertised on the UN’s website under “Special Calls for Volunteers.”

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  • Healthcare and medical volunteer programs


Anyone who is currently a medical student or a pre-med or pre-nursing student can gain valuable experience in healthcare and medical volunteer programs overseas. Programs are currently available in countries like Cambodia, Costa Rica, Ghana, Kenya, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, Thailand or Vietnam.

Medical volunteers would work with the supervision of professional doctors, physiotherapists and nurses, assisting in their everyday activities. Volunteering programs are offered in various medical fields, including general medicine, emergency, pediatric, maternity, HIV/AIDS support and more.

  • Wildlife Conservation Volunteering

Another truly rewarding volunteer experience comes with working with wildlife in exotic destinations around the world. This volunteer field includes working with some of the most endangered species around the globe, including the major animals of Africa, like African elephants, rhinos, lions, cheetahs and more. In Asia and Central America, volunteers can work with Asian elephants, jaguars, giant tortoises, sea turtles, reptiles and amphibians and tropical birds. The list is endless, as in this damaged world, so many creatures are in danger of becoming extinct.

Likely destinations for this type of volunteering include the jungles of Thailand and Costa Rica or the Seychelles. Each program will involve conservation research, environmental education work and data collection. However, probably the best part of this type of volunteering experience is meeting the wildlife itself, albeit from a safe distance! 

If you have some time to spare, have a different international experience this year, volunteering with people or wildlife around the world. Volunteering is a truly rewarding experience which will also open your eyes to the problems faced by both humans and animals all over the globe.

Author: Anne Sewell

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