Gap year volunteering

Volunteering

Choosing a Volunteer Placement
Everything you need to know about make the right decision
Building an Orphanage in Cambodia
A story of a volunteering experience, but a little different
Help Preserve Endangered Species with Worldwide Experience
Volunteer with wildlife in South Africa on your gap year
Why Volunteer on Your Gap Year?
What benefits are there from volunteering
Gap Year Programs
What really are your volunteering options?
What and Why?

Volunteering abroad on your gap year is a great way to make the most of your time away. Many gappers cite the time they spent volunteering as the best and most rewarding part of their travels. You’ll have a chance to settle into a local community and make a really positive contribution to whatever location you find yourself in, whether that involves helping to protect vulnerable wildlife, working with deprived children or assisting with environmental projects.

Why organise my placement through a company?

The choice of volunteering projects around the world is vast and can be totally bewildering for people in the preliminary stages of their research. This is why it is really important to organise your volunteering experience through a company that specialises in connecting people with projects.

Many gappers mistakenly believe they can just rock up to any given area and pitch in. This is not how volunteering works. The demand is very high, and you need to book on to placements sometimes months in advance. A company will also be able to advise you exactly what types of projects you would be best suited to, and advise on how to make the most of your experience.

Choosing where to go and what to do

There are two ways to approach planning your volunteering adventure: you can either decide first where to go and then what to do, or you can decide first what to do and then where to go.

For example, if you have always wanted to visit South Africa, you could look at volunteering opportunities in South Africa. If you have always wanted to work with animals, you could look at various wildlife projects around the world. The point is that your destination can inform your project, or your project can inform your destination.

Popular types of volunteering

Animal Volunteering

Animal Volunteering

Career Development

Career Development

Conservation Projects

Conservation Projects

Care Work Projects

Care Work Projects

View all volunteering projects

Most Popular

By now you should be starting to realise that you can pretty much volunteer on anything you want anywhere you like: help is needed all over the world – including here in the UK – and your time and effort will be most welcome!

Popular volunteering projects

Some projects however are, naturally, more popular than others. We have been around now for more than 15 years and over that time have learnt more than a thing or two about what is most popular with backpackers looking to volunteer on their gap years.

These are a few of our best volunteering projects just to give you a taste, but remember these are just a tiny selection from many!


Reintroduce cheetahs into the wild

Work hands on with cheetahs and be part of a pioneering reintroduction project. Enjoy a trip to the Kruger National Park during your placement.

Duration: 2-4 weeks

Countries available: South Africa

Price: £995

Find out more...


Help with marine conservation

Dive and conduct research every day in protected marine research parks in a variety of countries. This is a great way to combine diving with charitable endeavour.

Duration: 2 weeks - 6 months

Countries available: Thailand, Tanzania, Sri Lanka, Madagascar, Honduras, Guatemala, Greece, Fiji

Price: £595

Find out more...


Educate children about HIV and AIDS

Live within the stunning world heritage site of iSimangaliso Wetlands and educate disadvantaged children in the village creches of St Lucia in South Africa

Duration: 2-8 weeks

Countries available: South Africa

Price: £745

Find out more...


Work in an orphanage with disadvantaged kids

Enrich the lives of orphanded children in rural Vietnam by teaching them English, playing games with them and generally being of any support you can.

Duration: 2-8 weeks

Countries available: Vietnam

Price: £795

Find out more...


Join a community project on a tropical island

Apply your skillset to help develop a small tropical island community on Naifaru in the stunning Maldives, helping to improve the lives of the locals.

Duration: 3 weeks - 3 months

Countries available: Maldives

Price: $1050

Find out more...

Ethical Volunteering

Choosing an ethical volunteering project

We know what you’re thinking: trying to choose an ethical volunteering package is like trying to choose a healthy salad – you can’t go wrong, right?

Well, actually, you can.

You see, volunteering is big business now. The trend of well-meaning backpackers from the developed world trying to help out a bit on their gap years is one which has been growing steadily for the last few decades, and perhaps inevitably there are some people out there who aim to exploit this.

Choosing the right project volunteering

You may have heard about fake orphanages, or wildlife ‘sanctuaries’ which have actually been created by removing unthreatened animals from their natural environments, purely to capitalise on the growing number of people willing to pay to volunteer with said animals. In a word, some of the murkier aspects of the volunteering world are completely self-defeating.

You can rest assured, however, that every single company and every single project you find on gapyear.com has been strictly vetted according to rigorous criteria. We have very close relationships with all our volunteering clients and can 100% guarantee that they offer only ethical, genuine projects.

Questions to ask the volunteer project

  • Why do you need a volunteer?
  • What will I be doing day to day?
  • What skills are needed?
  • How will my work help a local community?
  • If there’s a recent volunteer who did the same work to talk to?
  • What are the conditions like I’ll be living in?
  • What kind of support is available?
  • Will there be other volunteers there?

For more information check out these articles on where the voluntourism money goes and how to find a responsible volunteering project.