Volunteer Travel: Plan Ahead and Travel for a Change

Volunteer travel has been on my wish list for a long time now. As you may know, my “day job” is teaching English as a Second Language to immigrants at a college here in California, but I started teaching English in the Czech Republic back in the 1990s. It wasn’t a volunteer job, but spending time with the local people in their community and giving them something of value was a hugely rewarding experience. In fact, it changed the course of my future and the perspective I have of people and the world.

teaching English abroad

In the Czech Republic, where I lived for 1.5 years and taught English to adults and teenagers.

Now that my kids are getting older, volunteer travel seems like the perfect form of slow travel–we could give something back while making relationships with the local community and learning something new. As a believer in service, I know that using our travel time to the benefit of others would just benefit ourselves.

So I was excited recently when I learned about Greenheart Travel. Their mission is pretty powerful: “Greenheart Travel is a nonprofit exchange organization that provides cultural immersion programs that change lives, advance careers and create leaders. We truly believe that meaningful travel can have a profound effect, not just on the individual traveler, but the global community.” Their volunteer, work, and teach abroad programs provide opportunities for people to not only help others but also to grow through travel journeys.

Greenheart Travel

Baby sloth at the rehabilitation center. Photo credit: Greenheart Travel

Because I believe in the transformative power of travel, I found myself browsing all their volunteer programs to find the one that would be the best fit for us. From teaching English abroad to helping set up sustainable communities and helping at animal rehabilitation centers in places like Peru, Vietnam, India, Spain, and Thailand, there are so many choices, like these:

Volunteer with a conservation project and help at an animal rehabilitation center in Costa Rica, one of the most important places on the planet for biodiversity:

Greenheart TravelCultural immersion through teaching in India:

Greenheart Travel

And one that I found particularly interesting, helping with sustainable development on the island of Ibiza, Spain, where the on-site accommodations include this treehouse:

Greenheart Travel

Accommodations on the island of Ibiza, Spain. Photo credit: Greenheart Travel

Here is more information about volunteering with Greenheart Travel:

Special volunteer abroad opportunities with Greenheart Travel give travelers a chance to experience life in Costa Rica, India, Peru and Vietnam. From one week to three months, travelers can help make positive change through projects that support animal rescue and conservation, women’s empowerment initiatives, and community development. If you’re interested in hearing more of what it’s like for volunteers, you can read the experiences of those who have returned from Costa Rica and India.

Greenheart Travel is looking for adventurous travelers over 18 years old who are looking for a meaningful travel experience for volunteer programs starting in November and beyond. There are no requirements to be accepted, just an enthusiasm for learning about new cultures and languages, good physical and mental health, and being over the age of 18. There is a program fee and flight is not included, but housing and meals are included as part of the volunteer experience.

Start dates are flexible and available year round. You may choose your start date as long as you submit your application at least 8 weeks prior to your departure. Availability depends on the season and intended start dates.

So, what do you think? Have you volunteered abroad? What type of program would interest you?

Disclosure: This post is from a partnership with Greenheart Travel. I carefully choose companies and products to endorse, always express my own opinion, and appreciate your consideration, which helps keep this blog going.


  • Cindy says:

    What a fascinating and inspiring post! I love the idea of combining the “transformative” experience of travel with volunteering to improve the lives of others. Wow! And what a great experience it would be for kids. The fact that room and board is at no cost during the volunteer experience would be a bonus, too.

    We will check it out. Thanks for sharing Greenheart Travel with your readers, Jenna.

    • Jenna says:

      Thank you! Glad you enjoyed learning about them, and I agree, it would be a great learning experience for kids. I just found out that the Costa Rica trip is family friendly.

  • Analisa Fitriasari says:

    Hi, Jenna

    I’m Lisa from Indonesia. It was so nice and interesting experience.
    any way have a plan to do the volunteer job in Indonesia?
    I will be happy and can meet you here ^_^

    • Jenna says:

      Hi Analisa, Thanks for your comment. I don’t have a plan to do volunteering in Indonesia right now, but I have been there a couple of times and loved it!

  • Hi Jenna,

    I was amazed to found out about this volunteer travel thing. I believe that everyone has their own ambition to travel around the globe and I am one of them. I do travel mostly in Asia due to business trip and maybe it would be a wonderful experience to do some volunteer thing while traveling in other places. How does it feel to spend a night in a treehouse?

  • donnell harris says:

    Are there similar countries than Greenheart that helps people who want to teach English abroad. ESL101.com has been a waste of time for me and I’m not getting the answers I want from Greenheart

  • Are there any other companies other than Greenheart and ESL101.com that offer the same opportunities. Unfortunately, neither of these companies are working for me. I would love to teach in Latin America

    • Jenna says:

      Hi Donnell,

      I am not aware of companies that help place ESL teachers in Latin America. Surely there are some, but I just don’t know of any. Some of those I know who have gotten work abroad have basically shown up in the city where they want to work and look for a job at a local language school and then arrange for the proper visa afterward. If you’re American, you can look into the Peace Corps and programs through the U.S. Dept. of State. Best of luck! That sounds exciting.

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