Calling All Gen X: Volunteering Abroad for Adults

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If you think you’re too old to hop on a plane and spend time volunteering overseas, think again! Opportunities to start volunteering abroad for adults are plentiful and there are tons of reasons why heading out on an adventure in your 50s (or 60s, or beyond!) is a great idea. Whether you’re retired and are looking for something to fill your time, or you want to make a difference while on vacation overseas, volunteer programs abroad for adults are just the ticket for a fulfilling experience.

standing in nature with red backpack 

Who cares about your Instagram game, you just want to give back.

Unlike planned tours or package travel deals, volunteer trips abroad for adults are typically customizable depending on your experience, abilities, and desired length of stay. Volunteering overseas for adults also usually means lower costs, so it’s a more affordable way to experience life in a new country. There are a lot of options out there, but we’ve come up with the best volunteer abroad programs for older adults, making it easy to find the right opportunity for you. 

4 popular projects when volunteering abroad for adults

The good news is that volunteering abroad for adults comes in all shapes and sizes, pretty much guaranteeing that you’ll be able to draw upon your personal and professional experiences for your project. There are certain causes that tend to appeal more to adults abroad, so take a look at some popular areas of volunteer work abroad for adults that may pique your interest: 

Working with Children

Many volunteer positions around the world involve working with children, whether you’re running activities for youth in an after-school program, teaching sports, or helping with daily chores in an orphanage. Typically it’s easier to find volunteer opportunities abroad for adults in developing countries, where resources are limited and extra hands are welcome. It’s best to plan for a longer stay when doing this kind of work, as stability is an important factor in children’s lives. Working with children takes commitment, compassion, and determination, but most volunteers find it truly rewarding.

  • Best time of year: Year-round
  • Popular countries: Peru, China, Tanzania, India
  • Great for: Volunteer opportunities for senior citizens, Volunteering overseas for over 50s, Volunteer work abroad for over 60s

[Get Matched with 5 Adult Volunteer Abroad Programs for FREE]

Taking Care of Animals 

If fins and feathers are your passion, consider volunteering abroad for adults with an organization that focuses on helping animals. Volunteering at an animal sanctuary, performing habitat rehabilitation, or conducting field research are all ways you can give back to your furry friends while also experiencing a new environment, culture, and language. These types of volunteer positions usually involved spending a good amount of time outside, so be sure to consider the local climate when choosing your location.

  • Best time of year: Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Popular countries: South Africa, Ecuador, Australia
  • Great for: Volunteer abroad over 50, Volunteer opportunities for senior citizens, Volunteer abroad
older couple sitting on bench by the seaside

But, you’re not quite ready for the retirement home, either...solution? Volunteering abroad for adults!

Teaching in Classrooms

Whether you were a teacher in your former life and miss the daily rhythms of the classroom or you just want to share your life experiences with others, teaching abroad can be a great option for older adults. The subject you’re teaching may vary on your expertise and local needs, but common topics include English as well as technology, healthcare, business, and the arts. Teachers are needed all over the world and positions are plentiful, making teaching an accessible option for just about anyone.

  • Best time of year: Fall, Winter, Spring
  • Popular countries: Cambodia, Kenya, Spain, Colombia
  • Great for: Volunteer opportunities for senior citizens, Volunteering overseas for over 50s, Volunteer work abroad for over 60s

Caring for the Environment

Taking care of the natural world around you can be highly rewarding, and environmental volunteer opportunities abroad for adults allow you to give back while exploring new and different landscapes. Help plant trees in the rainforests of Ecuador, perform trail maintenance in Australia, or contribute to an eco-lodge in Kenya. Depending on the project, some physical labor may be required, so it’s a good idea to contact the volunteer organization in advance to get an idea of what’s expected of you.

  • Best time of year: Year-round
  • Popular countries: Costa Rica, New Zealand, Thailand
  • Great for: Volunteer abroad over 50, Volunteering overseas for over 50s, Volunteer abroad

Best volunteer abroad programs for older & mid-life adults

So now you have an idea of what kind of volunteer work you want to do, but how do you make it happen? You need to find a provider that’s reliable and professional, and it’s important to do your research to ensure a good experience. Having sent thousands of volunteers overseas to complete projects, these organizations are the cream of the crop when it comes to volunteer trips abroad for adults: 

Old man reading newspaper in cafe

Sure, you can keep reading that newspaper, but you could also sign up with volunteer programs abroad for adults and start solving bigger world problems. 

gvi logo

1. GVI

From marine conservation in the Seychelles to teaching in Fiji, GVI has a wide variety of ways to plan volunteering abroad for adults. Once you’ve confirmed your location, GVI’s robust pre-departure process will even put you in touch with your field site before departure, allowing you to ask questions and gain insight on your project. For those who can’t wait to volunteer again, they offer discounts for returning volunteers, making it easier to get back out there.

african impact logo

2. African Impact

With projects available in nearly a dozen African countries, this organization is one of the leading volunteer providers on the continent. With a strong focus on responsible travel, African Impact aims to make volunteering a two-way street: both volunteers and the local communities benefit from the experience. Whether you’re doing wildlife research in Kenya or supporting children in South Africa, you’ll never think of Africa the same way again.

goeco logo

3. GoEco

GoEco is an environmentally-focused volunteer placement organization that works with partners all over the globe. Projects vary from sea turtle rescue in Bali to supporting youth in Cape Town, and nearly all programs incorporate activities or excursions to help you learn about the local community. Fees usually cover travel health insurance and accommodation costs so you can focus 100% on your project.

cross continental volunteer abroad logo

4. Cross Continental

This organization’s goal is to help you customize your volunteer experience as much as possible. They’ll work with you to choose your start date, duration, and your specific project, as well as arrange a host family for accommodation. Fees are relatively low, meaning even those on fixed incomes can participate in programs across Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

Man playing golf

Your tee time can wait. Seriously.

ivhq logo

5. International Volunteer HQ

IVHQ is serious about responsible travel, and they ensure this by building solid partnerships with local nonprofits as well as providing extensive pre-departure support to volunteers. This equals consistent expectations for all involved and avoids unwelcome surprises once you arrive on site. As an added bonus, most volunteer sites have connections to tour companies in the region, allowing you to fit in some sightseeing while also benefitting the local community.

love volunteers

6. Love Volunteers

This relatively new organization has grown quickly since its creation and now offers over 100 programs in places as far-flung as Moldova, Zambia, and Laos. Each project varies in duration and lodging options, but all offer 24/7 support and a commitment to sustainability in every community with which they collaborate.

cross cultural solutions logo

7. Cross-Cultural Solutions

With its worldwide projects driven by community needs and input, all of Cross Cultural Solutions’ volunteer placements are sure to be impactful. The process begins by assessing your strengths, experience, and preferences, and then you’re placed in a country and project for the best fit. The organization provides housing and meals to all volunteers, so you’ll always have a comfy spot to return home to at the end of a busy day. 

eli abroad

8. ELI Abroad

ELI Abroad offers volunteer opportunities on four continents and works with applicants to design a volunteer project tailored their interests, skills, and abilities. This can be especially useful for older volunteers who might have specific limitations but still want to serve. Fees vary depending on the country you choose and will be more affordable in countries with a lower cost of living.

husband and wife posing for cute photo in Greece

With so much life lived, you have way more to give volunteering overseas for adults.

A few more tips before trying volunteer work abroad for adults

Preparation is the best way to ensure a great volunteer experience, so make sure you do your homework before getting on the plane!

  • Get matched with programs. For personalized assistance to start volunteering abroad for adults, speak with an OnlineAdvisor to discuss your options and receive program recommendations.  
  • Use this tool to shop for the right program for you. If you know you want to help but still aren’t sure where you’d like to go, check out MyGoAbroad to compare programs side-by-side. 
  • Do tons of research. For those who have never volunteered abroad, download this free Ebook for first time volunteers. You’ll learn about choosing a volunteer placement, preparing for your trip, and making your experience meaningful. While you’re at it, check out GoAbroad’s other articles on volunteering for more tips and advice. 
  • Raise your funds. While volunteering can be an affordable way to travel, it’s rarely free. If funding is an issue, check out FundMyTravel to find out how you can start fundraising for your trip. 

You’ll never regret making the decision to dive right into international volunteering for adults, and these resources will help make the whole process as smooth as possible. 

Who knew volunteering abroad for adults could be so easy? 

Volunteering abroad isn’t just for spry 20-year-old graduates, and spending time serving others can be even more rewarding after you’ve got some life experience under your belt. If you haven’t found the right volunteer program for you yet, keep looking. Your perfect program match is out there, and the satisfaction you’ll feel after a hard day’s work in a new country is certainly worth taking the time to find it.

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