A group of Projects Abroad volunteers on one of our top rated volunteer abroad programmes.

Best Volunteer Programmes Around the World for 2023


By Jen Southern & Vicci Parry | 09th January, 2019
Updated on 23rd October, 2023

It’s a new year soon! That means a fresh start and a chance to plan your goals and resolutions. It’s the perfect time to start thinking of ways to improve yourself, but it’s also the time to help others and work towards a better world.

Why not take a step out of your comfort zone and do one of our top-rated volunteer abroad programmes? Make it the year you expand your horizons, become an ethical consumer, and do something truly meaningful.

This could be for a short trip, like one or two weeks.  You could even take part in a full gap year adventure tour.  Either way, you won't regret it!

In 2023, it’s more important than ever to:

  • Reduce plastic pollution
  • Empower women
  • Improve literacy
  • Fight wildlife poaching
  • Expand reforestation
  • Provide free healthcare
  • Build up communities
  • Be an ethical consumer

That’s why our best volunteer abroad programmes in 2023 focus on these issues.

#1 Reduce plastic pollution

Our planet is drowning in plastic pollution. It’s up to us to stop it. Every year, we produce 300 million tonnes of plastic. Of that, 8 million tonnes end up in our oceans. Let that sink in.

Plastic waste spells out death and destruction for the thousands of species that encounter it. Plastic chokes marine animals and coral reefs. It even ends up in sea creatures’ stomachs. This causes a ripple effect, disrupting fishing, food supply, tourism, and the entire marine ecosystem. 

On our Marine Conservation Projects, we’re working together to tackle this urgent problem. As a volunteer, you’ll help with beach clean-ups and salvage dives. You’ll also run awareness campaigns to reduce single-use plastic consumption and encourage recycling.

So, if you’re eager to get involved in a practical way to save our oceans, then take a look at some of our best Conservation volunteer abroad programmes:

Projects Abroad Conservation volunteers pick up litter on one of our best volunteer abroad programmes for young adults.

#2 Empower women

2018 was a year of women across the globe speaking out about their rights. From #MeToo to the massive women’s marches across the US in early 2018, women around the world are determined to have their voices heard. 

There’s still a lot of work to be done. If you’re passionate about women’s rights, you can help us promote them in countries and communities that need it most.

The best volunteering programmes overseas to support women’s empowerment in 2023 are:

We believe that women are strong. They have always endured, and they are powerful. We want them to thrive, whether it’s in standing up for their rights or taking a step towards owning their own businesses.

With your help on a volunteer programme around the world, we can create communities supported by strong, independent women.

Local women at a women’s empowerment workshop on one of our best international volunteer programmes.

#3 Improve literacy

Literacy is a fundamental skill that forms the foundation of a good education. Despite rising global literacy rates, there are many children in developing countries who struggle and get left behind.

You can make a difference by providing vital classroom support. By working with local teachers, you’ll help identify students who are falling behind. You’ll be able to give them extra attention to ensure they succeed.

If you want to contribute to a bright future for disadvantaged children, read more about working as a teaching assistant in Jamaica.

A teenager helps a child with a literacy exercise on one of our best high school volunteer abroad programmes.

#4 Fight wildlife poaching

Over the last few years we saw some devastating hits to wildlife populations because of poaching. The death of the last male northern white rhino left us reeling and the lifted ban on elephant hunting in Botswana was a real blow.

But these shocking stories push us to do even more to take a stand against poaching this coming year. The good news is, you can get involved in a practical way.

These are our best international volunteer programmes focusing on anti-poaching initiatives:

In Kenya and Botswana, you’ll work in a protected reserve, helping qualified, passionate staff with poaching patrols. You’ll remove wire snares, the silent killers in the poacher’s arsenal.

In Mexico, you’ll go on night patrols to spot newly laid sea turtle nests and collect the eggs before poachers get to them. Back at the camp, you’ll bury the eggs in protected nests and help with releasing the turtles once they hatch. Join one of these volunteer programmes around the world and take a stand against poaching in 2023.

A Conservation volunteer removes a poaching snare while volunteering abroad.

#5 Expand reforestation

Trees are the lungs of our planet. They help reduce climate change by absorbing carbon emissions. With findings from a groundbreaking UN climate change report released in 2018, it’s clear we need to take a more active role in mitigating its effects moving forward. Planting trees is the perfect way to do this.

If you want to get involved, we recommend one of our best overseas volunteer programmes: a Conservation Project in the Amazon Rainforest.

On this project, you’ll live and work in the heart of the lush rainforest. You’ll also help to conserve this precious ecosystem. As part of your work, you’ll plant and study mahogany trees. These trees absorb plenty of carbon dioxide and they act as a vital habitat for indigenous species.

A Projects Abroad Conservation volunteer planting a tree on one of our best volunteer abroad programmes UK.

#6 Provide free healthcare

Access to quality healthcare is one of our basic human rights, but people in many developing countries still struggle to get the medical care they need. A lack of funds and transport pose a problem, particularly if people live in remote areas far from healthcare facilities.

This is where you can help. Join one of our best volunteer trips: a medical programme in the Philippines. You’ll help local professionals provide free healthcare to people in need.

In the Philippines, we offer projects focusing on:

As part of these projects, we started the first physiotherapy and rehabilitation centre in the north of Cebu. As a volunteer, you’ll play an important role in keeping the centre running. On our medical projects in the Philippines, you might also go on house-to-house visits, working particularly with people with disabilities. 

A Medicine volunteer measures a child’s heart rate as part of one of our best volunteer abroad programmes.

#7 Build up communities

Do you want to use your own hands to make a difference? Building schools, community centres, toilet blocks, and houses is a tangible way to help support communities. 

If you find changing a light bulb daunting and you can’t name half the tools in a toolbox, don’t worry! Local builders and artisans will teach you everything you need to know to contribute. They’ll oversee all your work, and our local staff will always be there to support you.

We recommend the following volunteer building programmes around the world: 

Two Projects Abroad volunteers building a house on one of our best volunteer abroad programmes.

Join at any age

In case you were wondering, age doesn’t matter when it comes to joining one of our top-rated volunteer abroad programmes. We believe that everyone can make a difference. Our Flexi Trips accommodate volunteers of all ages, but we also have specialised projects if you’d like to volunteer with people your own age. You can take a look at our:

Read more about our best high school volunteer abroad programmes in 2023

We also offer Grown-up Specials for volunteers over 50. Find out more about our best volunteer programmes for older adults. We have projects for everyone that cover a range of interests, no matter your skills or experience level

Join us on a reliable volunteer abroad programme in 2023. Let it be the year that you help make our world a better place.

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