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Top Senior Volunteer Vacations and Projects Abroad

Senior volunteer woman on a program with Global Volunteers.
Senior volunteer on a Cook Islands literacy project. Photo courtesy of Global Volunteers.

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Articles on Senior Volunteer Vacations and Service Abroad

International Volunteering Over 50 by Senior Volunteer Service Editor John Dwyer
Volunteer Vacations for Seniors: A Different Agenda by Alison Gardner
Learning to Love Voluntourists by Alison Gardner
Professional Services Volunteering Over 50 by John Dwyer
Volunteering in Ecuador For "Grown Ups" with Lead Adventures by Alison Gardner
Volunteering at Organic Farms in Italy with WWOOF at 59 by Venetia Sherson
Volunteering in Cuba by Lynn Lotkowictz
Volunteer as a Senior and Make Retirement Count by Amy Warren and Winsin Hsieh
An Experienced Senior's Perspective on Volunteering Abroad by Dorothy Conlon
Adventuring Abroad: An Experienced Senior Sees Travel as a 3-Course Feast by Dorothy Conlon

Senior Volunteering Abroad GoEco
Volunteer Vacations for the Young at Heart!

It’s time to cross volunteering abroad off your bucket list! GoEco has a wide selection of senior-friendly volunteer programs that give you the opportunity to devote your time and skills to a cause you care about! Whether you’re interested in helping orphaned children or joining in wildlife conservation efforts, you‘ll return home knowing you made a difference!

Volunteer service for seniors Global Aware Adventures in Service
Volunteer Vacations for Retirees
This nonprofit currently offers volunteer projects in 18+ countries worldwide. Adventures in service focuses on cultural awareness and sustainability.
All program costs, including airfare, are U.S. tax-deductible, though airfare must be purchased independently.
Volunteers are of all ages, with an exciting emphasis on multi-generational family groups.

Senior volunteering in Ecuador Lead Adventures
Volunteer in Ecuador and Galapagos
Lead Adventures offers volunteer and adventure programs in Ecuador and the Galapagos suitable for "grown-ups" and seniors, providing full immersion in traditional Ecuadorian culture. You will learn about and share your knowledge of biodiversity, conservation, social causes, organic agriculture, animal welfare, and community building. Tailored group and individual customized options are available. You may choose to stay in a hostel or a hotel for more independence, and have your travel arrangements customized for your specific needs.

The following projects provide senior-friendly volunteer environments, many of which take advantages of the skills and knowledge you already possess to make a difference in local communities even as you see another part of the world:

Discover Corps
An organization that offers multi-generational volunteer vacation packages to countries throughout Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Discover Corps offers responsible volunteer vacations for seniors and their families. The 1-2 week multi-generational family trips combine citizen diplomacy, responsible volunteering, hands-on volunteering, cultural connections, and developing an authentic and meaningful travel experience.

Earthwatch Institute
An international nonprofit organization that has placed more than 100,000 volunteers with field researchers engaged in a dazzling menu of scientific and social science research around the world. With a strong emphasis on sustainability, since 1971, they have invested in nearly 1,400 conservation research projects in more than 120 countries, including North America. 40% of participants are older adults or seniors, and a great many volunteers are repeat clients involved in multiple projects.

Global Volunteers
A private, nonprofit international development organization mobilizing teams of short-term volunteers year-round to assist with long-term local projects in partnership with 200+ local organizations. With a mission to wage peace and promote justice worldwide, programs include teaching conversational English and other basic subjects, caring for at risk youth, assisting with health care, building schools and community facilities, and much more. About 50% of volunteers are old adults or seniors, drawn primarily from the U.S. and Canada. 1- to 3-week programs are offered in 17 countries on six continents.

Volunteer programs abroad for people of all ages, including over 50. GVI offers over 100 diverse volunteer projects in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe and Australasia, all offering a blend of cultural immersion and exploration. With project focuses in marine and wildlife conservation, animal care, child care, health care, and teaching, there is something for everyone.

Habitat for Humanity
(Headquarters and International Programs). A nonprofit, ecumenical Christian organization that seeks to eliminate poverty housing around the world by building homes appropriate to each area where a need exists, either because of natural disasters destroying existing housing or because extreme poverty relegates individuals and families to living in substandard shelter. No building experience necessary. Choose from programs in countries worldwide. While Habitat will not estimate figures, they say that senior volunteers are "very significant" in number.

International Volunteer HQ
Offers low-cost senior volunteer vacations in locations around the world. Programs take advantage of the experience and skills of mature participants and provide popular homestay and private room options should they be desired.

Oceanic Society Expeditions
The Oceanic Society is a nonprofit organization working to protect marine wildlife and the marine environment through conservation-based research and environmental education. Half its itineraries are volunteer holidays, the rest are educational. Participants become research assistants, working side by side with academics and field researchers, logging, recording, and collecting data, including coral reef health monitoring and measuring nesting sea turtles. These expeditions occur in Central and South America and the Pacific Ocean region. Sixty percent of clients are older adults.

Orangutan Foundation International
There are only two islands in the world where the highly endangered orangutan can be found in the wild: Sumatra and Borneo. As the only organization dedicated solely to preservation of orangutans and their dwindling rainforest habitat, OFI offers a well-established study tour/volunteer program of frontline field experiences. 50 to 6% of volunteer vacationers are older adults.

Projects Abroad: Conservation and Community Work in Ecuador for Volunteers over 50
"In the Galapagos Islands, do conservation volunteer work and help local communities with a group your age. You’ll work at the Galapagos National Park and do light renovation work at schools and care centres in the local community. This is a unique opportunity, as we are the only volunteer organisation with an official partnership that allows us to work in the park."

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