Working or volunteering abroad allows you to spend longer in other countries, and to immerse yourself much more into local life, than you can on a traditional holiday.
Most opportunities for working or volunteering abroad are limited to people aged 18 or over. Some are designed specifically for “Gap Year” students – those who are planning to go to university but want to take a year off after school before their course begins.
Do your research very carefully before you book anything. “Gap Years” are seen as a lucrative market by a number of travel operators, and many volunteering opportunities in particular are very expensive.
As recommended on our general volunteering page, a good place to start is the International Citizen Service, funded by the UK Government’s Department for International Development. This runs programmes for 18-25 year olds in 25 countries around the world. You will have to raise £800 as your commitment to the programme, but it is otherwise funded by the Government.
Project Trust has organised volunteering placements for 17-19 year olds in Africa, Asia and the Americas since 1967. You will have to pass the selection process on the remote Hebridean island of Coll, and raise the majority of the funds through your own fund-raising efforts. You will work mostly in teaching, social care or outward bound projects.
Raleigh International operates expeditions to Nicaragua & Costa Rica, Malaysian Borneo and Tanzania, open to anyone from the age of 17. They combine community work in remote areas with adventure challenges.
Globalteer is a UK based charity which organises volunteer placements in community, wildlife and conservation projects in south east Asia and and Latin America. You have to be at least 18 for most projects.
Camp Romania provides 4-5 week summer placements for volunteer English teachers in its holiday camps for children in the beautiful Transylvanian region of Romania. Flights, board and lodging, local excursions and a trip to the capital Bucharest are all provided free of charge by the organisation.
This article from August 2016 lists many other companies, but do your research carefully!
Depending on your skills, qualifications and availability, there are a range of jobs you can do abroad, from au-pairing to teaching English as a foreign language to sports coaching on summer camps. Again, do your research carefully, and find out as much as you can about the organisation you’ll be working for as well as the country you’ll be working in.
This page from Prospects (the commercial arm of the Higher Education Careers Service Unit) gives suggestions for working abroad country by country, as well as really useful information on the practicalities.
WWOOF is a cultural exchange programme offering worldwide opportunities on organic farms. Organic growers and farmers offer food, accommodation and a taste of a different way of life in return for your work on their farm. No money changes hands, so you won’t come home rich; but it’s a cheap way to see new countries, and immerse yourself for a few weeks in a different way of life.
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