Wildlife conservation, community and environmental volunteer projects and internships worldwide

Luang Prabang Laos Buddhist MonksAt WorkingAbroad, we are always striving to ensure that our volunteer projects are as sustainable, ethical and as beneficial for our world as we possibly can. Whilst travelling overseas to volunteer at a wildlife, environmental conservation or community project has many benefits for the planet, and to communities both local and global, there is an important aspect to consider as with all overseas travel, and that is the environmental impact of travel itself.

It is well known that aeroplane travel is one of the most polluting travel options in terms of CO2 emissions per passenger. And whilst it is not always realistic to avoid travelling by plane altogether, we have put together some tips to make sure you are minimising your environmental impact when travelling to a volunteer project overseas. At the heart of this approach is the concept of ‘Slow Travel’. Slow travel has its roots in the slow food movement of the 1980s, and is a philosophy that encourages slowing down from current travel practices which are becoming increasingly unsustainable for the environment, moving away from the typical models of large hotels, package deals, cruises, cheap flights, short term trips, and instead travelling in a more environmentally friendly fashion, using alternative means of transportation, taking time to experience the local community and leaving a minimal impact on the places you visit. This article gives an excellent summary of the slow travel movement.

You can also find out more about slow travel when volunteering abroad and a list of projects we recommend on our slow travel blog article.

Tips for More Environmentally Friendly Travel

  1. If you can, consider using an alternative transportation method than flying. Boats, buses and trains, particularly in Europe are a much more eco-friendly method than taking multiple short haul flights. This article has some good tips for booking train travel across Europe.
  2. If you have to take a flight, take a look at this list of the best performing airlines in terms of carbon emissions, to make sure you are minimising your environmental impact.
  3. Calculate and try to reduce your personal carbon footprint using this calculator from Friends of the Earth.
  4. Consider going on fewer long term trips, rather than frequent short term package holidays. Volunteering abroad is a great way to travel whilst also supporting the communities you are visiting in on a more long term basis.
  5. When you do travel, visit projects that are doing something positive for the environment, like our wildlife conservation and wilderness projects, and make sure you do your research on the sustainable practices and ethics of the places you are visiting.