Wildlife conservation, community and environmental volunteer projects and internships worldwide

Family Volunteering Abroad

"Volunteering at Playa Tortuga was without doubt one of the most enjoyable parts of our Costa Rican adventure. It was a good feeling to work in a project, which although small provides a wealth of different experiences. We would recommend this trip to single travellers or families with children."

Smith Family from the UK

This is where you can find more information about how to volunteer with your family, practical advice and any considerations to make when doing family volunteering abroad. Please see below for a personal letter from WorkingAbroad Co-Founder Vicky McNeil, who has volunteered abroad numerous times with her children. You can find a list of our current projects which are suitable for family volunteering abroad at the bottom of the page.

Hi! My name is Vicky McNeil and I am the co-Founder of WorkingAbroad and also a mother of two girls aged 12 and 15 years old. I have been involved with volunteering programmes since I went off backpacking and volunteering around in the mid 1990s with my partner – and in 1997, we founded WorkingAbroad.

Voluntary work overseas has been traditionally for those who don’t have children. Since taking our girls to visit our sea turtle programmes in Grenada and Costa Rica, to the townships and game reserves in South Africa and Namibia, to the Dolphin Research projects in Greece and Croatia, to the Bear Tracking Project in Sweden and the coral reefs of Mauritius, we want to open up the family volunteering sector and offer this to other parents.

There are multiple projects abroad that can host families, as the work engages volunteers to observe wildlife and gain hands-on experience, such as fin profiling dolphins and whales, tagging sea turtles or counting turtle eggs, or plotting GPS co-ordinates for predators in national parks. Most of this work can be undertaken by parents whilst the children learn and take part. The work often takes place over half-days, leaving the rest of the day to engage in beneficial recreational activities, snorkelling, hiking, tracking, and so on.

I have seen what works and what doesn’t work for a family volunteering abroad, and I am delighted to be able to help new families to go out and have a “once in a lifetime” experience.

Being with our children is the most precious time we have, and we spend a lot of our time doing school runs, and being caught up in a stressful working week cycle. A family volunteer programme abroad will be a great challenge, far removed from every day life at home, and away from a typical holiday sitting on a beach all day watching your children hooked on the iPhone. A family volunteer programme will enable you and your children to go out, learn, volunteer and experience something worthwhile far away from the school classroom, which will be remembered for the rest of your lives.

Below, you can find our current programmes that are most suited to family volunteering abroad – where there are specific family dates, we have listed them.  For any questions on family volunteering abroad or if you are looking for some guidance, please email me!

  • Elephant Volunteer Project, Laos

    • Duration 2 Days - 1 week
    • Prices from £365

    Volunteer at an ethical sanctuary for Elephants in Laos. Experience these iconic species in a beautiful forest setting, where elephants are able to live freely, away from the mass tourist or logging industry in their undisturbed natural environment.

  • Wildlife Conservation & San Bushmen Community Project, Namibia

    • Duration 10 days to 12 weeks
    • Prices from £1025

    Join this project as a wildlife conservation, carnivore conservation or medical volunteer and help conserve wildlife or provide medical care to the San Bushmen community. Specialist Veterinary and Wildlife Rehabilitation courses also available. Rhino Rangers anti-poaching programme also available.

  • Amazon Research and Conservation Volunteer & Internship Project, Peru

    • Duration 2+ Weeks
    • Prices from £1127

    Volunteer or intern in Peru and have the rare opportunity to work alongside and learn from expert biologists and conservationists about the forest, tropical wildlife and conservation efforts in the deep Amazon rainforest.

  • Dolphin & Whale Research Volunteer Project, Portugal

    • Duration 1 Week+
    • Prices from £1500

    Volunteer in Portugal and support Dolphin & Whale Conservation and Research whilst exploring the Algarve coastline.

  • Cuba Conservation Volunteer Project

    • Duration 1-4 Weeks
    • Prices from £960

    Contribute to the Marine & Coastal Habitat Conservation volunteer project on a remote beautiful island in Cuba. Volunteers help on land and in the water with the monitoring and improvement of marine and coastal health, as well as the collection of data for the further protection of this important conservation area.

  • Elephant Volunteer Project, Thailand

    • Duration 2 Days - 8 Weeks
    • Prices from £255

    Volunteer at an ethical elephant Sanctuary and home for old elephants in Mae Chaem, situated in the countryside of Northern Thailand near Chiang Mai.

  • Elephant & Bear Volunteer Project, India

    • Duration 1 Week+
    • Prices from £600

    Volunteer to help conserve rescued elephants and bears at an ethical wildlife rescue and conservation centre in India. Contribute to animal welfare and learn about the issues surrounding wildlife protection in India.

  • Cloud Forest Conservation & Sustainability Volunteer Project, Ecuador

    • Duration 1-12 Weeks
    • Prices from £400

    Become an environmental volunteer in Ecuador to conserve a part of the Ecuadorian Cloud Forest and get involved in reforestation, organic agriculture, sustainable living and building projects, and Capuchin Monkey research.

  • Shamwari Big Five Game Reserve Volunteer Programme, South Africa

    • Duration 1 - 12 weeks
    • Prices from £1120

    Join an award-winning conservation team in a Big Five Game Reserve in South Africa, boasting a huge variety of game over a vast 18,000 hectares.

  • Dolphin Research Volunteer Project, Greece

    • Duration 1-4 weeks
    • Prices from £680

    Volunteer on this dolphin research project in the Ionian Sea and help to ensure the long-term survival of Bottlenose and Short-Beaked Common Dolphins

  • Playa Tortuga Conservation Volunteer Project, Costa Rica

    • Duration 1 week to 6 months
    • Prices from £445

    Volunteer in Costa Rica and live and work in a biological research station and take part in sea turtle, butterfly, caiman, crocodile, tree boa and mammal research and environmental education.

  • Caribbean Reef Buddy Diving Project, Carriacou, West Indies

    • Duration 2 Weeks+
    • Prices from £1050

    Become a Caribbean Reef Buddy volunteer and join us on the beautiful island of Carriacou near Grenada. Learn to dive in the warm, crystal clear waters of the Caribbean and play an active part in our exciting marine conservation projects.  Also an opportunity to kick-start your diving career with our Eco Divemaster programme!

  • Ocean Spirits Leatherback Sea Turtle Volunteer Project, Grenada

    • Duration 2 - 12 Weeks
    • Prices from £785

    Volunteer in the Caribbean as a Research Assistant and take part in leatherback sea turtle monitoring, research, and community outreach programmes on the island of Grenada.

  • Desert Elephants Volunteer Project, Namibia

    • Duration 2 - 12 weeks
    • Prices from £945

    Track desert elephants and take part in community building volunteer work in the beautiful Damaraland region of the Namib Desert.

  • Dolphin & Whale Volunteer Research Project, Italy

    • Duration 1 - 4 weeks
    • Prices from £740

    A sailing-boat based cetacean volunteer research and conservation programme in the Western Mediterranean located between Italy and France.

  • Elephant Sanctuary Volunteer Project, Cambodia

    • Duration 1-8 Weeks
    • Prices from £675

    Volunteer with elephants at an Elephant Sanctuary in the forests of Mondulkiri, located in the remote Eastern Cambodia. The elephants are retired from their previous hard-working lives in the trekking and tourism industry, and now roaming free in their natural habitat.

  • Conservation Volunteering Project, Spain

    • Duration 2 Weeks+
    • Prices from £880

    Immerse yourself in Spanish culture and volunteer on a conservation project in the coastal cities of Valencia or Denia.

  • Ocean Research Conservation Project, South Africa

    • Duration 1 week - 10 months
    • Prices from £605

    Volunteer with dolphin, seal and whale research in South Africa. Take part in marine conservation, penguin rescue and educational projects along the South African coast.  Special two week vet programme with an animal shelter also available.

  • Elephant Conservation Volunteer Project, Sri Lanka

    • Duration 1+ Weeks
    • Prices from £796

    Assist with the conservation of wild elephant populations and carnivore research in a vast national park located in the heart of Sri Lanka. Support the efforts to mitigate human-wildlife conflict in the region for the protection of wildlife and livelihoods of local farmers.

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