Volunteer Abroad

The Best Summer Volunteer Abroad Programs for 2023

Read our guide to the best summer volunteer programs for 2023 to find the best fit. In addition to learning more about each program, you can read reviews from other travelers and compare programs in terms of impact, support, fun, safety, and value.

It’s never too soon to start thinking about plans for next summer. If making a difference, seeing more of the world, and having life-changing experiences sounds like your idea of a great summer, volunteering abroad in 2023 is for you.

Though some sweat and elbow grease might be required, volunteer work can be incredibly rewarding as you go beyond the tourist sites and meet the beautiful people and cultures of other countries firsthand.

To help you get started on your summer plans, we’ve put together a list of the top summer volunteer programs for 2023 and what each program has to offer. Keep reading and compare the top options to find your perfect fit!

How did we pick these programs?

At Go Overseas, we want our community members to have the resources they need to find the program that best fits their travel goals! To determine the best programs, we considered the overall rating of each program and compared the verified, recent reviews left by community members. The more positive, highly-rated reviews there are, the more confident we feel to give our stamp of approval!

Lastly, we used our own industry knowledge to ensure we're recommending programs that are vetted both by you, the community members, and us, the experts, so that we feel confident the programs included are the best of the best!

Planning for your summer 2023 volunteer abroad program

Group of people cleaning a beach.

Picking your perfect program is one step of many to bring your experience together. You'll need to consider the length of time you'd like to volunteer and how much you can spend in addition to planning the nitty-gritty like flights and what to pack. Check out our tips to help shed some light on the specifics of volunteering abroad in the summertime.

How much do volunteer summer programs abroad cost?

Costs are generally dependent on the amount of time you spend abroad. That said, costs for our programs below range from as low as $180 per week up to $3000 for 3 months. You'll also need to budget extra for things not included in the program fee. For example, not all programs provide all three meals a day.

Read more: How Much Does It Cost to Volunteer Abroad?

How long do volunteer summer programs usually last?

Most programs run from one week up to the entire summer, although these seasonal experiences tend to be tailored to those who are looking for shorter commitments. Some volunteer organizations recommend minimum time limits (usually two weeks or more) for certain projects to ensure maximum impact.

When should I buy my plane ticket?

According to USA Today's Travel Tips, you can find the best deal for international travel 4-5 months before your departure date. Some sites may tell you you can score last-minute deals right before your travel date although this isn't recommended unless you want to be frazzled in the days leading up to your trip! Skyscanner is a helpful website to locate the best prices if your schedule is flexible. You might even want to see when tickets are the cheapest and plan your volunteer experience around that.

What should I pack?

Check the climate in the area where you're headed and pack accordingly. Your chosen volunteer organization can give you better guidance on suggested clothing and personal items. You may also want to ask if there are any items you can bring to donate, such as books or school or medical supplies.

Read more: 10 Things I Wish I Had Done Differently as a First-Time Volunteer

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Best for cultural immersion: Maximo Nivel in Costa Rica

Rachel, Love Volunteers Peru

Program length: 1-52 weeks
Price point: $$$
What's included: accommodation with host family, breakfast and dinner 7 days a week, airport pickup

✅ Pros:

  • Maximo Nivel has 10 programs to choose from, from animal care to eco-agriculture.
  • Only volunteering 3-4 hours a day leaves you a lot of extra time for additional projects, language learning, or local travel.

❌ Cons:

  • Prices are high but the cost goes down the longer you volunteer.
  • Daily transportation to work sites is not included.

Maximo Nivel consistently provides top-rated placements in Latin America and their program in Costa Rica is no different. Whether you choose to teach English to kids, join a construction project with a local foreperson, or get involved in wildlife conservation, you can expect to be fully immersed in the experience. As a volunteer, you'll stay with a host family who will provide you with a shared room along with breakfast and dinner. This living arrangement is an invaluable opportunity to form lasting relationships and participant in a cultural exchange.

With the ability to choose the duration of your placement, Maximo Nivel gives you valuable flexibility for your summer plans. You can stay for a minimum of one week, however, it is recommended to stay for two or more weeks to maximize your impact.

Read what a past participant had to say about Maximo Nivel:

“I loved my experience with Maximo Nivel, I felt like I was really immersed into the culture and the town where I lived. Our host mom was such an amazing cook who taught me her recipes so I could practice at home for my family!”

Inez Diana

Program Details

Program:
Volunteer in Costa Rica with Maximo Nivel - Best Rated Projects
Provider:
Maximo Nivel
Location:
Costa Rica
Starting Price:
$725.00 USD
4.92 Rating
based on 196 reviews
  • Impact 4.8
  • Support 4.95
  • Fun 4.9
  • Value 4.65
  • Safety 4.85
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Best for community building: Village Book Builders in Malawi, Mexico, or Nepal

A bookshelf filled with books.

Program length: 2-12 weeks
Price point: $$$
What's included: accommodation with host family, 3 meals a day/7 days a week, airport pickup

✅ Pros:

  • Immersive experience with your host family and local community creates a second family and home away from home.
  • You will be supported by a personal intern counselor both weekly and on an emergency basis.

❌ Cons:

  • Introverts who need alone time might find the constant activity with others overwhelming.
  • Intern positions require a high level of autonomy and may be daunting for first-time or inexperienced volunteers.

Build a library and bring the joy of reading to communities in Mexico, Nepal, or Malawi this summer. Village Book Builders is looking for volunteers willing to roll up their sleeves on a construction project and to engage children and families in one-on-one settings in massive efforts to encourage reading and literacy.

In addition to reading books with kids, you’ll have the chance to lead workshops to teach important life skills and imagination. In your free time, all-inclusive expeditions provided by Village Book Builders will give you opportunities to try new foods, go swimming in underground lakes, and even raft down the Himalayas! Between getting to share the love of reading with families and the cultural experiences, travelers say the experience is well worth the hard work.

Read what a past participant had to say about Village Book Builders:

“I highly recommend Village Book Builders. You can be sure every dime is going to improve the lives of people who truly need it! I plan to volunteer at another library with them soon!”

Gayle

Program Details

Program:
Become a local HERO! Book Lovers needed in Latin America!
Provider:
Village Book Builders
Location:
Multiple Countries
Starting Price:
$150.00 USD
5.00 Rating
based on 29 reviews
  • Impact 5
  • Support 5
  • Fun 4.95
  • Value 5
  • Safety 5
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Best for no-cost volunteering: Angloville in 24+ European cities

A large group of volunteers pose for a picture.

Program length: 3-6 weeks
Price point: $
What's included: shared hotel accommodation, all meals 7 days a week, airport pickup, excursions

✅ Pros:

  • You'll work as a conversation partner so no lesson planning is necessary.
  • All expenses are covered and no program fee is charged.

❌ Cons:

  • The daily schedule is rigorous so get ready to work!
  • If you want to continue volunteering at another location, travel costs are not covered.

If volunteering for free in 24+ European destinations sounds intriguing, check out Angloville.

Read what a past participant had to say about the volunteer program in Europe:

"I can stress enough that this experience made the change I needed to my life. I had the pleasure of meeting so many new people, engaging in intellectual and insightful conversation. In meeting like minded people, it helped to develop my world view and this was all for free. Theres simply no reason not to go for this!"

Zaynab

Program Details

Program:
Explore Mediterranean Europe: Join our international cultural exchange programme for free
Provider:
Angloville
Location:
Multiple Countries
Starting Price:
$30.00 USD
4.72 Rating
based on 206 reviews
  • Impact 4.7
  • Support 4.65
  • Fun 4.8
  • Value 4.7
  • Safety 4.85
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Best for program choice: International Volunteer HQ in Peru

Best for program choice: International Volunteer HQ

Program length: 1-24 weeks
Price point: $-$$
What's included: accommodation in homestay or volunteer house, most programs provide 3 meals/7 days a week, airport pickup

✅ Pros:

  • Over 18 program options in a variety of fields means you're spoiled for choice.
  • IVHQ is an established and respected organization which means programs are well organized and supportive.

❌ Cons:

  • In-country transportation to and from placements and lunches are not included so you will need to budget around $100 a week to cover extra expenses.
  • Medical programs require volunteers to be healthcare students or licensed professionals with some prior experience.

With a range of meaningful volunteer options across Peru, you're sure to find the best program for you through International Volunteer HQ. Project areas include childcare and teaching, animal care, agriculture, healthcare, conservation, and construction. Daily volunteer schedules range from 3-7 hours of work and placements last anywhere from one to 24 weeks.

International Volunteer HQ's projects in Peru align with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and are run by locals to ensure the work meets the community's needs.

Read what a past participant had to say about International Volunteer HQ:

“I am forever grateful for both IVHQ and Tarpuy Sonqo for this opportunity. It really solidified my aspirations for working with children and it even opened a new career path. I had a child in my class who had trouble speaking not sure if he was on the autism spectrum. But because of that I have decided to pursue my masters in speech language pathology.”

Alyssa

Program Details

Program:
Most Affordable & Trusted Volunteer Programs in Peru from US$250
Provider:
International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Location:
Peru
Starting Price:
$250.00 USD
4.86 Rating
based on 29 reviews
  • Impact 4.8
  • Support 4.85
  • Fun 4.8
  • Value 4.8
  • Safety 4.75
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Best for medical volunteering: African Impact in Zambia

A woman takes a man's blood pressure.

Program length: 4 weeks with set start dates
Price point: $$
What's included: accommodation in a volunteer house, 3 meals a day during the week airport pickup

✅ Pros:

  • The medical program is robust and includes volunteering at hospitals, local homes, and community health education centers meaning you get a well-rounded experience.
  • Support staff and other volunteers are extremely warm and welcoming, making your transition into life in Zambia easier.

❌ Cons:

  • Those without training or qualifications may be limited to observation or health education rather than patient interaction.
  • The 4-week time limit may not be enough for some volunteers wishing to stay longer and immerse themselves in a project.

With African Impact you'll dive head first into 4 weeks of medical volunteering focused on supporting communities of need around the Livingstone area. Projects address topics like public health, nutrition, physical health and disease prevention, and health education. You will find opportunities to assist in a range of activities with more emphasis on your personal areas of expertise and interest.

Volunteers are supported by an intern supervisor as well as project coordinators who help support your professional development throughout the experience.

Outside of volunteering, Livingstone is a stone's throw from Victoria Falls and other areas of stunning natural beauty in Zambia. As a volunteer, you'll stay at a cozy backpacker's hostel where you will meet countless new friends you're unlikely to forget.

Read what a past participant had to say about the volunteer program in Zambia:

"We had the most amazing experience at African Impact! Not only did I actually feel the impact the medical project that I was part of had in the communities but I made the most amazing memories! It also truly helped me realize what I want to do with my future."

Catherine

Program Details

Program:
Volunteer Projects in Zambia with African Impact
Provider:
African Impact
Location:
Zambia
Starting Price:
$1,295.00 USD
4.95 Rating
based on 58 reviews
  • Impact 4.75
  • Support 5
  • Fun 4.8
  • Value 4.65
  • Safety 4.95
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Best for wildlife conservation: GVI in Thailand

A woman stands in a muddy creek with two elephants.

Program length: 1-24 weeks
Price point: $$$
What's included: shared accommodation, meals, airport pickup, 24-7 support, specialized wildlife conservation course with certificate

✅ Pros:

  • The education of volunteers is at the forefront of GVI's programs so be prepared to come away with tangible knowledge and skills, including a certificate recognized by the University of Richmond.
  • Convservation programs include a number of cultural activities that promote mutual understanding and respect among participants and local residents.

❌ Cons:

  • Program fees are among the most expensive for short-term summer programs.
  • Accommodation is rustic and located deep in the mountains so keep this in mind if you're used to comfortable Western-style housing.

If you have a passion for wildlife and conservation thenGVI's conservation programs in Thailand are for you. Animal lovers are invited to join in animal welfare projects, supporting efforts to rescue, monitor, and promote the health of wildlife in their natural habitats.

Volunteers can choose from programs focusing on elephants, sea turtles, gibbons, or a combination of the aforementioned species. You'll learn the integral parts that make up conservation such as data collection and tracking, analysis, and observation. You will also become familiar with biodiversity and animal behavior and biology while living on base deep in the Mae Chaem District of Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Read what a past participant had to say about the volunteer program in Thailand:

"My favourite part was working in the Royal Thai Navy base centre for the conservation of Green Sea Turtles. Been up close to the amazing animals, was so special as they are endangered I felt so lucky."

Tamsin

Program Details

Program:
GVI: Volunteer in Thailand
Provider:
GVI
Location:
Thailand
Starting Price:
$500.00 USD
4.93 Rating
based on 95 reviews
  • Impact 4.85
  • Support 4.9
  • Fun 4.9
  • Value 4.75
  • Safety 4.9
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Best for volunteering and language learning: Center for Excellence in Palestine

Woman smiles for the camera with the city of Jerusalem in the background.

Program length: 1-13 weeks
Price point: $
What's included: accommodation with host family or dorm (for male volunteers), breakfast provided 7 days a week, in-country transportation to cultural sites, 3 hours of Arabic lessons a week

✅ Pros:

  • Receive quality Arabic language instruction alongside the volunteering project of your choice.
  • Living with a host family exposes you to a side of Palestinian culture few foreigners see.

❌ Cons:

  • Volunteering in an active conflict zone can be distressing to some.
  • Women volunteers will need to observe certain rules such as avoiding traveling around alone after dark.

The Excellence Centerseeks to empower Palestinian people by helping them improve their conversational English. They also educate volunteers on the issues faced in Hebron and the wider West Bank by exposing them to community activities and tours. You will surely learn as much from your students as they do from you in this special cultural and language exchange.

In addition to teaching language, you will also be a language-learning student yourself. Three hours of Arabic study are included in the volunteering experience.

Safety and security are surely at the forefront of volunteers' minds when considering traveling to Palestine. The Excellence Center takes every precaution when it comes to volunteers and has a spotless track record of providing safe and enriching experiences.

Read what a past participant had to say about the volunteer program in Palestine:

"Staying with a host family was such a privilege as it allowed me to have an insider perspective on the culture and feel properly integrated into the community. I was even invited to join my family at a wedding which was an incredible experience! The environment at the center is warm and friendly so I felt at home after no time at all."

Zoe

Program Details

Program:
Volunteer & Study Arabic In Palestine (1-13 Weeks)
Provider:
The Excellence Center
Location:
Palestine
4.81 Rating
based on 191 reviews
  • Impact 4.65
  • Support 4.75
  • Fun 4.6
  • Value 4.65
  • Safety 4.8
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Give back in summer 2023

Volunteer feeding a turtle

Pack your bags this summer for an experience of a lifetime! There are projects all over the world in need of enthusiastic volunteers willing to give their time and energy to meaningful and lasting work to improve the lives of people everywhere. Start comparing volunteer programs today for a summer you won’t forget.