IVHQ Globe

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

Why choose International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ?

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) brings people together from all walks of life to make a difference on the adventure of a lifetime. We offer the world’s #1 rated and largest range of volunteer programs with 300+ projects across 40+ countries - from teaching and working with children to medical missions, conservation and wildlife volunteering.

For the past 6 years, we've won the "Top Volunteer Abroad Provider Award" from GoOverseas, so you can trust that you're in good hands! With over 17 years of experience, IVHQ provides safe, impactful and affordable fully-hosted volunteer experiences. Our multi-layered support network and flexible booking policy means you can volunteer abroad with confidence.

Our programs range from 1 to 24 weeks across premier destinations in Africa, Asia, South America, Central America, North America, Europe, the Caribbean, the Middle East and the Pacific.

Join 130,000+ IVHQ travellers who have spent over 8 million hours supporting local communities.

Reviews

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Laura
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Fantastic experience

I had a fantastic experience volunteering in Nepal through IVHQ, they give you all the information and preparation you need before you start your journey and are there with you all the way through it, they have great people working with them in all these other countries, you’re never short of people to turn to if needed. I learned so much about the Nepalese upturned by getting the chance to stay with a local family. I would highly recommend IVHQ and would definitely use them again if I were to volunteer in the future ☺️

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
The amount I packed in my backpack, it got heavy 🤣
Pros
  • Cultural experience
  • Meeting new people
  • Giving to other people
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Scott
5/5
No, I don't recommend this program

Volunteer experience in Guatemala

The local team was really well organized and I felt so supported by both them and IVHQ. My coordinator routinely checked in prior to my start date to ensure I was all set and provide any assistance I may have needed. My volunteering experience in Antigua, Guatemala was an absolutely incredible experience. I found my volunteer placement to be very rewarding and felt like I was making a contribution. Additionally, the home stay had such an amazing vibe. All the volunteers had so much fun together and our host family was really nice and helpful.

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Take advantage of all there is to do in Guatemala! Lake atitlan, Semuc champey, Tikal, el paredon are all such fun places and acatenango is an awesome hike!
Pros
  • Great support from local team
  • Great support from IVHQ
  • Lots of activities to do
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Paula
4/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Volunteer in Bali with IVHQ: Giving is always receiving

Volunteering in Bali at 17 years old completely changed my way of perceiving life and impacting others in a positive way. The local team, the amazing friends i made, and the locals made me feel safe and completely at home, despite my age. Indonesia is a magical country, it has a beautifull energy and in every corner there is something to learn. I highly recommend the destination for all types of people who have an open mind and heart and specially, who are willing to leave their comfort zone. It's important to remember this is not a touristic trip. The experience changes when you invest all your energy in giving, and then you'll relize how much you're receiving aswell. Being kind and open is the key. Having carried out my process with IVHQ was very simple, I was always very well advised and accompanied. If you have the chance, take it!

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
Traveling alone is always an experience where you find yourself facing emotions and situations in which you did not know yourself before. It's normal to feel alienated or alone at first, but i would recommend to always be kind and patient with oneself. Trusting you are in the right place, pushing your limits a bit and finding spaces that make you feel comfortable will transform everything around you. For me keeping a journal was an essential tool to understand my emotions, and then remember beautiful and small details of my experience. This is a huge opportunity for growth. Remember that you are not traveling alone, you are traveling with you!
Pros
  • Affordable prices
  • Amazing and rich culture, landscapes and experiences
  • Great solo traveling destination
Cons
  • Flights are usually expensive
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Jana
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Safe & Reliable

I was hesitant at first as it was my first time travelling solo - I cannot explain the build up of anxiety and nervousness leading up to my trip. But reaching out to the IVHQ team and the local team was the best thing I did - they were BRILLIANT and made my experience so comfortable. They were extremely accommodating and reassuring which I appreciated very much. Another thing they reassured me about what that I would meet others and make friends quickly - I just didn't realise how quick!! It was so great meeting like-minded people from all different ages, backgrounds and countries bonding through these amazing memories and experiences that we've shared together. Planning my next IVHQ trip as we speak !! :)

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
If you're hesitant about travelling because you're concerned about safety / reliability - GO FOR IT!! I was in that exact position and extremely anxious and nervous leading up to my trip - but you have 24/7 support!! Contact your program manager with any questions or concerns you may have, I PROMISE this will make the biggest difference! The IVHQ staff are so accommodating that I am beyond comfortable booking my next trip with them.
Pros
  • You make friends super easily as most other volunteers are solo travellers in the same boat as you!
  • Making a positive contribution to disadvantaged communities - cannot explain the fulfilment you will achieve.
  • Visiting a new country!! Seeing everything there is to see and gaining all of these new experiences!!
Cons
  • You'll have to compromise your level of privacy as rooms are shared (basically like a hostel) - though this is a given
  • You'll be living in a lower standard of quality - though I choose to view this as a positive as it's a unique and humbling experience.
  • The anxiety/nervousness building up to your trip - though this can be resolved by frequently reaching out to your program manager and the local teams for any support :)
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CAROL
5/5
Yes, I recommend this program

Great Experience

I had a wonderful experience from the first application to the follow up emails after returning home. I worked at the Galapagos Giant Tortoise breeding center for 4 weeks. My fellow volunteers are now friends for life. The work involved preparing food for the tortoises, feeding them, and cleaning lagoons feeding platforms and corrals. We searched for baby tortoises in the adult corrals, and then helped weigh, measure, and mark them. We also helped keep the grounds tidy with planting and trimming hedges. We raked the gravel areas and swept sidewalks. I took advantage of most of the tours on Isabella, and enjoyed the stay with my host family, despite my limited Spanish. IVHQ and the local organization were extremely supportive, so I was well prepared, and supported when small issues arose.

What was the most surprising thing you saw or did?
The surprise was that everything that I had heard about Galapagos wildlife was true - and more intensely. The animals are unafraid of humans, so seeing 14 tortoises on the walk to the wall of tears was a pleasant surprise.
Pros
  • Community Immersion with the Host Family
  • Great support from the local team
Cons
  • While anticipated, the lack of Internet access
  • Mine was the only residence I knew of without air conditioning - though I had a good fan
  • My Spanish was much more limited than I anticipated, and conversations were often more like charades, or exchange with Google Translate.

Programs

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Alumni Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with verified alumni.

AP Johnson

She is from South America born and raised and now lives in the United States. She has a career in Finance, enjoys playing golf, traveling and helping others.

Interview

Why did you choose this program?

I chose International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) because of the reviews from previous volunteers as well as their comprehensive website. Everything I wanted to know about the program was right there and very organized.

The reviews were well written and provided insight into the program. All of the reviews I read were consistent with my experience.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) Provided me with everything I needed for my trip.
The program and all of my pre travel requirements were presented in an organized manner. This included a pre-departure webinar ( was EVERYTHING!) culture, airport pickup, accommodations, meals, list of what to pack, volunteer placement and transparency regarding fees. They provided me with everything I needed!

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

I will offer two pieces of advice if I may. The first is to be open minded. My host family were amazing!!! But, its much different to being at home. Second, I highly recommend taking a few extra days to go site seeing. Third make friends and have fun!!! Ok, that may be four, but seriously, its a great opportunity yo not only give back, but enjoy the rich culture that country has to offer.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Once you land you’ll be picked up at the airport, then its off to orientation! It was for me!!!

The next day was a free day for me, so got up and was greeted with the most amazing break-fast (see pics). Hung out with my host family and room-mate (whom i had just met), we explored some on that day, then home for dinner.

On Monday our host took us to the Volunteer center via bus and showed us the route and the cost. I was then taken to the Community Center where I was placed and a tour, but not before helping to unload some donations with the other teachers… back to the community center for Spanish class and another orientation.

The rest of the week, I taught my students, did done site-seeing, took Spanish lessons and hung out with my new friends. Oh! Did I tell you the real reason I went was to give back during my birthday?! Well my host family and room-mate threw me a surprise birthday party!!!

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

There was an article trending on Yahoo that questioned if Americans should travel to Costa Rica - so I had some reservations and in fact was planning not to go evening after paying for everything except purchasing my ticket up until that point.

Luckily I called my program manager! She was very professional during our Teams call and answered all of my questions and let me know that she was reading the same articles as well. After our call I felt comfortable enough to make the trip. I followed all of what was shared in webinar training and orientation.

What was most rewarding about your experience?

Gosh! I had a terrific experience! My host family was amazing, they had breakfast and dinner ready every day (never the sane meal). I made four new friends - one is like famous. Yup!!! Lol Finally, the kids at the community center were everything! Please don't forget to pack some school supplies to donate!!!

Staff Interviews

These are in-depth Q&A sessions with program leaders.

Why did you choose this program?

The IVHQ program seemed to offer all that I was looking for: destination, available projects, affordability, plus the fact that it not simply an adventure travel company. Their programs were dedicated to helping communities in need. The schools where we worked had all been built by volunteers, and we provided materials and labor to renovate and build toilet facilities for the children. A few weeks of work by a few people eventually build a school.

What did your program provider (or university) assist you with, and what did you have to organize on your own?

IVHQ assists with everything: flight information, visa and health requirements, airport pick up, travel to placement, orientation, daily visits to the worksites, and regular meetings at our residence to discuss any issue.

The website provides most of this information in advance, but it's reassuring to meet "face to face" with the organizers. On our own, we have to arrange emergency travel health insurance, criminal background report, vaccinations, and visa requirements if required.

What is one piece of advice you'd give to someone going on your program?

In Africa, bring as few clothes as possible, and nothing with long sleeves and long pants. Clothes can be washed daily if necessary. Insect repellents are only required at night, as they simply wash away in the daytime by the heat. Bring anti-malaria medication and personal toiletries, and a small first aid kit.

My advice: DO NOT WORRY ABOUT ANYTHING! You will be with an outstanding group of people and you will have a fantastic adventure.

What does an average day/week look like as a participant of this program?

Because of the heat in Ghana, all 10 of us only worked in the mornings.

In construction, we left for our 30-minute walk to the site around 6:30 am and it was an enjoyable walk, as everybody waved and greeted us. We returned to our compound around noon on motorbikes.

The childcare group prepared breakfast and lunch for the school children and were finished by 1 pm. Their school was only a 5-minute walk. Afternoons and evenings were spent reading, playing games, interacting with the children.

Weekends were for sightseeing, usually gone for 2 days (at our expense).

Going into your experience abroad, what was your biggest fear, and how did you overcome it? How did your views on the issue change?

I had no fears, no concerns. The website provides all the information that you need about your program. The country website (tourism) provides the rest.

As for safety, always remember that you are in a group. There are no safety concerns at the placement site, and we traveled on weekends in groups for 8 or more. Local people are very hospitable and helpful. You will soon discover that you have no worries.

Enjoy your stay.

Professional Associations

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