Volunteer abroad with IVHQ

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ

COVID-19 Program Updates

Due to global health & safety concerns and travel restrictions related to the coronavirus, International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ has decided to offer flexible booking options for some of their upcoming programs. Learn more about COVID-19 updates to stay tuned regarding program information.

About

IVHQ is the world’s most trusted and affordable volunteer abroad organization, offering the largest range of safe and impactful volunteer programs in 50+ destinations.

Over 113,000 travelers have volunteered abroad with IVHQ over the past 13 years, making IVHQ the world’s most experienced volunteer travel organization with the best safety record.

With programs ranging from 1 week to 24 weeks, it's easy to customize a program to fit your schedule and volunteering goals.

Programs are available in these destinations: Bali, Costa Rica, South Africa, Greece, India, Portugal, Peru, Fiji, Nepal, Peru, Jamaica, Madagascar, Spain, Australia, Croatia, Jordan, Belize, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Guatemala, Italy, Tanzania, Cambodia, Victoria Falls, Laos, New Zealand, Belgium, Morocco, Brazil, China, Ghana, Zambia, Ecuador, Uganda, Indonesia, Colombia, Argentina, Malaysia, Mexico, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Jamaica and Thailand.

Explore the programs below and visit the IVHQ website for more information.

Book With Confidence: Added Flexibility & Free Changes

IVHQ makes it easy to change your travel plans should you need to – or if you simply change your mind. As long as you cancel or reschedule at least 15 days before your program start date this year, it's free to change your dates, volunteer program or destination.
Founded
2007
Headquarters

99 Devon Street West
New Plymouth 4310
New Zealand

Reviews

Default avatar
Hannah
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered in Tanzania for 3 months in the teaching program and had the best ever time! I met some incredible people and learnt so much. I went on my gap year and taught a class of 7-8 year olds at an English medium primary school. This was located just out of Arusha. The kids and staff were so cool and it was incredible to teach them for that time. I wish I could have stayed for longer! When you weren't teaching there was plenty of opportunity to explore the surrounding areas and do things such as go on safari etc. Also great nightlife if you like a good dance party! Would highly recommend to anybody :)

What was the most unfamiliar thing you ate?
Goat intestines on a stick - (Street food) It wasn't as bad as it sounds haha!
Default avatar
Katie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I volunteered with IVHQ in Croatia for 2 weeks on the animal care programme where I looked after dogs and cats in an animal shelter. The animal care programme was amazing, there was a very relaxed atmosphere and it was perfectly balanced with volunteering and having free time in the afternoons and evenings.

The price is affordable, and the accommodations and food was great and very worth it for the price, as they are included in the programme fee.

I would definitely recommend to anyone looking to try a new experience - it is suitable for everyone!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would take more swimming costumes as I didn't expect to go to the beach as much as I did!
Default avatar
Amelie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I can only recommend Care2Travel ! Even though I was only there for 2 weeks, they really made sure I was able to do the work I went there for and have a lot of fun playing with children and teaching them English. Outside of the summer camps I had a great time as well, because I was able to meet other amazing volunteers who became my friends and with whom I could enjoy the great city of csikszereda. The entire team was always there to help you out and guarantee you were having a great time ! I will never forget this experience!

What was your funniest moment?
The most fun part of my program was the second Summer Camp, where me and the volunteers were all in charge of different teams of children and we had to compete against each other. Cheering those children on during the competitions and witnessing their happiness when they won is an amazing feeling!
Default avatar
Jessica
9/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I absolutely loved my experience volunteering in the sports program in Rio. I have to admit, I was completely out of my element at first however I toughened up to stay and happy I did! The people are amazing and the work you do is really enriching. You make lifelong friends and get to learn so much about yourself. The program coordinators are always available and super helpful. I still think about it everyday and miss being there so much! You are absolutely sure to have an unforgettable amazing time.

What was the most nerve-racking moment and how did you overcome it?
The most nerve racking moment for myself was the accommodation. This was my first time traveling alone, and I never been in a hostel type accommodation before. It was hard to adapt sharing a room with so many strangers, the kitchen and especially the bathroom! However I calmed myself down and went through with it. Everything turned out and great and everyone was very respectful of eachother and our space.
Default avatar
Sophie
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I loved my time spent with the children of Bali, they are so full of life, so sweet and fun. It was a pleasure to have met and taught such amazing children. Back at the volunteer house, the staff there treat you like family, they are so kind and considerate. The meals they provide you with are delicious and they are also welcoming you to a conversation or help you out. The other volunteers are also all very kind, you get wide a range of ages and backgrounds but everyone is friends with each other.

What would you improve about this program?
Some people may prefer this, but it's only an hour a day and it can be morning or afternoon. Maybe just allow a choice to the volunteer as to whether they would prefer morning or not

Programs

Displaying 37 - 45 of 73
International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Affordable Medical Programs with IVHQ
Africa
9.08 •12 reviews

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International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Affordable Marine Sea Turtle Conservation Programs with IVHQ
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9.27 •11 reviews

Do you want to support conservation initiatives focused on the...

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Most Affordable & Trusted Volunteer Programs in China from $310
China
9.18 •11 reviews

Trusted by 110,000+ volunteers, IVHQ offers the most popular volunteer...

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Most Affordable & Trusted Volunteer Programs in Belgium from $465
Belgium
9.4 •10 reviews

Trusted by 110,000+ volunteers, IVHQ offers the most popular volunteer...

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Most Affordable Volunteer & Gap Year Programs in Greece from $700 with IVHQ
Greece
9.6 •10 reviews

Trusted by 113,000+ volunteers, IVHQ offers the world's most popular...

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Affordable Volunteer Childcare Programs with IVHQ
South America
9.7 •10 reviews

As an IVHQ Childcare volunteer, you'll have the choice of working in a...

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Affordable Construction Programs with IVHQ
South America
9.56 •9 reviews

IVHQ supports building and renovation projects all around the world...

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Affordable Special Needs Care Projects with IVHQ
Asia
9.75 •8 reviews

Working with special needs children is a rewarding experience and...

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Most Affordable Volunteer Programs in Jamaica from $395
Jamaica
10 •7 reviews

You can now join IVHQ as a volunteer in Jamaica! The IVHQ Jamaica...

Alumni Interviews

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

Alexis Johnson

Alex was born and raised in Canada. She loves to travel, doing so in a variety of styles, and has always been interested in environmental concerns.

Why did you choose this program?

I travel as much as my pay and vacation time will allow me, but I am single and usually travel alone. One day a coworker was asking advice on travel and asked if I ever joined groups (I did) and he asked if I'd ever volunteered while traveling (I hadn't). The question stuck in my mind as did the sudden realization that not only did I sincerely need a break from the drama of work and family, but I needed something in my life to feel I was connecting to something bigger, something important, something I could feel passionate and proud about.

Environmental protection had always inspired me. Was there a program that combined my two interests and the sudden need to express the part of me that longed to save the world? Yes! Of course; I knew I wouldn't save the planet, but everything about this program and company proved I could do something unique, something helpful, and that I could do so without paying a million dollars, having a special skill or going to extremes.

International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ) also had so many options that I really just had to toss a coin to figure out where to go. Africa/Nakavango seemed like such a rare opportunity that I couldn't pass up the chance.

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

IVHQ provided a list of things to complete before I left & checked them off as I went. They also connected me to travel insurance providers, a community of people who could answer those little questions we have when going somewhere unfamiliar, indicated which vaccinations I might need, and directed me to the host country's visa website.

Most importantly, IVHQ hooked me up with their flight center.

Their very helpful staff ensured booking flights from Vancouver to Zimbabwe went smoothly and was cheaper than I expected. One other volunteer claimed to have found her own flights cheaper, but I was more than happy to leave the stress of finding the cheapest & most convenient flights up to someone else. They also gave a very general packing list, which I followed as best I could.

Doing the actual legwork for most other things was my responsibility. I had to ensure I got vaccinated and obtained malaria pills, got a criminal record check (good indicator this is a reputable program), and obtained travel documents & items for visas for volunteering in Zimbabwe.

The program manager in Zimbabwe helped with almost everything while there, including booking a taxi back to the airport and booking weekend activities. She even gave me cream for fire ant bites. I loved that woman.

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

I have two pieces of advice, one for travel in general (which I've known for a long time) and one specific to this program.

1: Travel is like many aspects of life: it goes better if you use common sense to stay safe and keep an open mind and easygoing nature to stay happy. Sometimes unexpected things happen. That's life. Use common sense to survive it and be ready to shrug delays or mishaps right off your shoulders. I was bitten by fire ants. It wasn't an experience I'd like to repeat, but I treated the bites with creams, learned to wear long pants, and in no way did I allow it to dampen my spirits or my desire to experience what I could.

2: Don't be afraid. There are people to take care of you, systems to support you, and there's always a solution to a problem. What I learned in this program was that sometimes people surprise you with their kindness. Don't be afraid to believe in people (but always remember common sense!). The volunteers I was with and the program operators astonished me with their good hearts. It made me regret not holding a fundraiser at work for this program, a choice I made because I forgot that sometimes people are good.

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

I was only in Nakavango, Victoria Falls for two weeks and things will be different depending on how long you're there, time of year, and what is required (e.g. during the rainy season you might have to fix roads or clear debris from bridges).

Shifts for when I was there were about 1.5 hours each. Weekdays start at 6 AM. That means you have had your breakfast and are ready to go at 6 AM.

Monday we did game drives, getting oriented in the park or else doing an animal count. Tuesday we pulled datura in the morning. Datura was ridiculously satisfying to pull out and I could have done that nearly all day. In the afternoon, you might go to Victoria Falls or else do some chore around the compound.

Weds is the primary school where you'll garden or clear the field of rocks and the afternoon is enjoying the sunset with a beer after a drive around the park. Thurs we worked in the garden, digging garden beds and in the afternoon we packed camping gear and went camping. Friday morning half went pack to the compound and unpacked while the other half went tracking on foot. Friday afternoon we dug up lantana, which was the hardest work I had to do since the bush has to be taken out at the roots. All days we had about 5hrs between getting back to the compound for lunch and the 2nd shift of work or whatever afternoon activity was planned.

Weekends were usually spent in town doing tourist things.

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

My biggest fear of going to Zimbabwe was simply getting a visa. I was terrified I would forget some little piece of paperwork and would be denied a visa. I got triplicates of every document and passport photos. Didn't get asked for any of it! This, however, doesn't mean you shouldn't be prepared. It just means you shouldn't stress about things so long as you are organized.

The second biggest fear I had was that I wouldn't be able to contribute anything useful. I honestly had no idea what I'd be doing on a regular day. Thankfully, this program didn't require particular skills and we had people from 18-65 yrs participating. If you can prune a bush, you can do something in Nakavango. That IVHQ asked questions such as what skills I had encouraged me that I wouldn't be sent off to do something I wasn't qualified for.

What kind of travel style is this?

I compare the accommodations and services to a mix of camping and hotel or camping with a trailer/cabin with surprisingly comfortable beds. We had laundry services every Weds and, even though the washing machine was broken, the laundry was back by Thurs. Just note that apparently the guy who washes things likes to iron EVERYTHING.

While I was prepared for pretty much what we got, one girl was expecting to be out in the bushes without toilet paper. Seriously. She packed 9 packages of baby wipes, which she ended up donating (so, not a bad ending). We did have running water, electricity (carry a flashlight EVERYWHERE as power failures happen randomly), private rooms with a fan, wifi (not always working), a pool, absolutely excellent chefs (lots of pasta, rice, chicken, fresh veggies thanks to the garden, and fresh breads), cleaners, and the ability to choose our level of participation. If you really didn't want to do something, you might get teased or razed, but you weren't punching in a time card for work. One girl chose to do almost no work. As much as we disliked her for this lack of team spirit, it was her choice.

A little bit of advice is to bring more USA cash than you expect to use. There is an art market in town with plenty to offer (be prepared to be attacked on all sides by salesmen) and you will want to leave a bigger tip than you think for the staff at Nakavango. The cleaner not only had a nice little corner set up with trinkets that I wish I'd bought more from but he fixed my hiking boots. What did he do? He sewed through rubber so I could have my boots for another week. Apparently they will last another 20 years. I hate those stupid boots, but I wish I'd brought more cash to tip him, buy more of his artwork, and tip the chefs who were so committed to their job that I couldn't break it to them that I'd eaten in town and didn't need the dinner they'd set aside for me.

Staff Interviews

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

Julien Comeau

Julien is a former Canadian dentist and businessman who decided at age 75 to find a more fulfilling retirement. He enjoyed his 3 weeks in Ghana so much that he is planning more adventures in Africa. He also had the honor of being the oldest volunteer ever in Ghana... Quite an accomplishment and an inspiration for others.

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.

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