Oyster Worldwide - Gap and Responsible Travel Specialists

Oyster Worldwide

About

Oyster Worldwide is a respected gap year and responsible travel organisation. Since 2006, we have been sending volunteers and workers overseas on our exciting projects. Our friendly team is dedicated to providing a personal service, offering support through every step of your journey.

Our projects are located in 24 destinations and range from paid work in Canadian ski resorts to teaching English in Chile, from animal and welfare conservation in South Africa to working in the Australian Outback. Oyster can help you plan all of the details for the most exciting break away - we can even book flights for you! Our projects vary from just one week to up to a full year, so no matter what you are looking for, we are sure to have something to meet your needs.

Founded
2006
Headquarters

Hodore Farm, Hartfield
East Sussex
TN7 4AR
United Kingdom

Reviews

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

What an absolutely remarkable time I had at WFFT in Thailand. It was truly life changing, from the friends I made to the fond love I grew for elephants. Not only was it hands on and physically demanding, the intellectual staff educated us on the laws surrounding animal cruelty and the awful trauma that elephants go through when used for tourism, of which I was ignorant of prior to my trip.

Daily tasks were assigned to us, and we worked with different elephants each day which was really exciting, as all of them are so different. They all have great personalities, from sassy to gentle. The day started at 6.30am, finishing at 5pm with a breakfast and lunch break in between lasting an hour each. Although the work was tough it was so amazing to be surrounded by the beautiful elephants, and it was truly surreal, especially when walking and showering them. We had one day off per week, which was lovely to relax (as it was well needed) and also it gave us a chance to visit the local town or get a taxi out a little further to explore Thailand even more. WFFT also organised evening trips such as evening markets or bat caves for after dinner, which was also lovely.

It was truly so wonderful! The other volunteers were lovely and the staff always were enthusiastic and happy to help. I would recommend this trip to everyone, as it is really worth doing! I came to WFFT mainly for my Gold duke of Edinburgh award, and the staff sign the paperwork for you on site which was super handy. I was also lucky enough to go with my sister, but it would also be a great experience alone, as many other volunteers came alone. You meet people so easily and quickly.

Thank you Georgie from oyster worldwide for guiding me every step of the way. You were amazing and so helpful, a true asset to the oyster worldwide team! Also, thank you WFFT, what an amazing sanctuary, I will be back!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Make sure you bring lots of clothes you are happy to get dirty and potentially leave out there! I would defiantly advise good quality flip flops and sturdy trainers (preferably breathable, as it is super hot)

Also, be careful as the sanctuary is on temple grounds so no crop tops, or short shorts. It’s important to follow the rules, out of respect for the culture.
Default avatar
Emmanuelle
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Whilst in the hospital, we were in the operational theatre for a couple of days and we got to see many surgeries for example a: C-section, brain surgery, cholecystectomy, fistulotomy, skin graft, ovarian cyst removal.
Whilst being in the physiotherapy department we saw a variety of different patients.For example, we had a patient who had had a stroke 35 years ago, had a car accident 5 years back and a bolt to her head, and also had a diabetic left foot. Do to all of this, she had joint weakness and a very limited range of movement. The physiotherapist then conducted stretches and did chest physiotherapy on the patient.
The organisation of the trips we had (e.g. visiting the palaces, forts and tombs such as the Taj Mahal) was very well thought out - we learnt and visited so much. I especially enjoyed the Monkey Temple we visited during the Golden Triangle Tour, where we got to feed monkeys.

What would you improve about this program?
To improve the organisation of the actual hospital experience. Perhaps choose departments that are slightly busier (e.g. operational theatre, not emergency or gynaecology.), and make more of the staff aware in advance that we are coming.
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Jenna
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

I really enjoyed my experience with Oyster Worldwide. I'd never booked a volunteering project on my own, so I was grateful at how friendly, welcoming and helpful the team were. They were regularly in contact and redirected me to someone who could help with booking flights when I was struggling to find a good one. I booked for a week at an animal sanctuary and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. Oyster provided airport transfers, which made the whole thing a lot less scary! I'd never been to the country before or travelled alone, so this was very reassuring.

When I arrived at my accommodation, a guide was there to greet me. He had also brought me a welcome meal, which I greatly appreciated as it was really late by the time I'd arrived, meaning there was no time for me to do any shopping. Essentials were provided in the apartment. These included: washing up liquid, toilet roll, hand wash, towels and washing powder. I thought that this was an unexpected but nice touch, as I ideally didn't want to waste money on buying these things if I was only there for a week. The accommodation was really safe, quiet and comfortable. A few other volunteers shared with me, which was nice for the social aspect. I was also given the opportunity to go visit some iconic places whilst I was there, one of which transport was provided by Oyster.

After the weekend, I began my experience at the sanctuary. Oyster arranged for a driver to pick us up and bring us back to the accommodation every day. We started work at 9am and finished around half 2 in the afternoon. One volunteer would be in charge of a phone given to us by the guide, which he used to stay in contact with us whilst we were at the sanctuary. If there was ever a problem, the guide sorted it out immediately.

Whilst I would've liked to spend more time at the sanctuary, what work we did do was rewarding and fun. The sanctuary allowed us to embark on the feeding tour too, which was amazing. We got to see a lot of what the tourists didn't, which felt special and worth every penny. My only regret is that I didn't stay longer!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
I would have stayed for at least 2 weeks. I think that when you go for a week you just start to settle into a routine and then have to leave straight away almost. With 2 weeks, you get to know the animals more, become more efficient at the jobs in the sanctuary, can explore more and have more time to visit the tourist attractions.
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Lily
10/10
Yes, I recommend this program

Had an amazing time! Absolutely loved every minute of my two weeks and wish I was there for longer! Everyone you meet is lovely and all of the other volunteers are fantastic, have made lots of new friends all over the world now.
Was an incredibly rewarding placement and I’d go back in an instant!

This trip is gives a great opportunity for aspiring medics and you can get as practically involved as you like (eg I was taught to take blood samples and bliss pressure, put on bandages and assist with physiotherapy). Your trip is definitely tailored to you and what you feel comfortable with in order to maximise how much fun you have and how much you learn. Whether you want to learn the science of the medicine being practiced or feel brave enough to have a go, everyone is supportive and I could not recommend this trip more to anyone with an interest in healthcare!!!

What is your advice to future travelers on this program?
Get the size S T-shirt because M is much bigger than expected!!!
And enjoy!!
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Amy
7/10
Yes, I recommend this program

The highlight of this program for me was my host family. They were so welcoming and incredibly helpful with my Spanish - I still talk with my host mum now and again! The school I was sent to had a very high level of English so even just talking to the students was helpful for their learning. You are a teaching assistant, so will always have a qualified teacher in the room with you, ready to help should you need it. My fellow English teachers were so lovely and invited us to several outings with them which we really enjoyed. Patagonia is all about the outdoors so be prepared for a lot of hiking, although the views and adventures are definitely worth it! Travelling from Coyhaique is easy and there is lots to see, either South or North. Overall, a good program but I would suggest learning a little Spanish before you go as pretty much no-one speaks any English down there!

If you did this all over again, what's one thing you would change?
The one thing I would change would be to put myself out there more. The people of Coyhaique are very friendly and love chatting! If you want to practice your Spanish or just talk to the locals, don't be afraid as they are happy to oblige.

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Displaying 1 - 9 of 57

Alumni Interviews

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

Edward Griffiths

From seeing new places to caring for endangered animals, Ed loves to travel and is always looking for a place to explore next.

Why did you choose this program?

From a very young age, I have always wanted to travel and have had a passion for animals, particularly our primate friends. Coming across the Oyster Worldwide website, I was instantly taken in by the range of places you could travel and projects you could take part in. Whilst various projects caught my eye, I was most attracted by 'Volunteer with monkeys and baboons in South Africa'. Oyster provided lots of information about the project and throughout the process maintained good communication.

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

Oyster answered any questions or queries I had and told me everything about the project and country, from waking up, sleeping and going to bed, that I may need to know. A lot of this included preparation before departure, such as required injections and a 'kit list'.

As an under 18 traveller, Oyster informed me on what documents I would need to travel to South Africa and what injections I would need. With this information, I went to my local doctors/ pharmacy to get the required tablets/injections and arranged for a lawyer to sign the relevant documents. As you would expect with any trip, I had to ensure I had all the kit I needed, but Oyster made sure I knew what I needed.

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

Volunteers really help the centre that I went to in South Africa and, truly, the more you put into it, the more you get out of it. It can be very hard work, but it is very rewarding and an amazing experience. Also South Africa is an amazing country and those staying out there for a longer period should make the best of what the country has to offer. There all sorts of amazing places you can visit or activities you can try, such as visiting Kruger National Park.

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

An average day would start off by waking up at 6:30am and commencing work at 7am. We would do two hours of work before breakfast at 9am. This work would include cleaning enclosures or food preparation for all the animals (chopping up the food and feeding). Work would continue at 10am to midday and also from 2:00 to 4:00pm. This work could include bug catching (for the bushbaby), weeding, cleaning food, cleaning crates, unloading food trucks, harvesting (chopping grass with machetes), monitoring and afternoon food preparation.

At midday, we would go on the 'baboon walk', where we would take the baby baboons down to the river to sit and play with them. We would have one hour for lunch and once a week we could go to town to buy whatever food and drink we would like for that week. Before dinner, participants liked to spend time in the baboon and vervet monkey enclosures (sit with the animals), relax and shower before dinner at 6:00pm.

During our free time, volunteers would often spend time in 'the hide', a place to relax and have fun with each other. As a tradition, on Friday evenings volunteers have the chance to go out for dinner to take a break from the centre and have a fun night and on Saturday nights we would have an authentic South African meal made on a Braai (South African BBQ).

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

As both my first time travelling alone abroad and my first time travelling outside of Europe, I was slightly apprehensive about the journey there. However, ultimately it was stress free and reasonably simple. I was also slightly anxious about travelling to a country with an entirely different culture, unsure if I would manage to settle in.

However, everyone there was very welcoming and we had a lot of fun together. Since leaving the project, I have kept in touch with other volunteers. When you join the volunteering team at Riverside Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, its like joining a whole new family.

What did your project mean to you?

Home in England, I'm in college Monday to Friday, and working weekends. Going to South Africa and experiencing a new culture and a hands on experience with baby baboons and vervet monkeys, especially when you see the importance of your hard work, was truly special.

On multiple occasions, such as when I was sat in an enclosure with five monkeys down my top, or on a walk with four baboons clinging on to me, I was struck by a moment of disbelief to where I was, doing what I was, and a feeling of how fortunate I was to have this opportunity. The weather, the people, the food; it was all an unforgettable experience and something that I was enjoying so much, despite it all being so different to my home comforts.

More Interviews

Staff Interviews

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

Olivia Cassidy

After Olivia's first experience on her ski season, she is just waiting for the next opportunity she can get to head out traveling again and meet new people.

Why did you choose this program?

I chose this program because it allowed me to Ski a lot and improve my skiing massively whilst also meeting new people and having the time of my life. I knew I always wanted to do a ski season, and this just seemed like a MUCH better way of having one than being a chalet host - and I think everyone who was on the course would agree.

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

I organized mine through Oyster Worldwide (at very late notice). They were amazing and so helpful, especially seeing as I asked to book it literally 2 weeks before. All I had to do was give them my details and make the payment. It was all so smooth and easy. They then sent over all the information I needed and before I knew it I was on the plane to Austria.

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

Don't stress about the German side of the exam if you haven't done any before. By the time the exam comes, you are very familiar and you are given a lot of help.

The same goes with the skiing aspect too. We had people on my course who had only done one week of skiing who managed to pass with lots of practice and hard work.

Also, don't over pack!

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

The training weeks on my course were 6 day weeks. We would meet on the mountain at 8:30 (taking a short bus). Then we would ski all day until 3 with an hour for lunch in the middle. Then there was often some aprés after the day of skiing, except on days when we had a lecture regarding the theory side of the exam. Then nights would either be in your accommodation, having dinner out, or going out in Kaprun. Then on Sunday was a free day skiing!!!

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

Honestly, I was most worried about who would be there and whether I would make friends. But after as little as an hour I realized that there wasn't anything to worry about. Everyone is friendly and fun and all looking for the same experience. One week in and you feel like you have known them for months.

More Interviews

US visitors, meet us in person!

  1. 6 January
    Scarsdale, NY Gap Year Fair
    Scarsdale High School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM
  2. 7 January
    Brooklyn, NY Gap Year Fair
    Brooklyn Friends School - Upper School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:00 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM
  3. 8 January
    Fairfield, CT Gap Year Fair
    Fairfield Ludlowe High School
    Fair:
    6:00 PM - 8:30 PM
    Presentation:
    6:00 PM - 6:45 PM

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