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Volunteer Abroad Programs for Senior Travelers

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Volunteers around the world come in all shapes, sizes, races, and ages. Many organizations are thrilled to welcome the contributions of their volunteers, from the young to the young at heart. If you are over the age of 50, this guide is for you!

Senior volunteers have a wealth of experiences and knowledge from a full career, parenthood, and other life milestones. They can bring these skills to any volunteer endeavor, they already carry a positive attitude and desire to help and share, and some studies have discovered that seniors who volunteer usually enjoy increased health!

There are plenty of opportunities for volunteer projects abroad and domestic for seniors to participate in after retirement. Senior volunteers can be found in the Peace Corps, teaching English, working with faith-based organizations, and in diverse projects around the world.

Volunteer programs are very flexible in length; seniors can commit to as little as a couple of weeks to as long as a couple of years. Whether you want to volunteer in Europe or Africa, by yourself or in a group, volunteering abroad can be the adventure you crave, while you reach out to help others in need. There is something out there for any healthy individual, regardless of age.

Teaching: Teaching is a natural fit for seniors, who bring a great deal of rich life experience and diverse knowledge. Volunteers can be teaching English, physical education, life skills, and in one program, even surfing! Senior volunteer teachers also make great mentors for children and teenagers who come from poor families or off the streets to get more education and care at community centers. For more information concerning good countries for seniors to teach on Go Overseas!

Community and Care Projects: Community and care projects involve working with all ages in community centers, orphanages, and health care centers. Senior volunteers develop activities, teach, assist in feeding, cleaning and health care, and provide mentoring and support.

Another aspect of community projects involve participating in art and media related projects, such as photography, editing and writing, journalism, and filmmaking. These projects help raise awareness about what’s going on with the community to the greater world. Another example of a community project is helping the locals with the establishment and the tending of a community garden.

Conservation: For senior volunteers who love animals and the environment, a conservation project may be the adventure they seek. Volunteers contribute to research, use photography to raise awareness about conservation efforts, and work with animal rehabilitation. Volunteers can also work in botanical gardens, in developing more garden projects, giving tours, and performing maintenance of the garden.

Archaeology: Several volunteer programs off the unique opportunity for seniors to participate in archaeology projects. Volunteers assist in digs, research, processing finds, and raising awareness. For any volunteer who is interested in preserving history and local culture, this is a great opportunity for you. Check out the Archaeology projects listed in Projects Abroad.

Central and South America: Demand is always high for volunteers of all ages in Central and South America. In tourist destinations, such as Cusco, Peru, there are individuals in the tourism industry who want to learn English. Likewise, there is opportunity to help in preserving the history and culture of the Incas through archaeology. In the bustling cities, such as Buenos Aires, senior volunteers can use their life experiences and knowledge to reach out and make a difference in community centers and orphanages. Also, no matter the region, qualified medical volunteers are always in demand to help in hospitals and clinics everywhere.

Africa: Most African countries are constant recipients of international aid and volunteers, and seniors can certainly find ample opportunities to teach, help in community centers and orphanages, and participate in conservation and wildlife efforts. Some of the popular areas include South Africa, Zimbabwe, and Zanzibar.

Europe: Senior volunteers enjoy time spent in Eastern European countries, such as Bulgaria and Romania. Senior volunteers often participate in teaching, community and orphanage care, and cultural projects.

Asia: In Asia, there is always a large demand to learn English and there are community centers and orphanages where children and teenagers need guidance and support. Also, it’s a culture that greatly respects elders for their experience and wisdom. Senior volunteers can work in various Asian countries, such as China, Thailand, and Vietnam.

Over 50 and Overseas: A resource full of volunteer and travel opportunities for anyone over the age of 50. You can search through diverse categories, from teaching to faith-based projects. You can also search through different countries. It links many different resources, both for abroad and domestic opportunities. Of note is a section about Personal Health and Security.

Projects Abroad: Projects Abroad is a popular volunteering program with Go Overseas, and they provide great opportunities for seniors. Check out the Senior Volunteer page here.

Go Eco: Go Eco has lots of 50 + projects in humanitarian, wildlife, and conservation efforts. Senior volunteers can travel to Africa, Asia, Israel, and Central and South America.

Transitions Abroad: An article from Transitions Abroad lists senior-friendly volunteer programs in Canada, the U.S., and the U.K. It also provides links to other related articles on Transitions Abroad. This is just a good overall resource.

AARP: Always a great resource for seniors on all manner of subjects from home and family, to politics. They also have a page devoted to travel, which certainly bears a look.

U.S. Department of State: The U.S. Bureau of Consular Affairs is always a useful page to visit for information about passports, visas, and travel advisories. There is also a page about your health while overseas, especially with travel insurance. It is very important, no matter what your age, to be healthy before volunteering abroad, so check with you volunteer program about health requirements, vaccinations, and any risks involved with your volunteer project. It’s always a good idea to register for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program as well.

Resources Concerning Health: Health and safety is a very important issue to consider before going abroad. Senior citizens are not covered by Medicare abroad, so they must consult with AARP or a travel agent for information about medical care coverage while you are abroad. The Bureau of Consular Affairs has a great page concerning health abroad for senior citizens.

You should also consult your primary physician and make sure he or she thinks you are able to manage the work of volunteering abroad, as well as handling traveling overseas, change in diet, and other issues that may come up. Women on the Road have a fantastic list of questions you should ask yourself as you prepare to take on a volunteer project abroad.

Contributed by Whitney Zahar

Showing 18 Programs

Zambia

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Join IVHQ and volunteer abroad in Zambia! Highly affordable programs are based in the laid-back tourist town of Livingstone,...

Ghana

International Volunteer HQ - IVHQ
Join IVHQ and volunteer abroad in Ghana! Highly affordable programs are available for anywhere from 1 week to 24 weeks in the...

Morocco

UBELONG
UBELONG offers 1-week to 6-month volunteering opportunities in Rabat, Morocco. Volunteer in one of these world-class projects...

Nepal

GAPNepal
Take a sabbatical and come to the mesmerizing country of Nepal. In Nepal we are happy to make the above come true and bring y...

Costa Rica

ISV (International Student Volunteers)
Costa Rica is filled with a colourful array of animals, white beaches, lush rainforests, rivers, volcanoes and smiling commun...

Tanzania

Projects Abroad
Projects Abroad offers a variety of volunteer programs in Tanzania including Teaching, Care, Sports, Building projects, as we...

Ireland

ISA Internships & Service-Learning
ISA Service-Learning provides eager learners the opportunity to learn first-hand about social issues that communities around...

Austria

Volunteers For Peace (VFP)
Volunteers For Peace is a non-profit organization, founded in 1982, that offers placement in over 3000 voluntary service proj...

South Africa

African Conservation Experience
African Conservation Experience supports vital wildlife conservation projects in southern Africa. ACE works with sustainable...

Peru

Volunteering Solutions
Join a volunteer program in Cusco, Peru with Volunteering Solutions! Volunteering in Peru is a great opportunity to learn abo...

Uganda

Bamboo
Bamboo currently has opportunities aimed at providing primary and secondary education to needy children, and community outrea...

Swaziland

ISV (International Student Volunteers)
South Africa is renowned for its vigorous culture, sweeping landscapes and remarkable wildlife – but communities, children’s...

Ghana

Volunteering Solutions
Join one of Volunteering Solutions many volunteer programs in Ghana! Since 2007, Volunteering Solutions has been partnering l...

South Africa

Volunteering Journeys
South Africa is a nation that will take your breath away with its people, culture and natural habitat. It has a lot of potent...

Uganda

African Volunteer Aid
Life in Ugandan community is no different to other regions of Africa and poverty still has a large impact on the quality of l...