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10 Best Gap Year Volunteer Programmes for 2024

What are the best Gap Year Volunteer Programmes?

Are you thinking about transforming your gap year into a life-changing experience rich in purpose, cultural immersion, and contributions that matter?

Well, you’re in luck. Our team at Raleigh International are ready to help you navigate the best gap year volunteer programmes. From opportunities to learn about other cultures to making a positive impact on the world, find out what to do on a gap year in each of these unique gap year volunteer programs!

1. Impact Gap Year: Around the World Superior Adventure

Get a holistic gap year experience with Impact Gap Year, on their Gap Semester Around The World: Superior Adventure programme. Set out on an adventure across Cambodia’s majestic Angkor Wat. Surfing, hiking, and discovering South Africa’s breathtaking Wild Coast are just a few of the many outdoor activities you can partake in. This programme is your pass to grow personally while experiencing thrill, and making a lasting impact on the world. It combines cultural immersion, community service, and outdoor exploration, a blueprint to developing leadership during a ground-breaking journey.

2. Kaya Volunteer: Scuba Diving Marine Conservation

Dive into an extraordinary gap year experience with this unique tour designed especially for ocean enthusiasts! Anyone with an interest in conservation or a love of animals will enjoy this tour, college and university students included!  If you have an interest or background in marine biology, zoology, conservation, or animal management stands to benefit greatly. You’ll learn new skills while volunteering with local project teams, gathering and recording data for ongoing conservation efforts. In Mozambique, you’ll acquire a certification to dive internationally, and also learn all about marine research and the underwater ecosystem. Spot the big 5, on a 5-day safari in Kruger National Park. Your field guides will fill you in on the struggles these fascinating yet endangered animals face. You can observe guinea fowl, tortoises, raptors, bats, and other savanna animals in Eswatini.

scuba diver underwater surrounded by fishes and coral

3. Raleigh International: Expedition to Costa Rica

Raleigh International has a reputation as a provider of some of the best volunteer abroad programmes for UK gap year seekers and beyond! On Expedition, you get to experience Costa Rica’s unique culture and unbelievable scenery. You can participate in up to three phases: community, environmental, and trek. Assist local communities, collaborate in sustainable development and environmental initiatives, or gather your trekking gear to discover the stunning biodiversity of Central America. Raleigh Costa Rica supports indigenous territories in the region by improving primary and secondary schools. Furthermore, Costa Rica responsibly manages 5% of the world’s biodiversity, and its conservation initiatives center on ecosystem-preserving protected zones. Explore magnificent roads that tourists tend to miss. You could walk up to 260 miles across Costa Rica’s stunning landscapes and scenery, on a lifelong personal growth adventure. Make a lasting impression while producing amazing experiences!

4. Impact Gap Year: Southeast Asia Gap Year

With Impact Gap Year, change your perspective as you travel through Southeast Asia. This programme not only ensures participants will have a culturally enriching experience, but it also incorporates volunteer work within a variety of communities. This program lets you teach English at Hua Hin schools with plenty of time to relax on the beach! Participants can introduce novel teaching approaches and creative activities to students from ages 2.5 to 18 years old. By engaging in immersive experiences, participants are able to acquire a comprehensive grasp of the cultures of Southeast Asia.

5. Beyond TEFL: Barcelona In-Person TEFL Course

The wonderful city of Barcelona serves as the setting for this brilliant programme. This combines practical training in teaching while learning about cultural immersion. English teachers are in high demand, and these Barcelona in-person classes are the ideal approach to boost your job prospects. This intensive course is for dedicated students. It requires 50–55 hours a week, Monday–Friday, including weekend work. Prospective teachers not only improve their teaching abilities, but also make a positive contribution to the lives of their pupils. They are able to make a significant impact on the lives of children while discovering the dynamic and historical surroundings of this Spanish city. This programme could begin with the course and later become a full-time teaching job!

aerial photography of a city during sunset in Barcelona

6. Penda Photo Tours: Nonprofit Photography Programme

Penda Photo Tours offers some of the best gap year travel programmes for participants with a passion for photography. Through the lens of the Nonprofit Photography Programme offered by Penda Photo Tours, you’ll be based in Cape Town (South Africa), Livingstone (Zambia), or Nkhata Bay (Malawi), all of which have magnificent scenery and lots to do. Photography enthusiasts are given the opportunity to contribute to local nonprofit organisations by artistically describing the tales of such organisations. Participants are not only able to improve their photographic talents while immersed in a variety of cultures, but they also have the opportunity to contribute to relevant causes and create a visual impact with their photographs.

7. African Horse Safaris: Horse Riding Volunteer Holiday – South Africa

South Africa is the location of the African Horse Safaris – a volunteer horse trail ride. The programme is intended for groups of up to 10 people who want to learn more about an equestrian center and the operation of a South African stable. The package includes shared rooms, three daily meals, and more extra perks. It combines important volunteer activities with exciting horseback riding adventures in a seamless manner. Participants have the opportunity to explore the stunning landscapes while also actively helping with community projects in the area.

8. Marine Research Projects: Cayman Islands Divemaster Internship

The Cayman Islands Divemaster Internship includes involvement in Marine Research Projects, while becoming a divemaster and interning alongside experts. This programme is designed for people who have a passion for marine life. It provides them with the opportunity to participate in scientific study, explore live coral reefs, and receive a certification as a divemaster. Interns will gain transferable skills through this three-month marine science professional internship.  It can help them succeed in any setting, whether they go on to work in the water sport business or marine science. Whilst there, you can earn your PADI Divemaster certification, while learning about the Caribbean marine ecosystem. Participants are not only able to fully appreciate the splendor of the underwater world, but they are also able to make a contribution to the conservation of this environment. This project is a marine enthusiast’s dream come true!

yachts floating on a sea in Cayman Islands

9. Roots Interns: Marketing & Fundraising Internship – Portugal

The Marketing and Fundraising Internship with Roots Interns is another great volunteer abroad programme! Roots Interns is a great way to hone your fundraising and marketing chops while immersed in breathtaking Portugal. The mission of SOS Animal is to advance animal welfare in Portugal and beyond. Volunteers are able to make significant contributions to projects, while simultaneously acquiring essential professional experience. As a marketing and fundraising apprentice, it is your responsibility to develop and disseminate the organisation’s most important messages. Thus being able to secure donor support and provide care for animals that are neglected, abused, or at risk. An internship at such a stunning location is sure to be an enriching experience for interns, helping grow personally and professionally.

10. Raleigh International: Expedition Content Creator

Mix up your career with Raleigh International’s Expedition Content Creator programme! Help improve the lives of others by joining a team of like-minded Venturer Managers, committed to making a difference. In the capacity of Content Creator, you will help to curate content for our social media channels, by sharing photographs, segments, and story updates from your Expedition, utilising your expertise in social media production.

You will embark on trips, during which you will record and share remarkable volunteer stories. It is possible for individuals to generate meaningful material that inspires and promotes awareness about the numerous volunteer excursions that are provided by Raleigh International through the utilisation of this one-of-a-kind combination of storytelling and volunteering techniques.

What are the best Gap Year Volunteer Programmes?

Before you start planning your gap year, it’s important to know what to keep an eye out for. Gap year volunteer programmes can be an inspiring experience if you choose a programme that speaks to your interests, values, and goals. To make the most of your gap year, it is essential to choose a suitable volunteer programme. Be on the lookout for certain traits that mesh with your desired effects and objectives. Think about these things:

Impact and Sustainability

Prioritise gap year volunteer programmes that emphasise sustainability and impact when making your selection. Consider supporting endeavors that promote sustainable development, thereby guaranteeing that these projects will impart enduring benefits to the communities in which they operate. Initiatives that incorporate economic, social, and environmental factors into their development plans have a greater probability of producing substantial and long-lasting transformations.

a person holding a plant

Cultural Immersion

Rather than opting for superficial experiences, choose programmes that offer opportunities for unique cultural immersion. Attempt to identify initiatives that promote active involvement of participants in local communities, customs, and traditions, thereby cultivating an authentic comprehension and admiration for the varied cultures they come across. Engaging in such activities not only enhances the volunteer experience but also fosters the development of cross-cultural comprehension and a global outlook.

Safety and Support

The best best gap year travel programmes place significant emphasis on the well-being of its participants. Consider whether the program prioritises participant safety and provides adequate support throughout the journey. Make certain that the programme has comprehensive safety measures in place, including trained staff, emergency protocols, and a thorough orientation. Furthermore, take into account the extent of assistance rendered during the course of the venture; a programme that possesses a robust support network guarantees that individuals experience a sense of assurance and are capable of effectively navigating obstacles.

Skill Development

Consider participating in gap year programmes that provide opportunities for skill development, thereby enabling you to expand your professional and personal capacities. A gap year experience is greatly enhanced by participation in a programme that invests in the development of your skills, be they technical abilities, leadership capabilities, or language proficiency. It is advisable to pursue projects that not only benefit the communities you intend to assist but also equip you with valuable skills that can be applied to future commitments.

volunteers preparing packed goods

Feedback and Reviews

In order to do comprehensive research, examine participant evaluations and testimonials. This will undoubtedly give you valuable insights regarding the experiences of past volunteers. Also, honest feedback from programme participants can significantly yield insights regarding the credibility of the organisation, the effectiveness of their initiatives, and the general contentment of volunteers. A gap year volunteer experience is more likely to be rewarding and significant if the programme has received favorable evaluations and has a track record of contented participants.

Why Choose Raleigh for Gap Year Volunteering?

Participating in gap year travel programmes is a profound experience. There is no better way to ensure such an unforgettable experience than volunteering while giving back to communities globally. Each of these programs provides one-of-a-kind experiences that go beyond the traditional travel experience. Prepare to make a solid impact on communities all around the world!

Our life-changing trips are a one-of-a-kind experience that only a gap year with Raleigh International can provide. Adventure, impact, and personal growth are at the heart of what we do. Participants can experience diverse cultures, volunteer, and lead in dynamic settings.

What makes Raleigh International the best gap year option:

  • Holistic Development: Our trips promote personal and leadership growth, building skills, and positively impacting communities.
  • Global Perspective: Raleigh International offers adventures in diverse areas, featuring diverse cultures, ecosystems, and societal challenges.
  • Sustainable Focus: Prioritising sustainable projects with lasting impact on local communities ensures positive transformation and a meaningful legacy for volunteers.
  • A Secure Environment for Participants to Succeed: Our seasoned crew is committed to providing round-the-clock support to ensure the safety of our Expedition participants.

Get in touch with Raleigh International right away to enquire about our expeditions and take the first step towards an unforgettable gap year. Experience adventure, service, and personal growth on a journey of a lifetime. Raleigh International is known for having the best gap year travel programs and creating remarkable stories through its unique blend of adventure and volunteering.

Join a global community dedicated to change and make your gap year meaningful. Enquire now to join us on Expedition!

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Need more information about Expedition?

Consultation call

Whether you have a specific question or want to discuss which Expedition is right for you, schedule a call with a member of the team at a time convenient to you. 

Join an info event

On our monthly online info events, we’ll tell you all about Expedition. Have your questions answered, meet other volunteers and find out what Expedition is really like from an alumni.

Download a guide

Find out all about Raleigh International and Expedition in our helpful information guide.