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School Trips Abroad

GVI offers a range of school trips abroad in multiple locations across the world. These volunteer opportunities for high school students are tailored to fully immerse students in the local culture of their host country while challenging them to get out of their comfort zone.

As they do so, they’ll take part in impactful activities that contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and the long-term objectives of our in-country partners.

Critical science

Critical science

You'll contribute to vital conservation research targeted at protecting the earth's most valuable ecosystems.
Ethical engagement

Ethical engagement

Using the UN's SDGs as a framework, we've made a commitment to positive, constructive and sustainable impact.
Beautiful adventures

Beautiful adventures

You'll spend your days exploring some of the world's most breathtaking, exhilarating and remote wildernesses.

Locations and subject areas
Teachers and parents

School trips abroad

Volunteering abroad during high school lets students gain a better understanding of the world, its challenges and how they can help contribute to making sustainable changes. Our educational school trips abroad are typically 2–3 weeks in length and include opportunities for extensive development, both personally and in skills such as leadership.

All GVI high school volunteer programs include:

  • volunteer work abroad
  • a customised itinerary
  • 360-degree support, before and after the trip
  • travel with a trusted teacher and a highly qualified expedition leader who will accompany each group
  • a teacher and expedition leader ratio of 1:10 
  • adventure and exploration activities such as kayaking, hiking, surfing, abseiling, or a zipline canopy tour 
  • cultural activities such as cooking classes, learning phrases in the local language or watching traditional dance demonstrations 
  • an introduction to the concept of international sustainable development and talks by local subject area experts in areas such as wildlife conservation and community development
  • accommodation and three meals a day
  • transport to and from the airport, and during the rest of the trip.

And there are so many other benefits to educational school trips abroad. It allows high school students who are volunteering the opportunity to work collaboratively as part of a team, to better understand the challenges faced by the local community they’re working alongside, and to gain practical experience. Students will also develop soft skills such as leadership, planning, organisation and public speaking. This will enhance their opportunities for education and help them to broaden their career prospects.

Young British nationals who successfully complete a GVI teen program can apply for awards such as the Award Scheme and Development Accreditation Network (ASDAN) Universities Award or the Duke of Edinburgh Award. 

The ASDAN award is an internationally recognised certificate that can be used to show completed experiential learning and in so doing, improve applications to universities and colleges. 

The Duke of Edinburgh Award is available for application by teens looking to earn their Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award and boost their career prospects. Teens can use their participation in a GVI program to demonstrate competencies in several of the required focus areas, such as volunteering, skills development, physical fitness, completing a program, and having gone on a residential school trip abroad. You can also enhance your personal statement on your UCAS application with the Duke of Edinburgh Award.

For groups looking for more than a high school volunteer program, we have also developed a separate range of service-learning group programs. Service learning is the combination of classroom learning and theory, with hands-on, in-field experiences. This allows students to engage with their academic material while performing activities that help address challenges faced by the local community. It is rounded off with periods of reflective learning, which are shown to increase self-awareness and lead to a better understanding of others.

Not part of a school group, but fancy taking part in a tailor-made program for teenagers? View our under 18 programs here.

Volunteer opportunities for high school students allow for participants to visit locations all around the world, including Thailand, the Canary Islands and Costa Rica. On location, participants will experience and gain a better understanding of different cultures. They will also make a valuable contribution to programs that focus on wildlife and marine conservation.

Volunteering options for high school students

Phang Nga, Thailand

Thailand is a popular choice for school trips abroad as it is a destination many teens wish to visit during their summer holidays. The GVI base is located in the Phang Nga province, in the beachside town of Ban Nam Khem. 

Here, on our Thailand Conservation Global Citizens and Thailand Community Development programs, teens can participate in both conservation and community development activities. 

This could involve helping to raise baby sea turtles and assisting with the cleaning and maintenance of a turtle nursery, as well as conducting beach cleans to address plastic pollution or helping improve learning facilities in the local schools. 

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Visit Thailand’s northern region on our Thailand Elephant Conservation Global Citizens program. Here teens will have the opportunity to support essential conservation project work in the traditional Karen community of Huay Pakoot, while surrounded by breathtaking mountainous scenery. 

Other activities might include visiting local markets, hiking through tropical jungles, viewing spectacular waterfalls, going bamboo water rafting, and participating in traditional Thai cooking and basket-weaving classes.

The Canary Islands, Spain

The volcanic archipelago of the Canary Islands is a favourite location for school trips abroad and the waters surrounding it are host to some of the most interesting marine life in the oceans.

Here, on the Canary Islands Marine Conservation Global Citizens program, teens will assist with collecting data and photographing whales and dolphins, as well as conducting beach cleans and education and awareness presentations on marine conservation.

Cahuita National Park, Costa Rica

Teens interested in a career in rainforest conservation can take part in our high school volunteer program in Costa Rica’s Cahuita National Park. This location is known for its dense rainforests and long stretches of dark sand beaches. 

And it is here that high school students can assist in collecting research data for our local partner conservation organisations on our Costa Rica Conservation Experience program.

Community programs

We also offer a range of school trips abroad in locations that are focused on community development:

Speak to your enrolment manager for more information on further destinations available.

GVI has over two decades of experience in running tailor-made group programs. And our commitment to excellence has earned us numerous awards in the field of international experiential education. We offer 360-degree support and work to create the best high school volunteer program possible, in order to provide a unique and memorable learning experience for young students. 

Health and safety is our top priority, which is why we insist on background checks for all of our participants and staff, as well as training in emergency first aid and in the implementation of our Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy. We have also established extensive Emergency Action Plans (EAPs), crisis management plans and situational risk assessments. These cater for all manner of events that might occur in the field.

We offer 24-hour support in-country, as well as a 24-hour emergency desk, which is also available to parents. In fact, our expertise in managing young volunteers in international destinations has also secured us British Standards 8848 compliance. 

Also, as teachers play such an important role in the success of our school trips abroad, we agree in advance to an expedition leader, teacher and student ratio to give additional peace of mind. This is usually a minimum of one expedition leader assigned to a group of six participants.

We also usually offer one free teacher place per each ten high school students attending the program, and offer pre-departure support with travel logistics and to make sure school groups know what to expect upon arrival and during the program. We also conduct a teacher webinar where teachers, parents, guardians and chaperones can ask questions and receive feedback from our support coordinators.

All transport during the project, as well as the final airport drop-off, is provided by GVI expedition leaders. In order to seamlessly manage airport arrivals for our groups, we set up instant messaging groups that allow communication between students, teachers, parents and expedition leaders. Uniformed GVI expedition leaders meet the group at the airport upon arrival and they are then transported to their accommodation. After this point, all parents receive an email letting them know that their child has arrived safely.

For parents and educators looking for more information, visit our parent page to download our Parent Information Pack.

Hear from students and educators

“We enjoyed and appreciated the generosity and professionalism in GVI staff from the early stage about communication to the farewell. Everything has been well coordinated and clearly communicated. We sure feel part of the family.”

– Dorothe, educator at Odsherreds Efterskole

“It was very educational and fun but also impactful.”

– Jessika, student at Odsherreds Efterskole

“I thoroughly recommend GVI to anyone; whether you are an educator looking to take a group away, or an individual looking for a career break or some volunteering experience, GVI will cater for you.”

– Matthew, educator at Newton International School

“Since I was working in a large group of sixteen people I also learned leadership, patience, and how to contribute positively to the team, abilities that will all be useful in future employment. But aside from having a positive impact on my future employability, this program left a positive impact on the world around me.”

– Rhiannon, student at Duke University

“Having spent 10 years planning and leading school adventures for young people I have experienced first-hand the benefits and valuable life skills that group travel brings. I have confidence that by taking your students out of their comfort zone, by challenging them and allowing them to explore, meet people, work as a team and experience a different culture we can enhance their education and understanding. By enabling your students – our next generation – to see and experience the world for themselves we can help them become active global citizens. Our Mission is to increase cultural understanding and awareness of global issues within our alumni and to equip our alumni with the knowledge and ability to further contribute towards key global and local issues.”

– Tim, educator

“I can’t thank this organization enough for helping me grow and giving me an incredible experience I won’t forget.”

– Abagail, student at Endicott College

“After eight weeks of participating in a wide variety of activities as a service learning volunteer, I have learned the value of stepping outside my comfort zone and exploring areas besides animals and science. I used to think my science classes and animal-related extracurriculars at school were sufficient preparation for my future career. Now, I recognize the power of interdisciplinary studies in discerning the connections between seemingly unrelated topics, such as the use of microplastics and marine life conservation. A multidisciplinary approach like this is critical to problem solving in any profession. As such, the refined critical thinking skills and global awareness I acquired this summer will serve me well in the future. I am grateful to GVI for providing the education, resources, and support I needed to learn and grow over the past eight weeks.”

– Emma, student at Duke University

“The students who participated have been thrilled at the amazing results from their efforts!”

– Susan, educator

“I’ve learned more than I ever imagined I would. I most definitely would recommend GVI because the organisation of projects, accommodation and resources were exceptional.”

– Harshel, student at Duke University

To read more testimonials from educators and students, visit our Groups testimonials page.

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Read reviews and recommendations from all over the world.