Live a wilder life

Volunteering opportunities for older adults

There is at least one cliche that proves true: it’s never too late. Never too late to change direction, to take the road less travelled, to have an adventure, too – dare we say it? – change the world. Maybe you’re looking for a career change? To tick something off the bucket list? To travel the world? Maybe you’ve come to the realisation – like so many of us have – that making a difference in the world is a vital part of living in the world. 

None of our volunteer programs for adults have a maximum age restriction. That means we have plenty of over 50s volunteering options available. No experience or specific qualifications are required and all necessary training is provided on the program. The only requirement is that you’re keen, passionate about making a difference, and ready for a change.

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.

What is volunteering for older adults all about?

Overview
Locations
FAQs

Our programs aren’t simply volunteer opportunities for retirees, although some people do choose a GVI program as one of their retirement bucket list activities. Senior volunteers can join a program for as little as one week or stay up to 24 weeks. You could complete a GVI volunteer abroad program as part of a career break.  

Programs for older adults can focus on one of the following: 

We’ve found that many of those looking for voluntary work who are over the ages of 50 or 60 assume that volunteering abroad isn’t for them. There’s a pervasive idea that volunteering abroad is only for teens or young adults. But this simply isn’t true. There are plenty of volunteers abroad over the age of 50. Many choose to travel with GVI. 

Volunteering abroad not only allows you to expand your impact beyond local issues, but to connect to a wider, global community of like minded and passionate people.

GVI offers hundreds of volunteer programs abroad for adults in the following regions: Africa, Asia, Australasia, Latin America and Europe. 

Thailand

GVI provides two international volunteering opportunities in Thailand for seniors. In a village located among the hilled forests of Northern Thailand, an hour from Chiang Mai, senior volunteers can help conserve endangered Asian elephants. At our other location, a small village in the Southern Thai province of Phang Nga, senior volunteers can get involved in endangered green turtle conservation. 

The Seychelles

If you thought a marine conservation expedition was off the table for senior volunteers, think again. GVI international volunteer work opportunities for seniors include a marine conservation program in one of the top dive locations in the world, Seychelles. 

Senior volunteers can assist conservationists with preserving the precious natural habitat of the Seychelles. They can contribute to coral reef conservation research and marine plastic pollution prevention while living on Mahe island. Another one of our working holidays abroad for over 50s is located on Curieuse island. Here, senior volunteers assist the only researchers permanently stationed on the island with collecting data on rare species like hawksbill and green sea turtles, giant Aldabra tortoises and sicklefin lemon sharks

South Africa

Senior volunteers can experience the South African wild while working to conserve it with GVI. Our senior volunteers are based in a private nature and wildlife reserve, in the Limpopo province, an hour from the famous Kruger National Park. They help researchers with conserving lions, leopards, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos, birds, and other South African wildlife

Greece

What’s better than spending your summer on a Mediterranean beach? Helping to protect sea turtles while you’re at it. Our volunteering overseas opportunities for over 50s include a sea turtle conservation project in the Greek town of Giannitsochori. The area is known to be one of the key breeding grounds for loggerhead sea turtles. 

Costa Rica

In Costa Rica, senior volunteers with an interest in conservation can join us at our remote research base, Jalova, in Tortuguero National Park. They will assist researchers with studying endangered sea turtles, jaguars and birds

Mexico

In the Caribbean beach town of Puerto Morelos, senior volunteers can participate in marine conservation projects with GVI. Marine volunteers contribute to coral reef research and restoration, as well as marine plastic pollution prevention. 

Peru

Our volunteer opportunities for senior citizens in Peru are based in Oxapampa. This is a great option for those senior volunteers who have a visit to Peru jotted down on their retirement bucket list. Senior volunteers will work in the Peruvian Amazon on wildlife conservation initiatives.

Will there be other over 50s volunteering with me?

All of our participants joining a volunteer abroad program for adults do so as individuals. They arrive at one of our locations around the world and join a group of volunteers from a range of nationalities and backgrounds. 

If you’d like to guarantee that you’ll have other senior volunteers living and working with you be sure to speak to one of our enrolment managers. While we won’t give out any personal information without first gaining full permission first, we can check the demographics at your selected locations during the time you plan to volunteer with us. You’re most likely to find senior volunteers in Thailand.

You could also always arrange to volunteer with a group of friends, family, or a spouse. We offer both group travel options and family volunteering holidays abroad

What is the accommodation like?

While specific accommodation for senior volunteers isn’t automatically included when booking onto a GVI program, you can opt to choose one of our private accommodation options. 

GVI programs are usually communal experiences, with volunteers from around the world sharing a dormitory-style living area. Private accommodation, at a guesthouse, hotel, or apartment complex, is located close to the communal volunteer accommodation. This allows volunteers to share their volunteer experience with others living in the volunteer house while having the option of slipping away for some restful quiet time whenever they feel like it. 

To book private accommodation, simply speak to your enrolment manager when booking your GVI program. Please note that, unfortunately, not all our locations have private accommodation options available yet. 

Do I need to speak a foreign language to volunteer abroad?

The simple answer is, no you don’t. At all our bases around the world, our volunteers and staff members speak English. People in the communities we work with are also keen to practise their English. If we ever happen to run into difficulties communicating with community members, our community liaisons act as translators.

In two of our locations around the world will it be necessary to be able to speak a language other than English. At our conservation projects in Costa Rica and Peru, volunteers who aren’t fluent in Spanish will need to attend Spanish classes. If you were thinking of learning a new language during retirement, this could be the perfect opportunity. 

When booking a community-focused volunteering program in Latin America, your enrolment manager will be sure to ask about your Spanish fluency. They will then arrange in-country classes for you, if you’re not yet confident in the language.

Do I need to pay?

This is actually a question volunteers of all ages ask. The reality is that free volunteer abroad programs simply aren’t as ethical or as safe. 

If you’re looking to volunteer abroad for free you might be applying directly to a local sustainable development organisation. You’ll have no guarantee that the organisation is reliable or that their work is really helpful. 

You might also unwittingly be putting a strain on local organisations. They will be allocating resources towards training and supporting you that could be used more directly in making an impact.

Program fees allow us to guarantee volunteers the opportunity to make a long-term positive impact with no risk of harm. All our projects are aligned to one or more of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and our Badge of Ethics is our way of assuring volunteers that all activities have been assessed and approved by our Ethics Officers. 

We employ our own in-country staff to vet local partners. Their work is checked against our ethical principles and our progressive stances towards orphanage volunteering and medical volunteering. These policies are reflective of current best practices in international development informed by our third party experts. We’re also continuously improving our principles, stances, and operational functions to align with new research and updated thinking. 

Our in-country staff develop projects that allow international volunteers to contribute to local partner objectives. Part of their job is to make sure that the tasks assigned to international volunteers are appropriate to their skill level. 

This not only creates a satisfying experience for volunteers but also means that they can rest assured that their hard work will be of use to the local partner. Project-specific training is also provided to international volunteers by GVI staff. Finally, our staff track the impact of our volunteers on local projects, allowing us to compile an annual impact report

International volunteers, looking to volunteer abroad for free, would also have to source their own food, housing, and transport in a foreign country, often with little experience in these matters.   

With over two decades of volunteer management expertise, we’re accomplished at dependably providing volunteers with secure accommodation, two or more meals per day, airport pick-up and drop-off, as well as reliable transport to and from project sites.

Program fees allow us to promise our volunteers award-winning levels of safety and support. In fact, we’re a British Standards 8848 compliant tour provider. This means we meet the strictest regulations for international adventure travel in the United Kingdom.

All our operations are aligned to our high quality health and safety standards. Some of these standards include ensuring that our staff are Emergency First Aid certified and that all our accommodation locations have medical facilities closeby. 

In addition, all volunteers are assigned a personal travel support coordinator to assist them with preparations like packing lists and visas for their trip abroad. 

To learn more about why paying to volunteer abroad is the most conscientious choice, browse our article on the subject. 

We don’t, at this moment, offer a special fee for senior volunteers. But there’s nothing that stops senior volunteers from applying for one of our scholarships. The majority of our scholarships don’t have any age restriction. 

If you’re a US citizen, you can also apply for a tax admission. Just be sure to speak to a tax consultant first, and remember that any deductions are always only granted at the sole discretion of the IRS. 

Our first time volunteer guide
Everything you need to know to start your adventure.
Book by 31 August 2022
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