There are a bewildering amount of options for budding volunteers – and it may be hard to know where to start. But when thinking about how to choose a volunteering vacation, most placements break down into one of three main categories – animals, people and habitats. Within those areas, you’ll need to think about how hands on you’d like to be – do you want to have plenty of contact with the animals, or do research and monitoring from a distance? If you’re looking at community work, you may want to jump straight in and run some after school workshops – or stay behind the scenes and build a well. Your skills and previous experience will also shape the role you work in, and you’ll want to think about your living conditions – are you happy to rough it in a village hut with no hot water? Or would you rather retire to a comfortable guesthouse at the end of a hard day’s slog?
Finally – think about the duration. Generally, we’d encourage anyone working with people to stay a month or more, to give you the chance to build up relationships. Conversely, if you’re planting trees, it doesn’t matter if you stay a day or a month.
We’ve outlined our main placement types below, to help you decide how to choose a volunteering vacation.