Volunteer Tourism: Ways to Have an Eco-Friendly Spring Break!

(Image above: Rainforest bridge in Costa Rica taken from Travel.Webshots.com)

With Spring Break quickly approaching and cold weather frustration mounting, winter getaways are on all of our minds. This Green Scene is devoted to the hot trend of Volunteer Tourism, an eco-friendly way to make your holiday count. Have fun this spring in tropical forests, magnificent mountains, or breathtaking deserts while enhancing the planet!

Read more about hands-on eco-travel ideas…

(Images above clockwise from top left: Sea Turtle from ItsNature.org, Spring Break volunteers from Helptheatmosphere.com, wwoofing in Japan from TinyFarmBlog.com)

One of the best ways to have a green trip is to get involved. Making a difference in the lives of those less fortunate, or helping rehabilitate suffering wildlife or dying ecosystems can be amazingly rewarding, not to mention fun! Spend a week, a month, or longer helping out the cause of your choice in some amazing locales as a volunteer tourist. Charity Guide is a great resource for matching your particular passion with an organization in need. Here are some ideas, based on where your heart lies…


1. Help save endangered rhinos from poachers in Uganda, Zimbabwe, or South Africa.

2. Head to Sri Lanka to study elephants as they impact the local villages, Thailand to assist in elephant health care, or track elephant migration in the deserts of Namibia.

3. Keep sea turtle nesting areas safe in Mexico, prepare sea turtle hatcheries in Costa Rica, or head to Greece’s Archelon Sea Turtle Protection Society, who are always in need of volunteers!


1. Restore coastal coral reefs in Fiji, Egypt, or the Philippines.

2. Save the rainforests in Costa Rica in stints ranging from 1-12 weeks, or discover the bounty and beauty of the rainforests in Panama.

3. Preserve hiking paths in the Adirondak Mountains, or take time caring for the Colorado Trail.


1. Teach English abroad anywhere as an ESL instructor, instruct Venezuelan children 4-14 years old in the basics of English in seven-day programs, or head to Vietnam for exciting English teaching opportunities.

2. Head to China to teach art and music to children, direct plays, and help students write songs in English.

3. Cultivate team sports by coaching volleyball, basketball or football in Peru, hockey in Argentina, or share your love of tennis in India.

4. Build a school, playground or remodel classrooms in Honduras or Peru.

Organic Framing

Another ideal way to make your travel the greenest it can be is to work on organic farms all over the world. Check out World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF) for super-cool farming options from Brazil to Bulgaria and everywhere in between! If you’re into food politics, sustainable agriculture, or just want to know more about the food we grow and eat, ‘woofing’ is an amazing learning opportunity. Your stay is free in exchange for your hard work, and you can decide beforehand where and for how long.

Other Links for Volunteer Tourism
Volunteer Abroad has just about any kind of volunteer opportunity imaginable, and you can search by location, duration, and interest.  Check out Earth Watch for scientific research/internship opportunities. Consider helping your local Habitat for Humanity chapter, or see if they are building somewhere you’d like to travel! Tons of Alternative Spring Break ideas can be found at Break Away, and Greenpeace is always looking for people all over the world to get involved with their eco projects. Search Amizade for countless global Service Learning opportunities.

Are you doing any eco-traveling this spring? Or, do you know of any great volunteer tourism ideas that need a shout out? We’d love to hear about them…

Happy Green Travels!

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  1. Cousin Katie 02/17/2009 at 11:40 am #

    Wow! Awesome post Molly! I want to do so many of the things you listed!

  2. Molly 02/17/2009 at 11:56 am #

    I know! Me too. I’m so into that wwoofing idea…

  3. Sister Krista 02/19/2009 at 11:26 am #

    I should definitely hop over the border to save sea turtle nests in Mexico!

  4. Sister Krista 02/19/2009 at 12:03 pm #

    I should totally hop over the border to Mexico to save sea turtle nests!

  5. Chris Phillips 09/16/2010 at 8:02 am #

    Hey, some great opportunities to volunteer abroad here http://www.originalvolunteers.co.uk/

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