Gap Year Volunteering

Planning on taking a gap year? Great! GVI runs a number of amazing programs that can be all you want from a year abroad, or make up part of a wider world-discovery experience!

 

If you have already decided you want to volunteer on your gap year, then you’ve come to the right place! GVI run volunteer abroad programs in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe and Australasia, all containing a unique blend of cultural immersion and exploration.

 

Joining a GVI volunteer project or expedition and you will discover some of the most dramatic and unspoiled locations in the world, while you live and work alongside an international group of volunteers, making a difference on a broad range of critical conservation and community development initiatives.

 

We know planning a gap year can seem like a rather daunting task…which is why we’ve taken it upon ourselves to help you out, by offering out our thoughts and ideas in the Ultimate Guide to Gap Years!

 

Download the guide now, and start planning!

Develop your CV

Go that extra step above and beyond volunteering and develop your CV even further. On our internship programs, receive a combination of training, mentoring, feedback, new qualifications and work placements. We’ve selected just a pick of our internships below to make sure you head home with a new and impressive CV!

Learn a new skill

Gap years are not year long holiday s. This is an ideal time to learn something new, don’t regret a missed opportunity. Whether it is learning a new language, a new skill, or a whole new career path, there are options there for you. We’ve picked a selection of these below for you, language immersion, teaching or scuba diving, the choice is yours.

Explore the world

This is your opportunity to get out there and see things you might never get a chance to see again. Mark Twain put it perfectly – “Explore. Dream. Discover.” In years to come, which story wins plaudits; that night on the Khaosan Road you can’t really remember; or the weeks you spent immersed in a traditional Karen community in northern Thailand?

Volunteer

Volunteering abroad. Our forte. Don’t spend your year abroad jumping between backpacker hostels, bars and full moon parties, there can be more to it than that. Give a little back along the way, through one of our meaningful volunteer projects. We have almost 100 to choose from, so to narrow it down slightly, we’ve picked our top 10 for you below.

All
Volunteer
Explore
Develop
Learn
Teaching

Volunteer with Buddhist Novice Monks in Laos

Asia - Laos - Luang Prabang
Discover Laos' ancient city of Luang Prabang and teach English to Buddhist novice monks, improving the quality of their education and enabling them to access better opportunities

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

2 - 24 weeks

Price from

£945.00

"It was an amazing experience. To be able to interact with young novice Buddhist monks and know that you are actually making a positive impact on them seems almost a little surreal at first but then becomes so common place that it takes a moment when one grasps you on the arm and says “You are a very good teacher” to bring home exactly what you are doing.

But that is only a small part of it. The people that I met are what really made the Laos project something that will have a special place in my heart forever."

- Australia
Animal Care
Wildlife Conservation

Volunteer with Elephants in Thailand

Asia - Thailand - Chiang Mai
Travel to Thailand's Chiang Mai Province and assist with the rehabilitation of elephants rescued from working in tourist camps

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

1 - 24 weeks

Price from

£920.00

"I have had the opportunity to observe and work closely with these social and complex animals, which would be impossible with elephants in the wild. Staying in a traditional Karen community has been a million miles away from life in England. I have been made to feel really welcome here and I feel privileged to be part of a project that is helping both the elephants and the community in which they live."

- United Kingdom
Teaching
Childcare

Volunteer with Children in Fiji

Australasia - Fiji - Fiji Islands
Discover the Yasawas when you travel to Fiji and volunteer supporting under-resourced local schools and teachers

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

2 - 24 weeks

Price from

£1,145.00

"After my first visit to Fiji, I had to return, the country, culture and people have found their way into my heart."

- United Kingdom
Wildlife Conservation

Wildlife Research in South Africa Expedition

Africa - South Africa - Limpopo
Travel to a private Big Five game reserve in South Africa and volunteer alongside an international team assisting in vital conservation work

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

2 - 12 weeks

Price from

£1,195.00

"My favourite moments were on the drives collecting data and observing the animals, improving my knowledge and understanding of the environment and working with young people who were committing time to help understand and improve the world in which they live. It was most reassuring to see young adults working together. The project gives one a more intimate knowledge of the environment and the animals, than it would seeing them as a tourist."

- Australia
Marine Conservation

Marine Conservation Expedition in Mexico

Latin America - Mexico - Yucatan
Earn your PADI diving certificate when you contribute to marine conservation projects in Mexico’s Mesoamerican coral reef

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

4 - 24 weeks

Price from

£1,795.00

"Life at Pez Maya has an odd tendency of filling itself with very rich and otherworldly experiences that one would be lucky to encounter in a year. Our work here is primarily for the purpose of preserving the biodiversity of a region with forests, lagoons, mangroves, and coral reefs, all within a few miles of each other, an area extremely valuable in natural capital. More specifically, we are working to achieve a stable balance between the built and the natural world. Given that we at least share a significant awe and admiration for the wilderness, it is natural that we also find ourselves enjoying other, tangentially related experiences: The mellow strumming of a guitar, the fresh taste of a good meal after our hard work, a riveting conversation, a cold beer, some good body surfing. People here seem very alive, every hour full with activity and learning, often proactive and always positive. It is a good place to be. The days here are simple but busy, natural, and held together by the ideal we believe in to restore the natural world."

- USA
Wildlife Conservation
Marine Conservation

Wildlife Expedition in Costa Rica

Latin America - Costa Rica - Jalova
Contribute to the long-term management and conservation of the coastal rainforests of the Tortugero National park in Costa Rica

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

4 - 24 weeks

Price from

£1,460.00

"Surrounded by amazing, rich and diverse rainforest is surreal. Whether its trudging knee deep in mud or working a leatherback, it is truly a rewarding and unforgettable experience!! Plus, there aren´t many opportunities to meet people from such different walks of life."

- United Kingdom
Marine Conservation

Marine Conservation Expedition in the Seychelles

Africa - Seychelles - Mahe and Curieuse
Get your PADI Advanced and PADI Coral Reef Research Diver qualification as a member of an expedition working on critical marine conservation projects in the islands of the Seychelles

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

4 - 12 weeks

Price from

£2,050.00

"I had a brilliant time, the staff were really friendly and welcoming and I loved all the diving/Coco de Mer surveys and turtle walks. there was so much variety and a lot to learn – I would definitely go back. This experience has made me change my career to what I love and I’m currently now looking for marine research/science work throughout the world. The GVI experience has made me reconsider what I want from life."

- UK
Marine Conservation
Multifocus

Marine Conservation Expedition in Fiji

Australasia - Fiji - Fiji Islands
Gain your PADI Advanced Open Water qualification when you discover Fiji and assist in the creation of a network of marine protected areas conserving the area's coral reefs and mangrove forests

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

4 - 24 weeks

Price from

£2,000.00

"Thank you for such an awesome experience in Fiji, I have come back reenergised and have changed the course of my medical career – I will be taking next year off to work in the developing world. Thank you all for the inspiring and profound impact you had on my person and my career. I feel that this decision is the beginning of something truly extraordinary!"

- Australia
Wildlife Conservation

Wildlife Conservation Internship in South Africa

Africa - South Africa - Limpopo
Gain invaluable experience and kick-start your conservation career on a wildlife conservation internship in South Africa’s iconic bushveld

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

24 weeks

Price from

£5,280.00

"What an amazing experience this has been! Each day here at GVI base is a gift, although the base is rustic and has no electricity or hot water. I found that didn’t matter. The game drives are the primary focus of each day, some days are more fruitful than others but in time the rewards are huge with animal sightings. So far I have over 1600 photos to sort through when I get home!"

- USA
Marine Conservation

Marine Conservation and PADI Divemaster Internship in Mexico

Latin America - Mexico - Yucatan
Get your PADI Divemaster qualification and boost your career when you join a scuba diving and marine conservation internship in Mexico’s picturesque Yucatan peninsula

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

24 weeks

Price from

£5,095.00

"After an incredible three months of living and working at Pez Maya. I have chosen to undertake my Divemaster course in the small fishing village of Xcalak, which is located far down south of the Yucatan Peninsula, on the Belize/Mexico border. XTC dive center is blessed with outstanding diving. In one day I was lucky enough to see two nurse sharks, two porcupine fish, moray eels, four rays including eagle rays, turtles, manatees and an abundance of other fish species and healthy corals, not at all unusual for a day’s diving in Xcalak!"

- United Kingdom
Wildlife Conservation

Conservation Internship with Elephants in Thailand

Asia - Thailand - Chiang Mai
Kick start your career on an internship in Thailand's Chiang Mai region. Teach English, assist with biodiversity studies and contribute to the rehabilitation of rescued elephants

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

24 weeks

Price from

£3,545.00

"As an intern on this program I’ve had what I can genuinely say to be some of the best and most rewarding experiences of my life. Living and working closely with the Karen people of Huay Pakoot village, I’ve gained firm friends, learnt a great deal about Karen culture, helped the villagers sustain their environmentally sound traditional way of living, been involved with the education of the village children, and fallen in love with this remote, lush and stunningly beautiful part of Thailand."

- United Kingdom
Marine Conservation

Marine Conservation and PADI Divemaster Internship in the Seychelles

Africa - Seychelles - Mahe and Curieuse
Boost your professional diving or marine conservation career when you join an internship in the stunning Seychelles and get your PADI Divemaster qualification

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

24 weeks

Price from

£6,000.00

"Would I recommend it? I most certainly would, even if all you are after is a break from the monotonous 9-5 office job, or one of the stops on a gap year round the world, it is an experience to not only learn something about the natural world, but it is also an amazing place to be able to learn something more about yourself."

- United Kingdom
Healthcare
Teaching
Volunteer with Children
Multifocus

Community Development Expedition in Thailand

Asia - Thailand - Phang Nga
Discover Thailand's coastal province of Phang Nga and assist local communities through initiatives focussing on childcare, healthcare and teaching English

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

4 - 24 weeks

Price from

£1,295.00

"It is tremendous to see how excited the kids are to see us every time that we are at the school. I have learnt a lot about teaching English for the past week and how to manage a Thai classroom. This has been my first teaching experience, other than tutoring, in which I have a lot to learn about techniques and skills to use. I have learnt and improved on nonverbal commands and cues, since most of the students know very little English."

- USA
Marine Conservation

Marine Conservation and PADI Divemaster Internship in the Indian Ocean

Africa - Asia - Thailand - Mahe and Curieuse - Phang Nga - Seychelles
Get your PADI Divemaster qualification and boost your scuba or marine conservation career when you join a scuba diving and marine conservation internship in the endless turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean.

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

24 weeks

Price from

£5,750.00

"Training was good and I was confident in what I was doing when I started monitoring, the best aspects of the program were the diving, meeting people and also being able to live with limited resources."

- United Kingdom
Wildlife Conservation

Conservation Internship in Costa Rica

Latin America - Costa Rica - Jalova
Gain valuable field-based experience and boost your career on a conservation internship in the coastal rainforests of Costa Rica

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

24 weeks

Price from

£4,910.00

"I am so pleased that I made a 6 month commitment to living and working in such a unique place. The wealth of biodiversity I wanted to experience has exceeded all my expectations. I have met wonderful people here who have further enriched my experience. The GVI Jalova 6-month internship was a great choice for me and I would recommend it highly."

- USA
Teaching
Volunteer with Children
Multifocus

Volunteer Explorer in Mexico and Costa Rica

Latin America - Costa Rica - Mexico - Manuel Antonio - Yucatan
Travel to Mexico and Costa Rica to volunteer in children's centers assisting disadvantaged children in their personal and educational development

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

1 - 8 weeks

Price from

£0.00

"Teaching English to the kids of El Cocal has been a real joy. They are so eager to learn English words! It can be quite a challenge sometimes but it is so rewarding when they run up to you, wanting to show you something new they have learnt in English. It’s great seeing how fast they progress."

- United Kingdom
Volunteer with Children
Teaching

Community Development Internship in Mexico

Latin America - Mexico - Yucatan
Help vulnerable children learn and develop when you intern at a Save the Children center and further your career ambitions in Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

24 weeks

Price from

£4,295.00

"I feel I need to share this with past, present and future volunteers. Children don’t just make small talk; they don’t make conversation just to fill the silence the way adults do. These kids ask because truly, each volunteer who have walked through those gates has made an impression. These kids are genuinely aware of our presence, and takes advantage of every opportunity they can to spend time with you- if you let them.

One rule of the Ludoteca is to leave all your problems and ailments outside the gates; I feel that this is true not just for the kids, but for every volunteer too. It’s impossible to feel miserable here."

- Australia
Volunteer with Children
Multifocus

Volunteer Explorer in Kenya and South Africa

Africa - Kenya - South Africa - Cape Town - Mombasa
Discover South Africa and Kenya when you volunteer with underprivileged children and experience everything the regions have to offer on amazing side trip adventures.

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

8 weeks

Price from

£2,990.00

"The kids were awesome to interact with. I found that GVI was very organized and that their heart is in the right place! I loved the culture shock but also having the support of other volunteers living in the same house as me. Can’t say enough good things about the people that I met through the GVI program. Volunteering with GVI was an unbelievable experience and one that I could not get otherwise as a traveller, can’t wait to go again next year. I could tell the help was really needed."

- Canada
Volunteer with Children
Multifocus

Volunteer Explorer in India and Nepal

Asia - India - Nepal - Kerala - Pokhara
Volunteer with children in both India and Nepal. Embark on side trips through the backwaters of Kerala and a trek through some of the highest mountain peaks in the world.

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

8 weeks

Price from

£2,250.00

"My first day at the Auxilium School was a day to remember. I have never felt so overwhelmed by questions, gleaming eyes, smiles, handshakes and some of the most welcoming staff and children I have ever met. Standing at the front of the class with 50 pairs of eager eyes waiting to hear your words is one of the most terrifying and most wonderful sensations I have ever experienced. And although you may be overwhelmed by all the new faces you feel instantly that you are at home."

- USA
Volunteer with Children

Teaching Internship in Nepal

Asia - Nepal - Pokhara
Help abandoned and disadvantaged children embrace a brighter future when you join a long-term internship in Nepal

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

20 weeks

Price from

£2,650.00

"The most positive experiences I had volunteering for GVI would have to be just simply living with and getting to know the Nepali people. Their way of life, response to life and general outlook on life is so inspiring and so beautiful that you can’t help but fall in love with the people and the place. The children I taught and worked with made me discover a love and joy in children I never knew I had."

- New Zealand
Wildlife Conservation
Multifocus

Conservation Volunteer Explorer in Seychelles and South Africa

Africa - Seychelles - South Africa - Limpopo - Mahe and Curieuse
Discover the vast continent of Africa, and volunteer on crucial conservation projects on the pristine islands of Seychelles and deep within the South African bushveld

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

8 weeks

Price from

£4,705.00

"The skills I learnt, the experience I had and the people I met whilst volunteering for GVI have been invaluable, instead of a year out I have had a complete change of career and will be starting a Masters degree in Marine Environmental Management later this year. Joining GVI as a volunteer certainly changed my life!"

- United Kingdom
Teaching

Teaching and Community Development Internship in South Africa

Africa - South Africa - Cape Town
Gain valuable experience when you join a teaching and community development internship in South Africa’s famous city of Cape Town

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

24 weeks

Price from

£4,395.00

"I interned in Gordon’s Bay, South Africa, on the Community Development Project and it was the most eye-opening, intense and amazing time of my life! It may sound an exaggeration…but believe me, it’s not! The people you meet, the children you teach, the places you visit, the friendships you build…everything together makes this experience truly inspiring. It feels great talking and spreading the word about such a reliable organisation and, above all, the great experience I had!!"

- Italy
Volunteer with Children
Multifocus

Volunteer Explorer in South East Asia

Asia - Laos - Thailand - Luang Prabang - Phang Nga
Discover Asia when you volunteer with children in both Laos and Thailand with a focus on teaching English. Enjoy adventure side trips in both locations.

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

8 weeks

Price from

£2,640.00

"Everyone was extremely friendly and our first visits to the schools were filled with welcoming smiles. Over the next couple weeks as I got to know the students and the teachers I began to get a good idea of what life in Laos is like. The volunteers were invited to dinner several times and even had the opportunity to attend a Baci ceremony in a village outside of Luang Prabang. It was nice to see the various sides of Lao culture that you might not see as a regular tourist."

- USA
Teaching
Volunteer with Children

Teaching English and TEFL Internship in Thailand

Asia - Thailand - Phang Nga
Give your teaching career a head start with a teaching internship in Thailand. Become a qualified TEFL teacher and put your skills to good use in a local community

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

24 weeks

Price from

£3,645.00

"The TEFL course itself is fairly intense, especially in the first week or two, but as I progressed through it everything began to click and I could see how the theory applied in the classroom. It was a bit nerve-wracking being thrown in the deep end and teaching on day three, but it was a lot of fun! The students were so enthusiastic and keen to learn and I’ve loved teaching them. It’s been challenging and I’ve definitely been taken out of my comfort zone but I feel like I’ve learnt a lot about myself."

- Australia
Construction

Volunteer on Construction Projects in South Africa

Africa - South Africa - Cape Town
Travel to Cape Town in South Africa and volunteer on construction and renovation projects working to improve the conditions of underprivileged children at care centers, nurseries and schools.

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

1 - 4 weeks

Price from

£970.00

"After a few trips volunteering in Africa I wanted a new experience, chance to learn more about the environment around me. Coming here has already allowed me a much broader understanding of Africa, whilst also being surrounded by beauty and wilderness, which literally takes my breath away. Absolutely amazing."

- United Kingdom
Wildlife Conservation
Marine Conservation
Teaching
Multifocus

Community and Conservation Expedition in Kenya

Africa - Kenya - Shimoni
Assist on a range of projects and make a real contribution to wildlife studies and capacity building, while experiencing the best of Kenya’s dynamic landscapes

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

4 - 24 weeks

Price from

£1,605.00

"My stay in Kenya was the best few weeks of my life, I was so impressed with GVI and love love loved the project, so much so I plan to get my environmental science degree done then hope to come back and do an internship with you guys. You were wicked, the staff and interns were awesome, the work was so interesting and I learnt a hell of a lot. My only regret is that I didn’t stay longer. So…my point is “asante sana” to you and GVI, for the wicked experience, the fun and the inspiration. Hope to see you again one day!"

- Denmark
Wildlife Conservation
Teaching
Multifocus

Volunteer Explorer Kenya and Seychelles

Africa - Kenya - Seychelles - Mahe and Curieuse - Shimoni
Volunteer on a range of focus areas including marine and primate research, community development and terrestrial conservation in both Kenya and the Seychelles.

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

8 weeks

Price from

£3,950.00

"I just recently returned from Kenya and was very impressed with GVI. All of the programs are very dynamic and seem to be extremely effective. In particular, the program in the Taveta region is spectacular and the people are amazing! I will be making ongoing donations to this program to help the communities, and purchase needed supplies for the products they are making, such as jam pots, sugar, beads, kangas, etc. My hope is that in a couple of years I can come back to this region and see what progress has been made."

- USA
Wildlife Conservation
Multifocus

Conservation Volunteer Explorer in Kenya and South Africa

Africa - Kenya - South Africa - Limpopo - Shimoni
Volunteer on a range of focuses including primate research, community development and terrestrial conservation across both Kenya and South Africa.

Program Type

Volunteering

Duration

8 weeks

Price from

£4,360.00

"I was impressed with the website – it provided a lot of information and looked professional, which made me more confident in the program. I also was interested in doing an expedition with a variety of activities, which GVI provided. Overall, I appreciated the diversity of the projects and the people. The location went beyond my expectations, and I enjoyed moving back and forth from Mkwiro to Shimoni to Kidong. I really appreciated GVI’s dedication to sustainable development and conservation. Personally, I enjoyed learning new skills that I would otherwise not have had an opportunity to use."

- USA

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