Voluntourism — combining your holiday with volunteer work — is on the rise. Giving your time overseas can make a real difference both to your own life and the people you donate your work to, especially if you’ve got specialist skills.


There are at least 146 voluntourism organizations worldwide and there are opportunities on all continents. The top five countries are China, India, USA, Indonesia and Brazil, according to the study Voluntourism by the Georgian College.


However, voluntourism is not without its critics and reports of overpriced and badly organized programs for GAP year students. It really pays to do your research, check blogs and forums and stick to reputable organizations like the International Ecotourism Society (TIES).


Hot destinations for voluntourists this year include the areas affected by BP’s oil spill.

“There are quite a few volunteer opportunities that are available for people that are interested in just not going there which helps the local economy but being part of volunteer opportunities,” says Ayako Ezaki, Director of Communications at TIES.