Family volunteering holidays that make a difference

Last updated 9th April 2019

See the world and give something back at the same time, with one of these unforgettable volunteering holidays

11/11 Elephant Volunteer Project, Thailand

Nestled in the beautiful countryside of Northern Thailand, this volunteer-run sanctuary offers a chance for retired trekking and tourist-ride elephants to live out the rest of their lives free, with other fellow retired elephants. A volunteer holiday here is a real hands-on experience, where adults and older children can help walk, bathe and feed the elephants, while learning about these majestic animals and their welfare. There’s also the opportunity to get involved in community projects, like planting trees and helping to repair local houses.

Best for: Adults and children over 10 years old

Price: From £495 per person and £360 per child for 1 week

10/11 Playa Tortuga Conservation Volunteer  Project, Costa Rica

If conservation is a cause close to your heart, this getaway offers a real once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the whole family to live in a biological research centre, in one of Costa Rica’s tropical rainforests. There’s so much to help out with here, whether it’s monitoring the local sea turtles during hatching season, working on the butterfly garden project or researching crocodiles and river otters. You’ll all live together with other volunteers at the research centre, and get to enjoy a free day during the week, where you can head off as a family to try out surfing or just relax.

Best for: Adults and children over 6 years old

Price: From £440 per adult and £340 per child for 1 week

9/11 Dolphin & Whale Research Project, Italy

You can still get involved in an unforgettable family volunteering holiday, without a long-haul flight. Fly to either Nice or Genoa, before catching a train to your destination – Sanremo, on the Italian Riviera. Here you’ll board a sailing boat – your home for the week – as you explore the Cetacean Sanctuary (a special marine protected area) helping with research on the beautiful whales and dolphins that live in these turquoise waters. Nothing will beat that moment when you and your family catch sight of your first dolphin, up close. Truly magical.

Best for: Adults and children over 12 years old

Price: From £740 per adult and £640 per child for 1 week

8/11 Cloud Forest Conservation & Sustainability Programme, Ecuador

This special Family Volunteer Experience Package is the perfect choice for families keen to get involved in a volunteer project, but who don’t have a huge amount of time to do it. Over the five-day stay, you’ll be immersed in authentic Ecuadorean culture, helping out with organic farming and reforestation, as well as learn all about cloud forests and the important conservation work going on. You’ll get a real taste of Ecuador, thanks to the delicious homemade food prepared with ingredients from the farm, like empanadas, yucca bread and even hot chocolate made from cocoa beans. The kids will be in heaven!

Best for: Adults and children of all ages

Price: From £370 per adult and £190 per child under 12 years old

7/11 Amazon Basin research and conservation, Peru 

Grown-ups and kids will be blown away by the wild beauty of the Peruvian Amazon. Waking up each day, surrounded by the sights and sounds of this remote rainforest is an experience the whole family will remember, and cherish, forever. With Working Abroad, you’ll help with primate, tropical mammal or caiman conservation programmes, to learn more about the stunning creatures that call this rainforest their home. In your free time, go swimming in the freshwater streams, explore canopy walkways and play football with the locals. If you’re looking for a real adventure, this is it.

Best for: Adults and children over 4 years old

Price: From £746 per adult and £268 per child for 4 days

6/11 Elephant Volunteer Project, Cambodia

Experience rural Cambodia in all its beauty, with a stay at this charming elephant sanctuary in the forests of Mondulkiri. Providing 1,500 hectares of natural jungle habitat for injured and overworked elephants to roam free, the experience is more about watching and learning about these stunning animals from afar, rather than being hands-on. As well as getting the chance to see the elephants in the wild, you’ll help with the reforestation projects and other volunteer activities. The daily schedule changes often, but there’s always plenty of time for exploring the area and the odd nap in a hammock (if the kids will let you!).

Best for: Adults and children over 3 years old

Price: From £640 per adult and £415 per child for 1 week

5/11 Dolphin Research Project, Greece 

If you’ve got a big kid who’s mad about marine life, this will be a dream come true. A week aboard a sailing ship in the Gulf of Ionian Sea, monitoring dolphins, watching how they interact, as well as spotting sea turtles, tuna, swordfish and seabirds, is sure to become the holiday they never stop talking about. Your days will be spent at sea, but your lodgings will be on dry land, in a communal house based in a pretty Grecian coastal village – so you can still head out to local restaurants in the evening, for a ‘holiday’ feel.

Best for: Adults and children over 12 years old

Prices: From £680 per adult and £580 per child for 1 week

4/11 Shamwari Big Five Game Reserve Programme, South Africa

This is so much more than a typical safari holiday. Here, you can join an award-winning conservation team and really go behind the scenes to see what work goes into running a game reserve. You and your family will get the chance to monitor the Big Five, help out in a game count, volunteer at the Born Free Big Cat Sanctuary and look after orphaned animals at the wildlife rehabilitation centre. It’s an opportunity like no other, to experience the beauty of South Africa and its majestic wildlife, while giving something back.

Best for: Adults and children over 12 years old

Price: From £995 per adult and £895 per child for 2 weeks

3/11 Desert Elephants Family Project, Namibia

Prepare to be seduced by the magic of the Namib Desert, on this fantastic volunteer opportunity in the beautiful Damaraland region. Here, you can help track the small population of desert-adapted elephants, as well as work with local farmers to help protect their water points from any elephant-induced damage. Camping wild, you’ll really get back to nature – there’s even a chance to learn some simple camp-craft and survival skills, if one of the family fancies themselves as a bit of a Bear Grylls!

Best for: Adults and children over 8 years old

Price: From £915 per adult and £815 per child for 2 weeks

2/11 Conservation Volunteering Project, Spain

Learn about Spanish culture and gain new skills while volunteering on the Eastern coast of Spain. You can observe a variety of plant and animal life as you learn about the ways to improve the ecosystems in the project’s Denia or Valencia locations. Your family can enjoy their time in nature while gaining knowledge and unforgettable memories. It’s a fantastic way to give back to the planet and have fun in a new environment.

Best for: Adults and children over 15

Price: From £830 per adult and £700 per child for 1 week

1/11 Coral Reef Conservation, Belize

Take your children on an under-the-sea adventure that will introduce them to the wonders of the aquatic kingdom. You’ll get close to extraordinary species like Lionfish and get a firsthand understanding of how to protect the precious world that exists under the waves. As volunteers, your family will have the opportunity to dive up to three times per day and then relax on the beautiful village of Placencia. All members of the family aged five and over will have the opportunity to earn diving certificates on this adventurous volunteering trip.

Best for: Adults and children over 5 years old

Price: From £1095 per adult , £915 per child (10-15), £532 per child (9 and under)