9 of the best eco-volunteering holidays in the UK, Europe and Thailand

Back to Travel & holidays
Family in garden

These working holidays will help you to see more of the world – and they'll help to save the planet, too

If you’d like to travel, learn new skills and feel involved in some incredible conservation projects, take your pick from this list of short-stay adventures. They’re suitable for those travelling solo or in a couple – and some welcome families.

What is a volunteering holiday?

A volunteering holiday is a type of travel where you combine your break with volunteering work. This can be a great way to see the world, learn new skills, and make a difference in the lives of others. There are many different types of volunteering holidays available, so you can find one that fits your interests and skills.

What types of volunteering holidays are there?

Some popular types of eco-friendly volunteering holidays include:

Conservation holidays:
These holidays involve working to protect the environment, such as by cleaning up beaches, planting trees, or building wildlife habitats.

Animal care holidays: These holidays involve working with animals, such as by caring for orphaned animals, helping to train service animals, or volunteering at a zoo, wildlife park or aquarium.

Community development holidays: These holidays involve working to improve the lives of people in local communities, such as teaching English, building schools, or providing medical care.

Archaeological holidays: These holidays involve participating in archaeological excavations, which can be a great way to learn about history and culture.

How much will a volunteering holiday cost?

Some volunteering holidays are free, but most of them do require a fee. The cost of a volunteering holiday will vary depending on the length of the trip, the type of work you will be doing, and the location of the project.

The price range for volunteering holidays varies widely. Short-term holidays (1-2 weeks) typically cost between £400 and £1,100, while longer-term holidays (3+ weeks) can cost upwards of £2,300.

What can you expect to be included in a volunteering holiday?

The specific inclusions of a volunteering holiday will vary depending on the program you choose. However, most programs will include:

Accommodation: You will typically be housed in shared accommodation, such as a hostel or guesthouse.

Meals: You will typically be provided with meals during your stay.
Transport: You will typically be provided with transportation to and from the project site.

Some programs will include insurance, while others will require you to purchase your own.

Training: You will typically receive training on the work you will be doing.

Support: You will typically have access to support from staff and other volunteers.

How to choose a volunteering holiday

Here are our picks for some of the best eco-volunteering holidays in around the world:

1. Go WWOOFing in the UK and Europe

Old man holding lamb

Such is the popularity of this volunteer organisation that WWOOFing has become a verb for people in the know. If you want to tend vegetables in Dorset or muck out animal pens in France, WWOOF will connect you with organic farm hosts around the world. Accommodation is free in exchange for a number of hours’ work each day. Some WWOOF hosts will accept families.

2. Traditional crafting with the National Trust

Carpenter working

You can learn woodwork or stonewalling skills while volunteering at one of the National Trust’s many sites around the UK. Whether you’re a solo traveller, couple, or family with children, there’s an opportunity to volunteer with the trust that will suit you, simply search their database and find a programme. 

Need somewhere to stay? Boundless members can save up to 50% on holidays and travel essentials. Find out more about Boundless savings here

3. Help out the National Trust for Scotland

National Trust castle Scotland

The National Trust for Scotland also has a huge variety of volunteering opportunities set across the many thousands of acres the charity manages. As Scotland’s largest conservation charity, the NTS has a huge ongoing responsibility to protect and nurture the country’s natural landscapes, to support its rich wildlife, tend its beautiful gardens, maintain historic castles and conserve numerous national treasures. It’s a lot to do, and that means there are a whole host of exciting projects that you can get involved in. Click here to find out more about the opportunities available.

4. Clean beaches with your family

Man and child cleaning a beach

Why not combine a weekend of building sandcastles with bagging up beach litter? Even younger children can get involved with Marine Conservation Society (MCS) events that aim to clear the nation’s coastlines of plastic. And the third weekend in September is the Great British Beach Clean, with events up and down the country.

5. Help restore waterways to their former glory

Waterway being restored

Get your hands dirty and join a Canal Camp to help restore waterways across England and Wales. These huge natural habitats provide a sanctuary to wildlife, as well as an environmentally friendly way to travel. You’ll be taught new skills including bricklaying, machine operation and stonewalling. A week costs £80 for food and accommodation. Family camps are also available.

6. Protect sea turtles around the world

Turtle on the beach

Who can say they’ve risen with the sun to watch a sea turtle lay her eggs on land, or witness a stream of hatchlings making their first perilous journey to the ocean? This GVI volunteering holiday in Thailand puts you at the heart of the action. A holiday costs from £2,255 for accommodation, food, training and flights. Families are welcome and some upgraded accommodation is available.

7. Study killer whales in Iceland

Dolphins swimming

To push yourself to new limits, join a field project like this study of killer whales in Iceland’s majestic volcanic Vestmannaeyjar archipelago. Learning about orca feeding habits is vital to understanding and protecting delicate eco-systems. As a citizen scientist, you’ll be fully immersed in the project, helping to record orca behaviour on land and at sea. Expeditions cost £3,235 for 12 days via Earthwatch, who can connect you with field studies around the world.

8. Get up close Portugal’s hidden wolves

Wolf in the trees

You smell – and that’s a vital qualification for this working holiday. The task of volunteers is to smell different to regular staff, so wolves won’t approach you or become attached to their human carers. But don’t worry, you’ll see plenty of wolves at feeding time. And when they howl, you’ll definitely hear them! The holiday costs £1,399 for 14 days, including airport collection, accommodation and food, plus two nights in Lisbon.

9. Learn to live sustainably in Spain

People walking their dog through long grass

If you dream of going off the grid, or simply wish to reduce your environmental impact, Sunseed – a not for profit organisation in Andalucia – can show you how. Combine volunteering with short courses that teach you how to grow food, adopt solar energy and reduce, reuse and recycle. Accommodation in the ancient village costs €27 a night for a 1-2 week break.

Do more with Boundless

Boundless members get free entry to top attractions, discounts on restaurants and savings on high-street brands plus dozens of other deals on holidays, experiences and more! If you're working or retired from the public sector or civil service and not yet a member, discover more about Boundless membership

You might also like