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The Essential Guide to Volunteering Abroad

Learning Service offers a powerful new approach that invites volunteers to learn from host communities before trying to ‘help’ them. It’s also a thoughtful critique of the sinister side of volunteer travel; a guide for turning good intentions into effective results; and essential advice on how to make the most of your experience.

A must read for anyone considering volunteer tourism.

Elizabeth Becker

Author, Overbooked

A manifesto for doing good well, this is an indispensable book for anyone volunteering overseas.

Noam Chomsky

This is recommended reading for all those considering volunteering in a developing country.

Philip Goodwin

CEO, Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO)

The pedagogy of Learning Service is foundational to responsible travel.

Reed Harwood

Executive Director, Where There Be Dragons

Order the book now

This year, over ten million people will go abroad, eager to find the perfect blend of adventure and altruism. Volunteer travel can help you find your place in the world–and find out what you’re made of. So why do so many international volunteer programs fail to make an impact? Why do some do more harm than good?

US

Rest of the World

About Us

International volunteering has grown in popularity, and with so many people going abroad to “serve”, we worry that we are often forgetting a really important step: we have to learn before we can help. If we don’t research our options thoroughly, understand the context and culture of the communities we visit, and ensure that our skills and experience match the needs, volunteering can be wasteful, and at worst, cause a lot of harm.

We are promoting a movement of learning, designed to better prepare young people about to travel abroad for the first time, and travellers of all ages looking to give back through their time, with the skills and mindsets they need to be of “service”, not just for a few weeks on a volunteer trip, but for the rest of their lives.

Videos

We’ve produced an excellent video collection to give you more information. Check out some of the videos on responsible tourism here.

Library

Want to learn more about responsible volunteer travel, but don’t know where to start? We created a few guides to help!

Consultancy

The Learning Service Team offer bespoke trainings and consultancy to travel companies, schools and non-profit organizations. Find out more

From Our Blog

Volunteering Outside of Your Comfort Zone

Throughout your volunteer experience, you have the chance to determine to what degree you will integrate yourself into the local culture and to what degree the local culture will become a part of you. Though many volunteers live in luxury relative to local people,...

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Volunteering: How to Avoid Creating a Void

At Learning Service we talk a lot about how volunteering can sometimes create more problems than it solves. If volunteers are only providing band aid solutions then the underlying problem will persist and can even be perpetuated. For example, if volunteers build...

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“I have changed the way I look at volunteering abroad”

This is a guest post by International Development student Isabella Da Ruos, who shares her experience of volunteering abroad.   Millions of people travel overseas each year, some seeking a break from their busy lives, some for work and perhaps others as a means for an...

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