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?


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.


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


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


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

From Our Blog

Volunteering with Lions – What You Should Know

This is a guest post written by Sarah Dyer of Voice4Lions.   So you love lions? Me too! Learning about how desperate a situation our lions are in nowadays, who would not want to try and do something they felt would improve their situation? People have many reasons for...

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Introducing the Sidekick Manifesto

This is a guest post from Shawn Humphrey which was first published on his own website.   “Here’s your check and there’s the parking lot.”  That’s how one civically-engaged college campus responded to my talk on global poverty. Ouch. It stung.  And, on my lonely walk...

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Understanding our Role as a Volunteer

This is a guest post by recent graduate and volunteer Natalie. From quite a young age I knew that I wanted to travel, see the world and meet new people, and I also knew that I wanted to “make a change” and help people that needed it. Being young, we often had quite a...

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