How Volunteer Vacations Work

Volunteer Vacations in Latin America

Latin America consists of Central and South America. This wide swath of land includes Mexico, multiple islands and the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. If you are particularly interested in volunteering to help with the environment, Latin America is the place to be.

Volunteering takes many forms. In addition to the type of work you can do in African countries and the United States, in Latin America you can also take a volunteer vacation to work on sports coaching, eco-tourism, environmental issues, media and technology training, and conservation [source: uVolunteer].

If you are interested in plant biology, plan a trip to the Amazon rainforest. It's estimated that 50 percent of all pharmaceutical medications taken today were first derived from plants [source: BBC]. On your volunteer vacation, you could work with an organization that is dedicated to preserving natural habitats and studying the health benefits of plants and trees. You can also contribute by helping communities learn about sustainable living through farming or money-generating cooperatives [source: VLA].

Because of its proximity to the world's oceans, Latin America also offers a wide range of oceanic volunteer opportunities. You can volunteer to work with research expeditions that study whales, dolphins, sea turtles or sharks [source: Oceanic Society].

Whether you only have one week to spare or six weeks of accrued time off, you are sure to find the right match for your allotted time and personal passions when planning a volunteer vacation. When you return, you can rest assured knowing you spent that time giving rather than simply spending.

Related HowStuffWorks Articles


  • AHS. "Volunteer Vacation Schedule 2009." 2009. (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • BBC. "Medicinal plants 'facing threat.'" BBC News. 01/19/08. (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • CNCS. "The Health Benefits of Volunteering: A Review of Recent Research." 04/2007. (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • " International Vacation Deprivation™ Survey Results." 2009. (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • Jennings, Rob. "Retired Parsippany cop will be paid $354,703 in unused time." The Daily Record. 05/02/09. (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • Lopez, Korina. "Katrina volunteers come to stay." USA Today. 01/14/08. (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • Oceanic Society. "Adopt a Dolphin." (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • Oceanic Society. "Research Expeditions." (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • RFBD. (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • Tree Frog Trading Co. "Adopt an Animal." (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • UNV. "Country Overview: UN Volunteers in the Central African Republic." 12/01/02. (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • UP. "Volunteer Africa Quests: Volunteer Abroad in Africa: 2-52 Weeks." (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • USDS. "How to Apply for the First Time (In Person)." (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • uVolunteer. "Volunteer Abroad in Latin America." (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • VLA. "Projects." (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • WFP. "Countries." (Accessed 05/03/09)
  • WHO. "HIV/AIDS epidemiological surveillance report for the WHO African Region: 2007 update." 2008. (Accessed 05/03/09)