All Kinds of Volunteer Abroad Experiences!
Being a full-time volunteer abroad is unlike any other job you will ever have, and you must be willing to work as hard as any employee of your host organization for little or no benefit other than the satisfaction of helping those in need. As such, it is vital that you choose the program/type of work that is right for you, and that you commit to a feasible amount of time.
On a quick sidenote - perhaps you have never volunteered before and would like to give it a try closer to home first. If you live in the United States and are interested in getting involved with sports, then look into recreational sports job opportunities section for starters.
Short-term volunteer programs are typically measured in weeks, with stays averaging between 4-12 weeks. More than tour programs, these short-term projects are ideal for groups of young travelers with time off from university, or even travels on a year-long trek looking to spend a significant amount of time volunteering as they make their way around the world. Virtually all of the big agencies named above have projects in this timeframe, and many find it a popular and less expensive choice.
Many long-term volunteer programs operating on a rotating, three month calendar, and expect volunteers to commit for 3-12 months. The three-month minimum may seem long, but if you consider the amount of time it takes not only to become acclimated to your work, but also the language and culture of your host country, three months could be considered too short a period of time to feel fully comfortable. However, there are many projects which can be completed successfully in the three month timeline.
JobMonkey Editor's Note - You don't have to go abroad to find interesting volunteer opportunities. There are Outdoor Volunteer Jobs available in U.S. national parks and forests. Learn about them in our Outdoor Jobs section.
Many people who want to volunteer but can't afford to lose their income for extended amount of time have found 2-4 week volunteer projects abroad that suit their needs. The short-term volunteering (dubbed 'voluntourism') industry is on the rise, and most programs focus on the completion of a specific task in the set time period (building a home, for example). The large majority of these programs, however, are focused more on vacation and travel than on the work itself, but they offer an nice (if not pricey) alternative to leaving your home country for six months or more.