Volunteering holidays growing in popularity as parents prove gap years aren’t just for teenagers

Gap years aren t just for teenagers. These days it s as likely to be their parents who after a lifetime of sacrifice and school runs are waving goodbye to their kids setting off on new adventures. Travel based around volunteer work is increasingly popular whether it s prompted by retirement or a career change – and it doesn t have to involve a passport. If you re in search of wilderness and some of Britain s best landscapes – it s hard to beat the RSPB volunteer programme. You ll help with maintaining reserves, guarding nests, survey work or helping with visitors.

There are 43 reserves that arrange placements Centres including Haweswater in the Lake District and an island off the Orkneys. Accommodation is provided but you ll have find your own food and transport.

We have around 700 residential volunteers a year of every age and walk of life, says Jane Shah, of the RSPB. rspb.org.uk1

The National Trust also offers working holidays. While its family holidays get booked up far in advance, volunteer trips in term time are easier to secure. There s still time to help in the garden of Hughenden, Benjamin Disraeli s home in the Chilterns. A week will cost 155 to cover food and accommodation you ll get practical tuition in gardening and have plenty of time to visit other NT properties.

Call 0344 335 1291 for more details. The National Trust for Scotland runs popular Thistle Camps for around 85 a week. nts.org.uk/thistlecamps2

For further afield, there are websites offering posts abroad. Seal Rescue in Wexford has three-month placements, you ll contribute for food, but accommodation is provided.

Want to help with the maple syrup harvest in Canada?

Wwoofing a world-wide scheme that matches organic farms with volunteers can help you and you ll come back having survived minus 25 degrees. wwoof.ca4


  1. ^ rspb.org.uk (www.rspb.org.uk)
  2. ^ nts.org.uk/thistlecamps (www.nts.org.uk)
  3. ^ sealrescueireland.org (www.sealrescueireland.org)
  4. ^ wwoof.ca (www.wwoof.ca)

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