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Travel for a Change as a Volunteer Abroad

Volunteering abroad is your chance to make a positive impact in the world while learning about your host community. Where do you want to travel for a change as a volunteer?


Allison Yates

Volunteer Programs Director


Connor Cargill

Volunteer Programs Coordinator

Why Greenheart Travel?

We’re your personal cheerleaders as you navigate the unpredictable joys, surprises, and challenges of life abroad. With unrivaled support and guidance, we give you the tools to make sure you’re more than a tourist, you’re a world citizen. You don’t just travel for the sights, you travel for a change!

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Greenheart Travel’s volunteer abroad programs have specific start dates depending on the program destination. See below to learn more about application deadlines, available discounts, and scholarship opportunities.


Volunteer Abroad Program Deadlines:


Our volunteer in Costa Rica and Sri Lanka programs have varying deadlines and program start dates. While we suggest submitting an application 8 weeks in advance to the departure date, please note the summer months fill up quickly and it’s best to reserve your spot on the program as early as possible.

May 15, 2020

Deadline to apply to volunteer in Sri Lanka on our exclusive teen group summer start date.

Monthly Deadlines:

Deadlines to apply to volunteer in Costa Rica are on a monthly basis. Please note the summer months fill up quickly and we advise submitting up to 12 weeks in advance to secure your spot.

CCI Greenheart Host Family Discount:

Families who have hosted a student through CCI Greenheart in the United States are eligible for the following program discounts. Programs must start within 12 months of the last date of hosting a student.

Hosted one semester or less:

$100 discount on a Teen Volunteer Abroad Program

Hosted one full semester or longer:

$200 discount on a Teen Volunteer Abroad Program

The decision to send your teenager abroad can be difficult and there are a lot of questions to consider. We understand your concerns and the Greenheart Travel staff is there for you every step of the way! Here are some of the common questions we get from parents as they consider the program.

What does it mean to be in good mental health in the program eligibility requirements?

Moving to a new culture and staying in unfamiliar surroundings without your normal support structure can be very stressful, even to a well-adjusted student. Sending a student with pre-existing conditions on an exchange program could exacerbate whatever challenges the student was previously facing. In order to ensure the safety of our participants, we must be rigorous in our pre-screening of all applicants.

Therefore, we may not be able to accept students who have struggled with any kind of mental illness within the last 2 years and/or are reliant on medication to address their existing mental health condition.

These include, but are not limited to:

  • Depression
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Debilitating anxiety
  • Eating disorders

If the student’s mental health issue has been resolved (post-medication) for over 2 years, we will ask for a note from his/her relevant practitioner (psychologist, therapist, psychiatrist, etc) as part of the application process.

Can my child apply with a friend/family member?
Absolutely! We are happy to accept families, friends and groups.

Will my child need to get any vaccinations prior to departure?

When traveling to any destination, make sure their routine vaccines are up to date. Try to schedule an appointment with your doctor 4-6 weeks before they depart for the trip. These vaccines include measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus vaccine, varicella (chickenpox) vaccine, and a yearly flu shot. The CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends that they also get the Hepatitis A & B and Typhoid vaccine.

Are there fundraising opportunities or scholarship offered by Greenheart Travel for this project?

All funds will have to be provided by you; however we do highly recommend fundraising! Read our guide for fundraising. Many past participants have had success using these resources, including Jaime who wrote a wonderful blog about her unique fundraising efforts. We also just published a 3-Part Fundraising Series and did a webinar about our favorite fundraising tips and published an accompanying blog post.  Don’t forget to check out our scholarship page for available scholarships.

Are there group flights? Do I book my child’s flights or does Greenheart Travel?

No. All students fly individually to their destination, and you are responsible for flights. They are not included in the program fee. (We encourage parents and students to watch this webinar together.)

Does Greenheart Travel book flights or give flight discounts?

No. Greenheart Travel cannot book your flights for you and we do not offer any discounts on flights.

When should my child arrive in the country?

Each program has specific arrival and departure windows for all students. Please refer to each program’s page for more information.

Who picks my child up from the airport?

All program fees include an airport pick up and drop off by an on-site staff member or approved and vetted representative. Students receive detailed information about the airport transfer prior to arrival.

Should my child fly using an unaccompanied minor service?

Greenheart Travel does not recommend this service. The “additional” services advertised by the airlines are already provided to all travelers. At any time, a student can ask an airline’s professional for help finding their gate or for connecting flight information, and most of our high school students successfully fly independently. If you would like the peace of mind this service provides, Greenheart Travel offers self-empowering alternatives (such as reviewing airport maps, mapping connections, etc.) that we believe teach teenagers relevant life skills about traveling independently.

What happens if my child gets sick or injured abroad?

They will be covered by mandatory health insurance. You will receive a policy brochure and insurance card via email 2 weeks prior to their departure. Our partners at the volunteer project will also be in contact with us notifying of any illness or medical needs that we would immediately communicate with you if anything were to happen.


How can they contact friends/family from home?

While Skype is the best option as a free service, a second option for slow internet connection is to get a local phone card and call from the host family’s home or volunteer house. Keep conversations to a minimum, around 10 minutes, and make sure your child asks permission before using the phone to make sure the family isn’t expecting a call. Another option is to purchase a local prepaid SIM for your unlocked phone to keep in touch. Local phones can be purchased at the airport for as little as $25. We provide comprehensive information about your option in the program handbook your child will receive upon acceptance.


What if my child has an allergy/specific dietary requirement?

We can cater to vegetarian needs quite easily. Any other specific diets should be discussed so we can make arrangements with the volunteer project and/or host family.

Does your high school require you to volunteer to meet graduation requirements? Are you applying to top colleges that are asking for your service learning experience? Once you are accepted on a Greenheart Travel program, you will be eligible to join our Greenheart Club!


The Greenheart Club is a great way to:


  • Track and present all your service-learning hours during and after your program
  • Earn rewards and project grants based on the number of service learning hours you record
  • Explore you host community, meet international friends and make a positive impact while abroad and when you return home


Once you are accepted on your Greenheart Travel  program, we’ll help you get started! In the meantime, get inspired by our alumni stories on our blog.



“While in Spain, I experienced many amazing things and I got the chance to volunteer through awesome organizations. My experience actually inspired me to major in international relations.” – Eleanor Brow, Greenheart Travel alum in Spain.


“It is a great feeling to know that I am able to make a difference. I have also had students tell me that I’ve made them realize how important studying in school and learning English is. I’m glad I was able to help these students and show them how much potential they have if they apply themselves. They are amazing people and I will miss them all when I return to the U.S.” Diana Freedman, Greenheart Travel alum in Italy


There are a so many factors to consider when choosing a volunteer abroad program. Below are a few ways Greenheart Travel can help make this planning process as stress-free as possible, and help make sure this is a successful and life-changing adventure!


Greenheart Travel is a Mission Driven Non-Profit

  • Greenheart Travel is a non-profit, mission based organizationcommitted to making a positive, long-lasting impact in the communities where we work.
  • We partner with local, grassroots non-profit organizations to create the most impactful program.


Personal Program Manager for Every Student

  • Greenheart Travel has a personal program manager for each student traveling abroad offering support from the time you or your child inquires to the time they return home, by someone you know by name.
  • Our staff is in Chicago and available to answer any questions during U.S. business hours.
  • You will receive friendly, responsive, and professional communication from staff that has actually volunteered abroad themselves.
  • Hands on support and personal attention every step of the way.
  • An experienced program manager will personally review your application to make sure this is the right program for you.


Global Community of Volunteers

  • As a Greenheart Travel volunteer, you will gain access to a community of alumni and current volunteers on the program, before you even leave!
  • Automatic enrollment in the  Greenheart Club
  • Being a Greenheart Travel volunteer alumni qualifies you to apply for a Greenheart Grant
  • Exclusive access to Greenheart Travel Alumni Program


Top-Notch Materials & Preparation

  • Extensive program handbook to prepare you for life abroad
  • Online pre-departure orientation with focus on cultural training
  • Destination-specific “Culture Smart! Guide Book


Don’t just take our word for it! Check out independent reviews from past participants of Greenheart Travel programs here.

Additionally, part of your program fee goes to a donation to support the Greenheart Odyssey, an award-winning leadership development program for under-served youth.

Committing to a volunteer abroad program is an exciting time, and we are here every step of the way to make the application process as simple as possible. Below are the 4 steps you’ll need to take to be accepted on a Greenheart Travel program.

Once you begin your application, you have two weeks to finish.

1. Start Your Application Here (Approximately 5 Minutes): Greenheart Travel Application.

2. Sign the Terms & Conditions (Approximately 10 Minutes): After you complete Part 1 of your application, you (and your parent(s) if you’re under 18) will be asked to read through and sign our Terms and Conditions which outline the requirements and policies of the program.

4. Submit your deposit (Approximately 5 minutes): You will need to submit your $300 deposit at this point in the process. A deposit is required in order to reserve your spot on the program and is subtracted from your total program fee.

5. Secondary Application Form (Approximately 30 Minutes): This is the most in-depth part of the application process as it helps us get to know you better. You will need to provide detailed information about yourself, why you want to volunteer abroad, and what you hope to gain from your experience.

6. Acceptance: Once you’ve completed all the steps, Greenheart Travel will thoroughly review your application and will contact you within 2-3 business days about your acceptance the next steps.

Payment Schedule

As for the payments, you will be required to pay a $300 deposit when you submit your application, and then a second $300 placement deposit will be due after your acceptance. The final balance of the program is due 35 days before departure. We do not deviate from this schedule and you can pay online via credit card.

After Applying, Now What?

Greenheart Travel will thoroughly review your application and will contact you within 2-3 business days to confirm your acceptance. If we find something in your application that we have concerns about, we will let you know immediately. 95% of applicants are accepted on the program they apply for.

Your program manager will be in touch with you directly about your acceptance. You should expect to receive an orientation packet via email, which talks more about your program, as well as supplemental information about dealing with culture shock and our insurance program. We will also schedule a pre-departure orientation to answer any lingering questions you may have.

Payment Schedule

You will be required to pay a $300 deposit when you submit your application, and then a second $300 placement deposit will be due after acceptance. Both of these deposits go towards the total program fee, they are not additional.

The final balance of the program is due 35 days before departure. We do not deviate from this schedule and you can pay online via credit card.

Want to chat with us about the program? Set up a phone chat with us here:

Not sure where to start?

Be put in touch with a program expert who can guide you through the process.