Live a wilder life

Career Breaks

Have you always wanted to travel, but never had the chance to? Or learn a new language? Just take a break? Have a once-in-a-lifetime adventure? 

Have you always wanted to help change the world? 

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, a career break sounds like exactly the thing you need. Whether you’re passionate about wildlife or marine conservation, climate action, or sustainable environmental practices, we’re committed to work that makes a positive – and measurable – impact on the coastal and terrestrial habitats and ecosystems all around us. 

Take a break, join a cause, travel the world – and make a difference.

Critical science

Critical science

You'll contribute to vital conservation research targeted at protecting the earth's most valuable ecosystems.
Ethical engagement

Ethical engagement

Using the UN's SDGs as a framework, we've made a commitment to positive, constructive and sustainable impact.
Beautiful adventures

Beautiful adventures

You'll spend your days exploring some of the world's most breathtaking, exhilarating and remote wildernesses.

What are career breaks all about?


A career break is a period of time when someone chooses to pause or leave their career to pursue something new. Career breakers are usually either unfulfilled at work, or still enjoy their job but would rather be doing something different for a while. A career break is a chance to get out there and see the world without a time restriction.

With a career break, you have the freedom to do the things you’ve been meaning to do, but haven’t yet found the right time or opportunity.

Some people who still enjoy their jobs but want to take time off to pursue other passions may take a sabbatical instead of a career break. What’s a sabbatical? Sometimes sabbatical and career break are used to mean the same thing. But generally a sabbatical is taken when your employer has agreed to let you return to your job after an agreed-upon amount of time. Sabbaticals are mostly unpaid.

What can you do in your career break?

While some career breakers use this free time to start new business adventures, try their hand at freelancing, or further their studies, many decide to remove themselves completely from what they already know, and go travelling instead.

By volunteering abroad during your career break, you get to travel, see more of the world, and make an impact at the same time. You could immerse yourself in a different culture, discover an unknown passion, or even learn a new skill and embark on a new career path once your career break is over. 

The prospect of leaving everything you’re used to behind, and taking a career break to volunteer and travel, can be equal parts exciting and nerve-wracking. But the impact you make, and skills you learn as a volunteer will make it all worth it.

How to choose a volunteer program

With so many options available to you when it comes to volunteering, it can be pretty overwhelming to decide which areas you want to make an impact in. 

First, it’s important to think about things you’re passionate about and go from there. Do you want to work on wildlife conservation in Africa? Environmental restoration in South America? Elephant rehabilitation in Thailand? Whatever you decide to do, if you’ve stayed true to yourself and your passions, you can be sure that you’ll play a significant role in making an impact in areas that really matter. GVI’s volunteer programs focus on the following: 

Wildlife conservation

Become a wildlife conservation volunteer and help preserve our world’s most wonderful – and most vulnerable – habitats.

Marine conservation

Help restore damaged marine ecosystems, protect endangered marine species, and ultimately contribute to the overall health of both marine and terrestrial environments.

Animal care

Work with animals such as elephants and turtles and make a direct impact on the conservation of these endangered species by providing options of alternative livelihoods to local communities.

Community development

Gain practical experiences across a range of initiatives in educational enrichment, public health awareness, women’s empowerment, and sustainable environmental practices.

GVI operates in countries all around the world. So whether you’re looking for a tropical island experience or a mountainous countryside to spend your career break abroad, GVI has got you covered. We work across five continents:

How old do I have to be to take a career break?

Career breaks aren’t just for those people who have been working for over 20 years. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been in the working world for, whether you’re 20 or over 50, you can take a gap year or career break at any point in your professional life.

Is GVI’s work ethical? 

GVI is an organisation that is committed to upholding ethical best practices. All GVI programs and staff are governed by our ten ethical principles and five human empowerment principles and our actions against oppression. Our badge of ethics reflects our pledge to continuously reflect on and improve our policies and practices. 

Across all our work in education, youth programs, women’s empowerment, public health, community development, and sustainable solutions, our actions are guided by local organisations with roots in the community, on the ground team members who monitor and maintain ethical standards and practises, and an ongoing effort to ensure our work remains inclusive and equitable.

How long can I volunteer during my career break?

You can choose to volunteer from anywhere between 1 week to 6 months.  

Will I get paid to volunteer during my career break?

No. Volunteers on a career break will still have to pay the usual volunteering program fees with GVI. 

So why pay to volunteer? By contributing to a project as a paying volunteer during your career break, you are helping to support communities, and ensuring that programs are efficient and beneficial in the long run. You are also investing in your own training and development, so you can continue making an impact in the world long after you’ve finished your program.

Who will I be volunteering with?

Volunteers with GVI come from all around the world, and therefore have a range of different backgrounds and cultural beliefs. You will more likely than not find yourself leaving your career break volunteer experience with new life-long friendships.

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