Volunteering holidays: How to best make a difference

1. LITTER-FREE LOMBOK. Australian environmental initiative 10 Pieces, in partnership with adventure tour operator World Expeditions, has been encouraging trekkers to pick up 10 pieces of rubbish a day on guided treks in Nepal and Bhutan since 2014. Reusable garbage bags are provided; trekkers bring gloves and hand sanitiser. This year there's a new eight-day trek (cost $1990) up Mt Rinjani, Indonesia's second-highest volcano at 3726 metres above sea level, followed by a few tropical days on Lombok's Gili Islands. See 10pieces.com.au

2. SAVE THE BEES COSTA RICA. Bees, butterflies and hummingbirds are responsible for pollinating three-quarters of the world's food crops and they're in trouble, thanks to a cocktail of causes from pesticide use to climate change. This seven-day trip (cost $3495) involves working with Earthwatch researchers in the mountains or on the coast of Costa Rica to study the threats facing the country's 400 species of native bees and 50 hummingbird species and planting "agroforests" (forests near agricultural land) to protect them. See au.earthwatch.org

3. CLEAN WATER THAILAND/CAMBODIA. This new 14-day trip for travellers over 50 is part of a new partnership between Bangkok-based The Bamboo Project and longtime volunteer placement service Global Volunteer Network. It combines the highlights of Thailand and Cambodia with seven days of community-based volunteering such as making clay water filters in Siem Reap and delivering them to villages lacking access to clean water. Trip cost: $US1397. See bamboo-gvn.org 

4. MARINE RESCUE ARNHEM LAND. Marine debris such as plastic and abandoned fishing nets ("ghost nets") kill more than 100 million marine animals every year and much of it washes up on the pristine beaches of East Arnhem Land in the Top End, where endangered sea turtles nest. On this nine-day trip (cost $1590) run by not-for-profit Naturewise Eco Escapes every August, volunteers work with Yolngu rangers from Dhimurru Aboriginal Corporation, beachcombing to remove debris then cataloguing it back at remote bush camps. See naturewise.com.au 

5. BUILDING SCHOOLS VIETNAM. Continuing a project begun in 2015, where volunteers helped to build and repair school buildings in a Muong village outside Hanoi, northern Vietnam, this 15-day trip run by Community Project Travel, a not-for-profit division of World Expeditions, involves helping local experts build new toilet blocks at the school. After four days of volunteering, the trip switches to travel mode to experience Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City. Trip cost: $2990. See worldexpeditions.com 

6. RESORT ENGLISH POLAND. On these trips, which range from three to 10 days, volunteers stay for free at high-end resorts and hotels in Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic or Romania, in exchange for helping locals (mostly professionals, who also stay at the resorts) practise their English. There's no formal teaching; it's all about conversation, taking advantage of resort facilities such as swimming pools and tennis courts to make learning English fun and interactive. Trips are open to native English speakers from seven countries including Australia, no teaching qualifications required. See angloville.com 

7. CROWD CONTROL TURKEY. Conservation Volunteers Australia has been providing volunteers for the Anzac Day commemorative services at Gallipoli since 2006. The 14-day trip (cost $5990 including return airfares) involves helping visitors in a variety of ways on April 24 and 25 while minimising their impact on this historic site. An extensive travel program is included, covering the coastline around Anzac Cove and ancient Greek cities such as Ephesus. (The 2017 trips won't include any activities in Istanbul, in line with DFAT travel advice.) Applications close September 30. See gallipolivolunteer.org.au

8. SOCIAL IMPACT DOMINICAN REPUBLIC. Carnival's newest cruise brand, Fathom, began offering "social impact cruises" from Miami to the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean in April this year. The seven-day cruises aboard the 704-berth MV Adonia include on-board activities to prepare volunteers en route then three hands-on days in the DR, helping at a women's chocolate-making cooperative, for instance, planting trees, re-flooring homes or teaching English. Trips start at $US499. See fathom.org 

9. MUSIC PRACTICE PALESTINE. Irish NGO Music Harvest sends volunteer musicians from around the world to teach music at Nablus on the West Bank, about 60 kilometres from Jerusalem. The program includes a two-week stay for non-musicians every summer (August 5-19 in 2017) that involves working with children on art, dance, sport and other projects in line with the volunteers' skills. Trips cost €1700, participants meet in Tel Aviv before travelling to Nablus together and applications close in December. See musicharvest.org 

10. MAMMAL MONITORING VICTORIA. To offset Australia's mammal extinction crisis and restore our desert ecosystems, just as reintroducing wolves has revived Yellowstone National Park in the US, Conservation Volunteers Australia's new Rewilding the Desert program aims to re-establish populations of native species such as western quolls and bilbies in the wild. Four-day mammal monitoring programs in Victoria's desert national parks and Greater Grampians region allow volunteers to get involved (trips start at $615), with accommodation in a private nature lodge on a conservation reserve. See naturewise.com.au