A greater purpose

Career Breaks

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

Have you always wanted to contribute to meaningful change in 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 women’s empowerment and gender equality, eager to teach children, or interested in sustainable public health, we’re committed to community work that makes a positive – and measurable – impact. 

Take a break, contribute to sustainable change, travel the world – and make a difference.



Build a better world by contributing to vital, locally-led project work that strives for a more just and equitable future.


In line with the UN’s SDGs, we are committed to ethical and sustainable engagement with our local partners and communities.


Learn from the world’s most unique and significant cultures, in breathtaking remote locations.

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. Are you passionate about working with children? Women’s empowerment? Gender Equality? Global health? Education? Sustainability? 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.

Volunteer with children

Volunteering abroad with children is the perfect opportunity for career breakers who are passionate about making a positive impact on children’s futures. Volunteers don’t need to be skilled or have previous experience in working with children when joining one of our volunteering abroad programs. As a volunteer or intern with this program focus, you’ll support children through initiatives like educational enrichment and sports. You’ll also be working in public health awareness, women’s empowerment, as well as sustainable environmental practices.

It is important to note that GVI does not support orphanage volunteering. For more information, see our stance on orphanage volunteering. We also support ChildSafe, a global child protection initiative, and regularly review our comprehensive Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection policy. All staff and participants are required to complete a police background check before arrival on their chosen program, and on-site child protection training is provided once they arrive to volunteer. We also protect children from cyber and real-world threats by ensuring that our marketing material follows child protection best practices.

Women’s empowerment

Join staff and other GVI participants from around the world to learn about, and contribute to, women’s empowerment and gender equality initiatives in your chosen region. Each of these programs have goals aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (UN SDG) 5: Gender Equality

Volunteering on women’s empowerment initiatives is a great way to see the world, experience different cultures and contribute to a sustainable project that has positive long-term results.

If you are passionate about contributing to women’s empowerment through education, public health education and entrepreneurial initiatives, then this is definitely the project focus for you. You’ll gain real-world skills while making an impact and immersing yourself in the local language of whichever country you choose for your career break.

Some of the activities you can expect to be involved in during these women’s empowerment programs include educational workshops for girls at their schools, as well as professional skills development workshops or language classes for community members.

Public health 

Contribute towards advancing UN SDG 3: Good Health and Well-Being when you choose to take a career break abroad focusing on public health projects. 

Here you can contribute towards helping communities gain access to clean water, sanitation and vital information on health topics such as maternal health, HIV and AIDS awareness and proper nutrition practices. You can also contribute to water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) workshops. These are workshops that promote and support regular hand-washing and other hygiene practices that have the ability to improve the long-term health of youth and adults. 

GVI’s public health programs often attract career breakers that are skilled in the health industry, but it’s not a prerequisite. While previous experience is advantageous, it’s by no means necessary. Our public health programs are open to all career breakers from any background. 

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 four continents:



With a focus on women’s empowerment and gender equality, public health, teaching, sports and early childhood development, we run community based programs in Ghana, South Africa, Madagascar, Cambodia, Nepal, Thailand, Fiji, Costa Rica and Peru.

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 probably even find yourself leaving your career break volunteer experience with new life-long friendships.

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Up to 15% off when you book and pay by 31 July