U18 Elephant and Wildlife - Volunteer Reviews

THAILAND

Read what our volunteers say about their time volunteering

Find out more about the Under 18 Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue project

Volunteer reviews (see below for parent reviews)

Alice – 2017

“I had an amazing time in Thailand and loved every second, Erin and Sarah where supportive but also gave us our space which allowed us to be independent. Accommodation was what I was expecting and not an issue for me as we weren't in our rooms much. I loved my time volunteering on this project, I found the first day fairly challenging but I quickly got used to working in the humidity, it's amazing getting to know the animals and their individual quirks. The trip is very rewarding and it was lovely seeing the animals enjoy themselves after you scrub their pool or clean their lake for the special projects. The days off were definitely needed and it was fun exploring Thailand a little more on those days.

What did you find most rewarding?
Watching the elephants Pin, Pun and the aunts jump in the lake after we cleared it from weeds.

What did you find most challenging?
First time doing harvest was challenging in the heat but the second one was a lot easier because i new exactly what to expect, and going back with a truck full of banana trees for the elephants is rewarding.

What advice would you give to others who areconsidering this placement?
It is an incredible experience however you should be prepared to work hard. If you love an want to help the animals this is the trip for you and it's awesome experiencing another country without parents.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
It looked reliable and the reviews where very persuasive

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Zach – 2017

“Amazing once in a lifetime experience. Even better than I imagined surrounded by a lovely community of people who all have the same passion for animals

What did you find most rewarding?
Harvest

What did you find most challenging?
Listening to the elephant talk about animal abuse

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Remember to bring lots of old clothes because they WILL get dirty, also bring lots of mosquito repellent

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Because the project seemed perfect and the company looked reliable, friendly and at a good value

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Madeleine – 2017

“What did you find most rewarding?
Knowing that it is volunteers like us that keep the center going and allow for the center to care for so many animals.

What did you find most challenging?
Lots of bugs. I got a lot of bug bites.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
If you really want to experience the culture of Thailand in its true form, it is a trip like this that will do it. On this trip you are not a tourist, you are one of the people so get ready to experience the food, labor, and accommodations that you are not used to.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
It wasn't like everything else out there. I wanted to volunteer, not just be a tourist which was something that was really different and unique.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Katey – 2017

“My trip to Thailand is definitely something I will never forget, it was hard work but rewarding. Looking after the animals knowing you are giving them better treatment than before they came to the centre makes the hard work worth it. I especially enjoyed working with elephants, doing a variety of activities and being hands on.

What did you find most rewarding?
I found working with the elephants most rewarding as hearing about their backstories makes you feel better knowing they have a better life now.

What did you find most challenging?
The long days, waking up at 5:30 and not finishing until 5pm was difficult but becomes routine.

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Know it will be hard work and it's not a holiday but it is worth it and I found it a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
They seemed experienced in what they were doing and gave lots support in preparing for the trip.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Amber – 2017

“The whole trip was absolutely amazing. Can’t wait to go again and would recommend POD to anyone wanting to volunteer. Team leaders were excellent and the application process was easy and clear. The website also gave clear info about the trip without having to look for it.

It was the best experience ever. You do have to get your hands dirty to make the most of it and join in with everything. All the volunteers at the project whether with the under 18 group or not are all friendly and most have the same views in helping animals. The aplication process is simple and easy and there is regular contact with the team leaders and you are never left in the dark or not knwoing what to do. Again this was the best experince and will definatly be going to the centre again aswell as volunteering through POD.

What did you find most rewarding?
When you finish a long hard days work and you can see how the animals benefit from everything you have done. (Not to mention feeding the elephants- that was extra special)

What did you find most challenging?
Harvest was the most challenging thing but was rather enjoyable ( my advice would be to team up with someone)

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Just go for it (sounds cheesy) and get stuck in. Just wear flipflops its alot easier than constantly getting wet trainers or boots from water and more often sweat). Dont forget to bring gloves.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer?
Pod has the best website around for infomation. All the info was sat there infront of you and u didnt have to look for it. Also they are very helpful on the phone to reassure parents of under 18s before you book it.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Kerry - 2017

“The U18 project in Thailand is an amazing experience and anyone considering it should definitely go for it because you won't regret it! The days are long and hot and work is hard but the people are great and atmosphere is amazing because everyone is enthusiastic and cares about the work they are doing !
Being able to help animals who have been through so much have a good life and be able to live as they were meant to is so rewarding and makes the work so
enjoyable.

What did you find most rewarding?
Seeing the wildlife and elephants being able to act like animals and not as tourist attractions is amazing! Watching the monkeys playing in the pool or the older elephants teaching baby Pin how to trumpet reminds you that your work at the centre is allowing them to live as naturally as possible after everything they've been through is what makes it worthwhile!

What did you find most challenging?
Dealing with heat and humidity was difficult for me but you get used it ! Just remember to stay hydrated!

What advice would you give to others who are considering this placement?
Do it! Traveling, meeting new people and doing work for a cause you care about is such an amazing experience! If animal welfare is something your interested in then you won't regret taking part in this project!”

Elizabeth – 2016

“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the wildlife care project. I learned so much about the animals there and the culture we were in plus the work we did at the placement was so worthwhile. The center had a really friendly, relaxed atmosphere and everyone in the group had become so close by end of the two weeks. I would really recommend this project to anyone wanting to help animals, explore new cultures and meet lots of amazing people.

What did you find most rewarding?
Working with elephants and exploring the culture

What did you find most challenging?
The week working on wildlife

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Keep clear of the monkey cages

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to your friends?
Yes. Had good projects for under 18s. Had an amazing time. Thank you very much!”

Kayleigh – 2016

“This trip was absolutely amazing, I am having Thailand blues, I am missing all the people that I met and it just wasn't enough time to get to know everyone on the site. Even though you travel with your group, you get to meet and speak to all the friendly coordinators and the other volunteers from across the world, you really feel included with everyone.

Time flies by when you are out in this beautiful country, you get 2 days off and they are both well organised and are lots of fun. We got to go to 2 night markets, spent a day at the spa (very relaxing!) And we even got to see elephants in the wild!

What did you find most rewarding?
The whole experience was unforgettable, working the long days showering and walking the elephants or feeding the gibbons (who enjoy grabbing people's hair) was just so rewarding.

It’s just knowing that you are taking part in this bigger picture, especially when you learn some of the animals’ tragic background stories but then, you can see the incredible improvements in the individual elephant or macaque or other wildlife.

What did you find most challenging?
What I found the most challenging was definitely the heat on the first day, and especially at night, the temperature hardly cools down, but you are usually tired from your long but very rewarding day that it does not cause much of an issue. I also struggled with the food a little bit (well just the rice really, that you were given 2 times a day), you just have to be willing to try lots of different foods.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
My advice would be make sure you bring with you and use a mosquito net every night because otherwise you will be bitten alive. I would also say take plenty of insect repellent and sun cream but that is pretty obvious!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to your friends?
Yes. It gave me the opportunity to volunteer abroad being under 18years old!”

Abi – 2016

“My placement was absolutely outstanding. Fantastic people - staff/coordinators and other volunteers, beautiful Country and a very exciting and rewarding centre to be volunteering at.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the placement, I loved working with the elephants for my first week and then all the other wildlife in the next, although I really wish we had more time there! 2 weeks just doesn't feel long enough. I would have definitely loved to have spent more time especially with the elephants as the work is very relaxed and you get to be up close and personal with some amazing and beautiful creatures! Wildlife is a bit more hectic than elephants as there's less staff and a lot more work to be done and sometimes we didn't finish on time for breakfast/lunch and the gibbons are probably my least favourite animals ever now as they do seem quite angry and tend to like grabbing peoples hair! Despite this I have loved my placement and will definitely consider coming back in a few years as it was worth every penny!

(James the otter and Pin and Pun the elephants were my favourite to work with because they were sooo cute!)

What did you find most rewarding?
Harvesting the banana trees is incredibly rewarding because you see exactly where all your hard work is going, but that's similar for all aspects of the placement, all the chopping of fruit and making banana balls or creating enrichment you see directly you are helping the elephants and other wildlife at the centre.

What did you find most challenging?
Harvest by a landslide was the hardest part of the placement, although despite the physically demanding work it was still enjoyable and swimming in the river after definitely made up for it.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Go for it! You'll meet lots of new people and hopefully life long friends, everyone's in the same boat as you so there's hardly any awkwardness. The centre and all of the staff are fantastic and the two weeks I was there were gone before I knew it! Just remember to bring lots of sun cream and a mosquito net!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to your friends?
Yes. It came up on my DofE page for abroad placements.”

Lily – 2016

“I really enjoyed my time at the centre and would definitely recommend the project. It is such a great opportunity for Under 18 year olds as it can be very difficult to find volunteering projects abroad for people so young. It was nice to have a relatively small group of people in the U18 group but I really liked the extent to which we could get to know the other volunteers at the centre as well.

I expected that the U18 group would be together the entire time, but in reality we saw each other at mealtimes and during free time, not so much during work. Each day the team you work on changes. The team size is about three to five and you're likely to have one or two other U18s with you. This gave me the opportunity to meet a real range of people from all over the world, as well as having the comfort of someone I knew slightly already.

What did you find most rewarding?
The most rewarding part of the experience was the feeling at the end of every day, knowing how much you had managed to achieve. Each day is long and quite tiring, as we would start work at 6.30 and finish at around 5, so it's a pretty rewarding feeling to have done so much! Also rewarding was seeing the truck stacked full of banana trees after a hard harvest and then being able to cool off in the river!

What did you find most challenging?
The most challenging part for me was trying to sleep in the heat whilst still trying to be covered enough to prevent mosquito bites. Being bitten seemed inevitable despite mosquito nets (which are not provided, so I would definitely recommend taking one) and lots of insect repellent spray. The heat during the day was more manageable, just remember to always put on plenty of suncream even if it looks cloudy.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
I would advice you to stop considering the project and just book it! As long as you like animals and are prepared to work hard, you'll really enjoy yourself.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to your friends?
Yes because they offer volunteering to 16 year olds.”

Kizzie – 2016

“A typical day at the centre would involve getting up and ready for 6:30 to start work, from 6:30 to 8 you would feed the animals. From 8 to 9 you would then have breakfast, after this you would work from 9 to 12 then from 12 till 1 have lunch. After lunch you would work from 1 till 5 and then relax for the rest of the evening.

What did you find most rewarding?
The most rewarding thing about the volunteering programme was actually doing things that were going to help the animals so it felt like you were really making a difference.

What did you find most challenging?
I found adapting to the heat in Thailand challenging as it was still very hot at night so it was difficult to sleep. I also found the food challenging as the meals are basic and all very similar so I got a bit bored of rice!

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement?
Be prepared to get stuck in, the work that you do when volunteering can be very demanding which can sometimes be difficult in the heat. Also be prepared to get very dirty as the centre is quite dusty so you never stay clean for long.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to your friends?
Yes, as it did a volunteer programme for under 18's”

Kaitie - 2015

"This trip was one of the most rewarding, eye-opening experiences of my life. For years all I've wanted to do was help animals. And I didn't feel like I was doing enough by just wanting to pursue it. In America, there are no decapitating rain forests, or animals that are truly part of the culture of our country; and frankly I belive that that causes us to think of endangered species and exotic wildlife as "out of sight, out of mind."

I was just one kid, but I went half way across the world to do something I was that passionate about; and in return found tons of other people coming together to do something amazing.

Every day you realize what an impact you're making in these animals lives as well as discovering things about cultures around the world. You learn the reality of animal abuse and tourism that the Western world is somewhat sheltered from, in hopes to start to reverse it.

I recommend and encourage anyone anywhere in the world to do this program and see the changed person they become.

What was a typical day at the Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue project? A typical day would probably involve getting up, meeting the crew and scattering to each of our assigned positions. Then the daily toast breakfast, and back to work. Of course feeding and water rounds and enrichments to every furry friend (as well as the likely pool scrub), until dinner time. Which do contain very different conversations than the dinner table back home. (In a good way!)

What did you find most rewarding? Feeling as though I was really making a difference in an animal's life. I was finally doing more than being a concerned spectator.

What did you find most challenging? Probably the lack of normality that comes with being in a foreign country. Although I think I needed that, it’s the challenges that you grow from… Except the weird toilets...! But there is not one thing I would change about this place.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Bring your own food. I suggest: peanut butter, tortillas, spreads, cheese, etc. Bring clothes to leave there. Don't over pack, you honestly wearing the same 3 pairs of everything. Keep an open mind, you’re in a developing world now.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? I think others should volunteer abroad because something somewhere is waiting to be discovered.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? I chose Pod because everything looked very professional and there was a lot of support for the under 18 group."

Amie – 2015

“The whole experience was amazing! I couldn’t of imagined it to be any better. Apart from maybe the mosquitos and feeling like the sun is cooking me, but that wasn’t too much of an issue as i had such a good time i didn’t even think about it. I would recommend this to anyone that wants to volunteer with animals but can work really hard when needed as some of the jobs could be found difficult to certain people.

Our group leader Becky was amazing, she was so fun and made everyone feel comfortable and relaxed from the day we met her. I really couldn’t imagine anyone better for the job, i wouldn’t change anything about the whole trip and I am definitely going back next year!

What was a typical day on the Under-18s Trip? 6:30 - Feed the animals. Then when we finished we would have our own breakfast and have a bit of spare time. 9 - Back to work for a while. Either cleaning enclosures, walking the elephants or washing the elephants. Sometimes there would be a harvest at 8:30 for people that were on elephants. 12 - Lunch 1 - Back to work for a few hours with a break in the middle then another few hours cleaning enclosures, feeding again, maybe walk or wash the elephants again and make treats for the animals. Work is normally finished around 4:30 on elephants and 5 on wildlife. 6/6:30 –Dinner When you finish dinner you have free time until you go to bed.

What did you find most rewarding? Knowing that you are helping all the animals that are there by volunteering.

What did you find most challenging? Personally, i found the harvest difficult because i have back pain so if you have an injury you should let the team know, but honestly even the harvest wasn’t too bad, just a tad hot.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Take a lot of mosquito repellent, drink as much water as you can and get to bed early or the next day you will feel drained.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Because it’s a great experience to discover other countries and cultures. You get to work with animals that you wouldn’t normally find anywhere near you and it’s great.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to others? Yes. They were the under 18's volunteer trip that i most liked the look of , and they seemed very organised and helpful! If you are doubting it at all.. STOP! If you go on this trip you will definitely not regret it!”

Harriet – 2015

“I thought that the trip was very well organised and communicated. The accommodation and food on site was above what I expected, and I had an amazing time on the placement.

I was nervous before going, because I wouldn't know any of the people and I was worried I wouldn't get along with anyone, but everyone on the trip was very friendly, in and out of the group. Both the staff and volunteers on site created a great and enjoyable atmosphere. I enjoyed working on both elephants and wildlife, as both were really rewarding and gave you the opportunity to get to know the centre better and how to care after the different wildlife.

What did you find most rewarding? I probably found giving the enrichments the most rewarding things because it was great to see how the animals reacted to giving something different. I loved giving the fruit ice cubes to the gibbons, as they kept licking them or chewing them and you could see that they enjoyed the treat. I also enjoyed seeing the elephants hunting for the corn decorations.

What did you find most challenging? I found working in the heat the hardest thing because I wasn't used to the humidity or climate and so it made some tasks more draining, but I got used to working in it fairly quickly.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Definitely do it, it was one of the best experiences of my life. I've met so many amazing people and it has changed my opinion on several things. Don't worry about the trip or the people and only pack clothes that you are willing to throw away. Don't have second thoughts because once you've done it you won't regret it.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? I think gaining a greater perspective of other cultures and issues being faced in that culture, provides a more rounded perspective on everyday tasks as well as greater issues. It places you out of your comfort zone and helps you discover how you truly feel about issues as well as how you act and think when around people and things that are relatively new to you.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer and would you recommend us to others? Yes! It appeared well organised and provided an entrance into volunteering abroad for U18's. It communicated all the info well and was very friendly.

Becky was a great team leader and I thought that without her the experience would not have been as amazing as it was. She was very patient and supportive and thought she couldn't have been any better.”

Ellie - 2015

"I found my time away a very rewarding experience as it was clear how valued our help was at the centre, even just for the couple of weeks that we were there.

I loved the hands-on element of working with the elephants and learning and working with species of animals that I'd never even heard of before.

Our placement manager, Becky, was really helpful when I was arranging the placement and during it. I always felt comfortable and assured that we were in safe hands.

What was a typical day on the Under-18s Trip? We would wake up at about 6 in the morning and get ready. For 6:30 we would go to the volunteer house to find out our role for the day - either which elephants we would be working with or which types of wildlife e.g. Primates, bears or nocturnals. Before breakfast all the animals have to be fed, banana balls have to be made for the elephants and a lot of fruit chopped for the other wildlife.

After breakfast we would clean out enclosures and compost in the elephant enclosures. If you're working with the elephants you may have to go on harvest, which starts at 8:30 and you have to carry banana trees in to a truck for the elephants to eat.

Work generally finished between 4 and 5 so there was plenty of time to socialise with the other volunteers at the centre and drink the amazing smoothies from the bar.

What did you find most rewarding? Working with so many different animals and feeling like we were making a difference to their lives but also meeting all the other volunteers and getting to know people from all over the world.

What did you find most challenging? Harvest! It was hard work during it but being able to jump in the lake afterwards made it seem worthwhile.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Be prepared to work hard and get sweaty! The heat takes a bit  of getting used to but as long as you have sun cream and a lot of water you should be fine. Make sure you like rice… there's lots of it!

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It's a great way to learn about different cultures and meet others with the same interests as you. It's also a good way to explore the world from a perspective other than a tourist's.

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? I didn't find many other organisations that offered an under 18 placement. I read a lot of reviews and they all seemed to be positive."

Katherine - 2015

"Despite there being a lot of hard physical labour, the wildlife trip for under 18s is one of the best experiences a 16/17 year old can have. You are in a strange new place without anyone you know, and while the Pod team ensures the entire trip runs smoothly and is available to answer any of your questions, you are forced to use your initiative and become highly independent, two vital skills for the "real world".

The working hours are long and the activities are not for the faint of heart -- carrying trees and watering cans, pulling carts up hills, scrubbing pools and cleaning enclosures in the hot sun -- but the sense of accomplishment and success you will feel is unlike any other experience.

The Thailand wildlife rescue project is, beyond doubt, the best thing I have ever decided to take part in, and I will treasure memories of it for a very long time to come.

What is a typical day on the Under-18s Trip? Work starts at 6:30a.m., typically making food for the animals and providing them with water. Breakfast when this is finished, then back to work at 9a.m. Cleaning out enclosures, crubbing pools, giving animals enrichment, etc. is all done before lunch.

After lunch, at 1p.m., more food is prepared, water is refilled, elephants are showered and walked, and more enclosures are cleaned. Work ends at around 5:30p.m. and volunteers then have the rest of the day to themselves.

Volunteers can visit the village, take trips to see the night markets and bat cave, or go to the spa in their free time. Dinner is served at 6:30, and there are frequent bar nights where volunteers and staff can socialise before bed.

What did you find most rewarding? The sight of a scrubbed-and-rinsed pool after you've spent a good 15 minutes on your hands and knees scrubbing away grime.

What did you find most challenging? I found the many "water rounds" you do when you work with the primates the most challenging. You have to carry two heavy watering cans a considerable distance into the "forest" area of the centre, as well as around every primate enclosure within and around the forest, stopping to fill up every animal's water bucket. When working in a particular group, this has to be done five times a day.

What advice would you give others considering doing this placement? Bring the essentials -- the centre does not provide much, you will need hand soap, towels, shampoo, as well as any food items (especially breakfast) you eat regularly (you can't buy things like peanut butter, nutella and baked beans in the village).

Read the brochure before you even think of coming on the trip. You need to know exactly what you will be doing, otherwise you'll get the surprise of your life when you arrive and will want to leave early.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? You gain a sense of independence, as well as being able to learn about another country's culture -- rather than staying in a hotel in a tourist area, you will be in the middle of the "real" country, so you will gain a better understanding of what the country is like while you work. And since you can't go home every day after work, it still feels like a holiday!

Why did you choose Pod Volunteer? It is the most reliable company and provides the most information about the available trips. It is not involved with faux sanctuaries and does not put a "volunteer" stamp on holiday trips, e.g. going on a safari and staying in a 5* hotel, which many companies do. Pod is genuine and gives everyone the opportunity to take part in a great experience."

Steph – 2014

“I can honestly that the Thailand Under 18’s Wildlife Rescue trip was the experience of a lifetime, providing me with incredible memories that I will never forget. I got more out of the trip than I ever expected and by the end realized that I loved being at the rescue centre so much I would rather have stayed there than come home!

Being 17, the thought of going on my first solo trip abroad was pretty daunting so having the support of my Pod leader and the other people on the Under 18’s trip was incredibly helpful and I hope I have made friends for life.

I didn’t go on the trip expecting it to be a glamorous lifestyle and it wasn’t, but it was all part of the experience and I wouldn’t change any of it.

What is a typical day at the project? My typical day was wake up at 5:30am to have a cold shower as there was 5 other people in our room. We would be out working by 6:30am and then come in for breakfast around 7:30am to 8:00am. This gave us more than enough time to have breakfast before going back out at 9:00am to work until lunch which was served at 12pm.

Work then started again at 1pm until 5pm. If you are with elephants some days you will either do banana harvest at 9 or pineapple harvest usually at 1ish, but this is not all bad as you can go swimming in the nearby river afterwards which is really fun. After 5 most people had a cold shower and cleaned up for the evening, where apart from dinner being served at 6:30pm time is completely your own. Evenings usually involved chatting with other volunteers, playing games, going into the local village or going to bar night.

What did you find most rewarding? For me the most rewarding part of the trip was knowing that I was helping make a difference in the animal’s lives. You soon learn the past of the animals and when you think that the money you paid to volunteer is going toward healing them mentally and physically you feel privileged to be working with them. The hands-off policy is really important in my eyes because they are wild animals, and wild animals are not meant to want hugs and kisses, it is much more enjoyable seeing them act as they would in the wild. It also lovely seeing the elephants finally being cared for in their retirement and I couldn’t be happier to have been a part of their recovery.

What did you find most challenging? At first the most challenging thing was working in 30ᵒC, but if you just work through it, drink lots of water and you wear loose, cool clothing you soon get used to it. It also can be quite hard to getting up that early in the morning as well as dealing with the time difference but that’s only to begin with.

Overall however I think the hardest thing for me was leaving and coming home because you can get really used to the rescue centre lifestyle and going back to reality that is far less exciting, is much tougher than I would have ever expected.

What advice would you give to others considering this project? Firstly, I would say bring lots of clothing as things do get very dirty, I find mid-thigh shorts were the best thing to wear while working even though you need some long ones to wear on harvest and in the evening, but also have clothes which dry quickly so you can wash them easily. Plenty of money is also a good idea so you can buy things at the night markets. And finally go with an open mind and take part in as much as possible as that's the best way to really make the most of your experience.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? Volunteering is a fantastic way of putting your time and effort toward a good cause. It is also a great way to escape and experience new things, and make new friends from around the world. I have never had a more fulfilling experience.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! I found that Pod offered the trip best suited to me, as the Under 18's trip provided me that bit extra support throughout the process which was extremely valuable.”

Callum – 2014

“My experience was amazing Erin my team leader could not have been more helpful and was a credit to the company in many ways. One of these was how a week before we were due to leave she managed to get us into the elephants project for no extra cost which really made the trip .The activity that she also organised for us several trips where they were all amazing and well organized.

What is a typical day at the project? A typical day would be waking up at 6am to be ready for 6:20am.You would then have to walk to volunteer house for 6:30am which is where you would then meet your team for day. Normally you then work till half seven before eating breakfast . Then there was an hour and a half break before then going back to work and working from 9 till about 11:30 most days. There was then normally a hour half break again to have lunch in and relax before then working from 1 till around 5. Then would dinner at around 6:30 then rest of evening was yours to choose how to use it whether going village or sitting with other volunteers.

What did you find most rewarding? Bathing the elephants

What did you find most challenging? Waking up in the morning

What advice would you give to others considering this project? It’s not a holiday it hard work make sure that you know what you have let yourself in for.

Why do you think others should volunteer abroad? It allowed for me to have holiday but still be feel like I was doing something till help someone else.

Why did you choose Pod and would you recommend us to others? Yes! First one on the internet but I'm glad I chose it”

Parent reviews

Mary - 2017

“Lena very much enjoyed her trip and it has confirmed for her that she would like to pursue the study of animal science in university. This trip satisfied Lena's requirement for her D of E residential trip. Although it was a very far destination, Lena was well cared for and she learned a lot. The training, work, guidance, fun, and overall care was excellent. Besides the work, the trips that she was able to go on with the group helped her to see some other aspects and sites in the country. Lena would recommend this trip for sure!

What advice would you give other parents considering sending their child to volunteer overseas?
Go for it!

What did you like most about Pod Volunteer?
The children are well cared for, but there is also an expectation that they complete specific daily tasks, and for their age, this is a good preparation for their future working life.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes Thank you Sarah and Erin!!!”

Jason – 2017

“The experience for our son Zach was positive on every front. From the first morning waking to the sounds of monkeys and birds to his last evening spent with the team, each day brought something new and valuable skills and experiences to him.

What advice would you give other parents considering sending their child to volunteer overseas?
Look very carefully at vaccination s costs. They are a substantial, additional portion of total costs.

What did you like most about Pod Volunteer?
The structure of the planning stage was thorough and well presented to volunteers and patents. The feedback about Pod generally from our child was very positive.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Cathie – 2017

“My daughter was treated as a young adult throughout the experience from interviews to confirmation of acceptance to travelling, working and returning home. Zoos kept us just in the loop to ensure it was her experience and not ours, but kept us comfortable with what was happening at all times. Would highly recommend Pod for other U18 volunteers and their families.

What did you like most about Pod Volunteer?
My daughter was the one experiencing this adventure and the focus was on her enjoying it without worrying, and giving us confidence to let it all just happen

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer?
Yes. Thank you for making us all feel comfortable with what was happening in what could be a scary thing to let your young adult "go it alone" without parental guidance, but with a safety net to catch them if anything was to go wrong”

Liz – 2017

“As a parent of a young independent teenager who does not have world wide experiences in travelling, I was initially very anxious about her desire to volunteer abroad. After researching the internet, I felt happier with her plans to gain experience with Pod Volunteers as it was aimed at the 16-18 age group. I definitely appreciated that I was involved in the process in organising her travel and welcomed the links to arrange her travel insurance and flight plans.
Sarah, the Pod Voluteer organiser also contacted me and we were able to discuss Katey's character, what she liked to do, eat and how she interacted with others. I took this opportunity to ask questions which I felt pertained to Katey as an individual and was reassured by Sarah that Katey would be looked after and have a great experience

What advice would you give other parents considering sending their child to volunteer overseas?
Definitely try Pod Volunteers, as I felt that my child was safe and cared for throughout the. 2 weeks she was away. I was glad they emailed updates and sent photos.

What did you like most about Pod Volunteer?
Organisational skills are brilliant

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes”

Tracey – 2016

“I am very impressed with the organisation before the trip and the communication we received while our daughter was away. The booking system, advice and support (before and during the trip) for us and our daughter cannot be faulted.

Our daughter was travelling without anyone she knew but the communication via email and the pre-trip telephone call left me in no doubt she would be able to enjoy the experience of independent travel but with Pod's support if needed.

I would definitely use this company again and have/would happily recommend them to other families.

What advice would you give other parents considering sending their child to volunteer overseas?
If you have any questions or doubts speak to the Pod team and they will alleviate any concerns.

What did you like most about Pod Volunteer?
Professional, efficient, excellent communication with parents and volunteers.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer?
Yes. A massive thank you to Becky and Erin for all the hard work you put into giving my daughter memories she will treasure for a lifetime”

Karen – 2016

“Pod volunteer is a great way for a young person to feel adventurous, take responsibility for the organisation of a trip whilst having a 'safety net' in place. This really gave me the confidence to allow my daughter to take the bold step of travelling independently for the first time. There was just the right amount of contact from Pod to reassure me that my daughter would be safe and able to access help and support should she need it. She had the most amazing time and I would thoroughly recommend Pod volunteer to other families.

What advice would you give other parents considering sending their child to volunteer overseas?
Providing your child is independent and fairly confident, allow them to go, you won't regret it.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer?
Yes. Erin and Becky were fantastic, did a great job in organising the trip and provided a trip of a lifetime for my daughter.”

Jacky – 2016

“The POD team were very helpful, friendly and professional throughout the experience. They put us at ease from the first communication and were always on hand in the run up to the project.

Whilst Abi was on the trip the regular updates and photographs were so nice to receive and made the experience as a parent much less daunting. My daughter was full of praise for Erin, her leader and I would recommend this company highly to any other parents.

What advice would you give other parents considering sending their child to volunteer overseas?
Use podvolunteer

What did you like most about Pod Volunteer?
The personal communication and professionalism

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer?
Yes. Thank you very much for the high quality experience you provided!”

Ian – 2015

“From the initial planning to the end of the placement we found POD was excellent. We had confidence in letting our daughter travel to the other side of the world and that she would be cared for. The existence of a tour leader was our reason for allowing her on the U18 trip.

What advice would you give other parents considering sending their child to volunteer overseas? Check for the quality of the trip and make enquiries about the Company involved and its reviews.

What did you like most about Pod Volunteer? The care taken to look after my daughter.

Would you recommend Pod Volunteer? Yes. Thank you everyone involved and look forward to our next trip”

Liz - 2015

"When Ellie announced that she wanted to do some volunteering abroad, I advised her to do some careful research. Straight away, Pod Volunteer stood out as being an ethical, well-run company. We weren't disappointed. The initial telephone conversations and the comprehensive website gave all the right information and asked all the right questions of us. Once we had decided to go ahead, there was timely information on what needed to be organised and when.

Ellie had a fantastic time, one she will never forget. She made new friends, and had her eyes opened to other cultures. It was hard work and she spent a lot of time exhausted and covered in mud, and it may be a while yet before she can eat rice or bananas again!

Ellie would do it again at the drop of a hat.

As a parent I was never concerned about her well-being while she was away and the regular updates from Becky, the group leader gave a good overview of what was going on at the camp.

Overall, a well organised, safe, life enhancing, value for money trip. Thank you to all the team!

What advice would you give other parents considering sending their child to volunteer overseas? It's not a holiday. If your child has an interest in helping animals and having new experiences and making new friends, they should do it

What did you like most about Pod Volunteer? The good organisation, but also not wrapping the kids up and allowing them to really get on with it all."

Louise - 2015

"As a parent I would highly recommend Pod. They are a very organised company which put my mind at rest completely. We were given a huge amount of information prior to the trip so were made well aware of what was involved. I received regular emails from Becky who answered any questions I had.

The whole trip ran smoothly as it takes place annually. I felt completely happy with all the plans in place. My daughter had a brilliant time working at the sanctuary. She is extremely shy but was put completely at ease by Becky.

Whilst the children were volunteering, the parents were kept in touch via emails and photos on a regular basis. It was lovely to see these. The voluntary placement is definitely very worthwhile if your child is interested in a career working with animals. My daughter wants to be a wildlife vet so it was perfect for her. This is the second time she has travelled with Pod Volunteer.

Were there any aspects of the placement or process which you would like to see improved? I was extremely happy with all aspects.

What advice would you give other parents considering sending their child to volunteer overseas? It is a very worthwhile experience for your child. My daughter has become more mature and confident since returning from the placement.

What did you like most about Pod Volunteer? Knowing that my daughter would be completely safe traveling with Pod Volunteer as she was accompanied from the UK. Other companies do not offer this.

I would highly recommend volunteering with Pod."

Lou – 2014

“When my daughter asked me if she could go to volunteer at an animal sanctuary in Thailand I was so anxious. The website for Pod looked extremely professional and there was a great deal of positive feedback. They also had a special trip just for under 18 year olds. This made me decide to go with them. After contacting Erin and receiving the Volunteering Guide I felt so much happier. The whole process was superb.

My daughter had a wonderful two weeks working in Thailand. It was hard work but she was well aware of this before she signed up. She wants to be a wildlife vet so she knew that she would gain invaluable experience. I was kept updated all the way along from first booking until arriving home safely. Erin was lovely and my daughter was completely at ease with her. It was great that Erin flew to Thailand and back with her. Other companies expect the volunteers to fly to the country alone.

What advice would you give to other parents considering sending their child to volunteer overseas? I would definitely recommend sending them with Pod. They are extremely well organised. I was really anxious when my 16 year old daughter said that she wanted to go to Thailand. Erin was on hand via email or telephone to answer any questions I had. I was kept fully informed on how my daughter was getting on when she was away and it was lovely to see photos too!

What did you like most about Pod? Everything was so well organised. It put my mind at ease. Erin answered all of my questions quickly and thoroughly. She kept in touch with me before and during the trip so that I felt completely in the loop. Thank you Erin for all your hard work!

Thank you so much to Erin and everyone at Pod for making my daughter's first overseas experience special. Katie had an absolutely wonderful time there and you were a big part of that. I am delighted that her first experience abroad without her family has been so fulfilling. I can’t thank you enough. I would highly recommend Pod and my daughter hopes to travel again with them next summer.”

Christine – 2014

“When Kathryn announced she wanted to volunteer abroad we were naturally apprehensive but were quickly reassured by the fact Kathryn would be accompanied. Erin was very helpful every time we rang with a query and the information provided was sufficiently comprehensive to ensure we did not have to ring too often. We were also happy that the volunteers were put in touch with each other before the trip.

Whilst there Kathryn was initially unsure if she could cope and Erin was very kind, supportive and encouraging to Kathryn and reassuring to us her parents. We were very impressed with the overall organisation of the trip and the care and attention given by Erin.

Kathryn really enjoyed the experience when she had settled in to it and we believe it has given her more confidence and independence. She loved working with the elephants. She enjoyed it so much she has already talked of wanting to return next year.

What advice would you give to other parents considering sending their child to volunteer overseas? Pod is the perfect organisation for your child as the organisation is very good and you can be reassured that your child will be looked after. It is a challenging experience but ultimately very rewarding.

What did you like most about Pod? The organisation the type of experience provided and the care and attention given by Erin and the other staff. We never felt anything was too much trouble and we can't thank Erin enough for that.”

Find out more about the Under 18 Elephant Care & Wildlife Rescue project

AWARDS AND ACCREDITATIONS

  • Tourism Concern
  • Association of Bonded Travel Organisers Trust
  • Right Tourism
  • DOFE
  • theguardian
  • the independent
  • Sunday Times
  • Year Out Group
  • Best Volunteering Organisation
  • Wall Street Journal