Many people visit Australia hoping to spend endless hours on the beach – a book in one hand, a fruity cocktail in the other. But that doesn’t mean that you have to spend your holiday here being lazy.

If you crave something a little more fulfilling from your travels, consider lending a hand to help your destination by joining a volunteer programme.

“Volunteering is a great way to contribute towards the country you are visiting,” says Denise Castro, programme manager of Conservation Volunteers Australia (CVA). “It gives you the opportunity to meet new people and see a country in a different perspective.”

And since volunteer opportunities span throughout Australia (Conservation Volunteers has 25 offices across the country, for example), you have more flexibility when trying to coordinate a holiday Down Under with work experience.

Choosing to help out on your holiday opens you up to a range of experiences. Clearly, the opportunity is a rewarding way to amp up a trip. But it isn’t exactly like working abroad. Volunteering does not compensate for your work, but it may be possible for you to apply what you gain in experience to future career goals – all while travelling. Good news then, you can think of it as killing two birds with one stone. Even better news? Since volunteering is free labour for an organisation, most do not require a work visa.

“It is important to understand that you are not working,” says Castro, at least not in the traditional sense.

According to Castro, the experience will be just like any other holiday in the sense of travel regulations. But she recommends that travellers research any requirements that different volunteer agencies may have before reaching Australia.

One thing to keep in mind is that food and accommodation may not be included. So look into possible overnight packages beforehand. Also remember volunteer work in Australia usually requires physical labour for conservation projects.

“In other words you need to be prepared to get your hands dirty,” says Castro.

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