We all look forward to our summer holidays, but rather than jetting off for two weeks on a Mediterranean island soaking up the sun have you thought about using your time a little more productively?
Whether you've just finished your A-levels, are in the middle of your university course or have recently graduated, doing a spell of volunteering abroad is a great way to see more of the world, meet new people and give a helping hand to the less advantaged.
Of course, volunteer work will help to develop new skills, something that is sure to look fantastic on your CV and any academic applications.
With the world as your oyster, however, it can be a little difficult deciding where to go on a volunteering expedition. But don't worry, help is at hand! We've put together a list of some top places to spend your summer volunteering.
Home to beautiful landscapes and diverse wildlife, South Africa is a great place for nature lovers who are keen to do a spot of volunteering.
You could spend a few weeks lending a hand at a nature reserve where you'll get to assist rangers with monitoring and collecting data on animals. On top of that, you might even have the opportunity to help with capturing game and caring for creatures as you make a significant contribution to protecting the country's wildlife.
Obviously, the particular creatures that you'll come across will vary depending on where and what time of year you go. However, as South Africa's reserves are home to lions, elephants and tigers, you'll never be short of fantastic animals to take snaps of.
If you're more into sports than savannahs, you could also spend a few weeks teaching local children how to surf at the Muizenberg Beach near Cape Town. In doing so, you'll not only be doing good but can work on your tan in the process!
Zambia's another great volunteer destination if you fancy an African adventure. Come here and you can spend a couple of weeks living and working in a traditional village.
This is a fantastic place to visit for those wanting to help the less fortunate, as you can help to construct new homes for people to live in. You'll be taught traditional building methods by the locals, giving you a terrific insight into a different culture.
Alternatively, you might want to help out in a school. Whether it's assisting children with reading or just playing games with them, this is a great activity for would-be teachers.
Next up on our list of great to spend your summer is Thailand. Head to the Asian country and you'll discover a wealth of volunteer projects to choose from.
If you're hoping to pursue a career in education, you might want to consider volunteering as an English teacher at a local school. Tourism is one of Thailand's key industries and, by helping kids develop their spoken and written English, you can help to improve their chances of finding work later in life.
You could also spend a summer in Phang Nga, a beautiful southern province that lies next to the Andaman Sea, assisting on conservation projects. Here you'll help to protect local coastal and marine ecosystems and observe turtles in their natural environment.
We also think Belize is a great place to volunteer, especially if you love nature. In fact, the Central American country is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world (second only to the Great Barrier Reef) so you'll have ample opportunity to see beautiful marine wildlife.
As a volunteer you'll get to play a part in protecting the natural environment, whether it's in the form of checking coral reefs for damage or surveying fascinating underwater creatures like lionfish and whale sharks.
Belize is regarded as one of the best countries in the world for diving, so you'll also get the chance to stay active while doing vital volunteer work.
Last, but certainly not least, we have Costa Rica. This is the perfect destination for wildlife enthusiasts to volunteer, namely as it contains five per cent of the world's biodiversity, despite taking up just 0.1 per cent of its landmass.
Turtle conservation schemes are just one of the volunteer projects available to choose from and, by lending a hand on one, you'll get to help build a hatchery and collect eggs from the beach so they can hatch in a safe environment. Once they are born, you can then take baby turtles to the sea and release them into the wild!
There's also the chance to build homes for poor communities and help out in orphanages and care homes, so you're bound to find volunteering opportunities that appeal to you.