Oyster is a boutique business that specialises in arranging voluntary work and paid work for individuals from around the world. We are committed to providing passion, care, and commitment to our participants. Our speciality is to ensure you are supported before, during and after your trip to the highest standard. As one of the first organisations of our kind, we believe that we have the knowledge to offer some of the best travel experiences out there. All staff are dedicated travellers for both work and leisure, and this combination of experience and passion means that we are well placed and enthusiastic to assist with planning your perfect and unforgettable adventure.
Read more about why you should choose Oyster.
Oyster Worldwide was born in 2006. Owner and Director Roger has been organising gap year programmes since 1999.
Oyster is a proud pioneer of safe and responsible travel. We are rigorous in checking our partners against our high standard policies such as our expectations when it comes to conservation, animal welfare, child protection and pay rates. We always assess your needs and abilities too, and will be honest if we think a different project would suit you better.
We visit every project to establish a close relationship, and to ascertain exactly what support a project needs and what it can offer by way of participant experience. Whilst we don’t expect our volunteers to feel that they have changed the world overnight, we are proud that volunteers always come back feeling that they have made a genuine contribution to a worthwhile cause.
Oyster experiences are diverse in what they offer. Every participant, whether volunteering or completing paid work will be trained and educated in range of skills, some leading to formal qualifications. In addition, project leaders will be delighted and passionate to share additional information about their field of work, local area and cultural interests. Some of our projects include active language-learning, and almost all projects in non-English speaking countries will give you the opportunity to practice with locals. Traveling independently will improve your self-reliance, confidence and social skills. A unique travel experience can also set you apart from the rest on a UCAS form or resume when applying for a job,
If you know where your passions lie and which countries spark interest, then we can help guide you to a project that suits you. If your interests are broad, consider your budget and time scale. If you know which projects you like but have further questions, please contact us. You will find the specific Destination Manager of the trip in question on that project page.
All projects vary so do check the requirements on the project page.
For many of our animal welfare programmes, the main requirement is passion for the cause and a willingness to get stuck in with manual jobs revolving around care and feeding.
For programmes with children, some experience with being around children and wanting to help is important. Paid teaching programmes require experience. DBS checks are required too.
Most paid work requires some level of experience in the chosen field. Check our individual paid work opportunities to find out requirements.
We have been operating successfully since 2006. Being a small organisation means we keep a close eye on our costs and make sure that we are financially stable.
We have an ATOL Licence which allows us to book flights. It also gives people financial protection should we go out of business. This scheme is backed up by the UK government and can only be used if Oyster has booked your flights.
Where we do not book flights, the money paid is protected through our bond with International Passenger Protection.
Check out our financial policy for more.
We are a small family owned business rather than a charity and have avoided what we see as the restrictions of charitable status or claiming to be “not for profit”. We run a tight ship at our Head Office and try to make a modest profit that is reinvested into developing new projects and is used to make donations to our projects that have a specific need.
Each project that we run is very different, however here is a general break down of where your money will go:
- Funds the cost to the project of accommodating you, training and supporting you while you are there
- Meet other expenses for your trip, such as your airport meet-up, transfer, orientation and any standard excursions
- Providing you with our experienced team, who have all done Oyster’s projects. They will be on hand to advise you, monitor the project and respond to any issues and emergencies. We always have a member of staff available 24/7 in case of emergencies
- Maintaining a close relationship with the project through liaising with the local representative, monitoring feedback, and occasional visits by Oyster’s Destination Managers
- Ongoing work to review and improve our service and procedures to ensure your trip is well planned, safe and meets all your expectations
- Administration, insurance and marketing costs
- Work to research and develop future projects
- Regular donations to chosen projects. We currently support two children in Port Elizabeth and sponsor a bear in Romania, an elephant in South Africa and turtles in Costa Rica
We are an online welcoming participants from around globe. We help Australians, Americans, Canadians, Africans, Asians and Europeans to participate on a range of trips.
There are some restrictions on our paid work programmes and these are due to the Work Permits required for Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
For Canada, we can take bookings from most Europeans, Australians and New Zealanders (as well as Canadians themselves!). .
For Australia and New Zealand, we can take applications from most Europeans, Americans and Canadians.
We’ll happily put you in touch with a former participant by requesting for them to share their personal information.
We have been full members for several years.
Oyster uses British Standard BS8848. We have been actively involved as a member of the committee that drew up the 2014 agreement. You can see our commitment to BS8848 in our Meeting BS8848 policy.
BS 8848 is the British Standard for organising and managing visits, fieldwork, expeditions, and adventurous activities outside the UK.
Almost all of our projects require solo participants to be aged at least 18 before departure. There are a number of exceptions where we can take 17 year olds with parental consent. These are listed on our Under 18s project page.
We also send families away on our projects – under 18’s can be accompanied by parents for an unique, eco-conscious family holiday.
For all volunteer projects there is no upper age limit so if you are on a gap year, career break, holiday or retirement, you are most welcome!
For our paid work programmes in Canada and Australia, you need to be aged 18-30 at the time your work permit application is received by the visa offices.
Most projects are suitable for adults of all ages and nationalities. The main requirement is that you should have a keen interest in the work of the project and be able to speak enough English to communicate with the other people there. We will check all this during your initial contact with us.
Most projects involve quite a lot of physical work, so do let us know if you have any medical conditions or a disability that might need special arrangements (unfortunately we cannot accommodate participants needing active therapy). A few Oyster projects have specific requirements for working visas, relevant work experience or skills such as driving. These are made clear on the relevant web page.
Oyster projects aim to promote your independence as much as possible so that you can develop your skills as a worker and a traveller. Most projects don’t involve direct supervision 24/7 (although there will always be access to help in an emergency from our crisis management team who operate our phones out of hours).
Typically, you will be able to leave the project during your time off, allowing you to get to know the local area and discover its culture. However, with independence comes personal responsibility for making sensible decisions about your safety when a supervisor isn’t there.
In particular we expect you to:
- Respect the project’s own rules about safety and conduct
- Respect Oyster’s own code of conduct
- Follow Oyster’s advice about specific risks, such unsafe activities in your free time, places to avoid, the risks of too much alcohol, drug use and unprotected sex
This can really depend on the project. For our Canada work programmes you need to apply as soon as you know that you want to do it- getting a work permit is challenging and you stand the best chance of success the earlier you apply. For our winter seasons, the work permits are often released 12 months prior to travelling to Canada.
The summer periods are usually very popular and so we would recommend booking your summer holiday between November – February to get your guaranteed best dates. We can usually take late bookings too, but you might need to be more flexible on your departure dates.
You don’t need to have previous language skills as there will be some basic teaching on arrival. That said, any language skills you already possess will be really useful, particularly Spanish for our Ecuador wildlife and Costa Rica turtle conservation projects. Many volunteers heading to Nepal and Romania, also find it useful to learn the basics before they start their trip. Most participants find language development to be one of the most rewarding parts of their time away!
Most of our projects accept solo participants all year round and the majority of participants are solo travellers. You will join a group of orientation volunteers and those already at the project. Be prepared to make life-long friend from around the world.
Our paid work programmes in Canada operate on set dates for the summer and winter season. With set dates means we can group people together so that it is likely you will travel out to the destination together.
Whilst most of our participants do come to us as an independent traveller, we do welcome friends as well!
Many of our projects qualify for the Gold Residential Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. We are an Approved Activity Provider and are happy to sign off your completion to show that you have achieved the Residential section of the Gold Award.
Here are some examples.
We have an ATOL Licence (number 9598). This allows us to book flights on your behalf and gives you financial protection. Some of our projects will show a price with flights and price without. We give you the choice to decide.
Where a flight inclusive option is not available we can still book your flights and cover your time with Oyster under our ATOL Licence. We would charge you whatever the cost of the flight is on the day, plus a £30 admin fee.
If you want to organise your own flights, we recommend that you contact Nick at Flight Centre:
[email protected] or call +442030561138
Just click on the ‘Book Now button found on every project page. This will take you through to an availability calendar where you can select dates and volunteering length. Prices will generate once this has been selected.
As part of your booking, we request a deposit of £180 towards your programme fee. Once we have received this, one of our project experts will be in touch to go through the programme, find out a bit more about you and answer any further questions that you might have.
In the unlikely event that we are unable to offer you a place on an Oyster programme, we would return this £180 to you.
We ask for your first payment of £180 to be made at the point of completing your booking form. This payment is deducted from the total amount due to us for your project. This is refundable in the unlikely event that we are unable to offer you a place on one of our projects.
A second payment of £450 is requested 6 months before arrival. If you are booking within 6 months of your arrival, your second payment will be due at the point of confirming your booking.
The remaining balance is due 90 days before arrival. There are occasions where the final payment date may be set closer to arrival. This will be made clear on your payment schedule.
Oyster Worldwide is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as an Introducer Appointed Representative of Global Travel Insurance. Our status means that we cannot advise you on insurance. This needs to be your decision. This policy is only available to UK residents.
For many years we have acted as an ‘introducer’ to the policy that has been tailored to meet the needs of Oyster Worldwide participants.
Some key elements of the policy:
- Cancellation cover for the FULL AMOUNT of your placement (up to £5000)
- Travel disruption cover, should your journey be disrupted due to Foreign Office travel restrictions following riots, war etc
- Unrestricted winter sports cover for Canadian programmes (other policies have time restrictions)
- No excess on medical or hospital claims
- Cover is provided for all work to be undertaken as part of the programme (other policies will not cover work of any kind)
For people outside the UK, we can introduce you to a policy with World Nomads.