TravelGearDepot is an independent review site that prides itself on unbiased reviews. I am not affiliated with any manufacturers and do not accept paid reviews. When you buy through my links, I may earn a commission which helps me purchase more luggage to review.
Volunteering abroad is an amazing thing to do, for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, it enables you to give something of real significance to a worthy cause.
It can also provide something more personal in the form of valuable life experience. Living among people born into difficult circumstances, or seeing first-hand areas damaged by neglect or exploitation is eye-opening. It allows you to comprehend these issues far better than by watching the news, or reading a book ever could. Understanding these issues and then contributing to their improvement can bring a real sense of wellbeing.
These things aside, though, let’s not forget that volunteering can act as a way of saving a lot of money, while still experiencing all the benefits of traveling. You see new cultures, meet new people, and do exciting things every day that you simply couldn’t do sitting at home.
In that vein, here is a list of some of the best volunteer abroad trips available to travelers on a tight budget.
If you love traveling but are worried you can’t afford it, or if you simply want to extend your trip as far as possible, then this article is for you.
Workaway is an excellent way to save money while traveling. The great thing about this company if the flexibility. It doesn’t focus solely on one type of volunteering but simply acts as a platform to connect willing volunteers with hosts who need a helping hand.
For around $35 USD, you can sign up for a year, giving you access to the pool of tens of thousands of hosts. Working for roughly 5 hours a day, 5 days a week, will get you food and accommodation, often in the home of the host.
It’s a great way to meet real local people in your chosen country, and you may find yourself doing anything from chopping wood, to working on a yacht. It’s your choice.
The service that Helpx and Workaway provide is essentially the same. There are minor differences in pricing, and the websites have a different feel, but again, Helpx allows you to contact people around the world who want some help and are willing to provide free food and accommodation in exchange.
Helpx has become to be dwarfed by the more popular Workaway recently, but it’s still a great way to volunteer.
This could be described as a forerunner to organizations like Workaway and Helpx. It’s pretty much the first well-known example of the ‘work for food and accommodation model’.
There are some differences, though. The full name of World Wide Opportunities On Organic Farms pretty much says it all. The focus of Wwoofing is limited specifically to organic farms. However, they can vary massively in size and style, ranging from a commercial large-scale operation to somebody’s back garden.
With an extensive network of farms worldwide, Wwoofing remains one of the best ways to experience volunteering while spending very little money.
uVolunteer is an organization much more along the lines of what probably comes to mind when you think of volunteering. There is one big difference to most other classic volunteer organizations though, The cost. uVolunteer operates a wide range of invaluable projects across 3 countries but costs a fraction of the price of almost all other similar organizations.
Whether you really care about conservation, or if educating children is more your thing, you’ll find something suited. uVolunteer has a great choice of well-established projects which are integrated with, and play a vital role in the local communities.
The Peace Corps is different again to all the previous examples. Firstly, it is only available to US citizens, so read on if that’s not you.Secondly, it requires over 2 years of commitment to your chosen cause.
3 months training followed by 2 years in a developing country might sound like a long time, and it is. However, the organization operates on such a large scale, and with enough infrastructure in place, that it is easier than you might imagine. You will be placed with other people your age, so won’t be short of company, and you’re likely to gain many valuable skills such as language and practical skills.
To top it off, the work is very well organized, often linking volunteers up with NGOs and pre-established programs that make a real difference to areas that need the help.
Joining the program means you’ll be paid a small maintenance allowance (the US government funds the projects) and can get some benefits like student loan deferment.
Being an Aupair is a classic way of living abroad cheaply, and having the chance to travel. Traditionally, being an Aupair means working and living with a family and helping them out with day-to-day tasks. You may be helping with cooking and cleaning, gardening and childcare, or anything that they require help with. For your work, you’ll usually receive accommodation and food.
This form of volunteering can be organized through a number of agencies, or often via family and friends. It can be a good way to experience life in a different area cheaply, but may not bring the same satisfaction as volunteering for a more worthy cause.
This company has a relatively new approach to volunteering. A small membership fee gives you access to their list of projects. The concept is to recruit people with particular skills to provide more focused help to a specific problem. For example, if you have photography skills or IT knowledge, you can target your expertise to help somebody.
Teaching English is generally thought of as a paid job or career, requiring expensive and training and a big time commitment. This can be the case, but there are also a lot of opportunities to teach English in a voluntary capacity.
Some of the previously mentioned examples of volunteering can incorporate English teaching, but there are also organizations looking for English teachers specifically. You can also always volunteer in a more informal capacity, by approaching communities and schools inline or in person and offering to volunteer for accommodation.
Volunteer to Save Money While Making a Difference
Hopefully this list has given you a glimpse of the possibilities available all over the worlds, and realize that money never has to prevent you from giving something to a worthy cause.
Nicoleta Radoi is the resident content blogger for uVolunteer. Nicoleta is an avid linguist, speaks fluent English, Chinese, French, Spanish and native Romanian. She spent a decade working in China in the education sector and working with major international development institutions and currently lives in Vancouver, Canada. She is passionate about volunteering, sustainable travel and has a soft spot for ethnic food.