Feature image courtesy of Peace Corps.
The opportunity to volunteer abroad is unlike any other. Not only do you get to travel to a new environment and experience the surrounding culture, but you also get the opportunity to make a lasting impact. However, because traveling expenses can be so high, many individuals never get to begin their traveling and volunteering journey. Thankfully, there are plenty of organizations that provide volunteer travel opportunities all around the world for little to no fees.
Know Before You Go
Before you embark on your philanthropic journey, there are a few things to understand before you go. First, there are many volunteer organizations offering volunteer opportunities abroad. But there is a common misconception that because you are donating your time to volunteer, the organizations will cover your expenses. This is true for some; however, the majority still require you to pay for airfare, housing, and/or ground transportation.
Organizations which pay for most of, if not all, your expenses are generally smaller organizations looking for individuals with specific skill sets or experience. Unfortunately, these organizations may not provide as much guidance as some of the larger ones. In addition, some of these organizations may not be suitable for some people or may not cover as much of the expenses as you would like.
Lastly, always remember that “free” is relative. You are most likely not going to find an organization that will provide an all-expenses-paid experience. While you may find an organization that will cover airfare or housing, you may find yourself having to pay for food and any other goods or services you may need while traveling.
Volunteer Organizations that Will Take You There
So here are some of the best volunteer organizations that will not only take you to some pretty incredible places around the world but will also cover most—or all—of the expenses to fulfill your volunteer goals.
Conservation Volunteers Australia
Conservation Volunteers is an environmental conservation organization based out of Australia and New Zealand. The organization offers five-day and multi-week conservation experiences that include projects which help protect the environment and conserve wildlife in Australia’s national parks and World Heritage Areas. The organization charges $860 for five days and four nights of participation, but covers the following:
- Experienced Conservation Volunteers team leader
- Return transfers from starting point
- Four nights’ bunk room accommodation in shared accommodation and backpackers lodging
- Conservation activities and equipment
- Visitor inclusions
- Certificate of appreciation
If you are a nature lover, this is the perfect volunteer travel opportunity for you!
WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms)
The WWOOF program allows participants to volunteer and stay with organic farmers in 53 different countries. While volunteering, you will stay with a host family and help them tend to their farm (and any other activities they need assistance with). Participants can stay with their host family from one week to several years. The organization does not provide airfare; however, host families provide food and lodging in exchange for your volunteer work.
Peace Corps, Worldwide
The Peace Corps is a well-known organization many have heard of. Unlike the other organizations on this list, they only look for US citizens to fulfill their volunteer positions. However, joining the Peace Corps is a big commitment. Projects can take anywhere from three months to two years to complete. Most of your fees are taken care of, and the organization will try to match the work to your skills or knowledge.
Appalachian Trail Conservancy, USA
The Appalachian Trail Conservancy provides great volunteer travel opportunities for those who are looking to travel and volunteer within the United States. The trail is over 2,000 miles long and is home to nearly 2,000 endangered species. In exchange for food and basic accommodation, volunteers will help maintain and better the trail.
Operating out of more than 20 countries and offering more than 100 volunteer and intern programs, Volunteer Solutions offers volunteer travel opportunities for almost anyone. Their opportunities include childcare, healthcare, teaching, community development, marine conservation, and much more. Accommodation and pricing are different for every project, but Volunteering Solutions will do what they can to make your volunteer experience possible.
GoEco is another well-known volunteer organization that offers over 150 community-, wildlife-, and environmental volunteer opportunities all over the world. They are also another organization that will do their best to pair you up with an opportunity that best matches your skillset. Prices vary for every opportunity, but the initial expense usually covers all expenses throughout your journey. GoEco also offers many great learning and intern opportunities.
Help Exchange, Worldwide
Help Exchange is another volunteer organization that allows volunteers from all over the world to aid individuals who are seeking extra help. These individuals could be looking for short-term assistance on their ranches, farms, homes, hostels, lodges, or even sailboats. There is a small membership fee to join and access host information. However, food and housing are provided in exchange for your hard work.
There is truly no other experience like traveling abroad and helping the environment and/or people seeking aid. Unfortunately, many are turned away from the idea of volunteering travel opportunities because of the high expenses. However, volunteering abroad is an experience of a lifetime, and many organizations will work with you to allow the opportunity to become a reality.