Are the costs of volunteer abroad programs too much for your budget? If so, you’re not alone. Thankfully, there are programs that enable you to travel as a volunteer without breaking the bank. One of those programs is Worldpackers, a community-based platform that connects travelers looking to exchange their skills for accommodation.
What Is Worldpackers?
Started by two friends, Riq Lima and Eric Faria, the Worldpackers community has been around since 2014. They now have hosts in more than 140 countries, which means travelers have an incredible variety of volunteer and travel destinations.
Worldpackers aims to enable everyone to safely travel as a volunteer, have transformative experiences, and make an impact. The community centers around collaboration and honest relationships, and seeks to democratize travel for those seeking profound cultural experiences.
Worldpackers makes travel affordable by allowing volunteer travelers exchange their skills and time for accommodation, meals, activities and more. Volunteers can collaborate with a variety of local projects, organizations, and places, from NGOs and non-profit schools to eco-villages and hostels.
The Worldpackers platform consists of travelers and hosts. As a traveler, you can search for hosts on the website or Worldpackers app according to your preferences for destination, volunteer activity, and more. You then apply to stay with the host.
Worldpackers offers unique experiences for travelers as you get to fully immerse yourself in local culture. The Worldpackers experience is one of the best ways to make an impact, learn a language, develop new skills, and have an amazing time while traveling. All you need is the desire to collaborate and be 18+ years of age.
Alternatives to Worldpackers
Worldpackers may not suit everyone. The one downside travelers encounter with Worldpackers is the length of time it can take to confirm a volunteer trip. Many travelers also note some hosts are only on the platform for the cheap labor, and don’t seem interested in providing an authentic travel experience.
If you have issues with Worldpackers, know there are great alternatives. Volunteer abroad organizations are a great option if Worldpackers doesn’t seem like a good fit. Read about a few below.
Rated the world’s #1 volunteer abroad organization,International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) began in 2007 and has placed 133,000 people on affordable projects around the world. IVHQ connects thousands of travelers with opportunities each year across more than 44 countries.IVHQ has an incredible variety of volunteer projects. Whether you want to volunteer for sea turtle conservation in Sri Lanka or teach English in Ghana, IVHQ has a program for you.
To view IVHQ’s volunteer travel opportunities, click here
A leading ecotourism and volunteer company, GoEco began in 2006 and has placed more than 20,000 volunteers in projects across 40+ countries. Recommended by major publications such as USA Today and the Boston Globe, GoEco is known for their high standards of safety and quality, GoEco carefully vets every project, ensuring volunteers make a meaningful impact and local communities benefit. When it comes to the variety of volunteer projects, few match GoEco. From Great Barrier Reef conservation in Australia to food rescue in Barcelona, GoEco has every sort of experience you could want.
To view GoEco’s volunteer travel opportunities, click here.
Founded in 2003, Maximo Nivel is the leading provider of volunteer programs in Latin America, with top-rated projects in Costa Rica, Peru, and Guatemala. Maximo Nivel directly oversees their projects and partners alongside locally-based institutions, ensuring the highest level of quality and safety. The programs are impactful and immersive, and also incredibly affordable.
To view Maximo Nivel’s volunteer travel opportunities, click here.
Founded in 1992, Projects Abroad has quite the reputation in the volunteer travel industry. Known for trusted programs that make a real impact, Projects Abroad has earned recognition from CNBC, BBC and other major media outlets. To date, the organization has placed more than 132,000 volunteers in projects overseas. Whether you want to volunteer in a refugee camp or coach youth sports, Projects Abroad has a program for you.
To view Projects Abroad’s volunteer travel opportunities, click here.
How Worldpackers Works
Worldpackers strives to be the safest community for travel and volunteering. The organization’s website has a wealth of resources to help you understand how volunteer travel on the platform works, as well as a step-by-step guide to traveling with Worldpackers.
Note that, while Worldpackers does a lot to help out travelers, from providing ongoing support to offering insurance, you’re still expected to do a lot of the legwork. For instance, you must confirm trips with your host and organize transportation yourself.
Volunteer abroad organizations, on the other hand, handle nearly everything for you, offering 24/7 support, guided local tours, airport transportation, travel insurance and more. For example, Maximo Nivel takes care of you from door to door, offering:
- Pre-arrival advising
- Airport pickup
- Safety orientation
- In-country activities
- Great accommodations
- Cultural activities
Below is an overview of how Worldpackers works. Take note of what’s expected of you, and if it feels like too much, you can consider volunteer abroad organizations such as Maximo Nivel and GoEco as an alternative (as they make the process seamless).
Here’s the step-by-step process:
1. Understand how volunteer travel works
On the Worldpackers platform, the idea is simple: You help your host for a set amount of time per week. In exchange, you get housing and other benefits, such as meals, local activities and more.
Some examples of volunteer activities you’ll do for Worldpackers hosts include:
- Serving as a receptionist at a hostel
- Teaching English to children at a school
- Farming and gardening at a farm
- Content writing and video production for an NGO
- Cooking and bartending at a restaurant
2. Decide if volunteer travel is for you
Worlpackers is for anyone 18+ years of age, no matter your age, gender, nationality or living condition. If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re ready for a volunteer abroad adventure. Just make sure you’re 100% committed before applying.
3. Find the experiences you want to have
Worldpackers has hosts in more than 140 countries, and a near endless variety of experiences available. The most common types of hosts are:
- Non-Profit Schools
- Hostels & Inns
- Holistic Centers
Think about what you want from your volunteer travel adventure, as well as where you want to go. Then, apply to the hosts that match your preferences for destination and activity.
If you don’t find a host that offers the experience you want, consider a volunteer abroad organization such as Volunteering Solutions. Established in 2007, Volunteering Solutions has more than 150 projects across 27 countries. Volunteer projects range across a variety of fields, including:
- Medical and Healthcare
- Construction and Building
- Special Needs Care
- Environment Conservation
- Community Development
In general, volunteer organizations include far more types of experiences. So, be sure to check out organizations such as Volunteering Solutions and those listed above.
Also, if you’re looking to volunteer in a specific region, such as Africa, consider volunteer travel organizations that focus on that continent. For instance, African Impact has been offering life-changing volunteering and internship programs in Africa since 2004. You can check out their programs here.
4. Become a Woldpackers member
It does cost to become a member of the Worldpackers community (thankfully, there are often Worldpackers promo codes available to help you save money). This membership does come with a myriad of great benefits. As a Worldpackers member, you can:
- Contact any host and confirm as many trip as you’d like
- Get Worldpackers Insurance to cover expenses if the trip doesn’t go as planned and you wish to leave early or go with a different host
- Have access to Worldpackers support
- Connect with other travelers to learn about their experiences
What’s also great is Worldpackers memberships are NOT expensive. You can choose either a solo plan or a couple/friends plan.
Prices for solo plans are:
- Solo Trip (entry-level) – $49 per year + 3 months: Includes a basic level of benefits (up to $49 refunded by insurance)
- Solo Pack – $99 + 3 months: Includes priority support, higher insurance coverage (up to $199 refunded), and access to premium content to assist your travels
- Solo Pack Plus – $129 per year + 3 months: Increases insurance coverage to $399, while including all the Solo Trip and Solo Pack benefits
Prices for couple/friend plans are:
- Couples/Friends Trip (entry-level) – $59 per year + 3 months: Includes a basic level of benefits (up to $49 refunded by insurance)
- Couples/Friends Pack – $119 + 3 months: Includes priority support, higher insurance coverage (up to $199 refunded), and access to premium content to assist your travels
- Couples/Friends Pack Plus – $149 per year + 3 months: Increases insurance coverage to $399, while including all the Solo Trip and Solo Pack benefits
While Worldpackers prices seem low, do note that you still have to cover a good portion of your travel costs, including airfare, sightseeing activities, and anything not covered by the host. This can add up, and actually make a Worldpackers volunteer travel experience more expensive than a project with a volunteer abroad organization.
For example, International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ) has programs starting from as low as $20 per day, with accommodation and meals included. The IVHQ program fee even includes 24/7 support, airport pickup, discounts on language lessons and tours, and more. That makes IVHQ one of the most affordable volunteer travel programs you can find.
5. Complete your profile and earn certificates from the Worldpackers Academy
The better you fill out your profile, the more you’ll stand out to hosts (and the better your chances of being accepted). Make sure to highlight your positive traits, skills, and experiences. Be yourself and you’ll match with a host that’s just right for you.
Another thing you can do to stand out is to get certificates from the Worldpackers Academy. Worldpackers recommends completing the ‘How to Become an Outstanding Worldpacker’ course on their site. This will help you understand how to be the best Worldpackers traveler you can be.
6. Apply to hosts!
Look for volunteer positions that interest you, check that you meet requirements, and send hosts a message explaining why you’d love the opportunity and be a good fit. You can message hosts and apply to many positions as you’d like. You’ll be able to message hosts directly to see which opportunity is best for you.
Before you accept, check the required documentation and health recommendations with local authorities.
7. Confirm your trip on the Worldpackers platform
Confirming your trip on the platform ensures you get access to all the support and benefits Worldpackers offers.
8. Embark on your volunteer travel adventure
As you journey to your destination, stay in communication with your host. When you arrive, enter the experience with an open mind and be ready to learn from cultural differences. You’ll not only develop new skills and make a positive impact, but you’ll also form lasting relationships.
Frequently Asked Questions about Worldpackers
Now that we’ve explained how Worldpackers works for travelers, you may still need clarity on a few things. Below, we’ve put together an FAQ that hopefully clears up any questions or uncertainties you may have.
Can I travel with a friend or partner?
Of course you can! Just make sure to apply for the Couples/Friends membership plan.
What’s the average work hours requested by Worldpackers hosts?
This varies by host. On average, Worldpackers travelers work 25 hours per week for their host. Be aware that the maximum work hours per week is 32.
Do you get paid to work for a host?
No. This is an exchange for accommodation, meals, laundry, and more. It doesn’t not involve payment. With that said, you can earn money through the Worldpackers platform as an active member of the community. Worldpackers has specific programs that assign you a role on the platform (read more on that below).
Does Worldpackers offer any financial assistance?
No, Worldpackers does not. The platform is already quite affordable, and the community is based on win-win, collaborative relationships. When you talk with a host, discuss what’s included with your stay, as having meals and local activities covered will lower your travel expenses greatly. Know what you’re responsible for financially so you can get an accurate idea of total cost.
- Want money for your volunteer travel? Check out Volunteer Forever’s list of 200 Volunteer Abroad Scholarships here.
Do you have to be a member to send hosts messages?
Yes, you can NOT be a Worldpackers traveler without being a Worldpackers member. You have to get verified as a member on the platform first. It’s how the organization can ensure safety and quality relationships.
What is Worldpackers Insurance?
Worldpackers Insurance is a safety net for travelers who need to end a volunteer experience early because a host isn’t honoring the agreement. The support team will help you find a new host to continue your trip, as well as reimburse you for three nights of accommodation at a hostel.
Are any Worldpackers promo codes available?
You may find many sites with Worldpackers promo codes available. Just be sure the person offering the code is a Worldpackers Guru. Gurus are members who get paid to help grow the community. The Gurus have discount codes you can use to sign up on the Worldpackers site. These are usually worth $10+.
What locations are offered on Worldpackers?
Worldpackers has hosts in more than 140 countries, across every continent. No matter where you wish to travel, you can find a host in that destination.
- Search opportunities in North America.
- Search opportunities in South America.
- Search opportunities in Europe.
- Search opportunities in Africa.
- Search opportunities in Asia.
- Search opportunities in Oceania.
If you can’t find a suitable host in the destination you want, look for projects with volunteer abroad organizations such as Involvement Volunteers International (IVI). With a mission to educate, fight poverty, improve health and empower change through sustainable volunteer work, IVI manages volunteer projects across the globe. For example, with IVI, you could volunteer in nutrition and public health in Fiji, work in a refugee camp in Greece, provide homeless support in South Korea, or teach English in Laos.
How You Can Earn Money as a Worldpackers Traveler
Can you earn money on Worldpackers?
The answer is yes. However, it may take some time for you to have earnings potential. To qualify for a Worldpackers program to earn money, you must:
- Become a member of the community.
- Be an explorer and confirm your first trip on the platform.
- Get positive reviews from hosts and be recognized as a Community Expert.
- Sign up for a program to start earning money as you travel.
As an active member that’s recognized as a Community Expert, there are three different programs where you can earn money. We’ve listed them below, along with requirements.
As a Creator, you create content about your volunteering experiences for Worldpackers social media. You’ll get paid for it!
- What’s needed to qualify: At least 1 positive review on the platform
- What you get: Monthly payment to produce content for Worldpackers social media
As a Guru, you help friends and other travelers discover they can have transformative volunteer experiences. You get an Expert code that’s essentially a Worldpackers promo code. Each time someone signs up with Worldpackers using your discount code, you get a commission.
- What’s needed to qualify: At least 2 positive reviews on the platform
- What you get: Commission for each conversion generated by your Expert code
As a Blogger, you write articles for the Worldpackers blog and get paid $50 – $160 USD for each piece of content that gets approved and published.
- What’s needed to qualify: You must have traveled to the place you write about
- What you get: $50 – $160 compensations for each article approved
To learn more about how you can earn money on the Worldpackers platform, click here.
Ready for volunteer travel with Worldpackers?
We hope this article has given you a good idea of if Worldpackers is right for you. If you’re ready to move forward with Worldpackers, be sure to reference this guide, make use of Worldpackers’ resources, and take time to pick the right host. This will set yourself up for a transformative volunteer travel experience.
If you decide Worldpackers is NOT the right choice for you, consider other volunteer experiences with volunteer organizations such as IVHQ, GoEco, Maximo Nivel and Projects Abroad. These organizations not only offer a great variety of volunteer travel opportunities, but they also are affordable, reputable, and safe. They’ll be with you every step of the way, helping you get the most out of your volunteer abroad adventure.
Best of luck on your volunteer travels!