We’ve put together a list of ten great volunteer organizations that offer cheap, affordable, and low cost volunteer projects.
These volunteer organizations, such as Maximo Nivel and International Volunteer Headquarters, have been picked not only for their low cost and affordability, but also for their reputations and established histories as well; Maximo Nivel is an especially affordable choice for U.S. travelers who are interested in their human rights and education internship programs, which start from $1,525 for four weeks ($381 per week).
Agape Volunteers is especially worth checking out, since their low fees also include the registration fee and your travel insurance, which many organizations break out as separate charges. Furthermore, Volunteering Solutions offers one week volunteer trips starting at just $200. Not only will we showcase cheap and affordable volunteer programs, we will also provide resources on volunteer abroad scholarships and grants, fundraising for a volunteer trip, and getting free airfare overseas.
Lastly, we will highlight organizations such as the award-winning program, Global Vision International, that pay participants to Teach English as a Foreign Language in Thailand.
Cheap, Affordable Volunteer Abroad Programs & Low Cost Overseas Projects
If you are like many aspiring international volunteers researching volunteer opportunities overseas, you have probably experienced sticker shock by the high cost of volunteering abroad.
Indeed, many international volunteers do not initially realize that the average cost of a volunteer trip is $3,000. Before my first volunteer trip to India in 2012, I was naïve enough to think someone would pay me to participate in overseas volunteer work (if only I had known about the organization Global Vision International, which will train you to teach English as a foreign language and whose participants earn a monthly stipend to teach English abroad)! The trip cost incurred by volunteers includes a program fee, airfare, travel insurance, vaccinations, visas, and other travel costs.
In terms of why you have to pay to volunteer abroad, international volunteer organizations rely on volunteer program fees and your time and labor to sustain their organizations. The program fee not only goes towards providing you room and board while you are volunteering abroad, but also pays for administration costs such as staff salaries, marketing expenses, and direct funding support to the host community.
You're also responsible for your own airfare and travel insurance to reduce the volunteer organization's burden of hosting you. Volunteer organizations differ enormously in terms of the program fees they charge. Some organizations charge a higher program fee so that they can provide first class pre-departure and in-country support to volunteers. These programs may be more appropriate to prospective volunteers (especially first time volunteers) who would prefer to have more support before, during, and after their volunteer trips.
On the other hand, other would-be volunteers may be more independent and require less support during the volunteering process. This article highlights affordable volunteer organizations whose program fees are $1,000 or less to volunteer abroad for 2 weeks. For example, Agape Volunteers offers high-quality volunteer abroad experiences in Africa for $510, which includes your registration fee and travel insurance. For volunteers looking for destinations outside of Africa, consider Volunteering Solutions, which offers volunteer and intern abroad projects starting at $200 for one week exclusive of the application fee and travel insurance. While many aspiring volunteers would love to travel and volunteer abroad for free, the needs of volunteer programs and their host communities can make that very difficult. However, this article will show you how to make volunteering abroad affordable.
In defining cheap, affordable, and low-cost volunteer opportunities, we exclude well-known volunteer programs such as the Peace Corps (USA), United Nations Volunteers, and Voluntary Service Overseas (UK). While these are wonderful programs, both the Peace Corps and Voluntary Service Overseas require two year commitments, which may not be feasible for students and professionals who are seeking shorter duration volunteer projects. Furthermore, United Nations Volunteers requires a six month commitment and can be a highly competitive program.
We have also included intern abroad and teach abroad programs, since they provide similar experiences to volunteering abroad, but at a lower cost to the participant. Here are ten great international volunteer, intern, and teaching alternatives that are cheap and don’t require long term commitments; we've also included one volunteer abroad program that includes free airfare! Read on to learn more about applying to these inexpensive volunteer abroad programs.
Cheap, Affordable, and Low-Cost Volunteer Abroad Programs
International Volunteer Headquarters (IVHQ) is a New Zealand based volunteer organization that provides affordable, safe, and responsible volunteer programs in over 30 different destinations around the world. With program fees starting from just US$180 and over 65,000 alumni, IVHQ is a low-cost volunteer program that has been able to attract a significant number of volunteers to its programs since its start in 2007.
IVHQ offers 150+ short-term and long-term volunteer options that range from 1 week to 24 weeks. The organization offers volunteer placements in the following destinations: Costa Rica, Italy, Fiji, Bali, Peru, India, South Africa, Thailand, Kenya, Brazil, Tanzania, Nepal, Madagascar, Argentina, Mexico, Victoria Falls, Laos, Uganda, Zambia, Sri Lanka, Philippines, Mexico, Vietnam, Cambodia, Guatemala, Ecuador, China, Ghana, Colombia, Morocco, Laos, Spain, New Zealand, Portugal, and Transylvania.
Some IVHQ volunteer projects that you'll definitely want to check out include their turtle conservation projects in Costa Rica and Bali. For aspiring public health and medical professionals, their HIV/AIDS project in Kenya is a great way to serve others while learning more about the public health and medical fields. Lastly, for a responsible way to volunteer with children, be sure to check out IVHQ's sports education program in Fiji, their childcare program in Cambodia, or their teach abroad program in South Africa!
Featured Program: Maximo Nivel
Since 2003, Maximo Nivel has provided a wide variety of affordable volunteer opportunities in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Each program is internationally accredited, with choices including volunteer abroad projects, international internships, native Spanish program, TEFL certification, Spanish camp for teens, and adventure and culture opportunities. Maximo Nivel’s volunteer abroad programs start from just $595 per week, and their intern abroad programs start from $1,525 for four weeks ($381 per week). Each program includes airport pickup, 24/7 emergency support, orientation, certificates, WIFI internet, salsa dance classes, Spanish books and materials, and lots more.
Overview of Volunteer Abroad Programs: Maximo Nivel offers a number of affordable volunteer abroad placements in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Volunteers can assist with childcare, conservation and environment, English teaching, construction, medical care, and non-medical healthcare. Programs start from $595 for the first week, and includes project management, 24/7 in-country support, airport pickup, housing, and two meals per day. Add-ons include a surf school, mini travel adventure, yoga teacher training, and more. To learn more about Maximo Nivel’s volunteer abroad opportunities, visit: http://www.maximonivel.com/volunteers/
Through this construction volunteer program, you’ll have the opportunity to build or repair homes, add classrooms to schools, or even make improvements to orphanages in Latin America. For one week or longer, you’re welcome to volunteer alongside fellow travelers and local workers to make a difference for communities in need.
A few of your tasks will include digging, mixing cement, carrying bricks, preparing adobe, painting, plastering, and lots of other projects to beautify your project site. You can expect to volunteer three to four hours Monday through Friday each week, and the types of projects you’ll take on will depend on the program needs at the time.
This is an excellent opportunity for volunteers who are physically fit, want to get dirty, and want to see the amazing difference you’re able to make in a short amount of time. Depending on the project, your program fee starts from just $595 for your first week abroad. Click here to learn more: http://maximonivel.com/volunteers/construction
If you want to go off the beaten path and make a positive impact in Peru, check out Maximo Nivel’s volunteer program with indigenous communities. This immersive experience brings you to the rural Andes of Peru, just outside of Cusco, where you’ll live and volunteer within a small community tending livestock, assisting with agricultural projects, constructing and repairing buildings, and teaching children in a local classroom. This is another physically-demanding placement, so you should be in good health to get the most from your experience. Click here to learn more about volunteering with indigenous communities: http://maximonivel.com/volunteers/indigenous-communities/
Volunteer with Children: Maximo Nivel invites you to volunteer with local street children and orphans in Guatemala, Costa Rica, or Peru. Volunteers will work as part of locally-based initiatives that provide education support, recreation, and healthcare to children whose families may not be able to care for them, or for children who’ve lost their families. This volunteer opportunity includes 24/7 in-country support, airport pickup, shared housing, and meals, and starts from $595 for one week, with extensions available for travelers who’d like to stay longer. Click here to learn more about volunteering with children through Maximo Nivel: http://www.maximonivel.com/volunteers/working-with-kids/
Volunteer in Animal Care: Maximo Nivel’s animal care program invites you to Guatemala or Peru to work in a dog rescue shelter, an amphibian and reptile rescue center, or a small zoo. Volunteer projects vary depending on your placement, but may include caring for the animals, obedience training for the dogs, feeding animals at the zoo, cleaning cages, hosting visitors, and maintenance at the reptile and amphibian center. This placement starts from one week, and you’ll work Monday through Friday. To learn more about these animal care volunteer programs, visit: http://maximonivel.com/volunteers/animal-care/
Featured Program: i-to-i
Since 1994, i-to-i has offered TEFL certification, English teaching trips, paid internship, and jobs for travelers who’d like to teach English abroad. More than 175,000 people have completed i-to-i’s TEFL courses, which are recognized by thousands of employers around the world. i-to-i holds a 90% approval rating from their participants and students, who have traveled to China and Vietnam for four- to five-month paid internships, as well as shorter-term TEFL trips to Thailand, Cambodia, and beyond.
If you want to gain new skills and get paid to travel, check out i-to-i’s TEFL Internship in China! You’ll start with a 120-hour TEFL training course online, and once you arrive in Beijing, you’ll take on two days of classroom teaching training to get you used to working on your own. After that, i-to-i will place you at one of their partner schools in a Chinese community, where you’ll work five days per week as an English teacher for the next five months. As part of this internship, you’ll receive housing, meals, and a living allowance of about $260 per month, plus a bonus of $320 once you’ve successfully completed your internship. Learn more here!
If you have two months to travel, why not sign up for i-to-i’s Cambodia TEFL Experience? For $1,199 for the full two months (less than $150 per week!)- plus i-to-i’s online 120-hour TEFL training course - you’ll have the amazing opportunity to travel in Cambodia and teach English at a private school in Phnom Penh. You’ll start with an orientation, where you’ll learn about Khmer culture and history, and get to know the school where you’ll teach for the next 7 weeks. During your teaching placement, you’ll work with students aged 3 to 16, with weekends free for exploration or just relaxation. After that, you’ll travel to the Sihanoukville resort, where you’ll have five days to visit beaches, bars, shops, and restaurants. Click here to sign up!
Another paid internship i-to-i is offering right now invites you to teach English in Vietnam. Similar to the China TEFL internship, you will start with an online TEFL training course, plus a 20-hour classroom training experience once you arrive to Vietnam. During your first week abroad, you’ll have the chance to explore, learn about culture and history, and meet your fellow interns. Over the next five months, you’ll teach students aged 4 to 18 - so there will be plenty of opportunity to get creative and learn to work with students of all language levels - plus receive a monthly living allowance of $700. Learn more about teaching in Vietnam here!
Featured Program: Volunteering Solutions
Volunteering Solutions offers some of the most affordable volunteer projects on the planet. Founded in 2006, Volunteering Solutions has hosted over 10,000 participants and now operates volunteer abroad and intern abroad projects in 30+ countries. Their volunteer projects in Nepal are the most affordably priced, starting at $200 for one week in addition to a $225 application fee. You also have the option of adding a one week language orientation week for $250 before you start your placement. In addition to Nepal, Volunteering Solutions also operates projects in India, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda for under $300 for one week (in addition to an application fee).
Volunteer Teaching in Nepal: One of VolSol’s most affordable volunteer programs invites you to teach English lessons at public or private schools in Nepal. These schools are short on staff and in need of volunteers like you to assist teachers with lessons and day-to-day work, all of which will help your students build successful futures for themselves through a good education. A few tasks you’ll take on as a volunteer include finding creative ways to teach lessons, teaching your own class (if you have experience and confidence in teaching on your own), playing games and leading other extracurricular activities, and assisting local staff with their needs. You’re invited to stay one week or longer, starting at just $200 for your first week in Nepal.
Medical Volunteer Program in Kenya: If you’re a pre-med student, medical student, or professional and want to gain experience working in a hospital or clinic overseas, Volunteering Solutions offers a wonderful opportunity to volunteer in Nairobi, Kenya. Through this program, you’ll work in a clinic, dispensary, or hospital to provide care and support for people living in slums with little access to quality medical facilities.
Depending on your background and qualifications, you can help with checking patients’ weight and temperature, cleaning wounds, suturing wounds, doing rounds, helping with administrative tasks, and working in areas such as maternal health, surgery, laboratories, counseling, testing, and more. This volunteer program starts at $270 for your first week in Kenya, and you’re invited to stay up to six months.
Volunteer with Street Children in India: Based in Delhi, this volunteering program gives you the opportunity to make a positive and lasting impact on the lives of some of India’s most vulnerable children. Right now, there are an estimated 1.75 million children living on the streets of Delhi - these children are at risk of sexual assault and trafficking, abuse, and drug use, and you can help provide care and support for them to get off of the streets and into better situations.
As a volunteer, you’ll work at an educational center or shelter to teach informal classes, play games and lead recreational activities, teach healthy habits such as cleanliness and etiquette, plan trips to museums and other locations, and provide care and love to children who may have no support base of their own. You can stay for one week or longer in India, starting from a very affordable $250 for your first week.
Featured Program: International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT)
Since 1993, International TEFL and TESOL Training (ITTT) has provided TEFL and TESOL courses for travelers who want to teach English abroad. With more than 100,000 graduates to date, ITTT certifies more than 7,500 students each year through its online course, worldwide in-class courses, and combined courses.
ITTT is accredited worldwide, providing lifetime English teaching job support for all of their graduates, with services such as exclusive leads on unadvertised jobs, unique databases of potential employers, CV and resume review, cover letter assistance, contract consultation, and interview preparation. Online classes start at $190, in-class programs start from $1,490 for four weeks, and ITTT’s combined online/in-classroom courses start from $1,195.
ITTT’s internationally accredited online TEFL courses are perfect for aspiring English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers who want to learn at their own pace, or who don’t have time to travel abroad for an immersive in-classroom experience just yet. Online courses range from 60-hour introductory programs, to a full 120-hour course - and depending on your comfort level, both are available with or without support from a tutor. Through this program, you can earn TEFL certification in Teaching Business English, Teaching English to Young Learners, and an advanced Diploma in TEFL.
If you’d like a truly immersive experience while you earn TEFL or TESOL certification, ITTT offers four-week, in-class courses in 27 different countries, including Thailand, Costa Rica, Spain, Italy, France, China, US, UK, Australia, Canada, and many others. In-class programs start from $1,495, and are divided into six segments: teaching practice, foreign language experience, language awareness, student profile, teaching techniques, and a materials project.
If you’re ready for adventure, check out ITTT’s Thailand program, where you can study in Phuket, Ben Phe, or Chiang Mai. Throughout your stay, you’ll earn a TEFL certificate and have the chance to explore Thailand’s beaches, cities, and so much more. ITTT’s most popular program in Thailand - with more than 3,000 students graduated to date - invites you to Phuket, close to the Andaman Sea, Phi Phi Island, and much more.
ITTT also offers an incredible TEFL certification program in France, where you can study in Brittany or Paris. If you want a laid back experience along the French coast, Brittany may be the place for you: you’ll study in a small town hemmed by hills on one side and the Atlantic on the other - and in your free time, you’re invited to explore this quaint area and get to know the locals. If you’re more interested in an urban experience, then consider signing up for ITTT’s certification program in Paris, one of Europe’s most beautiful and exciting cities. Demand for EFL/ESL teachers in France is high, so once you’ve successfully completed your certification, ITTT will help you find a job teaching English in this beautiful country.
ITTT’s Combined TEFL course is excellent for anyone who wants to earn TEFL certification alongside other students in-person, but doesn’t have the time to attend a full, four-week course. This combined course starts with a 120-hour online program that you can complete in your own time with assistance from a personal tutor. After that, you can take a five-day in-classroom course in one of more than a dozen locations in the US or Canada, or an 8- to 10-day program in Spain, Thailand, Italy, France, or the United States. This program starts at $1,195, and you’ll receive full TEFL certification after successfully completing both portions of the combined course.
Featured Program: Love Volunteers
Love Volunteers is an affordable volunteer organization that provides meaningful, life-changing volunteering abroad programs in more than 34 developing countries worldwide. Every year, Love Volunteers sends thousands of volunteers from all over the world into short and long term international volunteering placements in Central and South America, Asia, Africa, The Middle East, and Europe.
Love Volunteers’ international placements start at just $175 for a one week placement along with a one-time $249 registration fee when you submit your application. Love Volunteers offers 120 community-based development programs in healthcare, education, sports and coaching, law and legal assistance, social services, engineering and architecture, special needs, Construction, environmental protection and in many more areas. We definitely recommend that you apply to Love Volunteers if you’re looking for an affordable volunteer program with lots of options in terms of placements.
Featured Program: Agape Volunteers
Agape Volunteers operates low-fee volunteer projects throughout Africa. Agape's projects start at USD $510 (£330) and already includes the registration fee and fully comprehensive travel insurance for free, making it one of the most affordable volunteer programs in the world. Agape Volunteers was founded by Oxford graduate, Guillaume Lefevre, in 2011 and boasts a perfect 5-star rating on Volunteer Forever. The program offers volunteer projects in Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, and Tanzania with projects ranging from medical volunteering to volunteering at a wildlife refuge in South Africa. Definitely check out Agape Volunteers if you are looking for a reputable and affordable volunteer abroad trip to Africa.
A Broader View is a U.S. based non-profit volunteer organization that was founded in 2007 by Oliver and Sarah Ehlers. The organization has 245 volunteer opportunities overseas in 25 countries and their projects range in duration from 1 to 24 weeks. Based on information from the non-profit directory Guide Star, we estimate the organization hosted less than 500 volunteers in 2012. With over 100 reviews on our website, A Broader View is one of the highest rated and most reviewed volunteer organizations on Volunteer Forever.
A two-week volunteer project with A Broader View costs $995 to $1180 and the organization offers volunteer opportunities in Asia, Africa, Central America, and South America. Please note that A Broader View’s program fees do not include travel insurance, flights, vaccinations, or visa fees.
While A Broader View’s program fee isn’t as cheap as the other volunteer programs mentioned, the organization may be a worthwhile option if there is a specific volunteer project type or destination that you highly desire that isn’t offered by the other organizations mentioned in this article, particularly if you are interested in medical, dental, nursing, and pre-health programs.
Since 2014, Volunteering Journeys has provided volunteer placements in Asia and Africa for travelers interested in community development, medical care, wildlife and conservation programs, and even summer and gap year travel opportunities.
The basis for Volunteering Journeys was formed when founder Ridhi Patel quit her job in 2009, and volunteered for three months in South Africa. This life-changing experience inspired her to begin building Volunteering Journeys in her home country of India, with a goal of bringing together travelers who want to explore the world, give back to the communities that welcome them, and learn more about themselves.
This organization sets itself apart by providing personal attention and tailored trips for all volunteers, committing to high-quality service, and engaging community leaders and local professionals on all programs. And Volunteering Journeys is affordable for travelers on a budget, starting from less than $1,000 for a two-week placement overseas.
If you’re looking for a great way to broaden your horizons and gain new skills, check out Volunteering Journeys’ English teaching programs in India, Nepal, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Bali. Through these placements, you’ll work in a local school, community center, rural classroom, or with a local charity, where you’ll connect with teachers and fellow volunteers to support long-term literacy initiatives.
As a volunteer, you’ll be able to help improve teaching standards in poor communities, help underprivileged children and adults get the education they deserve, develop your own interpersonal and leadership skills, and of course explore new places and meet amazing people. Depending on where you go, you can stay two weeks or longer, with a program fee starting below $1,000.
Located in Seenigama, Sri Lanka, this program invites you to coach sports at a local school, orphanage, or community center for children in need of support and connection. As a volunteer, you’ll help these children develop self-confidence, hone their talents, and create long-lasting friendships while playing popular sports such as cricket, volleyball, badminton, and netball.
During your stay, you’ll plan coaching sessions and matches, run warm-up routines and stretches, teach rules and regulations of different games, and even have the chance to organize a sports club if you’re staying longer-term. During your weekends, you’ll be able to relax at the beach, go diving or surfing, or visit the cities of Colombo and Galle. This placement starts from two weeks at about $940.
If you want to volunteer with animals, don’t miss Volunteering Journeys’ placement in Thailand, where you’ll have the chance to learn about elephant conservation and interact directly with these amazing creatures. Throughout Thailand, elephant populations have been held in captivity for work as farm animals, cavalry in the army, and as tourist attractions.
As a volunteer, you will work with an initiative to provide a home for domesticated elephants to live more naturally, without being chained up, ridden, or put to work. A few of your activities can include preparing food, feeding the elephants, cleaning their living areas, and walking with the elephants to the river for bathing. This program also includes a guided trek through the surrounding hills, bamboo rafting, and much more. You’re invited to stay one to two weeks, at about $815 for your first week.
Since 2010, Reach Out Volunteers has provided adventurous volunteer placements where travelers can make a difference worldwide. Whether you’d like to work with animals on a wildlife preserve, teach children in a local school, or even help renovate classrooms, there are many opportunities to choose from for a culturally immersive and impactful experience. So far, about 3,500 volunteers have signed up with Reach Out Volunteers, with 1,000 more expected to travel with this organization in 2017 alone. And you can be sure your work will be meaningful: Reach Out Volunteers only places travelers on projects created by the communities in which they work, with all programs employing local, skilled laborers to ensure long-term success. Depending on the program you sign up for, Reach Out Volunteers’ program fees start from $1,599 for a two-week trip, and includes airport pick-up and drop-off, ground transport, food, housing, excursions and activities, project materials, educational materials, and much more.
If you’ve always wanted to explore the Inca Trail and view the amazing site of Machu Picchu, check out Reach Out Volunteers’ Peru volunteer program, which invites you to work alongside a local village to build greenhouses. Through your work, you’ll help extend the short growing season and contribute to the community’s food supply - a vital need for families whose children otherwise would suffer from malnutrition. During your trip, you’ll visit local artisans, take a cooking lesson, take walking tours of the different cities you’ll visit, and much more. This program lasts 14 days with a fee of $2,049. Learn more at: https://www.rovolunteers.com/Volunteer-Machu-Picchu-Inca-Trail.htm
For a longer stay overseas, Reach Out Volunteers is offering a 35-day South Africa Volunteering Adventure. Through this placement, you’ll work in a local crèche, or day care center, to help build or renovate classrooms, provide maintenance assistance, help teachers with lessons, and much more. You’ll also be able to visit and volunteer at wildlife preserves and learn how to track and assist with patrols for elephants, rhinos, and other animals. Along with your volunteer projects, you’ll be able to go surfing, explore the St. Lucia UNESCO World Heritage Site, go shopping, and much more. Click here to learn more and to sign up: https://www.rovolunteers.com/Volunteer-Africa-Adventure.htm
If you’re looking for adventure, Reach Out Volunteers invites you to Cambodia, where you can earn your scuba certification while volunteering on an environmental conservation project to rejuvenate a coral reef and marine life surrounding a tropical island. You’ll start with an orientation in Phnom Penh, and then travel to Koh Rong island, where you’ll earn PADI scuba certification while helping with local construction projects, as well as beach and village clean up, sanding and coating coral pods, and more. A few optional activities you can embark on include exploring markets and shops, visiting temples, and relaxing at the beach. This program lasts two weeks, with a program fee of $1,899. To learn more and to sign up, visit: https://www.rovolunteers.com/Volunteer-Cambodia-Scuba-Diving-and-Marine-Conservation-Program.htm
Global Nomadic offers affordable, impactful volunteer and intern abroad placements for travelers who’d like to expand your education and get a head start on your career while also doing good for communities in need. With Global Nomadic, you’ll work in partnership with local NGOs on projects relating to your degree or career goals, with placement costs as minimal as possible in keeping with a student, gap year, or career breaker budget--covering your support before, during, and after your program abroad.
If you’re interested in marine biology and research, Global Nomadic has the perfect internship opportunity for you to study and work with endangered sea turtles in south Guatemala. In this program--which is customizeable for your interests and background--you’ll work with scientists and biologists in sea turtle conservation and research, caiman and iguana breeding, environmental education, and community projects, which may include water treatment, ecotourism, school construction, and lots more.
You’ll stay with other volunteers and visitors near the project site in the southern part of Guatemala, and you’re invited to apply for this internship at any time throughout the year. This program costs $905 for placement, support, and your first week of interning; after that, you’re invited to stay as long as you’d like, for only $175 for each additional week. To learn more and apply, visit: https://globalnomadic.com/project/sea-turtle-research-guatemala/
In this unique program, you’re invited to live on a tropical farm deep in the jungle of Belize, while learning about and gaining hands-on experience in tropical agroforestry and sustainable farming. A few of the activities you’ll help with include planting, mulching, harvesting, and drying cacao beans; assisting researchers working with rare cacao strains; maintaining a genetic seed bank; learning about biodiversity and agroforestry; and developing nurseries on the farm and within the surrounding communities.
You also can customize your work based on your interests and background, and if you’re currently a student, Global Nomadic can work with you to earn college credit for your placement. This program is also extremely affordable for travelers on a budget: your placement is $730 for the first week, plus $200 for additional weeks - or $600 per month if you’re staying long-term. To learn more and sign up, go to: https://globalnomadic.com/project/tropical-agroforestry-sustainable-farming-belize/
Global Nomadic invites you to Koh Phangan in southern Thailand for its business development internship, where you’ll work with a company on a wide variety of projects, including social media marketing and organization for a coworking space, volleyball team, and beach cleanup group--you also will be able to assist with the day-to-day operations of a real estate team.
Throughout your internship, you’ll stay in housing at the company headquarters, and learn a great deal about Thai business models and customs. You must be able to stay for at least three months, and can apply at any time--and this internship has only a one-time placement fee of about $500. Click here to learn more: https://globalnomadic.com/project/business-development-internship-thailand/
Global Nomadic’s Nicaragua volunteer program is perfect for travelers who’d like to to try short-term volunteer projects in a variety of areas. From one week to six months, you can volunteer in a primary school, at a children’s library, with an organic farm and community garden, or at an eco-hotel’s wildlife and animal rescue center. There’s also an option to take Spanish lessons in the mornings at a local school. Throughout your program, you’ll stay in a private room with a host family close to the eco-hotel that manages all the volunteer projects; you’ll also have three home-cooked meals per day. Placement starts at $630 for the first week, plus $280 for each week after that. To learn more and to sign up, visit: https://globalnomadic.com/project/volunteer-in-nicaragua/
What Volunteers Say
I couldn't have asked for a more wonderful experience in Bali! The Cultural Immersion, Teaching, and Adventure Weeks surpassed my expectations. Global Nomadic and the Green Lion Bali Center made it possible for me to make lifelong friends from all over the globe and bring many incredible experiences home with me. Three weeks was almost too short. The longer your stay the better! - Shannon
IDEX projects are especially appealing to first-time and young travellers as their projects are affordably priced, located near beaches and major sightseeing attractions, attract like-minded individuals, and tend to run between two and four weeks (perfect for school and college breaks).
IDEX is especially great for first-time international volunteers as they offer all of the logistics support of much more expensive programs at very affordable prices (2 week programs start at $860). For example, IDEX volunteers stay at a home base with other international volunteers and are provided daily transort to their project sites. Furthermore, on the ground staff provide an orientation prior to the start of project and workshops to help volunteers get acquainted with the host community.
In addition, their staff helps to arrange weekend travel and are available 24/7 in the event of an emergency. Some of IDEX's most popular projects and destinations include their volunteer and travel program in Goa, India (an idyllic beachside community), their Sri Lanka Turtle Conservation Program, and their Teaching Children Program in Vietnam. IDEX also offers special travel programs just for teens. To learn more about IDEX and to apply, visit their website here.
Read on for more affordable volunteer opportunities overseas
uVolunteer Volunteer Organization
uVolunteer was founded in 2006 by Nathaniel Amponsah-Manu, who founded the organization after volunteering in Southeast Asia. Nathaniel worked at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) for nine years and the left the BBC to run uVolunteer full-time.
With over 70 reviews on our website, uVolunteer is one of the most popular volunteer programs featured on Volunteer Forever and was named a top volunteer abroad program for 2015. Indeed, Volunteer Forever’s co-founder, Billy Beltz, volunteered with uVolunteer in Thailand in 2013. Here’s a summary of Billy’ volunteer experience:
"Overall I think their biggest strength is value; they provide the same support & quality experience as many much higher priced options, and I would endorse them to anyone with the skills/knowledge that align the projects they offer."
uVolunteer offers one week volunteer abroad and two week volunteer abroad projects in Thailand, Costa Rica, and Ghana starting at $600 and $705, respectively. Please note that volunteers have the option of staying longer than one or two weeks. uVolunteer's program fee not only includes your room & board and in-country airport pickup, but also your travel insurance. Keep in mind that many volunteer organizations’ program fees do not include travel insurance, which costs about $100 for a two week trip.
Volunteer Overseas Projects with Free Airfare
People and Places Volunteer Organization
People and Places is an award-winning responsible volunteer organization that was founded by Sallie Grayson and two of her colleagues in 2006. In addition to being one of Volunteer Forever’s top ten reviewed organizations, People and Places has won a number of awards and accolades including the following:
- 1. 2014 National Geographic Top 5 Ethical Volunteer Organization
- 2. 2013 World Responsible Tourism Award
- 3. 2009Best Volunteering Organization
The majority of People and Places volunteer projects aren’t considered cheap, but two of their projects stand out because the program fee includes roundtrip airfare, which is quite unique. Indeed, the only other volunteer program (outside of state-sponsored volunteer programs) that includes airfare is Youth Challenge International, who provides a flight bursary for its Ghana and Tanzania programs.
The two People and Places volunteer projects that include airfare are located in the Gambia in Africa. The first project is at a nursery school that has a specific need for volunteers with experience in Early Childhood Development, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, child nutrition, education administration, or arts and crafts.
The second People and Places volunteer project that includes airfare is their “Wealth through Tourism” project. This volunteer project seeks to help the Gambian people by providing them business and craft skills. Specifically, volunteers will be working with small businesses in Gambia to earn a living through tourism. As such, this project is seeking volunteers with the following skill sets: accounting, information technology, general management, business administration, marketing and sales, product design, hospitality and tourism, and agriculture.
As mentioned previously, the program fee for both of these projects by People and Places includes airfare and room and board. However, the volunteer will still be responsible for travel insurance, vaccinations, and visa fees.
Other Resources for Cheap Volunteer Abroad Trips
With the exception of the Peace Corps, United Nations Volunteers, Voluntary Service Overseas, and other state-sponsored international development programs, most international volunteers will be responsible for assuming some costs for volunteering overseas. However, there are several ways to reduce your out-of-pocket costs for volunteering overseas.
First, check out our list of 200 Volunteer Abroad and Study Abroad Scholarships and Grants. Our list includes scholarships and grants from sources like Travelocity, National Geographic, Volunteers for Prosperity, and the Rotary Foundation. These awards range from a few hundred dollars to stipends worth $85,000. You can also click here to join our priority waiting list to be among the first to know when the next award of the Volunteer Forever scholarship ($500-$1000) is announced in Spring 2015.
Next, check out our article on how to volunteer abroad for free by finding no-cost volunteer programs (hint: you’ll still be responsible for your room and board, airfare, and other expenses), finding free airfare, and reducing other miscellaneous travel costs like travel insurance.
Lastly, consider fundraising (aka crowdfunding) for your volunteer trip abroad. Volunteer Forever fundraisers have already raised nearly $1,500,000 for their volunteer trips abroad. In fact, many of our volunteers have completely funded their volunteer trips by fundraising through Volunteer Forever. If you’re comfortable with e-mail and Facebook, then you’ve got the basic skills needed to fundraise online. And if you need a little more assistance, our expert staff will provide one-on-one guidance and support to help you reach your fundraising goals. It's our mission to make volunteer abroad trips affordable for anyone who wants to go overseas. We hope all of these information and resources will help you go volunteer abroad!
P.S. If you're still looking for a volunteer opportunity, check out our list of best volunteer abroad programs and recommended volunteer projects in Africa, Central America, and Thailand. You can also read about 7 Great Medical and Veterinary Volunteer Abroad Projects, 10 Dental Volunteer Abroad Program and Medical Mission Tips for Pre Dental Students, and nursing volunteer abroad projects for students and nurse professionals. Or, if medical volunteer projects aren't for you, be sure to read about our sports and coaching volunteer abroad, wildlife conservation and veterinary abroad, teach abroad, and intern abroad programs. Lastly, if you're under 18, you may be interested in a teen volunteer abroad program from one of our many great partners.
Steve Weddle is the co-founder and CEO of Volunteer Forever. Before Volunteer Forever, Steve was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force, where he served a tour of duty in Afghanistan. He is a graduate of Duke University and the University of California, Los Angeles. He is currently pursuing his MBA at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.