How much does it cost to volunteer abroad? This is a commonly asked question international volunteers have. While your main goal is to help communities around the globe, volunteering overseas is not free and may be costly.
Volunteer program fees usually include accommodation, meals, and airport pick-ups, but there are additional costs to understand and factor in your decision to which program you choose. This article will provide all the information you need to choose an affordable yet high quality program.
Factors that can affect the cost of volunteering abroad
The cost of volunteering abroad depends on many factors, including the organization you choose, type of volunteer program, the location, duration of stay, and dates of your service trip.
- Program fees: Some volunteer organizations charge higher fees than others for their registration and program fees. Make sure you compare with different programs for the same location or same goals.
- The type of volunteer work: Some types of volunteering, such as teaching or healthcare, are more expensive than others because they require more training and certifications.
- Location: The cost of living in different countries varies greatly, so volunteering in a developing country will likely be less expensive than volunteering in a developed country. Also, the location of the program influences the costs of your flight tickets, possible vaccinations, or visas.
- Duration: Longer volunteer programs are typically more expensive than shorter programs. However, the price per day usually gets cheaper the longer you stay.
- Time of your travel: Higher season travels will cost more than low season travel.
- Additional costs to keep in mind include travel insurance and personal expenses.
Since there are so many variables to consider when it comes to the cost of volunteering abroad, it is hard to give an exact cost of how much it takes to volunteer. But we can look at average costs of programs by exploring these topics:
- Average Cost of a Volunteer Abroad Program
- Average Cost of Popular Volunteer Abroad Destinations
- Recommended Volunteer Abroad Programs for Best Value and Experience
- Tips for Saving Money on Your Volunteer Abroad Trip
Average Cost of a Volunteer Abroad Program
To provide a good estimate of the average cost to volunteer overseas, Volunteer Forever gathered data from volunteer travel providers, and the average prices of our partner organizations. We then calculated an average from this data.
Here’s a quick overview of industry data*. The typical trip is two weeks but we’ve calculated the cost at average per week for simplicity. The costs mentioned below are in USD.
- GoAbroad says the average cost of volunteering is $688 per week.
- Volunteer FDIP lists a median cost of $800 per week.
- An NPR report estimates costs at around $1037 per week.
Now, consider the average weekly cost of volunteering with some of Volunteer Forever’s partner organizations:
- International Volunteer HQ’s (IVHQ) programs average about $20 per day
- GoEco’s and Maximo Nivel’s volunteer programs average around $500 per week.
Currently, GoEco is offering a special travel grant where you can stay for the 3rd week free! Check out the qualifying programs here!
- Volunteering Solutions’ most popular programs average around $350 per week.
- Projects Abroad’s volunteer programs average around $1,388 per week.
If we crunch all these numbers together, we can answer the question: How much does it cost to volunteer abroad?
The average cost to volunteer abroad is ~$794 per week. Volunteer Forever calculated this by researching data from numerous volunteer travel providers and organizations, as well as performing internal research of various programs and destinations around the globe. Depending on where you go and what you do as an international volunteer, your costs to volunteer abroad may be lower or higher. When including all expenses, including airfare, Volunteer Forever estimates the typical 2-week international service trip will cost $3,200.
* Note again these costs do NOT include passport and visa expenses, airfare, and other out-of-pocket expenses. It DOES include accommodation, insurance, meals, airport transfers, and some sightseeing.
Average Cost of Popular Volunteer Abroad Destinations
Below, we cover the average cost of four popular volunteer abroad destinations, listing two organizations as examples.
Cost to Volunteer in Peru
With access to the Amazon, indigenous culture, bustling cities, great cuisine, and lots of historic sites, Peru is a popular destination for international volunteers.
- IVHQ: Volunteer programs in Peru start from $245 for 1 week.
- GoEco: Volunteer programs in Peru start from $730 for 1 week.
- Maximo Nivel: Volunteer programs in Peru start from $945 for 2 weeks.
- Volunteering Solutions: Volunteer programs in Peru start from $620 for 2 weeks.
Cost to Volunteer in Thailand
Thailand has it all, from the bustling streets of Bangkok to the jungles of Chiang Mai. It’s a delightful place for combining volunteering and travel.
- International Volunteer HQ: Volunteer programs in Thailand start from $465 for 2 weeks.
- GoEco: Volunteer programs in Thailand start from $800 for 13 days.
Cost to Volunteer in South Africa
Whether you want to help disadvantaged youth in Cape Town or help conserve Africa’s Big 5, South Africa has volunteer opportunities for you.
- Projects Abroad: Volunteer programs start from $1,570 for 2 weeks.
- Volunteering Solutions: Volunteer programs start from $495 for 2 weeks.
Cost to Volunteer in Italy
A wonderful climate, ancient sites, and plenty of environmental conservation programs make Italy a top choice for volunteering overseas.
- GoEco: Volunteer programs start from $1,910 for 2 weeks (dolphin research and conservation).
- International Volunteer HQ: Volunteer programs start from $1,265 for 2 weeks.
Recommended Volunteer Abroad Programs for Best Value and Experience
The reasons you choose to volunteer abroad are diverse. You probably wish to:
- Help people and uplift communities
- Protect the environment and wildlife
- Make connections with locals and other volunteers
- Immerse yourself in another culture and learn
- Have the travel experience of a lifetime
At Volunteer Forever, we understand cost can be a barrier to volunteering abroad. That’s why we want to highlight reputable, safe, and affordable volunteer abroad programs. So, instead of worrying how much it costs to volunteer abroad, you can find a good volunteer project that fits your budget.
Below, we’ve listed three volunteer abroad programs that offer great value and an even better experience.
About the Organization: GoEco was founded in 2006 and hosts 150+ volunteer and intern abroad programs in 40+ countries across Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America, and Australasia. GoEco is committed to conservation and affordable service opportunities, and has been honored as a Top Volunteer Abroad Organization by GoAbroad. Currently, GoEco is offering a special travel grant where you can stay for the 3rd week free! Check out the qualifying programs here!
About the Programs: GoEco offers a wide variety of volunteer projects in Nepal, with fees beginning at just $1,050 for 2 weeks. Volunteer projects include:
- Teaching English in Buddhist Monasteries
- Empowering Women in Kathmandu
- Construction and Rebuilding
- Educational Outreach in Kathmandu
To volunteer in Nepal with GoEco, click here to get started!
About the Organization: Maximo Nivel began in 2003 with a mission to provide affordable volunteer abroad programs in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru. Maximo Nivel is the top rated and most reviewed volunteer abroad organization in Latin America, with each program internationally accredited.
About the Programs: Maximo Nivel offers a wide variety of volunteer projects in Costa Rica, with fees beginning at just $1,035 for 2 weeks. Volunteer projects include:
- Beach Conservation
- Marine Conservation
- Teaching and Working with Kids
- Construction and Building
- Medical and Healthcare
To volunteer in Costa Rica with Maximo Nivel, click here to get started!
About the Organization: Volunteering Solutions was founded in 2007 and now has more than 150+ projects across 27 countries. To date, Volunteering Solutions has hosted more than 17,000 volunteers and interns. Overall, the organization offers great service opportunities at reasonable prices.
About the Programs: Volunteering Solutions offers a wide variety of volunteer projects in Australia, with fees beginning at just $1,050 for 2 weeks. Volunteer projects include:
- Conservation of Endangered Animals in Gladstone
- Wildlife and Penguin Care in Tasmania
- Wildlife Conservation in Yackandandah
To volunteer in Australia with Volunteering Solutions, click here to get started!
Tips for Saving Money on Your Volunteer Abroad Trip
We hope this article has provided you with a good answer to the question: How much does it cost to volunteer abroad?
As you narrow down your program choices, you may hope to save some money on your international service trip. Who doesn’t? Fortunately, we have a variety of tips to help you save on your volunteering costs:
- If you are able to commit to spending two years abroad, consider applying for First Things Foundation, which is a non-profit organization that offers two-year, fully-paid immersionships to Guatemala, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, and the Georgia Republic. First Things Foundation will pay for your flights, meals, lodging, and pay you a monthly stipend.
- Apply for volunteer abroad scholarships and grants. Read our Volunteer Scholarships Guide.
- Choose affordable volunteer projects with reputable organizations. We’ve compiled a whole guide on the Best Affordable Volunteer Programs.
- Pick an organization where you can get academic credit for your volunteer program (which can reduce your tuition bills). For example, International Volunteer HQ, Intern Abroad HQ, and Maximo Nivel have partnerships with accredited universities.
- Fly during non-peak seasons, or times when tourist travel isn’t as popular. This will ensure you get a cheaper flight.
- Raise money from family and friends to support your volunteer trip. For instance, you could host a fundraising party!
- Ask the organization about discounts. Even if it’s not mentioned on the site, you may be able to get a discount.
- Be flexible with time and dates. Flexibility ensures you can opt for the cheaper times to volunteer.
- Use miles and rewards points to book a flight. Chances are you have points to use on a credit card, airline membership, etc.
- Choose a volunteer abroad program closer to home. For instance, if you live in Australia and want to volunteer abroad, look around Southeast Asia. If you live in the United States, consider locations in Central America.
Try one or a few of these tips, and your volunteer abroad trip won’t cost as much. Best of luck on your search. You’ll be on your way to volunteer abroad in no time.