Volunteering abroad is a great opportunity to explore a country and immerse yourself in the culture while helping others. Sounds good, right?! It did to me, until I looked up some volunteer programs offered by renown organizations and took a step back when I saw the price tag. The fee averaged 1500€. As a student, I didn’t have that kind of money and couldn’t afford to pay the program fee plus the flight. Fortunately, volunteering doesn’t have to be expensive and without further ado, here’s how to cut the cost by finding a placement on your own!
- What kind of volunteer work do you want to do?
Do you want to help build homes, teach English or help protect the environment? The kind of volunteer project you choose might influence your destination. Which brings us to;
- Pick a destination
This is a no-brainer but before you start searching for your ideal volunteer program, select the country, region or continent in which you would like to do it (depending on your flexibility). Factors such as the spoken language or the surroundings can help you make that decision as you could take advantage of this experience to discover a culture you’ve always had an interest in or improve your language skills!
- How much time do you have to give?
Whereas you’re taking a gap year or looking to do something interesting during your summer break, have a clear idea of how long you would like to serve so that your future host and yourself can agree to a plan.
- Use volunteer project search engines
There are various websites that have listings of the NGO’s that are looking for volunteers or that act as a contact platform between hosts and volunteers. I found my program by searching on workaway. Other reliable websites you can browse on are helpstay, movingworlds, idealist or gooverseas. They will usually charge you a small yearly membership fee to cover their expenses such as the website’s maintenance. For example, I paid 23 euros for a year of access to workaway’s database.
Remember your cousin’s friend that spent 3 months in South Africa?! Now would be a good time to catch up with him and ask him about his volunteer experience and tips! If you don’t know anybody who has volunteered before, still get the word out because odds are someone in your surroundings will know someone who will be able to help you!You’ve found a program that interests you in your country of choice; great! But here are a few things you should pay attention to before sealing the deal!
- What you should look out for
- Read other user’s reviews and feedbacks! If there’s only one negative comment, it’s probably not a big deal but if the majority of them aren’t positive, you might want to reconsider. Always safety first. Don’t hesitate to contact someone who has already done the program you have chosen and ask them questions about their experience so that you can get a better idea of what to expect and avoid any bad surprise!
- Make sure your insurance covers you while you’re abroad. If not, you might want to consider extending it or subscribing to a travel insurance.
- Finally, look up informations about the country where you’re going to and get familiar! Learn about their culture, figure out practical details such as how to get around and if you have time, learning a few words in the local language is never a bad idea!
I will share with you my experience, teaching English in Indonesia in my next post so stay posted! In the meantime, let me know in the comments below which volunteer program you’re interested in or tweet me @wanderousheart. You can also follow me on Instagram for more travel photos.
Go explore and have fun!