100 Free or Cheap Volunteer Work Opportunities Abroad
Volunteer work has become big business. Hundreds of gap year companies are there to guide timid gappers into a voluntary project, but if you are willing to be brave and do it all yourself it can be much, much cheaper.
Of course, this isn't for everybody. Many young (and older) travellers would prefer the security and benefits of a structured volunteer programme to provide assistance should things go wrong
Of the organisations listed below few require skills. Most just need a helping hand by those that are enthusiastic and willing to pitch in. Truly free opportunities for unskilled volunteers are rare. We’ve only listed organizations that charge reasonable, for their location, fees for food and accommodation where they are not free.
Most, but not all, of the projects are free to join and with few exceptions expect to have pay for your own travel costs and insurance. Most projects are open to most nationals that can get a tourist visa.
1. Sudan Volunteer Programme, Sudan
London based charity that send graduates and undergraduates to Sudan to teach English at schools, colleges and Universities. No teaching experience required. Summer and longer term programmes available. SVP provide accommodation and a small stipend.
2. Exit Festival, Serbia
Held near Novi Sad in July, the four day Exit festival attracts acts such as Primal Scream and Paul Weller. A free ticket is offered to volunteers willing to work as stewards, bar staff and security. Details for volunteers are usually provided on their website around March.
3. Grupo Lubo, Portugal
Grupo Lobo works toward the conservation of the wolf and the wolves' habitat in Portugal. Volunteers help with many tasks including feeding the wolves three times a week. Volunteers pay for accommodation, starting at €17 for a bunk bed, transport and do their own food shopping.
4. English Alive Academy, Ethiopia
Look at the pictures on the website of the sweet little kids and you won't be able to resist booking a flight to Ethiopia and plunging into a life as a volunteer English teacher. English Alive have two schools following the British curriculum, one in Addis Ababa, another in Nazareth, a rural town 100 kilometres away. Accommodation is available either in a room at the school itself or with the headmaster and his family.
5. Purple House International Backpackers Hostel, Panama
In exchange for a free dorm bed and rice and beans, volunteers are required to work eight eight hours a day washing the sheets, sweeping and mopping the floors, meeting and greeting guests, answering phones, and any of the many other jobs that need doing in a busy hostel. Volunteers must be able to speak an intermediate level of Spanish.
6. Fox Language Academy, Bolivia
Either tackling a class on your own or alongside one of their professional language teachers, this Sucre based language academy doesn't charge a thing for your help. They may also be able to provide somewhere to stay or will help you look and, if you don't want to teach, help with volunteering at nurseries, orphanages or other organisations in the area.
7. South American Explorers, Peru
Volunteers are sometimes accepted to help staff their clubhouses, providing information to travellers in South America. Spanish lessons or lunch are offered as recompense. Alternatively, for a small fee, one can browse SAE's volunteer database of projects in the local area. SAE has clubhouses in Cusco, Lima, Quito and Buenos Aires
8. Genctur, Turkey
Organising 25 voluntary summer workcamps across Turkey, Genctur require a registration fee of €75. There is no upper age limit but volunteers should be a minimum of 18. Also available on the website is information on organic farms.
9. Pueblo Ingles, Spain
The English Village seeks native speakers to populate a Spanish village and create an English speaking only environment.
10. Kentwell Hall, UK
Kentwell offers a unique opportunity for both schools and also the general public to see how a Tudor house might have been lived in, operated and sustained a community in its heyday in the 16th Century. To do this participants are invited to live as a Tudor for a couple of weeks.