Live, Work & Travel in the USA

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Gap Year & Voluntary Work in the USA

Unpaid Positions & Adventure

Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge - The refuge's 4.9 million acres include the spectacular volcanic islands of the Aleutian chain, the seabird cliffs of the remote Pribilofs, and icebound lands washed by the Chukchi Sea, providing essential habitat for some 40 million seabirds, representing more than 30 species. There's plenty of outdoorsy volunteer work on offer. Also seasonal employment.

Alutiiq Museum - Preserving the historic cultural traditions of the Alutiiq people is what this Alaskan museum gets up to. Among other things, volunteers greet visitors and give tours, monitor archaeology sites, work on a dig or as a laboratory technician.

American Bear Association - Most tasks involve manual labour so volunteers should be physically fit and available for a week or longer between May and September. 

American Land and Leisure - Maintains camp grounds on federal lands. Check out the employment page for a list of camp grounds and current job openings.

Americorps - Each year, AmeriCorps offers 75,000 opportunities for adults of all ages and backgrounds to serve through a network of partnerships with local and national nonprofit groups. Full time members who complete their service earn a Segal AmeriCorps Education Award towards college, graduate school, or to pay back qualified student loans; members who serve part time receive a partial Award. Some AmeriCorps members may also receive a modest living allowance during their term of service.

Appalachian Trail Conservancy - Trail crews spend a week or more in the backwoods helping to maintain the 2,000 plus miles of the Appalachian Trail stretching from Georgia to Maine.

Arizona Equine Rescue Organization - Volunteer work available for people who are used to handing horses and for those that are not.

ATTRA - Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Areas (ATTRA) is the US national sustainable farming information center operated by the private nonprofit National Center for Appropriate Technology. Why is this of interest to us? Because they have a huge list of internships on alternative farms and small holdings.

Avalon Travel Publishing - Publish over 300 guidebooks under a number of brands, including Moon Handbooks and Rick Steves. Internships available in several departments.

Bethesda Lutheran Communities - Community work and paid employment.

Bronx Zoo - The Bronx Zoo offers two volunteer programmes: helping out the Education Department by leading schoolchildren and other groups on guided tours or as a volunteer ambassador working with the Guest Relations Department. Part of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Bureau of Land Management - Volunteer on the land managed by the US Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management.

CamelBackpackers - Are always looking for the next interesting person looking for a work exchange or for volunteer work at this Phoenix hostel.

Camphill Special Schools - Residential volunteers and interns from diverse backgrounds come from around the globe to live, work, and learn alongside Camphill Special School staff members, called coworkers, and children and youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Central Park Zoo - Volunteers act as wildlife guides delivering exhibit talks, staffing information tables, offering administrative support, leading tours, reading to children during story time activities, and participating in a variety of events. Part of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Citizen Corps - FEMA's grassroots strategy to bring together government and community leaders to involve citizens in all hazards emergency preparedness and resilience. Americans are asked to get training in first aid and emergency skills; and to volunteer to support local emergency responders, disaster relief, and community safety.

City Hostel - Work trade opportunities in Seattle.

Colorado Trail Foundation - Stretching 500 miles through the Rocky Mountains from Denver to Durango, the Colorado Trail is maintained by trail crew volunteers who enjoy the outdoors and the social atmosphere around camp. A small one off fee is required to join a week long trail crew. Additional weeks are free.

Days End Farm Horse Rescue - Volunteer work and an internship programme in Maryland.

Diveheart - Diveheart works to build confidence, independence and self esteem in children, adults and veterans of all abilities through scuba diving, scuba therapy and related activities. Volunteers, both in and out of the water, are welcomed.

English Speaking Union - The ESU operate Capitol Hill Scholarships, allowing undergraduates to undertake placements in the offices of members of the US Congress. Past interns have worked for Teddy Kennedy and on the President's re-election campaign.

The Fairbanks International Hostel - May have a work exchange programme for wannabe housekeeping staff looking to reduce their expenses in Alaska.

Farm Sanctuary Internships - Internships are available year round in the New York and California sanctuaries. Interns must commit for three months and are required to be vegan while on the sanctuary premises. Accommodation is provided but interns are responsible for buying and preparing their own food.

Friends of Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuges - Return a PDF volunteer application or fill in an online application form.

Friends of the Cumbres and Toltec Scenic Railroad - Another Colorado trail, this one runs on rails and steam. Various programmes are available including keeping the rolling stock in good order and working on the trains.

Furaha House - A non profit organisation that strives to assist African refugee and immigrant families in achieving self-sufficiency.

Get Involved - Aimed at older Americans who want to volunteer in their own country.

The Grace Foundation of Northern California - An equine rescue and rehabilitation facility located in El Dorado Hills of California. Run soley by volunteers who do everything fom mucking to grooming, fence mending to marketing.

Grand Canyon International Hostel - Invite travellers to stop a while in the mountains and live rent free for two to three hours of housekeeping duties per day, five days a week. Other perks include free breakfast and tours. Two blocks away the related DuBeau Hostel offers the same deal.

Green Tortoise Hostel - This Seattle hostel is reported to be open to accepting help with the cleaning.

Habitat for Horses - An equine protection organisation whose main facilities are in Texas but we have foster homes and adopted horses throughout the United States. Volunteers, aged over 12, help with all the physical labour needed to keep a ranch running from grooming horses to the administrative details.

Hand Crafted Tasting Co - Reach out to one of their partners to volunteer at the DC Craft Beer Festival.

Hostel Cat - A Las Vegas film location for The Hangover. There isn't any information on their site but we have seen them posting a (very) brief ad for free stay staff.

Hostel in the Forest - Occasionally has need for some extra help at the hostel and are willing to trade a few nights in Georgia for a dedicated hard working individual should they have a project in need of extra hands.

Hotel Hotel - Takes on help willing to work for their stay in Seattle.

The Humane Society of the United States - The USA's largest animal protection organisation. Internships and jobs are listed on the website.

International Travelers House - Encourages travellers from all over the world to apply for their volunteer programme in San Diego. A standard day for live-in volunteer staff could range from checking in new travellers, keeping the house clean and tidy for the guests, or helping out with social activities. In return volunteers get free accommodation, meals, parties and trips.

International Wolf Centre - Advances the survival of wolf populations by teaching about wolves, their relationship to wildlands and the human role in their future. Office volunteer work is available in Minnesota.

Keep A Breast - A breast cancer awareness organisation. Volunteers can help out with the travelling education booth, or in the San Diego or Los Angeles offices.

Kids Creative - Seeks musicians, actors, artists, dancers and video specialists with teaching experience to help children create original musicals in schools across Manhattan, New York.

The KNOM Radio Mission - Broadcasting to isolated Eskimo villages, volunteers have been critical to this station's success. Only 15 per cent of applications are accepted but those successful will receive room and board, round trip air transportation, health insurance and a monthly cash stipend. Volunteers work in a variety of positions including DJ, producing feature interviews and documentary programmes, news reporters and producers.

Koke'e Resource Conservation Program - Participate in weed control projects in native Hawaiian forests. Volunteers work four days each week and have three days off and in exchange are given seven nights of bunk house accommodation.

Loftstel - Resident Assistant positions at Loftstel are unpaid but come with free accommodation. The internships last six months and potential resident assistants are expected to have extensive travel experience outside of North America in addition to being fluent in one other language. RAs are expected to be on duty for 30 to 35 hours in a given week as well as being on call for an additional two shifts.

Musical Theater Kids - Lists the volunteer requirements of performing arts and community theatre organisations such as the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington DC and the Prescott Fine Arts Association in Arizona. Roles vary from singing and dancing to ushering, gardening and maintenance.

Natural Resources Conservation Service - Conservation volunteer work.

New Paltz Hostel - Has a work exchange programme in New York.

New York Aquarium - Aquarium volunteers help staff exhibits; assist keepers with animal care, training, and exhibit maintenance; teach visitors about marine conservation; or work at events and education programmes. Part of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Pacific Whale Foundation - Voluteer work in Hawaii. Also research internships.

Passport in Time - As part of this archaeology programme of the US Forest Service, volunteers have, over the years, helped stabilise ancient cliff dwellings in New Mexico and excavated a 10,000 year old village site in Minnesota. Depending on the project, volunteers either pay for their own food and accommodation or contribute a small fee to the camp cook.

Pineapple Park - Work exchange opportunities are available at all three of the Pineapple Park properties on Hawaii’s Big Island. The deal is four hours of work per day in exchange for bed space with shared bathroom facilities.

Pink Hostels - In exchange for 32 hours a week of work in a variety of tasks, ranging from front desk duty, to housekeeping, you'll receive free accommodation in New York as part of their work exchange programme. They expect a three month commitment and prefer to accept participants who are students of the hospitality industry or long term travellers.

Prospect Park Zoo - Offers three ways to volunteer: as a discovery center volunteer, a discovery guide or as an education docent. Part of the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Queens Zoo - Volunteers at the Queens Zoo work with the Education Department. As a member of the team, you'll teach schoolchildren and other visitors about animals by leading guided tours, assisting with special programmes and events, speaking at narrated feedings, and helping with arts and crafts activities.

Resource Center for Nonviolence - Since 1976, volunteers from both the community in Santa Cruz, California, and around the world have contributed their time and expertise to sustain Resource Center facilities and programmes.

RK Hostel - Most volunteer positions available with this San Diego hostel are quickly filled by guests staying with them but sometimes the need arises for a few more fun loving, free spirited souls willing to help out part time in exchange for accommodation.

Rocking Horse Rehab - A New Jersey pediatric rehabilitation and family wellness centre specialising in equine assisted therapies along with alternative and traditional therapeutic programmes. They clearly intend to work with volunteers but at the time of writing the volunteer page on the website says 'coming soon'.

Seattle International Beerfest - Earn beer money, literally. The festival is made possible by beer loving volunteers. One shift gets you ten free beer tickets, a t-shirt and a glass, three shifts equates to 43 beers. Cheers. The festival, along with another held in Portland, is in July.

Sitka International Hostel - Alaskan hostel opened in 2010 in a historic building previously used as an infirmary, a college and a bachelor officers' quarters for the US Coast Guard. We have seen them taking applications for 'houseparent' volunteers to welcome their guests and do some light housekeeping. On site accommodation and a stipend of $150 dollars per month for the local supermarket is provided in return.

Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum - Several volunteer programmes and internships.

Southern DataStream - Agricultural engineering and consulting company that offers internships ranging from engineering to journalism in Florida. Fee required and some housing provided.

Spenard Hostel - This Anchorage hostel lists available jobs on their website including an unpaid work exchange position. This requires ten hours’ work per week for your bunk with the work itself including everything from cleaning to lawn and garden maintenance to painting to laying linoleum, depending on how handy you are.

The Student Conservation Association - Every day SCA unites young people with hands-on environmental challenges across the United States. They also employ field leaders, aged 21+, to lead youth or young adults in SCA conservation crews and projects.

Sundance Institute - Utah’s world famous film festival relies on the generosity and dedication of thousands of volunteers year round, and seeks volunteers locally, nationally, and internationally, who share a commitment to supporting independent film and theatre.

USA Hostels - There are three USA Hostels, in San Francisco, San Diego and Hollywood, and each invites volunteer enquiries.

USA Gap Year Fairs - A national circuit of events that bring together reputable gap year organisations, interested students and parents, high school college counsellors and gap year experts.

US Army Corps of Engineers - Volunteer opportunities in recreation and natural resources management at many of the USACE's 423 lakes and waterways across the country. Volunteers serve as park and campground hosts, staff visitor centres, conduct programmes, clean shorelines, restore fish and wildlife habitats, maintain park trails and facilities, and more.

USDA Forest Service - The Forest Service manages 193 million acres of public lands in national forests and grasslands. Volunteer work and paid employment available.

US Fish and Wildlife Service - Volunteer opportunities with the USFWS may be found at more than 500 refuges and hatcheries throughout the United States.

US Geological Survey - A science organisation that focuses on biology, geography, geology. Explore the website for information on student jobs, volunteer work and internships.

Venice Beach Hostel - Paid jobs might be available to those that are eligible (ie those with a J-1 visa) but first get your foot in the door at the Venice Beach Hostel by working for meals and a place to sleep.

Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado - Volunteers combat invasive weeds, build urban trails, repair park facilities and plant trees.

Wanderlust Hostel - Appeals to the outdoorsy type and those trading their time and skills in Gunnison, Colorado, will be able to go skiing or hiking in the mountains in their free time.

Washington State Parks - Volunteers serve as camp hosts, assist in visitor centres and answer questions from the public; maintain and restore trails; give museum tours and interpret history; and provide routine maintenance such as mowing lawns. Paid temporary jobs are also available.

Wilderness Volunteers - Promotes volunteer service to America's wild lands.

Wildlife Safari - A non profit zoological park in Oregan dedicated to conservation, education and research. Wildlife Safari Volunteer Teams perform various functions around the park including tour guide and animal watch. There are also internships devoted to certain departments: cheetah, carnivore, ungulate and elephant.

Work Camping - RVers offer their labour as a camp host maintaining a recreational facility in exchange for a free camping site plus wages.

WWOOF Hawaii - The only non country member of the WWOOF network offers an impressive 250(ish) hosts.

WWOOF USA - Volunteer to work on organic farms across the USA.

Living in the USA

Real Estate and Resources for Staying Long Term

CaliforniaRealEstate.com - Find a home in California. Also includes an agent search.

HomeGain - Find a home across America.

Mahoosuc Realty - Ski resort homes for sale.

MyLandAuctions.com - USA land and lot auctions.

New York Bits - NY Bits will help you find the perfect New York City apartment in the perfect NYC neighborhood.

World of Florida - UK based estate agents selling property in Florida.

Travelling in the USA

Accommodation & Getting Around

Free Campsites - Places to camp in the US for nothing.

House Sitters America - A house sitting website helping house sitters find free accommodation throughout the US.

Transfercar - Transfer cars and RVs across the United States.

Other Useful American Websites

Culture, News...

Coachella - Music festival.

Embassy of the United States, London

New York Times

Search University - Online universities directory by state, name and specialisation.

Seattle Languages International - Offers classes and private lessons. Learn Italian, Spanish, French, Russian, German, Japanese, Greek, Mandarin, Rumanian, Vietnamese and Arabic in Seattle with language programs for adults, children and corporations.

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