Some people volunteer because they want to find a way to travel that’s less expensive than just taking a vacation and some want to do more with their travel than just go on vacation. Others want to try different, new experiences in an environment where they learn about new things. And finally, there are those who plan to work in the nonprofit sector and wish to enhance their resume by doing volunteer work and traveling can be a great way to achieve this.
Whatever your reason may be, Dr Anna Mdee, founder of Village-to-Village warns volunteers to carefully choose where and how they are placed in a volunteer position. Since the 1990s, the travel industry began developing volunteer vacation products apart from the traditional volunteer organizations. Due to this huge shift in how volunteer openings are being offered the opportunities are no longer strictly traditional volunteer situations. They can also be volunteer vacation opportunities, which are not the same thing. They can be more vacation and less beneficial work for the particular location.
However, due to the same changes in the volunteer travel network, there are more opportunities for someone to take a voluntary opportunity for less than the two year commitment required by the Peace Corps. Most opportunities range from two weeks up to a year.
Many opportunities require special training in specific fields while some just require your willingness to participate and to learn. Many locations offer room and board, some with a small stipend. Some organizations require that you pay your own way sometimes at a very good discount, others at the same price as a vacation. A few, such as the Peace Corps and the UN, fully pay for all of your expenses including airfare. Some locations and situations also offer scholarships and other kinds of funding. You can find this especially among the opportunities through the schools where there may also be school credit for the work done.
This guide offers four websites where you can start your search. These websites were chosen because they offer a range of opportunities from various organizations and not just from one source so that your comparison
may be a bit easier.
Two of the websites offer a menu of links to a range of resources on websites as well as practical help and advice. The other two websites offer a list of links to a number of specific organizations with a range of interests and requirements.
Volunteer Travel Guide
Volunteer Abroad Free:
This website lists links on teaching, farm work, medical work, working in an orphanage, teaching English, internships and student and gap-year programs. Their links also offer specific locations such as Asia, Africa and South America. You will also find links on scholarships, management tips and travel insurance.
Explorations in Travel:
You will find a menu of links which include flight information, student programs, travel insurance, fund raising and travel helps. You will also find a link on becoming a tour guide as well as specific links which include opportunities in Eurasia, Europe, North America, Indonesia, the South Pacific and Central America.
This website also includes sections on travel insurance, accommodations, various travel resources and programs that they feature.
10 Volunteer Opportunities for Free Travel:
You will find opportunities that cover organic farming, saving sea turtles, conservation work in Australia or New Zealand, teaching English in the Sudan, maintenance work on the Appalachian Trail, hiking/walking guide work in Europe, worldwide help exchange, working for the UN or the Peace Corps or working on a kibbutz in Israel.
Volunteer To Travel: 11 Opportunities For Free Or Very Cheap Travel:
This website offers several links on reducing trip costs, volunteer opportunities as well as sections on long-term programs, short-term programs and a section on programs that aren’t free but are inexpensive.
The long-term section includes the Peace Corps, which also includes another program, Volunteers for Prosperity, which has a more flexible time commitment. You will also find the UN, The ArtCorps which is for professional artists and Voluntary Service Overseas. Most terms are from eleven months to two years.
The short-term programs include Geekcorps for IT experts, Winrock International which stresses sustainable resource use and environmental protection, ACDI/VOCA looks for professionals in business, banking, marketing, community development, agriculture and food processing , The International Executive Service Corps seeks volunteers in industry or business and The Financial Services Volunteer Corps looks for finance and business experts. These opportunities range from one to six months.
The section on inexpensive opportunities includes Willing Workers On Organic Farms where a volunteer can work on farms world-wide. They also offer Service Civil International and Volunteers for Peace which offer volunteer opportunities in education, art, construction and farming for rates around $300 per individual and $500 per family for two to three weeks which include room and board.
This website also offers some general help links for those who are interested in learning more about volunteering.