How to volunteer your way around the world

Think you’re too broke to travel? Worried that your tiny bank balance won’t get you very far? You’re not alone. Many people say finances are the main thing preventing them from travelling... it’s probably the most common excuse for not getting out there and seeing the world.

While you obviously need a bit of cash to get going, there are plenty of ways to drastically cut your costs on the road. With a little know-how and proper planning, it’s possible to make a small budget stretch and fund an epic adventure. Volunteering can be a fantastic way of doing this if you can source the right opportunities. So here’s how to volunteer your way around the world:

Think outside the box

Everyone has their own reasons to volunteer. From the purely altruistic “giving something back”, to those who are mainly in it for what they can get back. Volunteering can take on many shapes and forms, and they don’t all fit the traditional stereotype of building a school or digging a well. If you start to think outside the box and widen the type of opportunity that you’re open to... you’ll find far more viable possibilities.

Look for volunteer work exchanges

In exchange for your work, you’ll get your accommodation and potentially your meals in return. Whether you’re helping to run an eco hostel in Bali or teaching kids English in Bolivia, it can be a brilliant way to help you realise your travel ambitions. You’ll also develop new skills, make friends, and have an awesome time while you’re at it. All the while still enriching your experience through helping others.

Where to find volunteering positions

There are numerous websites that act as go-betweens for volunteers and hosts searching for a helping hand. Sites such as Workaway, HelpX, and Hippohelp all work on a similar premise where the volunteer can sign up and connect with hosts.

Some of these sites charge a yearly fee, some are free, and some have different tiers of membership. Those with fees tend to be pretty low but give you access to a better service. Such as being able to check historic reviews and an added level of commitment from both sides.

Do your research

As with absolutely anything these days, it’s relatively easy to find reviews and advice. Make sure you take the time to do a bit of research before signing yourself up for any kind of commitment. Unfortunately, not all volunteering opportunities are what they seem.

When looking for a volunteering opportunity, there are a few things to look out for.

  • What’s included in exchange for your volunteer hours
  • How many hours per day are expected
  • Whether meals are included
  • What the sleeping arrangements are

There are plenty of projects all over the world that offer a fair exchange of services so there’s no need to settle for something that doesn’t completely suit you.

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