How to find paid volunteer projects abroad

How to find paid volunteer projects abroad

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Volunteering offers you the chance to make a difference in the lives of others, help the environment, and give something back to the community. But besides the impact that you can have, volunteering also provides you with the opportunity to develop new skills and knowledge, enhance your CV and pay for your expenses while traveling.

It doesn’t matter which is your age; you can participate in the majority of projects if you are above 18 years old. The duration of the projects varies between two weeks to three months or more, so if you are studying or working you can volunteer during your holidays. Furthermore, if you are planning to have a gap year traveling around the world, you can save money by volunteering abroad because some projects cover living expenses!

You can start by volunteering in your own country or take a further step and volunteer abroad. In the platforms mentioned below, you will be able to filter volunteer projects by continent, country, and city.

Basically, there exist three types of volunteer projects. In this article I am going to explain you all of them and mention real experiences of people:

  1. Real Experiences: success cases of people who volunteered abroad.
  2. Projects with locals: in which you will receive free accommodation and food in exchange for your skills.
  3. Projects with organizations: in which you will pay a small fee to cover your living expenses.
  4. Paid jobs with NGOs: that will cover accommodation, food, a small salary and sometimes even flight tickets.
  5. How to choose a volunteer project? Advice to choose according to your objectives, type of work, location, dates, and requirements.

1. Real Experiences

The following are success cases of people who volunteered abroad.

a. Workaway: Five volunteer projects in Africa and Europe

  • Type of project: Project with local
  • Payment: free accommodation and food
  • Summary: I participated in 5 volunteer projects in Germany, Italy, Egypt and South Africa through Workaway website.
  • Details: You can read the post Workaway: my experience in 5 volunteer projects abroad for a detailed description.

b. Workaway: volunteer in a hostal in Argentina

  • Type of project: Project with a local
  • Payment: Free accommodation and food
  • Summary: My Brazilian friend Lili worked as a volunteer at a hostel in Cordoba, Argentina getting free accommodation and food while studying a Spanish course.
  • Details: You can read the post Workaway: my experience as a volunteer at a hostal in Argentina for a detailed description.

c. Workaway: volunteer in a hostal in South Africa

d. Volunteers for Peace: Renovation project in the United States

  • Type of project: Project with an organization
  • Covered: free accommodation and food and received a certificate with curricular value.
  • Summary: An international team renovated the First Colored Wesley Methodist Church and the Community Education Center Headquarters Building.
  • Details: You can read the post How to participate in a volunteer project in the United States for a detailed description.

e. European Youth Olympic Festival: Sport event in The Netherlands

  • Type of project: project with an organization
  • Covered: food and received a certificate with curricular value.
  • Summary: I participated in the European Youth Olympic Festival helping in the organization and creation of the event.
  • Details: You can read the post How to participate in the European Youth Olympic Festival for a detailed description.

f. FSL-India: Renovation project in India

  • Type of project: project with an organization.
  • Covered: I only received a certificate with curricular value but I had to pay a participation fee.
  • Summary: An international team renovated a public school in Dharamkot while playing and speaking in English with children.
  • Details: You can read the post How to participate in the volunteer project “The Himalayan Beauty” in India for a detailed description.

g. TechnoServe: Agricultural consultancy project in Zimbabwe

  • Type of project: paid job with an NGO.
  • Covered: accommodation, salary and flight tickets to Zimbabwe.
  • Summary: I spent five months working with TechnoServe on an agricultural distribution project in Zimbabwe and another month traveling around the country.
  • Details: You can read the post My experience working with TechnoServe in Zimbabwe for a detailed description.

2. Volunteer projects with locals

These projects usually offer free accommodation and food in exchange for your skills. They are perfect for travelers moving continuously as the agreements are rather informal and last around two weeks to one month letting you explore a city and move to the next one.

  • Level of English required: if you don’t speak English you can start by selecting projects in your home country or in countries which mother language is the same as yours. Depending on the type of project maybe you will need to know the basics to communicate with other international volunteers.
  • Visa: usually you only need a tourist visa as projects are informal.

a. Skills Exchange

Worldpackers

Worldpackers connects travelers looking to exchange their skills for accommodation with incredible hosts from all around the world. It has a community of 1,000,000+ travelers and hosts worldwide. 

By helping a few hours per day, you get accommodation for free on Hostels, Surf Camps, Ecovillages, NGOs, Schools, Startups, Farms, and more.

Read more information about Worldpackers here.

Workaway

Workaway connects travelers with locals around the globe looking for volunteer help. Promotes Family Exchanges, Homestays, Farmstays, Working Holidays, Travel Buddies, Language Learning and Cultural Exchange.

Read more information and the experiences of some friends in Workaway here.

Helpx

In this webpage you will find an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation.

Read more information about Helpex here.

Volunteer Latin America

If you are interested in volunteering as a teacher, taking care of animals, doing medical work, protecting the environment or doing other similar volunteer work; you can find a wide range of opportunities (some of them with all expenses paid and free flights), in Volunteer Latin America. 

Read more information about Volunteer Latin America here.

Staydu

Staydu is the best way to host travelers. If you are traveling you can stay in the house of a host in return of your help, money or for free. You choose!

Read more information about Staydu here.

b. Organic Farms

WWOOF

Want to live and learn on organic farms worldwide? as a volunteer (or WWOOFer) you will live alongside your host helping with daily tasks and experiencing life as a farmer. 

Read more information about WWOOF here.

c. House sitting

Trusted House Sitters

Stay for free in return for caring for pets. Trusted House Sitters connects home and pet owners who need a sitter, when traveling, with trustworthy people who are happy to sit.

Read more information about Trusted Housesitters here.

House Carers

House Carers is a worldwide house sitting directory that provides a secure environment where homeowners can locate a reliable house sitter and sitters can achieve their financial and housing objectives.

Read more information about House Carers here.

Nomador

With Nomador you can travel and save money with free accommodation by helping pet-owners who want to go on holiday.

Read more information about Nomador here.

d. Au Pair

Au Pair World

Experience another country while living with a family and taking care for their children.

Read more information about Au Pair World here.

Au Pair Care

Live with an American family while you care for their children, improve your English, and have the experience of a lifetime. This is possible wit the J-1 Visa program.

Read more information about Au Pair Care here.

e. Volunteer on a boat

Find a Crew

Find a Crew is a website that connects boat owners with crew members. If you are traveling and you volunteer as a crew member besides accommodation costs you will also save transportation costs.

Read more information about Find a Crew here.

3. Volunteer projects with organizations

These organizations usually charge a fee to cover your living expenses during the project. But the advantage is that these projects are not with locals but with established organizations so, in the end, you will receive a certificate of participation with curricular value.

  • Level of English required: if you don’t speak English you can start by selecting projects in your home country or in countries which mother language is the same as yours. Depending on the type of project maybe you will need to know the basics to communicate with other international volunteers.
  • Visa: usually you only need a tourist visa as projects are informal.

a. E-vet Database

In the E-vet database webpage you will find one of the most extensive volunteer databases from all over the world and make a refined search by country, type of work and duration.

When you find the project of your interest, look for the organization that is offering it and google it; in its webpage you’ll usually be able to find more information about the project, their application process and email/telephone contact for further questions.

Find all the details of the database and the application process in the post How to find volunteer projects with NGOs

world map

b. Placement companies 

If you are new to volunteer projects you can contact a placement company in your country and it will guide you through all the process, although they are going to charge you a fee.

You have to consider that sometimes even if you want to do the process independently, some organizations that offer the volunteer projects have agreements with these placement companies so in some cases you’ll have to apply through them. But also sometimes it’s better to apply through them because they could have better deals than contacting the NGO directly. The following are the majority of placement companies around the world.

Or apply through international placement companies (some examples):

4. Paid jobs with NGOs

You can also get a paid job abroad with NGOs that sometimes can even cover your flight expenses. They can be full-time positions or contracts that will last several months. But in the majority of cases, they will require some specific previous work experience or education.

  • Level of English required: if you don’t speak English you can start by selecting projects in your home country or in countries which mother language is the same as yours.
  • Visa: usually you only need a work visa but the company will help you issue it.

a. Economically remunerated projects

If you want to participate with an NGO in projects that will be paid for but will generally require some experience, there are several websites such as Reliefweb and UN Jobs in which you can search for projects .

Find all the details of the database and the application process in the post How to work abroad with an NGO

5. How to choose a volunteer project?

In order for you to find the best opportunity I recommend you to consider the following points: objetive, type of work, location, dates, requirements, and participation fee.

a. Objective

There are many personal and professional goals you can have, so here are some of them and my recommendations:

  • Help and improve your CV at the same time: I recommend that you use the E-vet database or a placement company to find a formal project in which you will receive a certificate of participation, so that you can also mention this experience abroad.
  • Help and travel with expenses paid: I recommend that you use one of the sites that connect you with people, small businesses and organizations. This way you will be able to make flexible time arrangements and travel to different countries according to your plans.
  • Help and earn some extra money: I recommend you to use the Au Pair sites. There is no application fee for Au Pair World and by helping a family you will receive not only accommodation and food, but also a small amount of financial support.

b. Type of work

There is a broad range of types of work so choose something in which you are truly interested; this is an opportunity to help and at the same time learn new skills. This projects are an important contribution to your development and you can mention them on your CV so you can either reinforce one of your qualities or develop some area.

c. Location

You should consider the location of the project because in any project most probably you’ll have to pay for the airplane ticket to get there.

I recommend you to use the “EXPLORE” KAYAK feature in which you select your country of residency and it shows you the prices of flights to all other countries around the world. You can access it here: kayak.com/explore/

Also, if you currently don’t want to spend a lot of money on airplane tickets you can also try to find volunteer projects inside your country.

d. Dates

Depending if you are a student, a professional, a housewife, a retiree, or any kind of person (there is usually no age to participate in volunteer projects), organize your time to go.

Projects may have the following durations:

  • Short term: 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Medium Term: from 1 to 6 months.
  • Long term: 1 year or more.

If you study or work you can apply for a short term project during the summer or take two weeks of vacation. Preferably apply with 1 to 3 months of anticipation so you secure your place as well as arrange your visa and travel itinerary.

e. Requirements

Usually there are no many restrictions in this projects, although most of them ask for a good level of English because you will have to communicate with a team conformed by people from all over the world. I have participated in projects with people from 18 to 50 years from different gender, profession, religion and race; one of the best features of these projects is that you’ll gain knowledge from people of different cultures and backgrounds.

Want to travel even more?…

Study Abroad

If you are also interested in studying abroad you can read the post How to find scholarships to study abroad.

Work Abroad

If you are also interested in working abroad you can read the post Jobs that will let you earn money while traveling the world

In the Volunteer Abroad section, you can find more experiences of volunteer projects abroad! If you had a similar experience and want to inspire others to apply please send an email to pilar.noriega@thelifestylehunter.com

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18 Comments

  1. Yasser elshahed
    01/08/2017 / 9:48 AM

    Hi , I’m yasser from Egypt .. I’d like you to refer me to any paid voluntry project overseas.. thank you

  2. 05/04/2017 / 1:02 PM

    What a great resource, I will definitely be using this! I am also working on launching a volunteer platform for Barbados and the wider Caribbean, so hopefully that can be added to the list soon! 🙂

    • admin
      05/04/2017 / 1:56 PM

      Hi Malou! thank you so much 😀 , it’s amazing that you’re launching the volunteer plaftorm, congratulations! Please let me know when you do it to add it to the post!

  3. 31/03/2017 / 7:34 PM

    I am bookmarking this because I was looking into doing volunteer vacations. The organization I was looking into is GlobeAware. Not sure if you have any feedback about them.

  4. 31/03/2017 / 5:11 PM

    This is a great resource! Thank you for putting this together!

    • admin
      31/03/2017 / 6:11 PM

      Thank you, I tried to collect all the existent organizations, hope you apply for a project! 😀

  5. 31/03/2017 / 2:47 PM

    Wow! Thanks for supplying all this information and all these links! Will have to look into this!

    • admin
      31/03/2017 / 6:09 PM

      You’re welcome Amy!! I’m glad it’s useful, hope you find the perfect volunteer project between all the organizations! 🙂

  6. 31/03/2017 / 10:21 AM

    Wow, thanks for the detailed and informative post. Thanks for providing all the links, this is relevant to me as I’m going travelling soon and I’m aware of the negative “voluntourism” projects which do more harm than good. I will definitely look into some of these organisations.

    • admin
      31/03/2017 / 6:06 PM

      Hi Tamsin! I’m so grateful for all the volunteer projects in which I’ve participated. In all of them I’ve experienced a great combination of altruism and fun by helping with the project as well as making friends from all over the world and having a great time! hope you participate in a project the future! 😀

  7. 31/03/2017 / 10:15 AM

    Thanks. A very useful article

    • admin
      31/03/2017 / 6:02 PM

      Thanks Daniel! 😀

  8. 31/03/2017 / 10:14 AM

    What a helpful post. I always wondered about doing something like this while traveling. I had no idea how others go involved with these kinds of projects, so thank you for enlightening me!

    • admin
      31/03/2017 / 6:02 PM

      Hi Jenny! thanks, I’m glad it helped you, hope you find some time and get involved in a volunteer project, I’m sure you’ll love it! 🙂

  9. chiimmiii
    31/03/2017 / 10:13 AM

    Good work ☺

    • admin
      31/03/2017 / 11:30 AM

      Thank you very much chiimmiii! 😀

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