When planning holidays, volunteering abroad probably isn’t something that comes to mind. However, volunteering abroad is a great opportunity to share your skills, enthusiasm and knowledge while immersing yourself in a unique culture and discovering new places around the world. I personally think volunteering abroad is a fantastic and life altering experience. It gives us the opportunity to help someone else and have fun at the same time. Not all volunteering opportunities are expensive. In fact, there are many free and low cost volunteer opportunities in foreign countries. Here are some information that will assist you find a legitimate and free or low cost options.
How Free Is Free Volunteering Abroad?
One thing to know is, free volunteering only mean that your time spent assisting an organization is free of charge. You may still have to pay for your lodging, food and transportation. If you choose a free volunteer program, it is important to go in with realistic expectations. Often free volunteering tends to be less organized and you are expected to be a self starter. If a challenge is what you are looking for, this will be a good experience. It is important to recognize the opportunity cost of volunteering abroad for free. May you be a student, a father or a retired teacher, you will save money by volunteering independently as opposed to volunteering through a large agency.
Consider Paying If…
- This will be your first time abroad
- You have hesitations about making your way around in a foreign country
- You have a specific type of field you want to work in
- You have a limited amount of time to make arrangements and volunteer
How To Find Free Volunteer Programs Abroad?
Online forums is a great way to get information about volunteering abroad. Forums like Lonely Planet’s Thorntree and GO! Overseas Forum are a good start. Forums allow you to search for previous posts about volunteering abroad or start your own thread requesting volunteering information. Travelers and locals alike will often read and respond to these posts.
Guidebooks by Lonely Planet will have opportunities at the end of the book or at the end of each section. These listings will give you contact details and where to find legitimate volunteering projects.
Social media has never been so popular as it is today. Take time to post or search information on social networks such as Facebook & Twitter and social bookmarking sites such as Digg & Delicious. Other than that, there are many online communities that share volunteering abroad opportunities and forming groups.
Websites & Blogs Search
There are great websites that list free or low cost volunteering opportunities. One such website is Volunteer South America. However, keep in mind that many projects have fees that is not present initially. When searching online, it is best to search for what really interest you. For example, if you like to take care of elephants, searches such as elephant orphanage volunteers or volunteer in Africa for elephants could give you good results.
If you have enough travel time and if you are flexible enough, one of the best ways to find free volunteer projects in on location. For example, once you are at your destination, inquire your hotel, restaurants, markets and schools. There will be few organizations that will appreciate a free helping hand.
Things You Should Ask Before Volunteering Abroad
Once you find a volunteer project you are interested in, it is important to follow up with key questions. Just because a project allows you to volunteer for free, doesn’t make it legitimate.
These are the types of questions you want to ask:
- How are funds being used?
- Does your volunteer role cost a job of a local resident?
- If your plan is to volunteer only for a short period, is it worthwhile for the project?
Resources To Find Free Volunteer Opportunities Abroad
Volunteering your time is a huge donation. May it be a week or six months, your volunteering time is more precious to communities than you may realize. At the same time, all organizations need money to continue running as well. Therefore, if you can donate money, do so by all means. Volunteering abroad is truly an enriching experience. At the end of the day you will walk away with new cultural knowledge, new friends and priceless life experiences. Most of all, many communities will benefit greatly from your skills and donations by volunteering abroad.