Table of Contents
- International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)
- Maximo Nivel
- Teach English Abroad
- Low-Cost Remote Internships
- Why Pay to Volunteer Abroad?
- Registration Fee vs Program Fee
- Affordable Volunteer Organizations
- How We Chose These Affordable Projects
- Recommended Cheap, Affordable, and Low-Cost Volunteer Abroad Opportunities
(Updated for 2023-2024 trips)
We’ve put together a list of 25 great volunteer & teach abroad organizations that offer cheap, affordable, and low-cost volunteer, intern, and teach abroad projects. Many of these projects also work as impactful mission trips for college students.
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) is one of the world’s most trusted and affordable volunteer abroad providers with more than 130,000 volunteers placed worldwide since 2007. IVHQ’s impactful adventures in destinations like Costa Rica, Nepal, and Spain start from only $20USD a day! Choose from projects ranging from teaching, to medical and health, to environment and conservation, and much more!
GoEco is an affordable option for travelers looking for transparent and meaningful programs, with affordable trips starting less than $300 a week; they are a really great choice if you will be traveling alone and want to engage in volunteer work with like-minded people. You’ll definitely want to check out their super affordable teaching assistant volunteer project in Tanzania. Other excellent opportunities include Pacific Sea Turtle Volunteer Program, Animal Rescue in Costa Rica, and Hua Hin Teaching and Childcare.
Maximo Nivel is a great choice and one of our top picks not only for their low cost and affordability but also for their reputation and established history. Maximo Nivel offers programs in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Peru, and is an especially affordable choice for U.S. travelers who are interested in human rights and education internship programs, which start from $1,525 for four weeks ($381 per week).
Teach English Abroad
Furthermore, we will show you how to get certified to Teach English abroad so that you can get paid a salary to live and teach in wonderful locations such as Bali, Thailand, Spain, Italy, and more!
Low-Cost Remote Internships
Lastly, not only will we showcase cheap and affordable volunteer programs but also low-cost remote internship options. We will also provide resources on volunteer abroad scholarships and grants, fundraising for a volunteer trip, and getting free airfare overseas.
Why Pay to Volunteer Abroad?
If you are like many aspiring international volunteers researching volunteer opportunities overseas, you have probably experienced sticker shock by the high cost of volunteering abroad.
Indeed, many international volunteers do not initially realize that the average cost of a volunteer trip is $3,000. Before my first volunteer trip to India in 2012, I was naïve enough to think someone would pay me to participate in overseas volunteer work! The trip cost incurred by volunteers includes a registration fee, program fee, airfare, travel insurance, vaccinations, visas, and other travel costs.
Registration Fee vs Program Fee
One important note to keep in mind is that many volunteer programs specify a separate registration fee vs the program fee. Think of the registration fee as an application fee, which goes towards the organization’s cost to process your application and place you with one of their projects. The program fee is used for your accommodations, meals, airport pick-up, and other in-country expenses. We know keeping track of these different costs can be tricky, which is why we showcase several popular affordable projects below.
Affordable Volunteer Organizations
In terms of why you have to pay to volunteer abroad, international volunteer organizations rely on volunteer program fees and your time and labor to sustain their organizations. The program fee not only goes towards providing you room and board while you are volunteering abroad but also pays for administration costs such as staff salaries, marketing expenses, and direct funding support to the host community.
You’re also responsible for your own airfare and travel insurance to reduce the volunteer organization’s burden of hosting you. Volunteer organizations differ enormously in terms of the program fees they charge. Some organizations charge a higher program fee so that they can provide first-class pre-departure and in-country support to volunteers. These programs – which include summer volunteer programs for college students – may be more appropriate to prospective volunteers (especially first-time volunteers) who would prefer to have more support before, during, and after their volunteer trips.
On the other hand, other would-be volunteers may be more independent and require less support during the volunteering process. This article highlights affordable volunteer organizations such as Plan My Gap Year and Maximo Nivel whose program fees are $1,000 or less to volunteer abroad for 2 weeks, making it possible to travel abroad cheap. While many aspiring volunteers would love to travel and volunteer abroad for free, the needs of volunteer programs and their host communities can make that very difficult. However, this article will show you how to make volunteering abroad affordable.
How We Chose These Affordable Projects
In defining cheap, affordable, and low-cost volunteer opportunities, we exclude well-known volunteer programs such as the Peace Corps (USA), United Nations Volunteers, and Voluntary Service Overseas (UK). While these are wonderful programs, both the Peace Corps and Voluntary Service Overseas require two-year commitments, which may not be feasible for students and professionals who are seeking shorter-duration volunteer projects. Furthermore, United Nations Volunteers requires a six-month commitment and can be a highly competitive program.
We have also included intern abroad and teach abroad programs since they provide similar experiences to volunteering abroad but at a lower cost to the participant. Interestingly enough, you can get certified to teach English as a foreign language and then get paid to travel abroad (heads up: you’ll need to get certification first). Here are ten great international volunteer, intern, and teaching English alternatives that are cheap and don’t require long-term commitments; we’ve also included one volunteer abroad program that includes free airfare! Finally, most of the programs we list would work if you’re looking for mission trips. It’s a great time to start volunteering, so read on to learn more about applying to these inexpensive volunteer abroad programs.
Recommended Cheap, Affordable, and Low-Cost Volunteer Abroad Opportunities
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ)
International Volunteer HQ (IVHQ) is a global volunteer organization that provides affordable, safe, and responsible volunteer programs in over 40 different destinations across Africa, Asia, Central America, South America, Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific. With program fees starting from just $20USD a day and over 130,000 alumni, IVHQ is a trusted low-cost volunteer program that has been able to attract a significant number of volunteers to its programs since its start in 2007. They also offer numerous impactful missions trips in different countries for teenagers to families over the past 16 years.
IVHQ offers 300+ short-term and long-term volunteer options that range from 1 week to 24 weeks in the areas of education, medical, construction and renovation, childcare, conservation, wildlife and animal care, community development, and social enterprise. Many of these programs are used as mission trips for college students. Plus, these volunteer placements are available in 40+ destinations, including:
Teaching and Childcare Volunteering
For a responsible way to volunteer with children, be sure to check out IVHQ’s sports education program in Fiji, their childcare program in Cambodia, or their teach abroad program in South Africa! Volunteers on these projects provide support to local staff within schools, childcare centers, and community centers to help build capacity and increase access to education for youth. This leads to enhanced opportunities for higher education and improved life and career prospects.
Nursing and Medical Volunteering
For aspiring public health and medical professionals, IVHQ’s medical project in Ghana is a great way to serve others while learning more about the public health and medical fields. Nursing and medical volunteer projects are also available with IVHQ in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Peru, India, Nepal, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.
Conservation and Wildlife Volunteering
Some IVHQ volunteer projects that you’ll definitely want to check out include their turtle conservation projects in Gal