Volunteer Abroad On A Budget
Volunteering abroad is something that many people say they’d like to do, but few believe they can afford to cut loose and travel. Speak to anyone who has spent time volunteering abroad and the chances are their eyes will gloss over in nostalgia as they recount you with tales of the endangered turtles they saved, the hospitals they built or the endless nights they spent strumming a guitar round a campfire on a beach in Australia. But you don’t have to have bottomless pockets of money to achieve this dream anymore, as much more affordable volunteer travel is becoming increasingly more available. Find out where to look with our countdown below.
Most people choose to volunteer abroad for two reasons: the chance to travel and the chance to make a difference. You can certainly make a difference in Greece. Although the country is in trouble financially at the moment, this is no reason to discount Greece as a possible destination. Not too far from home but worlds apart in terms of culture, climate and lifestyle, Greece is a great option for many volunteers. Cities like Athens can provide a fascinating insight into ancient history, with the Parthenon and the Acropolis to name just two, but Greece’s many world class beaches can also provide some respite after a long day’s work. As Greece is having economic problems at the moment, living costs and fees for international volunteers are low, making it a great choice if you’re on a very tight budget. Most volunteers will work in tourism, education or healthcare.
Cambodia is a country that has it all for travellers and volunteers alike. There are a huge number of great volunteer programmes available, usually in and around Phnom Penh, but it is also one of the world’s best party destinations for gap year travellers or those on their summer break. A lot of volunteer trip projects centre around work in schools, orphanages or human rights development, but there are a lot of other opportunities depending on your preferences. Being in South East Asia, it is a great springboard to travelling further after your placement, but since living costs are very low, especially food, drink and accommodation, you can afford to travel a little without worrying about money.
Volunteer travel to Kenya is up there with the most rewarding of destinations, but it can be fairly cheap too. Most of the volunteer work in Kenya involves work in education or healthcare, since Malaria and HIV/Aids are very big problems for the country. Medical training is not necessary for most roles, since all training will be giving and volunteers generally work in support roles, but the rewards from a period spent in Kenya are massive. Volunteers are usually placed in the suburbs of the big cities, such as Nairobi, Kibera, Wangige or Kahawa, where there is a lot of work to be done, but working in Kenya also gives you a great launching point to travel around other parts of Africa nearby.
Remember that image in the introduction about sitting on an Australian beach strumming a guitar by the campfire? Well it can be true if you know where to look. The typical gap year destinations of Melbourne and Sydney will be more costly, even for volunteers, but there are many parts of Australia where very cheap living costs and low programme fees for volunteers can make volunteer trips to Australia much more accessible. Places such as Brisbane and Cairns are well worth a look for those on a tighter budget.
There are few places on Earth that really come close to paradise, but Costa Rica is definitely one of them. With a tropical climate, some of the most stunning landscapes on the planet to gaze at and some of the most friendly, welcoming people alive, Costa Rica is certainly worth a stop on your travel itinerary. Whilst paradise usually comes with an extortionate price tag, living costs, accommodation and travel in the country are very low. There is also a lot of volunteer work to be done. Volunteer trips to Costa Rica generally involve wildlife conservation, environmental work or placements in schools working with children.