Volunteering Series: Volunteering for Less by Astrid Halliday
Merry Christmas all, I’m sure you won’t be reading this on Christmas Day, but I have been promising poor Astrid I’d post this for weeks, now. Astrid contacted me through email after I had tweeted inviting other people to guest post on my blog and asked if it would be something she could do. I, of course, said yes once she told me it would be about volunteering.
Volunteering is something I’m extremely passionate about, I hadn’t actually thought of doing any volunteering whilst abroad, but after reading this article that Astrid pulled together, it’s definitely something I’d consider in the future. – Just a Belfast Girl
Volunteering for Less
Guest Post by Astrid Halliday
Searching online for volunteer opportunities abroad can shock most travellers, with costs of over a thousand pounds for a couple of weeks volunteering. Affordable options do exist but may be slightly harder to find, on the second or third page of results.
To make searching easier, here are a couple more affordable options:
Despite what organisation you volunteer with there are many other ways to spend less whilst volunteering abroad.
Exploring is a big part of visiting a new country, you don’t want to have chosen to volunteer in an expensive destination where you can’t afford to do anything. There’s no point being abroad if you can’t afford to enjoy the country.
Many people don’t know that Africa is affordable for the locals but often accommodation and attractions charge a tourist rates which can be as much as ten times more than what the locals pay.
Countries in Asia are a lot more affordable than most other countries in the world. In fact, Asia is home to three of the top five cheapest places to live globally. Accommodation, food and things to do are all affordable and prices typically don’t inflate for tourists.
Research online thoroughly before committing to a destination, look for specific prices people paid and consider whether those prices are in your budget.
If you only have a couple of weeks spare let the cost of flights dictate your location. Most flight search websites allow you to search “fly to anywhere” and list the destinations in cheapest to most expensive, skyscanner also lets you search by the “cheapest month”.
Some large flight advising companies offer discounts off expensive flights but beware as they sometimes increase prices before offering five or ten percent off. Travellers think they’ve got a good deal but have in fact paid for an expensive ticket. Be sure to look at multiple different website and advisors, also consider different routes with stop overs, flying from a different airport and flying on Tuesdays and Wednesday as these are supposed to be the cheapest days to travel.
Bypass the cost of an organisation completely and choose to volunteer directly with a charity. This form of volunteering is better suited to confident, independent travellers as it is likely there will be less support and more responsibility to make your own way to hosts and projects.
Every type of volunteer work is available internationally. From bar work at a hostel to agriculture on a farm, there is something to suit every volunteer. Schools and charities often post advert online searching for free help from international volunteers in exchange for accommodation. You may stumble across a small charity which is desperate for volunteers where you can really make a difference.
Grants can range from €50 to over €1000 which can help go toward funding your trip. The higher funding grants usually come with some commitments, such as being prepared to complete a report and presentation upon return form your volunteering abroad.
Despite common belief, travel grants aren’t exclusive to university and college students. There are now many employers and trusts which award grants to working professionals. They aren’t always advertised because the fund may not be large, and they don’t want thousands of applicants. It is always worth asking your work and searching for local trusts online.
Huge thanks to Astrid for this and for providing some really good tips, websites and information on volunteering. If you decide to take a gap year next year to go volunteer, or maybe even a career break, then hopefully this will help.
Until next time, Merry Christmas and I hope you all get spoilt.