While many people dream of travelling the world, few follow through. This can be for any number of reasons but the most prominent tends to be money. International travel is expensive, especially if you plan to spend your time volunteering. However, there are lots of options for travelling the world for little or no cost to you if you are smart, know where to look, and aren’t afraid to do a little heavy lifting. Some volunteer programs have extensive support including airport shuttle accommodations and language courses while others are extremely minimal in their support structures. Here are four examples of the programs available to those of us suffering from wanderlust and empty pockets who want to volunteer their time to make a difference in the world.
The Peace Corps sends its volunteers around the world to work in one of the following six fields: education, youth and community development, health, business and information and communications technology, agriculture, and environment. Joining the Peace Corps requires a college degree and a two year commitment. It provides volunteers with the unrivaled opportunity to live and work in a foreign country and make a difference in the world.
United Nations Volunteers
The United Nations is committed to promoting peace and development worldwide. It understands the importance of volunteers to its projects and to its mission of global development. Volunteers work from 6-12 months in one of over 130 countries. While the UN generally hires professionals in healthcare, development, finance, and other areas, it also has an extensive listing of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are always looking for volunteers.
WWOOFing stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and is known for taking volunteers with little or no funding. Volunteers receive meals, housing, and a chance to interact with local residents of a large number of countries in exchange for labor on organic farms.
SE7EN is a network offering opportunities to work on social and environmental projects worldwide for little or no cost. The volunteer generally contacts the hosts directly making this an incredibly flexible option.
One final point, if a deal seems too good to be true, it most likely is. Don’t forget that while there are plenty of legitimate opportunities out there, the world has its fair share of scammers. Be sure to conduct thorough research to get a sense of what is normal and what may be a scam.