If you’re looking for a safe and affordable volunteer travel destination that’s relatively undiscovered by tourists, but bursting with spectacular natural beauty and medieval charm, Romania has a range of meaningful volunteer work opportunities for you to support. To find out whether Romania is the best volunteer travel destination for you, keep reading…
1. It’s budget-friendly
Traditionally, traveling through Europe takes its toll on your credit card, however one of the perks of visiting Romania is that your savings will go a fair bit further. With International Volunteer HQ’s affordable volunteer program fees, you have your meals and accommodation all taken care of, so all you need to budget for are your weekend adventures. This could involve visiting the charming medieval city of Brasov, or one of the iconic castles that Romania is renowned for - of course the hill-top Bran Castle (aka Dracula’s Castle) is always a must. With train trips to tourist hot spots costing less than $15/£12, meals costing as little as $3/£2, and natural wonders with no price tags attached, Romania is the ideal destination for any budget-conscious traveler.
2. You know you’re needed
Whether you’re traveling half way across the world, or just jumping the border, as a volunteer traveler, you want to feel assured that you’re making a valuable contribution to a community while learning about yourself and another culture at the same time. IVHQ’s local team in Romania work closely with placement staff to understand where they most need support, identifying how the unique skill-sets and motivations of individual volunteers can be best aligned with the placements IVHQ supports. This means that whether you’re volunteering in Teaching, After School Support, Agriculture, NGO Support, or Special Needs Care, you can feel confident that your contribution is valued and that you are able to build on the work of previous volunteers, while paving the way for those to come. Using the available resources for monitoring student progress, lesson planning and organizing activities, you’ll be well supported as you settle in to your placement and use your initiative to offer your unique experience and skills to engage the students. Previous IVHQers have brought their own creativity to the table, coordinating dance routines and teaching English songs, or combining coloring activities to support the students in learning colors and new English words. For further teaching inspiration, see these teaching resources for volunteers.
“It’s hard to put my experience into words, but to start it was incredible, enlightening, and life-changing. The people I met, the staff and children I worked with - I’ll truly never forget them. Romania is beautiful country and fairly undiscovered by hoards of tourists so it’s a lot of fun to travel around.” - Olivia Martin-Spisak (18 years, American)
3. Quaint community living is where it’s at
While Transylvania has been named this year’s #1 region to visit by Lonely Planet, Miercurea Ciuc (the base of IVHQ’s volunteer program in Transylvania) remains a relatively untouched town for tourists, making it an extra special spot for international volunteers to explore. You’ll quickly come to know the town, the people and the best spots for coffee, gelato and pizza…
4. Seasonal perks
Whether you’re volunteering over the summer, or making the most of winter, every season has it perks in Romania. Those joining IVHQ over summer have the opportunity to partake in leading summer camps for children aged from 5 to 15 years, who otherwise couldn’t afford to attend a camp. Volunteers typically live on-site alongside a group of other international volunteers. The days are full-on and work can be split between volunteers into shifts. Mornings will involve serving breakfast to the children and debriefing for the day ahead. Activities will be hosted throughout the day, focusing on English-learning through game-play, team building exercises, personal development activities and sports. Volunteers are also invited to bring their unique talents or interests to the party, so don’t forget to pack your props – instruments, dance music, sporting equipment, arts and crafts inspo. Nervous about language barriers? Not to worry - you’ll be impressed with the English level amongst the children and a group of local volunteers will be joining you to support with translations. When it comes to winter, you’re in luck - being based in Miercurea Ciuc means the nearest ski field is just 13 miles away! As an added perk, skiing is Romania is as cheap as it gets in Europe and you won’t be faced with crowded slopes!
“This was my first volunteer trip overseas and to be honest I was a bit nervous coming and choosing Romania as my first project placement but it was one of the greatest experiences. The people there are amazing, the local team in Romania will do all to try to make you feel welcome and at home. The local volunteers are as helpful as the rest. It was so much fun and I hope to come back next summer for an even longer stay.” - Rebekah Rich (20 years, American)
5. You’ll make friends for life
As an IVHQer in Romania, you’ll naturally form life-long bonds with your fellow volunteers (who will soon become your weekend travel buddies), the local volunteers who will gladly help you integrate within the community, and the staff you’ll be supporting during the course of your volunteer program. Come prepared to share about your own country and culture, as your new friends want to know everything about you life back home.
“This volunteer experience in Romania was my first abroad volunteer experience and I hope it is not my last. This trip inspired me to continue volunteering and made me fall in love with travel, culture, and meeting new people. Everyone in Romania was so welcoming and friendly and I have to go back one day to visit the many friends that I made there. Meeting the people there that I did and working with the local team in Miercurea Ciuc was very inspiring and makes me so excited for my next trip.” - Cristina Serban (21 years, Canadian)
6. Underrated natural wonders
Nature junkies and adventure-seekers will be in their element in Romania. Home to some of Europe’s best kept secrets, including the erupting mud volcanoes at the Berca Natural Reservation, the Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve which is one of the most biodiverse places on the planer with over 5,500 flora and fauna species, or the Scărișoara ice cave - home to Romania’s largest underground glacier. When traveling by road, honey stalls, berry carts and natural sparkling water springs will give you a full taste of the natural wonder that Romania has to offer!
7. Proximity to other European destinations
The train network in Romania makes is easy and affordable to explore the country by rail and the popular city of Brasov is just 2 hours by train from the volunteer accommodation. If you like the idea of traveling further afield during your weekends, a quick flight (or a little longer train ride) will see you exploring some of Europe’s other gems. Save a weekend for visiting Greece, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovina, Austria or Poland, or schedule a visit for before/after your volunteer program in Romania.
If you think volunteering in Romania sounds right for you and you’re ready to be exposed to new challenges, while developing your global mindset and skill set, learn more about the program here. Or read Jenna Jaffe’s insightful volunteer story - More Than A Tourist In Romania.