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Budget Friendly Volunteer Abroad Programs

Budget Friendly Volunteer Abroad Programs in 2016

There's a lot to budget for when planning a trip abroad and if you're traveling to a different country for the first time, it's difficult to know exactly what to budget for and how much money to set aside. International Volunteer HQ makes it easy to budget for your trip abroad with the cost of your accommodation and meals included in the volunteer program fee, starting as low as US$180 for 1 week. So working to a travel budget doesn't need to be as daunting as it sounds, and traveling to IVHQ's trusted programs around the world doesn't have to come with a hefty price tag!

Keep reading as we share a selection of the most budget-friendly volunteer destinations, along with the key in-country costs to assist with your budgeting. 

Cut costs in Cambodia

Cambodia is known as the 'land of smiles' and you won't be short of a smile when you discover how far your hard-earned dollar will go here. Traveling to Cambodia with IVHQ means you'll pay as little as $350 for a 2-week program, ensuring you'll be well supported, accommodated and fed during your time volunteering. While participating on community projects such as Working with NGOs, Childcare, Teaching, Special Needs Care or Computer Support, you'll soon learn that making the most of your free time isn't going to cost you the earth - whether you're sampling the Khmer cuisine, exploring the local markets or tuk tuking around the city center. Plus weekend travel is cheap as, by simply jumping on one of the many large buses or smaller air conditioned vans, you'll soon learn that traveling from the north to south and east to west doesn't require pulling an extra shift at home to save for your trip.

Local currency: Cambodian Riel and US Dollar
Volunteer program cost: From US$350 for 2 weeks
What's included in the program cost: Airport pick-up, orientation, 24/7 in-country support, accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner
Transport costs: US$10 per day
Cheap eats: US$1 to US$3 per meal
Air conditioned van from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap: US$10 one-way

Volunteer in Cambodia on a budget with IVHQ

"I am so in love with where I was placed - I ended up working in an amazing organization. I couldn't be happier. My host family was great - they cooked amazing food and I enjoyed my stay. Everything is different than back home, but that's why we travel! To explore and experience a different way of life. I have zero complaints with my host family and the food. I was well looked after and the family genuinely cared about me. I don't know how they cooked for so many people all the time; they are an amazing family! From my host family to my Tuk Tuk driver, to local neighbors - everyone welcomed me with a smile! Thank you for giving me this opportunity." - Jennifer Macpherson, 24 (Volunteer in Cambodia)

Roam on the cheap in Romania

Blessed with striking mountains, iconic castles and historic town centers, Transylvania might take your breath away but your life savings will remain intact. The IVHQ Romania program is based in the east of Transylvania in Miercurea Ciuc, also known as Csíkszereda in Hungarian. This enchanting and ethnically-diverse area brings together a mix of Romanians, Hungarians and Romanis, making communicating with the locals a fun challenge. Miercurea Ciuc is full of dark bars and traditional restaurants, and you'll find hearty meals around every corner. As an added bonus, picking up the bill at dinner for you and your mates won’t break the bank - far from it. IVHQ volunteers in Romania can teach English at a local school, or arrange activities for children and help with parenting tasks in care homes as part of the Childcare project. Special Needs Care volunteers provide valuable support to local therapists, caring for children and adults living with disabilities. In your free time, you can see all the famous sites, including Bran Castle (home to Dracula), the towns of Brasov, Sibiu and Sighisaora; plus Bucharest or Budapest are only a train trip away. Need a second opinion? Transylvania was recently named the #1 region to visit in Lonely Planet's Best In Travel Awards. Enough said. 

Local currency: Romanian Leu (RON)
Volunteer program cost: From $335 for 1 week
What's included in the program cost: Airport pick-up, orientation, 24/7 in-country support, accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner
Transport costs: US$5 per day
Cheap eats: US$3 to US$9 per meal
Beer at a bar: US$1

Volunteer on a budget with IVHQ in Romania

"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. I had a home stay with two other girls and they contributed to my very positive experience. 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 (Volunteer in Romania)

Go easy on expenditure in Ecuador 

The capital of Quito will be your home base when volunteering with IVHQ in Ecuador. Considered one of the most aesthetically beautiful cities of South America, Quito is rich in art, culture and history, and it won't cost you a fortune to explore! Becuase your money will go far here, your weekends can be spent venturing further afield to explore the spectacular national parks or the Galapagos Islands. Or visit one of the greatest landmarks of Quito, El Panecillo - a summit adorned with an impressive statue of La Virgen de Quito (Virgin of Quito). It only costs a small fee of US$1 to see the sprawling views of the city and gain access to the mini-museum inside the statue. If shopping is your guilty pleasure, the bustling Ecuadorian markets are packed with giftware, colorful produce and seriously tasty street food. Get ready to politely barter with the locals for the best deals on the street.

Local currency: US Dollars 
Volunteer program cost: From US$270 for 1 week
What's included in the program cost: Airport pick-up, orientation, 24/7 in-country support, accommodation, breakfast and dinner
Transport costs: US$3 per day
Cheap eats: US$2 to US$4

Volunteering on a budget in Ecuador with IVHQ

"The program is so beneficial to the community. The mothers of the children we worked with talked all the time about how wonderful our program and the local staff were. I feel like I had grown as a person as I got the opportunity to live in another country and be responsible for myself. It has been a fantastic experience." - Kyle McConaughey, 18 (Volunteer in Ecuador)

Find the affordable zone in Zambia 

Despite an array of pricey tourist activities at your doorstep, volunteering in Zambia doesn't need to hurt your wallet. Save money on transport costs and opt to hire a bike to travel to and from the volunteer house, or simply strap on a sturdy pair of shoes and take a stroll! With Teaching, Childcare, Elderly Care, Medical and Community Development projects located in close range to your home base, biking and walking to your placement is an awesome way to connect with the friendly locals en route. There are also plenty of free time activities that won't break the bank, like joining your fellow volunteers on a traditional Zambian village tour for a few bucks, where you'll be greeted with cheap arts and crafts from the real Zambian markets. 

Currency: Zambian Kwacha
Volunteer program cost: US$270 for 1 week
What's included in the program cost: Airport pick-up, orientation, 24/7 in-country support, accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner
Transport costs: US$5 per day in taxis
Mountain bike hire: US$21 per week
Fancy meal: US$9 for steak and a beer
Bottled water: US$0.20 for 750ml
Victoria Falls visitor pass: US$20 per person

Budget volunteering in Zambia with IVHQ

"My time in Zambia and volunteering has forever changed me. From the culture, to teaching, to even the volunteers I met, Zambia will forever be part of me. I've never witnessed such a friendly community that made me feel welcomed and comfortable the second I arrived. I hope to return very soon." - Kylie Duff, 26 (Volunteer in Ecuador)

Pass on pricey in Peru

To cut costs on a trip to Peru, base yourself in Lima to explore the museums and archaeological sites, hit the beach for a surfing lesson, and go paragliding over the coast. Volunteering in Lima with IVHQ provides 24/7 in-country support to assist you in adjusting to your new surroundings and allows you to make a meaningful contribution to a local community during your stay. Make the most of the local Spanish lessons on offer to upskill in the local language for only $10 per hour - bargain! Remember you're in one of the world's top culinary destinations, so don't leave Lima without sampling some of our volunteers' faves, namely empanadas ane ceviche - which should only set you back a few bucks! Of course Cusco will be on your to-do list, and with the low program fees in Lima, you can save your cash for exploring Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley during your weekends. After a gift for Mom with a small price tag? The local markets will be your best friend - barter with the locals to agree on a fair price for alpaca everything, sweaters, slippers, blankets - you name it!

Local currency: Nuevo Sol
Volunteer program cost: From US$180 for 1 week
What's included in the program cost: Airport pick-up, orientation, 24/7 in-country support, accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner
Transport costs: US$2 per day
Cheap eats: US$3 to US$9 per meal

Volunteer as a teacher in Lima on a budget with IVHQ

"It helped me in many ways and I can't wait to do it again. My favorite moments were spending time with my fellow volunteers. I will never forget them and the wonderful times we got to spend together. I loved the house it was very comfortable and modern. The meals were delicious and it was really nice of them to have someone make 3 meals a day for so many people." - Kimberly Browning-Durant, 20 (Volunteer in Lima, Peru)

Travel below budget in the Philippines

You don't have to front up thousands to go island-hopping via cruise ship, head to the Philippines instead - where you'll literally have 7,000 islands at your doorstep! When volunteering in the Philippines with IVHQ, you'll be based in the city of Davao and have the opportunity to explore the nearby island of Samal during your weekends. Here you can treat yourself to swimming, snorkeling, diving or chilling under a waterfall - without needing to spend up large! Budget airlines make island-hopping within the Philippines, or to nearby countries cheap and easy. Volunteers looking to avoid frivolous spending during free time should consider joining the Working with Hill Tribes project. Based away from the tempting city shops, this project offers a fully immersive cultural experience. 

Local currency: Philippine Peso
Volunteer program cost: From US$270 for 1 week
What's included in the program cost: Airport pick-up, orientation, 24/7 in-country support, accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner
Transport costs: US$2 per day
Cheap eats: Expect to pay around US$6 

Volunteering in the Philippines with IVHQ on a budget

"I enjoyed the farming and Ninita was a FANTASTIC host and should be compensated and praised for her amazing job at making the hill tribes a truly great program. I was extremely happy and comfortable in the hill tribes." - Jennelle Barajas Browning-Durant, 24 (Volunteer in the Philippines)

Spend less in South Africa

As a volunteer in Cape Town, you'll be living and working in an area renowned for its cafe culture and vibrant nightlife. But there’s more to Cape Town than coffee and dancing - Table Mountain is just 10 minutes from the central city and offers many adventures for explorers (and it's FREE)! To get to the peak, take a hike or mountain bike, and if you're not so actively-inclined, consider taking the cable car. A return journey via cable car is US$20, so hardcore budgeters will want to walk! With the beach literally around the corner from the volunteer accommodation, chilling on the beach for the weekend is another free and easy option for IVHQers. Heading out of Cape Town, you can join together with fellow volunteers on safari, which our local teams can help organize at a good price.

Local currency: Rand
Volunteer program cost: From US$250 for 1 week
What's included in the program cost: Airport pick-up, orientation, 24/7 in-country support, accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner
Transport costs: US$5 per day
Cheap eats: Expect to pay around US$7

Become a IVHQ volunteer in South Africa on a budget

"The one month I spent in South Africa wasn't nearly enough time! The Surf Outreach program was fun and relaxed, which meant that you really got to know the kids, because they were always just so happy to be there! Whether you were pushing kids onto waves, or giving them piggy-backs into the surf, you were always moving and laughing! The other volunteers were one of the most amazing parts of the trip as well. You meet so many like-minded people from all of these far off places and you do pretty much everything with them so you all end up like one big family! There is also an added bonus that you now have friends from all over the world so you always have somewhere to crash for free no matter where you travel! I definitely recommend going to South Africa, it' a beautiful country with beautiful people and when you volunteer you really get to live like a local. I'm missing it so much!" - Brianna Hollis, 21 (Volunteer in South Africa)

From here, consider trying one of the many fundraising ideas IVHQ volunteers have successfully used in the past to support funding their trips, and begin your search for affordable flight options. To continue researching and comparing IVHQ's cheap volunteer programs, be sure to browse the entire range of over 30 destinations worldwide with cheap volunteer program fees.

Apply today to volunteer with IVHQ

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