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Budget Friendly Volunteer Abroad Programs

Budget Friendly Volunteer Abroad Programs in 2017

So where is the most budget friendly travel destination in 2017? We’ve taken into consideration not only the cheapest countries to fly to, but also affordability when you arrive and outlined some of our top picks for budget friendly volunteer abroad program destinations.

There’s a lot to consider when planning a trip abroad and finding a travel destination that matches your budget is an important part of making sure the trip becomes a reality. If you’re traveling to a different country for the first time, it’s difficult to know exactly 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 our top selection of cheap places to travel in 2017, handpicked by our travel experts, along with the key in-country costs to assist with your budgeting!

Volunteer in Colombia on a budget with IVHQ

Travel on a budget: Colombia

Colombia’s Cartagena is undeniably the best bargain of the Caribbean coast! Travel website KAYAK ranked it as the most wallet-friendly flight destination for 2017. And, according to an analysis of more than 1 billion searches on the booking site, it came in at number six on trending destinations for 2017. Clearly, it’s the place to be and it’s easy to understand why. Colombia is full of life, color, love and salsa! There is something to do and experience for all personalities. You could wander the cobbled streets of the old town, a Unesco World Heritage site; explore the dramatic historic buildings; escape the city and head to the hills to watch wild toucans fly as the sunsets; jump on a boat for Isla Grande and float in the pristine Caribbean waters; or put on your hiking boots and take a trip to one of the country’s biggest national parks, Santa Marta, known for its rich biodiversity. During your weekdays you’ll be busy giving back on one of four meaningful projects - Community, Teaching English, Childcare, or Sports Development. As a volunteer traveler you can set off knowing this will be a worthwhile and rewarding experience for both you, and the community that you will be immersed in. If you are interested in IVHQ’s Bogota program, you can add a weekend on the coast as flying is an affordable option. Either way, make sure you get in and experience Colombia while it’s budget friendly and before the crowd arrives.

Local currency: Colombian Pesos
Volunteer program cost: From US$450 for two weeks
What’s included in the program cost: Airport pick-up, orientation, 24/7 in-country support, accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner
Transport costs: A taxi to the center starts from US$3 one-way
Street eats: US$1 to US$3 per meal - a delicious option!
Restaurant meal: US$10

Volunteering on a budget in Morocco with IVHQ

Travel on a budget: Morocco

Morocco is an oasis for budget volunteer travelers. While your wallet won’t take a hit when traveling in Morocco, your senses will! For years Morocco has been an ethereal, almost magical destination in the minds of intrepid travelers thanks to the tales it has inspired, its contrasting culture and deep history. Everything about Morocco lives up to the imagining and it’s more accessible than ever. If you are based in the UK and looking to volunteer in Africa then Morocco is the undisputed affordable option, with budget airlines offering cheap flights and souks full of bargains to be had. Morocco’s delicious dishes (a tasty tagine anyone?) will have you becoming a culinary whiz in the kitchen when you return home in an attempt to satisfy those insatiable cravings! It’s just that good - and the street food is beyond cheap. As a volunteer you will be immersed in the Moroccan way of life, living in homestay accommodation and giving back on on meaningful projects valued by the local communities. If you are chasing something a bit different you can check out the Morocco - Marrakech program, which also has volunteer projects in the Atlas Mountains, including Amazigh/Berber Immersion and Agriculture.

Local currency: Moroccan Dirham
Volunteer program cost: Program fees from $310 for 1 week
What’s included in the program cost: Program fees include airport pick-up, orientation, accommodation, three meals per day and 24/7 in-country support
Transport costs: via metro is around US$2 per trip
Cheap eats: US$5 for a delicious bite from a street stall

Volunteering on a budget in Mexico with IVHQ

Travel on a budget: Mexico

Are you based in America and want to volunteer and travel abroad? Then there truly isn’t a cheaper or more convenient option than Mexico! Few destinations have as much to offer as the Yucatan Peninsula and your dollars will go so much further here! It’s the ultimate budget traveler destination. The city of Merida, where our program is based, is known as the safest city in Mexico, but now Merida’s culture, atmosphere and cuisine are taking the spotlight. Using the city as your home-base you will be able to explore the dizzying array of activities and sights the region holds. After spending your mornings volunteering you can head out to the coast to get your dose of vitamin sea, explore the exquisite Maya ruins, or cool off in one of the cenotes (sparkling swimming holes). In your weekends head to the island of Isla Box and swim with whale sharks, or wander the streets of Campeche’s walled city. Transport in and around Merida is so convenient you’ll be forgiven for forgetting that you are actually in a foreign city! Pull out your phone and an Uber will be headed your way in moments! It a reliable and popular option used by volunteers and locals alike. So what are you waiting for? Lock Mexico in!

Local currency: Mexican 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 and meals
Transport costs: you can use Uber! Affordable and convenient
Cheap eats: US$3 to US$5 for a cheap street eat! Word of warning taco el pastor is addictively good!

Volunteering on a budget in Nepal with IVHQ

Travel on a budget: Nepal

The gospel of travel advice, Lonely Planet, ranked Nepal as the most cost effective country to travel to in 2017. You can’t ignore that! There has never been a better time to choose Nepal as your volunteer abroad destination, the country is on the rise after the 2015 earthquakes and the need for volunteers is now. As a result of the devastation of the earthquakes and the continued need for rebuild support in the region, we opened up the Construction project in late 2016. The volunteer work on this project is highly valued by the local community. You can also give back on Childcare in Kathmandu or Pokhara, Teaching English, Medical Elective and Construction and Renovation. With soaring mountains, welcoming people and intoxicating culture, Nepal has always been a favorite for those looking to take on one of the natural wonders of the world. A country that is neighbored by the Himalayas, trekking options are endless on long weekends when not volunteering. While hitting the trail can seem like a pricy activity, you’ll know that your dollars are supporting the local economy and the cost of living more than makes up for it. So get out there and get exploring!

Local currency: Nepalese Rupee
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 and meals
Midrange meal: In Kathmandu US$7-10

Volunteer on a budget with IVHQ in Cambodia

Travel on a budget: 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 English, 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 on a budget with IVHQ in Portugal

Travel on a budget: Portugal

The thought of heading to Europe as a budget traveler - of counting every dollar, being frugal with your fun and keeping under budget - isn’t very inspiring. But Portugal offers respite! While it’s not the cheapest destination on this list, when it comes to Western Europe, Portugal definitely takes out the penny pinching title. Oh, and it has some of the best weather, tastiest food and most hospitable people. Somehow though, this gem typically doesn’t make it onto people’s Europe itinerary, which is all the better for you! With the IVHQ Portugal Program located in Lisbon, there is plenty to keep you busy in your down time. You could taste test your way around the mouth watering food scene, tick off learning to surf at one of the stunning beaches, or get your dose of culture at one of the many museums. There are five volunteer projects to choose from, meaning there is a volunteer opportunity to suit everyone’s skill set.

Local currency: Euro
Volunteer program cost: From US$375 for 1 week
What’s included in the program cost: Airport pick-up, orientation, 24/7 in-country support, accommodation, and meals (depending on your project)
Cheap eats: basic meal US$10
Drink: local beer US$2

Volunteering on a budget in Zambia with IVHQ

Travel on a budget: 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 Peru with IVHQ

Travel on a budget: 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 up-skill 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 on a budget with IVHQ in Thailand

Travel on a budget: Thailand

It is no secret to why Thailand is a budget travelers dream. It has long be touted for its cheap eats, affordable adventures and bargain transport options. In Thailand you can make a little bit go a long way. With the IVHQ volunteer program based in and around Chiang Rai, the northernmost province of Thailand, you’ll be getting off the beaten track and experiencing an authentic take on Thai life. Your volunteer work on one of three meaningful projects will make you a valued part of the local community and during your weekends you can lace up your hiking boots to explore the stunning highlands. What’s not to like about Thailand?!

Local currency: Thai Baht
Volunteer program cost: Program fees from $320 for 1 week
What’s included in the program cost: Airport pick-up, orientation, 24/7 in-country support, accommodation, and meals
Cheap eats: grab a tasty noodle dish from a street vendor for US$1-2

Volunteering in South Africa with IVHQ on a budget

Travel on a budget: 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

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.

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