Want to see the world and do something meaningful with your travel? Traveling on a tight budget? With the right know-how, you can easily volunteer abroad on the cheap and use your travel as a force for good. As the world’s most trusted and affordable volunteer travel organization, International Volunteer HQ offers cheap volunteer abroad programs that allow you to experience just that. These programs are not just easy on your wallet, they offer an immersive cultural experience from an award-winning organization, that deliver real value for money.
What’s covered in the cost of an IVHQ program?
Volunteering abroad with IVHQ is the most affordable way to have an impactful vacation. The team at IVHQ organizes everything for you, so you don’t have to worry about anything - apart from showing up!
To make it super easy to budget for your trip, all IVHQ volunteers pay a Program Fee and Registration Fee.
IVHQ’s affordable Program Fees go directly to your host community, covering your accommodation, some (if not all) meals, airport pick-up on arrival, program orientation and 24/7 on-demand support while you’re away. Apart from your flights, everything is organized for you and covered by the cost of your Program Fee, making it super easy to budget for your trip.
The Registration Fee starting from $329 applies to each program and acts as a deposit to secure your place and cover all aspects of your pre-departure support. This support is comprehensive and fully prepares you for your upcoming volunteer trip. Not only do we connect you with meaningful, community-run volunteer projects, but provide you with a step-by-step checklist to help you get everything in order in a timely fashion before you go.
You can also make free changes to your dates, volunteer program or destination up to 14 days before your start date, providing the ultimate flexibility!
Handy tip: To secure the cheapest fees, register as soon as you can to avoid price increases due to inflation.
Best cheap volunteer programs for 2023 & 2024
Below, we’ve rounded up our lowest-cost volunteer programs that start from only $18 per day. Keep in mind that this is just a snapshot of our cheapest volunteer abroad programs - you can explore the full range of IVHQ programs here.
The volunteer programs featured in this list are based over the world and include a diverse range of volunteer projects such as Teaching, Childcare, Medical, Sports Education, Animal Care, Environmental Conservation, Construction and much, much more. The longer you stay, the cheaper the per day cost so keep this in mind when you’re building your budget. If you already know what kind of project you want to join, you can easily compare and contrast Program Fees based on the length of your trip here using the handy IVHQ Wishlist tool.
Keep reading to find out more about the best value volunteer programs and how to keep costs down while you’re abroad.
Cambodia is one of IVHQ’s longest-established volunteer programs in Asia and continues to offer the most affordable way to experience South East Asia authentically. Most of the volunteer projects are based in the capital city, Phnom Penh which is a hive of activity where you can find a plentiful mix of history, architecture, food and culture.
With a warm climate, the friendliest local people, and a diverse range of natural and cultural - Cambodia is a beautiful place to volunteer abroad. There are plenty of museums, markets and historic sites to explore with incredible national parks and islands to travel to on your weekends. You’ll have the opportunity to sample some of the world’s best (and cheapest) street food, beautiful architecture and of course, Angkor Wat.
Sadly many Cambodians live in poverty, so a helping hand from IVHQ volunteers is always hugely appreciated. Most of our projects are based in the historical sites of Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang.
I gained confidence, social skills and made new friends from all over the world. My favorite moments were feeling like a local, going for evening walks, trying new foods, and becoming a part of a small community. The value of the memories and experiences created whilst volunteering abroad will ALWAYS outweigh and be more worthy than whatever excuse is holding you back. Mallee Fowler, IVHQ volunteer in Cambodia
For money-conscious travelers, India can be an incredibly cheap country to explore. Food is available at dirt cheap prices, and it doesn’t skimp on flavor either. India will get you out of your comfort zone in the best way possible - and it’s also a destination where you can have a great time just wandering the streets and checking out the markets without spending a lot of money. Further afield there are cheap tours and mountain treks on offer, and the Taj Mahal is a must-see for all visitors to India.
For those wanting a complete experience of everything that India has to offer, consider a one week program orientation, which is a comprehensive introduction to local culture and cuisine, and includes visits to the Taj Mahal, a Bollywood film and extra sightseeing. Volunteers generally budget around $30 a week spending money in India.
IVHQ was an incredible experience, meeting and spending time with people from all over the world is definitely what made my trip so great. There is something about the people who volunteer here - everyone is so easy going and easy to get along with. The people I spent my time with definitely made my trip much better! My favorite moments would be spending time with the kids - they made me appreciate what I have at home a lot more, by seeing how they are happy with so little. You will experience a huge culture shock, but you will survive. Patrick Dachille, IVHQ volunteer in India - Delhi
Many popular activities in Nepal are outdoors or in the mountains, and as a result it can be a very cheap place for adventure travelers. Having said that, Nepal has introduced fees on a few things that weren’t there in the past - things like entrance fees, national park fees and permits. These won’t bust your budget on their own but they are costs worth considering. At the same time, food, water and other essentials are cheap enough that volunteers in Nepal generally budget around $20 a week in spending money.
IVHQ’s Nepal program has nine meaningful project options in NGO Support, Sustainable Agriculture, Medical Elective, Childcare, Women’s Education, Teaching English, Special Needs Care and Construction and Renovation. Projects are available in a number of locations around Nepal, including Kathmandu, Chitwan, Chitlang and Pokhara.
This was an absolutely fantastic experience! The people you meet and the experiences you receive from helping the people in need will be unforgettable. Don’t think twice - get involved now! Callie Michaud, IVHQ volunteer in Nepal
IVHQ’s Zambia volunteer program is an amazing way to get a taste of adventurous Africa while making a difference. It is based in the laid-back tourist town of Livingstone, named after the famous colonial explorer who was thought to be the first European to see and name the nearby Victoria Falls. Set in the southern edge of Zambia, Livingstone borders Zimbabwe and Victoria Falls - the world’s biggest and most breathtaking waterfall.
Livingstone is rapidly becoming known as the ‘Adventure Centre’ of Southern Africa, with an array of outdoor activities for nature-loving volunteers, unmatched scenery, and unique African wildlife. The area is lush with national parks and the Zambezi River, with chances to see elephant, rhino, and other big game animals! Many volunteers take advantage of this by going on safari, checking out waterfalls, gorges, zip-lining, and more.
IVHQ’s Zambia program has 6 meaningful volunteer projects to choose from, including Rural Teaching, Construction and Renovation, Childcare, Medical, and more. The local community are extremely welcoming and really value to contributions that volunteers make on these projects.
Honestly this was life changing. From the people I met, the friends I made and the places I saw. This was an experience that I never thought I’d be able to have and I’m so very grateful and thankful for this opportunity. Anthony Gorman, IVHQ volunteer in Zambia
A truly underrated place and hidden gem in Asia, Laos is a cheap volunteer program option. Like the rest of South-East Asia, Laos is a very affordable place to get around and enjoy yourself. Street food is a cheap and easy way to get a tasty meal - don’t be afraid to haggle over the price too, especially if you’re getting a few things.
Expect an entry fee at the popular temples and waterfalls, but prices are usually very reasonable. Alternatively, check out any number of other lesser-known free attractions, which can be just as spectacular. Volunteers in Laos generally find $30 is enough to cover weekly spending money.
I enjoyed going out exploring the city during weekends as there are many tuk-tuks providing cheap fare to the city. The best part will always be the teaching experience at morning and afternoon schools and also at the adult learning centre. I’m planning to volunteer again and will not hesitate to choose another IVHQ program! Lim Yuin Khong, IVHQ volunteer in Laos
IVHQ’s Ecuador program is based in the bustling capital city of Quito, which sits at the highest elevation of any capital in the world! Nestled in the Andes, Quito is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cities in South America. If you’re traveling on a budget and love mountains, volcanoes, and beautiful architecture - then Ecuador is the place for you!
Quito’s fascinating history stretches back for centuries, so there is plenty to explore and learn about in your free time. Its iconic Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, showcases a magnificent range of monuments and colonial architecture; all built on the ruins of an Incan city. Further afield, you can explore a range of waterfalls, hikes, cloud forests, and the “Gateway to the Amazon”!
Quito is a cheap place to volunteer abroad and also very affordable to travel around. Ecuador is still a developing country and there is a great need for volunteers to assist with the growth of this city and its disadvantaged communities.
Our Ecuador - Quito program has ten awesome projects to choose from, many of which give you the opportunity to work with disadvantaged local children and communities. These include Childcare, Teaching English, Music, Community Development, NGO Support, and much more!
Going somewhere for the first time alone can be a scary thought, but pushing away any negative thoughts will benefit you. I was able to meet so many amazing, like-minded people, all while serving a country I grew to love so much. Ecuador blew my expectations away, and I hope to continue in my travels and volunteering. Caroline Kam, IVHQ volunteer in Ecuador - Quito
If you’re looking to go off the beaten path, live like a local, and experience the real Africa, then volunteering in Ghana is for you! IVHQ volunteers love this country for its vibrancy, warmth and authenticity. When you arrive, you’ll be welcomed with open arms and amazing hospitality — plus it is one of Africa’s safest countries!
This is a life changing opportunity for you to make a visible impact and improve the quality of life for rural communities. You’ll get to know the local Ghanaians – said to be some of the friendliest people in Western Africa – while exploring the continent’s hidden gems and stunning natural beauty.
Ghana is a true adventure for the senses. In Accra, you’ll find incredible markets, artisans, museums, history and live music. Or take a trip to the stunning coastline to enjoy palm-lined beaches and explore historic forts and castles. There are also plenty of beautiful lakes, rivers and wildlife to explore, from colorful birds of paradise to baboons and elephants. Our local team in Ghana can help you book these tours and activities when you arrive in-country.
This volunteering experience in Ghana put me in new situations I am not confronted with in my normal life, and gave me so many opportunities to grow personally. Working with the local people, the kids, and the other volunteers inspired me and I will never forget the experience! Koko Warner, IVHQ volunteer in Ghana
Like many IVHQ program destinations in Africa, Tanzania is a hugely enriching experience and is totally affordable to explore. IVHQ’s Tanzania program is based in Arusha, with volunteer placements located in surrounding commmunities and villages, allowing for a truly authentic experience.
There’s plenty to get stuck into during your spare time, including a safari in one of Africa’s best national parks, a trip to the idyllic white sandy beaches of Zanzibar, visiting the famous Maasai Mara tribes, or even climbing the stunning Mount Kilimanjaro.
Arusha itself has plenty to explore, including vibrant food markets, great little cafes, interesting museums and extremely affordable crafts markets, including the well known ‘Maasai Market’ where you can practice your bartering skills! Volunteers generally budget around $50 a week spending money in Tanzania.
To say that Tanzania changed my entire life would be the worlds greatest understatement. The country, the people but most of all the children! I guess the reason I chose to volunteer was to help make a difference in these kids lives, but in reality it was them that made a difference in mine. Such a rewarding and life changing experience and I would recommend it to anyone willing to throw themselves into a different culture. My greatest advice would be to go with an open heart and an open mind and I can guarantee you that you’ll come home a different person. Nikola Bonacci, IVHQ volunteer in Tanzania
Yes, you read that right! This is one of IVHQ’s longest-running programs and by far the cheapest volunteer abroad program for one week trips. Because you’re based in the city, everything you need is on your doorstep. The city is a hive of activity with local markets and culture for days.
One trick for saving money on food is to avoid the touristy eateries, opt for the road less traveled and eat at the authentic neighborhood restaurants. Just walk a couple of blocks from the central streets - the food is just as nice and much cheaper! There’s some great, free museums to check out and the clifftop ocean views from Miraflores are iconic. Volunteers in Lima generally budget around $50 a week for spending money.
I thoroughly enjoyed my experience with IVHQ. I’m not someone who travels often, so IVHQ met that desire and it’s low risk. You don’t feel the dangers and anxiety of traveling “alone”, because you’re never really alone. There’s an amazing team that is there ready to support you and like minded volunteers waiting to meet you and lend a helping hand. You’ll make a lasting impact and the experience will have a lasting impact on you. I’m so glad I made the decision to do this. Darien Willis, IVHQ volunteer in Peru - Lima
South Africa is a stunning and affordable place for travelers to explore. IVHQ’s South Africa program is based in Muizenberg, around 30-40 minutes from central Cape Town on South Africa’s west coast. Cape Town is well known for the iconic Table Mountain, which offers stunning views across the city and ocean. It’s also free to climb and makes for a fun day trip.
Like any coastal location, the beach is an easy option for those wanting to spend time relaxing, swimming or surfing. The city also offers plenty to do and a safari is always a popular outing. Volunteers generally budget around $50 a week spending money in South Africa.
For all future volunteers, I want you to know how incredible this experience is. You will walk into this adventure with many expectations and feelings. You will leave having exceeded those expectations and feelings in ways you can not even imagine. Enjoy every single minute of every single day you get to explore and experience a new place and the people you will meet. You will have the time of your life. Katelyn McLaughlin, IVHQ volunteer in South Africa
So there it is - ten of the cheapest and best value for money volunteer programs you’ll find. If you’re not sure if any of these are for you, IVHQ has plenty more affordable, high quality programs that only just miss out on this list.
But there’s still more!
Saving money doesn’t stop when you get the cheapest volunteer programs. Actually, that’s just the start. There are loads of savings you can make by being smart about how you travel. IVHQ has you covered there too - check out these specialist tips for volunteering on a budget.
For more information on what your IVHQ fees cover, and to compare prices across our range of programs worldwide, browse our cheap volunteer Program Fees.