Traveling abroad isn’t cheap, right? It could be cheaper than you think. With the right know-how, you can easily travel and volunteer abroad on the cheap, while also doing something meaningful. As the world’s most trusted and affordable volunteer travel organization, International Volunteer HQ offers cheap volunteer abroad programs to allow you to experience just that. These programs are not just easy on your wallet, they’re rewarding, meaningful and real value for money.
What’s covered in the cost of an IVHQ program?
Affordable program fees cover 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, making it easy and hassle-free to book your volunteer adventure.
A registration fee beginning at $299 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.
How does our flexible booking policy make it easy to change plans?
You can make changes to your dates, volunteer program or destination for free, as long as you cancel or reschedule at least 14 days before your program start date. Our flexible booking policy means that once you’ve paid your registration fee, your money is fully protected.
You can also choose to upgrade your registration for even more flexibility - this includes options that provide a refund if you want added protection.
Best cheap volunteer programs for 2020 & 2021
Below, we’ve rounded up our favorite cheap volunteer programs that cost less than $270 for one week. Please note that IVHQ offers a wide range of other affordable programs that do not feature on this list - for example Zambia, Mexico - Merida, Ghana, Ecuador - Quito and Colombia - Bogota also cost only $270 for one week. You can explore the full range of destinations here.
The following programs are all over the world and include a range of volunteer projects such as Teaching, Childcare, Medical, Sports Education, Animal Care, Construction and much, much more. The prices you see are the fees for one week in US dollars, and volunteers wanting to do longer will find costs increase differently - the cheapest one week program may not be the cheapest four week program, and so on. You can compare and contrast program fees based on the length of your trip here.
Keep reading to find out more about the best value programs for one week and how to keep costs down while you’re there.
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
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
For an island volunteer opportunity with a difference, you can’t beat the Philippines. This program is based on the island of Palawan, west of the main islands, and home to some of the most stunning, undiscovered beaches you’ll find. Twice rated the best island in the world by influential magazine Travel + Leisure, Palawan is home to warm, clear water, white sand and rugged, green mountains. You’ll never look at a day on the beach the same way after doing it here! It’s also home to a unique underground river, which you can take a canoe tour through. Volunteers in the Philippines generally budget around $30 a week in spending money.
Volunteering with IVHQ in the Philippines was truly a life changing experience. You are exposed to the culture in the most authentic way and are given the opportunity to meet so many amazing and like-minded people. I would recommend the programs to people of all ages! Jamie Taylor, IVHQ volunteer in Philippines
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
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
Now we’re getting really affordable! Top-rated volunteer programs at less than $250 a week are virtually impossible to find, and IVHQ has two of them - starting in Morocco.
As mentioned previously, Africa is a relatively cheap destination for volunteer travelers. The basics like food, water and accommodation are really affordable, and are covered by your Program Fee when you volunteer with IVHQ.
Morocco has plenty of awesome free activities on offer as well. Each city medina offers a chance to walk in the shoes of the locals, roaming markets and sampling local food. The trekking in Morocco is excellent, particularly in the Atlas Mountains, and the beaches are popular amongst surfers and those just wanting a day off.
One of the great things about being a volunteer in Morocco is the cultural insight you get through being accommodated in homestays with local families. You’ll get an authentic experience into life in Morocco, eat local food and take part in cultural practices. Volunteers in Morocco generally budget around $40 a week in spending money.
Don’t think twice, just go for it, it’s enriching and meaningful! I enjoyed my short experience in Morocco and can’t wait to join again but for a longer time. I liked everything from accommodation, host family, food, volunteering activities and non-volunteering activities! I was traveling as a solo female and felt so safe everywhere. Reward yourself and have such a wonderful experience! Sharifa Sharida, IVHQ volunteer in Morocco
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
So there it is - eight 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 over 50+ programs worldwide, browse our cheap volunteer program fees.