Volunteer Abroad

Where to Volunteer Abroad for Cheap in 2020

Eva Wieners
Topic Expert

Eva is a German writer and geographer, currently living in Nepal with her daughter Miriam. She has worked and volunteered in South America, Europe, and Asia for more than a decade and loves to travel.

The experiences you can gain by volunteering abroad are invaluable, as they can change your entire outlook on life for the better. At the same time, though, if your resources are tight, you might want to find a volunteer program abroad that is affordable and does not break the bank.

To help you find the best options for how to volunteer abroad for cheap, we have compiled a list of the countries where you can find amazing projects that do not cost too much to afford. Keep in mind though that cheap programs often mean little supervision – but more freedom to implement ideas and initiatives that you love!

1. Nepal

Nepal is a small country in South Asia that borders India and China. It is one of the poorest countries in Asia, and 25% of its people are still living below the poverty line. The cost of living here is very low, and particularly in the countryside, you don’t have to shell out a lot for a stay.

There are plenty of locally run projects in Nepal that accept volunteers, so with some research, you will definitely find a good option. Do some proper vetting though to make sure the project has a positive impact on the communities it works in.

2. Thailand

Thailand is a monarchy in South-East Asia that is famous for its beaches and islands. While its economy has been growing in recent years, it mainly depends on income from tourism.

Particularly in rural areas, the country still needs a lot of support, and the cost of living is still low. There are many small projects where volunteers can help out without having to pay a considerable fee, particularly in the sectors of education and animal welfare.

3. Cambodia

Cheap Volunteer Destinations - Cambodia
Photo credit: Irena, GVI Cambodia Alum

Another country in South East Asia that offers many cheap volunteering opportunities is the Kingdom of Cambodia. While the country lives through a time of economic upturn, especially in rural areas, the poverty rate is still high.

When checking with local NGOs for opportunities, be sure to choose projects thought that is well managed, as there are some – particularly when working with children – that do not have the best interest of the children in mind.

4. India

Cheap Volunteer Destinations - India
Photo credit: Lauren, iSPiiCE India Alum

India is the biggest and most diverse country in South Asia and offers a great variety of cheap volunteering opportunities. In rural and urban areas equally, poverty is still prevalent, and the inequality of people’s situation within the population of 1.3 billion people can be extreme.

You can find all different climate zones and many diverse cultures here and can choose from a wide choice of projects that do not break the bank to spend your vacation with a purpose.

5. Kenya

Cheap Volunteer Destinations - Kenya
Photo credit: Aiko, Sadhana Forest Kenya Alum

Kenya is mostly known for its fantastic wildlife in its variety of national parks and its amazing nature and has shown stable economic growth in the last years. At the same time, approximately 17% of its people live below the poverty line still. This is due to inefficiencies at the government level and a lack of diversification in the economy.

Especially in rural areas, the cost of living is low, and there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer for cheap in the country. With a little research, you will find the perfect project here.

6. Tanzania

Cheap Volunteer Destinations - Tanzania
Photo credit: Winrose, The Small Things Tanzania Alum

Tanzania is home of the highest mountain in Africa, Kilimanjaro. At the same time, you can enjoy a vacation at one of the countries beautiful beaches or on the island of Zanzibar.

With its incredible nature and natural sites, it is also the perfect destination for a volunteer stay that does not cost a fortune. Many projects across the country are happy to receive support for a small fee, and particularly local NGOs work with foreign volunteers to further their cause.

7. Ghana

Cheap Volunteer Destinations - Ghana
Photo credit: Alexis M., NYU Accra Ghana Alum

Ghana is a West African country that attracts tourists with its beautiful beaches, exciting culture, and fascinating National Parks. While people in the urban areas of the country have been able to ensure a high degree of economic development, especially rural areas, are still suffering from poverty.

In many villages, the poverty rate almost reaches 40%, and thus especially here, you can find projects that accept volunteers for a nominal fee. With a little bit of research, you will find a program that is a good fit in this country.

8. Nicaragua

Cheap Volunteer Destinations - Nicaragua

Nicaragua is a Central American country with a coastline with the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean. It is known for its whimsical nature, beautiful beaches, and fascinating volcanoes. The country is one of the poorest in Central America, and up to 50% of its population live in poverty. This situation is much more dire in rural areas.

You will find many cheap options to volunteer here, as many projects are looking for support and especially from the US, flight rates are less expensive as it is much closer by.

9. Honduras

Cheap Volunteer Destinations - Honduras

Honduras also belongs to the poorest countries in Central America. Up until a couple of years ago, it was known as one of the most dangerous countries in the area, but this has changed a lot in recent years.

Up to 80% of the population lives in poverty here, and its economy mainly depends on agriculture. Many projects try to address these issues and are actively looking for support by foreign volunteers, making it the perfect country to volunteer for cheap.

10. El Salvador

Cheap Volunteer Destinations - El Salvador

As the smallest country in the area with the highest population density, El Salvador has a lot to offer its volunteer visitors. Its amazing beaches attract surfers, and its mountainous inland has a fascination of its own. At the same time, 36% of the population lives in poverty, and up to 25% of children grow up under extreme poverty.

Many projects work in rural areas to address these issues and allow you to volunteer in cheap programs. Do your due diligence though to chose the best ones and find an amazing fit.

These are the best countries to volunteer abroad for cheap, as the cost of living is low while there is an abundance of projects that accept volunteers as well. Another important factor is the infrastructure that is already in place here, and that will make your stay a great experience! Best of luck finding your perfect project match to volunteer in one of these cheap volunteer-abroad destinations.