Volunteer Abroad

Where to Volunteer Abroad for Cheap in 2021

Cláudia Brandão

Cláudia is a freelance journalist and, essentially, someone who likes to tell stories. She has been aboard a refugee rescue ship in the Mediterranean...

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!

The countries we have chosen below are those with looser restrictions on foreigners due to the pandemic. The majority will only ask you to provide a negative Covid-19 test. But remember that travel restrictions are changing daily so it’s best to stay up to date with the latest advisories from the Center for Disease Control.

1. Tanzania

With its incredible nature and wildlife, Tanzania is 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. If you want to help teach, or work in healthcare, childcare, HIV/AIDS support, or animal welfare, in both rural and urban communities, Tanzania may be the spot for you. There are over 150 volunteer programs in Tanzania listed on Go Overseas, so if you need a place to start, check out these programs through Projects Abroad which welcome volunteers for a stay as short as 1 week and as long as 1 year.

2. Belize

Photo by Jessica C., Projects Abroad Alum
Photo by Jessica C., Projects Abroad Alum

One of the most paradisiacal countries in the world, Belize is known for its giant turtles, dolphins, and marine life in general. In fact, if you’re looking to SEE Turtles (pun intended) head out on an Ocean Wildlife Expedition where you’ll be able to dive into these fabulous animals’ habitats and also give important help by participating in research on sea turtles, dolphins, and manatees, all while exploring reefs and marine protected areas. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity!

3. 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.

4. 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.

5. Colombia

Photo by Trent W., Intern Columbia Alum
Photo by Trent W., Intern Columbia Alum

Besides being one of the countries in South America that attracts the most tourists, Colombia always offers numerous volunteer programs. Volunteer programs in Colombia range from healthcare to education to community development, so no matter your interests, you’re sure to find a suitable project to work with. If the pandemic has you thinking about entering the medical field, you may be interested in learning what it’s like to be an EMT--if so, United Hatzalah Colombia has the program for you.

6. Honduras

Cheap Volunteer Destinations - Honduras

Honduras is a country blooming with biodiversity. Many volunteers here will support conservation projects, sustainability, or work in community development. With A Broader View Volunteers Corp, you’ll find yourself helping in areas such as healthcare, nursing, education and childcare, community support, and more. Over the years, volunteer support has made dramatic improvements in the lives of the local people by providing adequate medical and dental services, or upgrading the ambulance rescue services.

7. Peru

Photo by Molly H., International Volunteer Services Alum
Photo by Molly H., International Volunteer Services Alum

Since restrictions in Peru are tight, it may not be the time to physically travel to this nation. However, the good news is that there are many virtual options to volunteer to support local projects! Village Book Builders offers one such program, where you’ll get to support the literacy work this organization does to bring books and reading programs to children in under-resourced communities. What could be more rewarding than mentoring kids around the world and bringing them the joy of reading?

8. Nepal

Cheap Volunteer Destinations - Nepal

In a normal year, Nepal is always at the top of our list for those who want to volunteer abroad. In 2021 the situation will be more difficult, but even so, it is possible to help out from a distance. GAP Year Nepal knows that many potential volunteers will want to get involved even if they cannot physically be present, so they have developed a virtual program which pairs volunteers with projects that match their interests. If there’s something specific you want to work on or a skill you want to build, get in touch with them to see if they have a project that will suit your needs.

9. India

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

We know that India is one of the main destinations for those who dream of volunteering abroad. But with the difficult situation that the country is going through due to Covid-19, you can only help from your home and your computer. The Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children has developed virtual volunteer opportunities in topics like COVID-19, communicable diseases, infectious disease, public health initiatives, global health programming, and more. Think of how fulfilling it will be to give back to the health community in a time when this field is overburdened and overworked!

10. Mexico

Photo by Ally B., IVHQ Alum
Photo by Ally B., IVHQ Alum

The Amigos de las Americas - Community Impact Project is a way for you to help your community by learning from others in Latin America communities such as Mexico. It is an eight-week online exchange of good practices. This program will help you design positive service projects, and support your community during the COVID-19 pandemic, by implementing ethical, meaningful service projects shaped through cross-cultural collaboration. And it’s also a fantastic way to make new Latin American friends.

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.

This post is updated annually, and it was most recently revised in December 2020.