Volunteering is a great way to gain experience. It not only boosts your CV and equips you with skills for a future career, but it’s also a great life experience. If you decide to volunteer abroad, you’ll be able to travel too, and probably see places you might not visit otherwise. Whether you want to travel for a gap year or summer break, there’s plenty of volunteering opportunities abroad for students to choose from. But one of the important things to consider is how much does it cost to volunteer abroad? And can you volunteer abroad for free?

volunteer abroad for free

Fortunately you can, however this narrows down your options slightly and usually doesn’t include flight costs. But there are many websites with free volunteering opportunities abroad that don’t charge for their programme or project, accommodation or food. Plus, there’s so many types to choose from, whether you want to teach English, work in agriculture or vineyards, or take care of animals. So why not pick one you’re interested in and start applying now for an unforgettable experience.

1. HelpStay

HelpStay began in 2014, with the aim of giving everyone the opportunity to travel and help. It operates as an exchange community between hosts and helpers. There are tons of opportunities, and you can filter the selection to look only at free ones. Most of the free volunteering projects are abroad, spread across the world, so you can really choose wherever you like. Many also offer free accommodation and full board/all-inclusive meals, which limits how much you’ll have to pay out overall. If you want to become a HelpStay helper, you will have to pay a membership fee though, and source your own flights. Currently, membership costs €53 a year, providing you with unlimited volunteering abroad.

2. workaway

In a similar way to HelpStay, workaway also operates as a community connecting hosts and ‘workawayers’. You can join as a solo traveller, in a pair, or with others, which is great if you want to go somewhere with friends. Workaway has over 50,000 opportunities around the world, so you’ll easily find something to do in a place you want to go. It costs €49 a year for solo travellers, or you can open up an account with your mate for €59 total (€29.50 each!). You’ll likely have to pay for your own flights though, but many places provide free accommodation, and some provide free food.


WWOOF, otherwise known as Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, covers so many volunteer destinations around the world. It’s a great option for volunteers wanting free accommodation and free meals. You first pick the destination, then tick the type of accommodation (hut, yurt, room etc.) and dietary requirements. You’ll then find a selection of hosts in that country meeting your requirements. It really makes volunteering abroad for free very simple. The site is great for those with an interest in environmental studies, sustainable living, health and more.

volunteer abroad for free to help the environment

4. Makuyu Education Initiative 

Based in Kenya, Makuyu require volunteers to conduct a range of activities to help children. These include taking children to health appointments, painting schools, coming up with recommendations for the initiative and more. It offers a very hands-on experience, where you will be able to feel the direct impact of your work. While they can’t pay for airfare, they claim you’re unlikely to need to pay for anything else. Volunteers at Makuyu receive free room and board, so accommodation and meals in Kenya are sorted!

5. Volunteer World

This website is great for sourcing free volunteer programmes abroad. Volunteer World cover destinations around the globe, and highlight the opportunities that are free, and include airport taxi, accommodation and food. You can choose from all sorts of experiences, such as looking after primates to yoga!

volunteer with primates free

6. Volunteer Latin America

Arguably one of the best sites for free volunteering abroad, some of their programmes include free flights!! This is generally unheard of, but it’s definitely beneficial. You’ll have to join as a member of Volunteer Latin America, but the price includes £9.95 for a basic membership for two years, and £19.95 for a premium membership. Some of their projects, such as a volunteer classroom educator in Honduras offers a free volunteer programme, shared accommodation, monthly food stipend, airport pick up, training, and so on. It even includes $500-750 reimbursement for flights! You will need a membership with the website to see all the finer details, such as eligibility.

If you’re looking for volunteering opportunities closer to home, check out the best volunteering roles in London.