Saving money isn’t the primary reason for volunteer travel, but it may be a nice little perk along the way. Volunteering while on vacation is a great way to make a difference in people’s lives, have amazing, rewarding experiences and see parts of the world you might not otherwise see. Often these trips will cost you less than a typical travel holiday, and in some cases you may be able to stay for free. In addition you might even receive a tax deduction. Sounds more than wonderful to us.
Globe Aware is a non-profit that develops short-term volunteer programs in international environments. Globle Aware volunteers help to empower the host communities in creating renewable, sustainable programs with a focus on creating self-reliance. There is a donation fee and volunteers pay their own transportation. Globe Aware is an American and Canadian-registered non-profit charitable organization. All volunteer vacation program costs, including (for American citizens) the cost of airfare, are tax-deductible. They do offer a youth scholarship program which allows qualifying high school students or recent grads to travel for free.
WWOOF, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms is a United Kingdom registered charity. WWOOF links volunteers with organic farmers, small holdings and gardeners through their worldwide network of organizations. In return for volunteer help, hosts offer food, accommodations and opportunities to learn about organic lifestyles. Hosts do not pay volunteers for their help. Volunteers do not pay for their stay, but they do cover their own transportation expenses. There are many WWOOF organizations around the world. WWOOF organizations usually charge a small fee to hosts and volunteers; there is no single WWOOF membership that covers all countries.
Helpx, Help Exchange is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodations. HelpX is provided primarily as a cultural exchange for working holiday makers who would like the opportunity during their travels abroad, to stay with local people and gain practical experience. In the typical arrangement, the helper works an average of 4 hours per day and receives free accommodations and meals for their efforts. Membership is required at the rate of 20 Euros ($28) for 2 years.
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit, ecumenical Christian ministry founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a decent, safe and affordable place to live. Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing and homelessness worldwide and to making adequate, affordable shelter a matter of conscience and action. They build with people in need regardless of race or religion. They welcome volunteers and supporters from all backgrounds. Costs vary, but covered with your donation to the host community’s Habitat program is in-country transportation, food, accommodations and travel medical insurance.
Airline Ambassadors. AirlineAmbassadors International (AAI) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization affiliated with the United Nations and recognized by the US Congress. The basic membership of $50.00 per year enables the member to particpate in programs. All memberships are fully tax-deductible. It began as a network of airline employees using their pass privileges to provide humanitarian aid, and has now expanded to include members across a wide spectrum of professions from students, medical professionals, and families to retirees all with an interest in providing relief to children and families in need by hand-delivering humanitarian aid to orphanages, clinics and remote communities and raising public awareness in humanitarian efforts around the world. Volunteers pay their own way, but daily expenses generally range from $60 to $100 a day depending on the type of trip. Airline Ambassadors negotiates with airlines for the best possible fares for non-airline personnel traveling on their missions.
Peace River Refuge and Ranch in Zolfo Springs, Florida and The Wild Horse Sanctuary in Shingletown, California generally do not provide lodging for volunteers, however both Peace River Refuge and The Wild Horse Sanctuary provide tremendous opportunity for new experiences to those desiring to help, and both offer student internship programs which do provide room and board, and possible college credit. The Wild Horse Sanctuary does provide for overnight stays for vacationing guests.
HF Holidays. One of Europe’s most popular walking and bicycling holiday operators is searching for volunteers to lead their walking holidays. HF Holidays leaders are provided with accommodations, meals and the chance to explore Europe in return for sharing their passion and knowledge with groups they accompany.
More resources for volunteer travel. Travel vlogger, blogger and SLTV video contributor, Alex Berger, alerted us to one of his travel resource sites: TravelResourceList.com, which is an extremely rich website with a throuough list on all things travel and not to be missed. There we found some additional excellent volunteer opportunities. One is: GrowFood connecting farmers interested in teaching with people interested in farming and work/live exchanges worldwide. Others are: WorkAway, VolunTourism, and PersonalOverseasDevelopment (PoD). Many thanks, Alex!
Fly for Good. This organization matches volunteers with opportunities and facilitates discount transportation via their partnership with Lufthansa Airlines. Fly For Good’s mission is to facilitate travel volunteerism and they donate a portion of their profits each quarter to a humanitarian projects.
International Student Volunteers (ISV). Selected as a Top Program by the International Voluntary Service Task Force and the U.S. Center for Citizen Diplomacy, International Student Volunteers offers high school and college students the opportunity to combine volunteer, adventure, & often academic credit into one life changing experience. Over 140 universities granted academic credit to their students for their participation in the ISV Volunteer Program in 2010.
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