Your dream is to travel the world… yet, you have very little money. It’s quite the cliche, but money isn’t everything. It surely won’t buy happiness, but having some is obviously a necessity. So, you have a little but not enough to feed your wanderlust? Guess what? Your travel dreams don’t have to die. The answer: Volunteer Vacations. Also known as Voluntourism.
I’m currently using HelpX to offset my expenses while traveling through Australia, which, is a very expensive country. My current host requires four hours of work per day, seven days per week. For that, I receive my own cottage and three meals a day… at no cost. And, I’m out in the country… among flora and fauna, and it’s absolutely lovely.
My daily tasks are varied. One day I might be raking leaves, pruning in the garden and chopping firewood. The next, helping to prep cottages for incoming guests and repairing / repainting furniture. Nothing too difficult. These are jobs that stimulate my mind and also get me outside, just where I want to be. Nothing I’ve done resembles sitting in a cubicle, punching buttons. It’s fantastic!
In theory, I could go from host to host, across any number of regions or countries, seeing the sights and volunteering along the way. Yes, of course I need money for plane, train, bus tickets as well as miscellaneous expenses but when I’m not staying in hotels and buying food in restaurants, I’m saving big!
Volunteering while traveling is somewhat of a new phenomenon. It’s catching on and now I know why. For one, it’s great to be so useful, and by volunteering, you meet people in a different manner than by just being a tourist. In all cases, I’ve been welcomed into the family… sharing meals and great conversation. I learn from them… and they, from me. It’s the best of a cross-cultural experience. Then, during my free time, I do the tourist thing. What more could a curious traveler ask for?
So, how do you get started? First, sign up on any or all of the websites I’ve listed below. Create a profile and decide where you want to go… contact hosts that align with your volunteer goals, and coordinate your travel to their location. So simple!
There are more than just the three, but these are probably the most popular. Each is different and offers unique features. For example, WWOOF is all about working on organic farms, whereas HelpX and Workaway offer more varied options, such as home-stays, hostels, B&Bs, sailing boats, large and small farms, and much more. Check them out, do your research and learn as I did… by experience. I’ve provided the tools – now, all you have to do is quit your job (even if just for six months) and travel the world… cheaply and with purpose.