When you do a Google search for cheap travel, the search results produce a slew of articles telling people volunteer travel is a cheap way to travel. This alarms us.
While volunteer travel can be done cheaply (some can be pricey), don’t do it for cheap travel! These articles are misleading and misrepresent why people volunteer abroad. If your primary reason for volunteer travel is to get free or low cost accommodation and food while traveling, then you likely will be disappointed and miserable during your stay. Remember, there is no such thing as a free lunch. If you don’t want to pay with cash, then you’ll pay with your time in exchange for your stay. Generally places that cover your room and board would expect you to put in work time — often a full day for at least five days of the week. This leaves you very little time to sightsee. Some of the work are physically grueling and even menial. Unless you are there to give rather than get (freebies), you’ll likely be unhappy with the workload and the experience. Volunteer travel is about cultural immersion — to get to know the real people of the country — and giving back to the host country or community, not to check off a list of sights.
If savings money is the reason you’re volunteering abroad, you’re probably better off booking a cheap tour package since you can find so many travel deals around the Internet nowadays.
Photo credit: waffle