Recommendations on how to find volunteer work abroad with Worldpackers. Enjoy a local and cultural experience while receiving free accommodation in exchange for work.
Worldpackers is an incredibly useful tool that can enhance the experience for first-time, solo female, and budget travelers. This online platform provides access to thousands of work exchange hosts around the world for truly experiential travel. In addition to local and cultural immersion, participants can develop their skills, learn a new language, and save money.
For first-time and solo female travelers, you will have a safety net, landing place, and an instant community. Worldpackers provides 24/7 support and their own insurance for unforeseen issues. Rather than diving headfirst into solo travel, volunteer work abroad could be a thoughtful alternative, letting you take baby steps outside your comfort zone.
Budget travelers and backpackers will appreciate the free accommodation in exchange for work. For a few hours per day, you could significantly cut back on your travel expenses. We all know that accommodation is one of the biggest costs when it comes to travel, closely followed by food. As all hosts provide a room, some meals, and/or a place to cook, this makes Worldpackers membership so worthwhile.
As my Worldpackers experience was exceptional, I am thrilled to share 10 essential tips that will make your work exchange unforgettable. Here are all the answers to questions you might have about volunteer work abroad with Worldpackers.
Update: How to find work exchanges in 2021
Travel looks a little differently these days and that impacts the destinations you may be able to search for volunteer work abroad. Here are Worldpackers’ health and safety recommendations for volunteers:
- Follow the advice of the World Health Organization
- Stay informed and up-to-date on the latest recommendations and restrictions regarding travel
- If you need to cancel a trip, do it officially through the Worldpackers platform
- For support, contact the Community Happiness team at [email protected].
Worldpackers has also released a brand new feature called “Higher Chance of Approval”. This filter will allow travelers to search based on recently active hosts on the platform, which is especially useful during these uncertain times in regards to travel.
1. What is work exchange and how does it work?
Work exchange is simply the act of providing services in return for non-monetary benefits such as a place to sleep or food to eat. If you’ve ever stayed in hostels, chances are you’ve met long term travelers who were receiving free room and board in exchange for work. This notion has been around longer than all of us but, thanks to technology, it’s now easier to find volunteer jobs.
My favorite platform to search for exchange and volunteer opportunities abroad is Worldpackers. The concept came from two friends wanting to create a way for more people to be transformed by traveling. Now with over 1.5 million members, the Worldpackers community believes that travel is a universal right and their platform makes it more accessible.
The basic idea is that you get free accommodation in exchange for work, plus other advantages including meals, tours, and events. Anyone can join Worldpackers and scroll through over 5,000 listings around the world. To become a verified member and apply to hosts, there is an annual membership fee of just $49 USD per year for solo travelers and $59 USD per year for two people (click here for a $10 BTB discount). So, if you’re traveling with a friend, family member, or lover – it’s an even better deal.
2. Will I receive free accommodation in exchange for work?
Applying for voluntary work abroad through Worldpackers means that you will receive free accommodation in exchange for work, plus possible other benefits. When comparing potential hosts, you can see what they provide under the section “what you get”. Some stays include private rooms while others have shared, so make sure you read the exchange details carefully before applying.
I used Worldpackers in 2017 for two weeks at Pars Teatro and Pars Tailor’s Youth Hostel in Barcelona. In addition to receiving free accommodation for work, I also had access to all the paid events and some meals during the week. I was given a bunk in a shared female dorm and had a fun time making new friends.
3. What kind of volunteer opportunities are there on Worldpackers?
One of the reasons I choose Worldpackers is that they offer many types of volunteer work that goes beyond the traditional hostel reception and cleaning jobs. As I have skills in digital marketing, I felt that it would be more valuable to provide services in my areas of expertise. My role at Pars Teatro and Pars Tailor was to catch natural photos of hostel guests while they were having an incredible time (a pretty awesome job!).
On the Worldpackers platform, you can filter volunteer opportunities based on your skills, with options ranging from party promotor to video making. Don’t worry if you are straight out of school or have limited experience, there are still plenty of lower-skill volunteer jobs you can choose from. A Worldpackers opportunity could add experience to your CV (resume). For aspiring digital nomads, this could be a first taste of working abroad while building your portfolio.
4. How do I find volunteer work abroad on Worldpackers?
If you are wondering “where can I volunteer?” then you’ll be happy to know that there are verified hosts across 170 countries. To find volunteer work abroad, head to the Worldpackers website or download the app via the App Store or Google Play. Hit the search icon to see what volunteer opportunities are available in the destinations you are planning on visiting.
For travelers who don’t have tons of cash, looking for closer-to-home volunteer jobs are a great way to have an enriching yet economical cultural experience. In fact, for my Worldpackers stay, I was already the northern region of Asturias in Spain, so the trip to Barcelona was very budget-friendly. I just needed to cover the cost of my flights, additional meals, (too many) drinks, as well as personal expenses.
You can also utilize the filters on Worldpackers to narrow down your search options based on the types of volunteer work (Work Exchange, Social Impact, or Eco Programs), availability, host type (hostel, eco-village, holistic center, etc), travel length, and more.
5. Is it safe to work or volunteer overseas as a solo female?
The Worldpackers team takes safety very seriously, especially as over 59% of their members are women who are often traveling solo. All hosts are vetted to make sure they align with the Worldpackers guidelines and quality standards. In addition to this, membership includes 24/7 support via the app, email, or phone as well as the Worldpackers insurance.
Although I traveled solo to Barcelona, I quickly made friends with the staff and guests. In fact, I felt like I had my own little family within a week of staying at each hostel! It’s impressive how many memories and connections can be packed into a short amount of time.
6. What does Worldpackers insurance provide?
All verified members have access to Worldpackers insurance in the case of unforeseen issues with a host. Worldpackers can help out by covering up to three nights at a nearby hostel and assistance in finding a new host. This is one of the key benefits of using the platform rather than trying to find volunteer jobs yourself.
I had a close call when arriving in Barcelona and contacting my host. There was a misunderstanding and at first, they told me they no longer needed my services. I reached out to the Worldpackers support team who quickly responded to assist. Luckily, everything with my host was sorted out but it was great to know that Worldpackers had my back.
This is another area where the feature, “Higher Chance of Approval”, comes in. This new filter will eliminate travelers applying to any opportunities that may be out of date or no longer available.
7. How much does it cost to volunteer abroad with Worldpackers?
The standard price for annual membership to volunteer abroad with Worldpackers is $49 USD (solo plan) or $59 USD (couple and friends plan) which allows users to apply for volunteer jobs, contact hosts, have access to the Worldpackers insurance and 24/7 support. They also provide helpful resources such as articles, videos, guides, e-books, and podcasts to help you have an even better experience.
During a yearly membership, you can apply for as many volunteer jobs are you like. You also have control over when you sign up again so there will be no unexpected surprises on your bank statement.
8. What else will I need for volunteer vacations with Worldpackers?
For any volunteer opportunities abroad with Worldpakcers, you might need to prepare or provide your own:
- Visas (if applicable)
- Flights and transfers
- Travel insurance
- Funds for personal expenses.
9. How do I apply for a work or volunteer exchange?
Before applying to potential hosts, you’ll need to become a verified member and fully complete your profile. This is your chance to let your personality shine and show off your accomplishments. Think about what kind of characteristics and attributes that hosts will be looking for (you can totally check out my Worldpackers profile for inspiration). It doesn’t hurt to add links to your online portfolio, website, or LinkedIn profile to display your work experience.
There a few other key points to consider when applying for a work or volunteer exchange on Worldpackers:
- Send applications two to eight weeks before you plan to arrive
- When considering hosts, check their response rate
- Take the time to read the volunteer jobs carefully and write personalized applications
- Don’t ask for less or more time than is stated
- Apply to multiple hosts.
Finally, traveling solo gives you more work exchange options as many hosts only have space for individual volunteers (and sometimes just share accommodation which isn’t too romantic if you want to travel with your partner). Otherwise, Worldpackers recommends that duos or groups try applying to farms or eco-villas.
10. Why try Worldpackers work exchange on your next trip
Worldpackers is a trustworthy tool that gives travelers online access to volunteer and work exchange opportunities around the world. They also have many other benefits for verified members including:
- WP Gigs: Exclusive freelance opportunities to help you make money while you’re traveling
- WP Academy: resources to help you prepare for your Worldpackers experience.
By taking volunteer vacations, you can immerse yourself in the local culture, enjoy more meaningful experiences, and make your travel funds last longer. If your lucky, you’ll even make memories and friends for life!
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