Check out tons of travel opportunities in this article from Wise Bread.
Short of winning a sweepstakes, a no cost holiday to a foreign country is an impossibility for most people. Of course, there are countless ways to reduce the cost of a trip, but ultimately you must decide if the traveling is worth the money you will spend on it. With growing fears of recession and a dramatically weakening dollar, the scales of reason seem to be tipping more and more in favor of staying at home.
Related: Secrets to World Travel (and Blogging About It)
But what if you could travel for free, even be paid a stipend, in exchange for contributing time to help a foreign community as a volunteer?
Purposeful travel has become very popular and the opportunities to take 'volunteer vacations' are endless. However, all of these programs cost money, often just as much as a traditional package tour.
There are a lot of good reasons why travelers should pay to volunteer, but we are about to see that you don't have to.
Here are 11 options for free or very cheap travel through volunteering:
The Peace Corps is the classic all expenses paid volunteer option that first comes to an American's mind. They offer two-year appointments, mostly in Africa, Asia, and South America, as well as modest stipends. Popular among recent college graduates, the Peace Corps is actually open to people of all ages. It is part of a larger government program called Freedom Corps, which includes the Volunteers for Prosperity (VfP). VfP offers similar benefits and projects as the Peace Corps, but assignment lengths are variable, from a few weeks to several years in duration.
The United Nations volunteer program sends experienced professionals from almost any field to every region on earth. As a volunteer all expenses, including airfares to and from your work site and any pre-appointment necessities like vaccines and visas, are covered. In addition, volunteers receive various grants and stipends that vary in amount depending on the project's local economy. Like most of the groups in this list, they are looking for people with extensive experience in their field. Like the Peace Corps, most appoints are for two years, though they claim to be increasing the number of six-month and year-long options.
The ArtCorps is a program specifically designed for professional artists. The program focuses on using art as a teaching tool, as well as a means of expression, for communities that face pressing social problems. Though the program does require that participants do some personal fundraising, the cost of travel is otherwise fully covered, along with a small stipend. Most assignments last 11 months.
Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) was recognized as the "International Development Charity of the Year" at the 2004 UK Charity Awards. They have placed over 30,000 volunteers, primarily in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and Eastern Europe. They provide a stipend, in addition to covering all expenses. While most assignments last two years, there are some special projects for experienced professionals lasting between two weeks and six months.
Read on for more.