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12 Best Volunteering Websites To Volunteer Abroad For Free (2023)

Best volunteering websites

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Over a year ago, I felt the urge to go somewhere for an extended period and help with my skills in exchange for accommodation.

I thought about volunteering, but all the programs I found in the past were either too long or too expensive, with very limited options regarding location, working hours, etc. 

After some research, I found many volunteering websites with hundreds of volunteer opportunities abroad & for free! In a short period, I found a place, went for two months, and had a fantastic experience.

If you are interested in volunteering abroad for free, keep reading to find a selection of volunteering websites that offer free work trades.

The only thing you have to pay for some of the websites is an annual membership, which is usually around $50. 

In the end, you can also find a comparison table with my TOP 5 choices, plus some essential tips.

Now, let’s jump right into the list!


12 Websites For Volunteering Abroad For Free:


1. Workaway

Best Volunteering Websites

Workaway is one of the biggest platforms to volunteer abroad for free. Hundreds of hosts worldwide offer free lodging, often food, and sometimes other perks when you contribute with your time and help them a few hours daily.

I’ve tried Workaway a few times and had a fantastic experience. Even though sometimes some hosts don’t reply, I think it is worth paying for the membership.

A beginner’s tip – to be on the safe side, pick a host with at least a few reviews from other Workawayers. That way, you can easily decide if you want to go there by reading the reviews of previous volunteers.

Membership: $49 a year for a person. $59 for two people account.

Pros:

  • Cultural exchange
  • You can stay for as little as one week or a couple of months
  • You can learn new skills
  • Very affordable
  • Helpful filters, including “Last minute hosts”
  • A limit of 25 working hours a week
  • Over 50K opportunities in more than 180 countries
  • Find travel buddies on their platform (ideal for solo travelers)
  • There are volunteering opportunities where you can also get paid for your skills

Cons:

  • You aren’t covered, and if something happens at the last moment, you will need to either find a new place on your own
  • If you want insurance, you must buy it separately
  • It can take 10 or more days to hear back from the hosts

2. Worldpackers

Best Volunteering Websites

Worldpackers is similar to Workaway but generally has fewer work exchanges available. While it has fewer options, they rarely repeat themselves on both platforms. 

So if you can’t find something on Workaway and want more options, you can also register on Worldpackers. 

Membership: $49 a year for a person. $59 for a two-people account

Pros:

  • Manual check and review of new hosts
  • With their membership, they include insurance and will refund you a certain amount of money (depending on your plan) in case of emergency 
  • Great customer support
  • A helpful “Greater chance of approval” filter

Cons:

  • Less volunteering options in general
  • Some hosts reply slow

3. WWOOF 

best volunteering websites

WWOOF is one of the world’s first work exchange platforms. Currently, it has over 12K hosts in 130+ countries. If you are interested in farming and sustainable farming practices, WWOOF might be the one for you!

Here, you can mostly find projects in organic farms, with the primary goal of cultural & educational exchange and building a global community conscious of ecological farming.

After you choose a destination, you need to join the appropriate country’s WWOOF organization, which can cost anywhere from $0-72 per year. 

Pick a destination/country, and then take a look at all the options you have. The average stay length is 2 to 3 weeks, but it can be as short as 2 days or as long as 6 months.

Membership: €25 for a single person, or €40 for a joint account, for a year

Pros:

  • Learn about sustainable farming and permaculture
  • Spend a lot of time outdoors
  • No farming experience required
  • Get fit from all the physical labor

Cons:

  • There are regional divisions and different WWOOF organizations, all run in different ways with other interfaces, which makes it a bit confusing (and pricey if you have to pay more than one membership)
  • Life on the farm isn’t easy and isn’t for everyone – be prepared to work hard
  • Internet connection could be irregular
  • Don’t expect fancy lodging

4. HelpX

Best Volunteering Websites

HelpX is similar to Workaway – it has a wide variety of work exchange opportunities, from organic farms, farm stays, homestays, ranches, and lodges, to backpackers’ hostels and even sailing boats. You can help out for 4 or so hours in exchange for food and housing.

It is a fantastic chance for cultural exchange for travelers on working holidays to stay with locals and gain practical experience.

Membership: 20 euros for 2 years

Pros:

  • Their price for two years is the same or less than most other platforms for one year
  • A diverse range of work exchange opportunities
  • Allows you to find a travel buddy

Cons:

  • Outdated website 
  • No social proof – it is hard to find info or experiences from HelpX outside their website
  • You can’t see reviews unless you register/pay

5. Help Stay

best volunteering websites

Help stay offers 1500+ volunteer stays in 100+ countries. Every host is screened and approved by their team, and they promise to provide a safe and secure space for both helpers and hosts.

You can easily find each host profile’s response rate and response time. Before clicking on a volunteering opportunity, you can see if the stay is free or paid, what kind of accommodation you get, and if you get any food.

Membership: €53 for individuals or €62 for couples accounts. Click on “Free stays only.”

Pros:

  • User-friendly interface
  • Sometimes, the host includes the name of their business, which makes it easy to find them online and learn more about them. Additionally, if they have a website, you can contact them there without paying for the membership of Help Stay

Cons:

  • Lots of places ask for you to pay for the stay
  • Some hosts share very little information about their project

6. Volunteer World

Best Volunteering Websites

Volunteer World offers over 1800+ volunteer programs in 70+ countries, and you can select them by price, cause, and duration. Generally, it is a place to find paid volunteering. 

However, they have a small selection of free opportunities to volunteer abroad, or you can find cheap options starting at $11 a week, like this one. Just check if the program covers accommodation and food because not all of them do.

Some of their free volunteering programs are in the following sections:

  • Wildlife sanctuary
  • Environmental conservation 
  • Humanitarian work 
  • Community service 

Membership: Free programs available

Pros:

  • Cheap paid options

Cons:

  • Very few free options

7. Go Over Seas

Best Volunteering Websites

Go Over Seas offers over 17,500 international, culturally immersive programs, work trades, internships, trips, and jobs worldwide for a unique experience. In addition, some programs provide free housing and meals, while others charge for both.

Membership: Free to use the website / but some work exchanges are paid /

Pros:

  • They offer work exchanges and other options, like internships, gap years, abroad, teaching or studying abroad, etc.

Cons:

  • There is a fee for most volunteering options
  • Harder to find free work trades (use the search tool on top and write the word “free”)

8. HippoHelp

Best Volunteering Websites

HippoHelp is free to use, but if you want to contact the hosts through the platform and find out more about them, you must purchase a membership. 

If you want to skip buying it, many hosts usually add links to their websites, so you can directly contact them there. In addition, you can find volunteering places around the world using their helpful map.

Membership: €12 yearly

Pros:

  • There is a map is very helpful 

Cons:

  • I don’t find the interface very user-friendly
  • There are a limited amount of volunteering opportunities

9. Au Pair World

Best Volunteering Websites

Au Pair World is a free platform that matches you with over 14,000 families worldwide. Your main task will be childcare, learning a new language, and other possible housekeeping chores

In exchange for your help, you receive free board, lodging, and pocket money in the family home. 

The amount of pocket money you get depends on the working hours and destination. So when signing a contract before your stay (find template & details about it here), you must clear all those details. 

Before signing anything, make sure you meet with the family in person or online.

Membership: Free (It is paid for hosts)

Pros:

Cons:

  • Au Pair World safety – they don’t vet the families thoroughly, and much of the vetting is done between you and the family
  • Beware of fake profiles
  • Be careful what you are signing

10. Volunteers Base

Best Volunteering Websites

Volunteer Base is a new & free platform where you can find work trade for accommodation. Since it is pretty new, there aren’t many opportunities and no reviews, making it hard to find if previous volunteers were happy with their stay and how legit each profile is.

Membership: Free  

Pros:

  • It is free – both for volunteers and hosts

Cons:

  • It is a very new platform, so there aren’t reviews and lots of experiences of others
  • Many options are without pictures and very little information

11. Trusted Housesitters

Best Volunteering Websites

Trusted Housesitters allows people who like to travel and have pets to find a sitter when they are gone. The house sitter will take care of their pets and live for free in their home. 

There are pictures of their animals, information about their breed & age, and a description of the tasks they need you to do, such as feeding their cats, walking their dogs, etc.

Trusted Housesitters perform an identity check before you can apply to sit and often ask for a reference, an ID, and your contact details.

Membership: From $129 yer per.

Pros:

  • Less work
  • If you are an animal-lover, you won’t feel it as real ‘work’
  • Live for free in cosmopolitan cities

Cons:

  • Mostly shorter stays 

12. Nomador

Best Volunteering Websites

Nomador is similar to the Trusted Housesitters – people are looking for house sitters while they are away.

The tasks you might be asked to do is – looking after their pets, doing minor gardening jobs, picking the mail, etc. 

Before contacting homeowners, you must upload at least one proof of residence or identity. 

Membership: Free (with limited options). $42 for a Premium account.

Pros:

  • Less work
  • Live for free in different cities & countries

Cons:

  • Not plenty of options 
  • Some stays are quite short

Here’s a comparison table of my top 5 volunteering websites:

Favorite Top 5 Volunteer WebsitesWorkawayWorldpackersWWOOF HippoHelpTrusted Housesitters
Membership$49$49€25€12Free
Couples plan$59$59€40NoNo
Sign in to see options NoNoNoYesYes
Sign in to reach hosts YesYesYesYesYes
InsuranceNoYesNoNoNo
Type of work EverythingEverythingMostly in farmsEverythingPet sitting or house sitting
Available worldwide YesYesYesYesYes
Previous volunteers reviewsYesYesYesNoRare

Other Essential Tips


1. The best volunteering website often depends on which country you are looking at 

For example, Workaway is a good choice if you are searching for a work exchange in Portugal since there are many opportunities there. 

2. Apply to places with reviews 

If they only have a handful of reviews, or none, stay on the safe side and pick another place. Sometimes, people will not leave a bad review of a host because they might be afraid the host will leave them a poor one in retaliation.

The more positive reviews the host has, with more details about how things work there, the better. 

contact hosts with reviews

3. Talk with the hosts 

The vetting process that some platforms perform is often very basic. Once you read the profile and establish that it’s a place you want to go, make sure you schedule a call.

Through phone conversations with the main person, you can feel if you will get along and if they sound easygoing or strict and uptight.

4. Contact previous work traders at the place you want to go

As long as they still have profiles, you can send them a message through the platform (or if they provided an email/social media link) to ask about their experience in more detail. Then, you can decide whether that is a place for you.

contact previous volunteers

5. Use the filters 

Most volunteering websites have very useful filters. You can select to see only hosts with reviews, what job you are looking for, what perks you would like to get, accommodation type, preferred length of stay, etc.

6. Research the place 

In most cases, the hosts don’t write the name of their hotel, hostel, or organization before contacting them. However, I found a way to find some hosts and see if they were legit.

To do that, click the right button on any of the images they provide on their profile. Then choose “Search image with Google.” A small window will open on the side to search if this image was used elsewhere.

If it is from their website, Instagram, or another page, you can find the host’s name or place and discover more about them.

Best Volunteering Websites,Volunteer Abroad For Free

7. Some countries won’t allow “volunteers” in on a tourist visa

People sometimes get turned away at immigration if they say they will volunteer; to be on the safe side, you can say you are just a visitor and your goal is to explore the country.

nomador review

8. Check reviews outside of the platform 

This is another great tip if you want to ensure the platform is legit and most people that use it have positive experiences.

9. Have a backup plan 

This will come in handy if the host changes the arrangements, you don’t like the conditions, or you don’t feel safe. Furthermore, always let your close ones know your travel route and where you will stay.

Best Volunteering Websites

Costs To Consider


Depending on where you go, you may consider the following costs: 

  • Passport – if you dont own one, or if it is expired, you will need to make one before your trip. 
  • Travel insurance – Some countries require you to purchase travel insurance for the whole period. An option that isn’t the best if you truly need to visit a hospital, but it is very affordable, is Insubuy, and a pricier one that is more trustworthy is World Nomads.
  • Airfare – You will need to purchase your flight tickets, and if it is to a more exotic destination, they might get pricey. 
  • Meals – While many hosts cover the food, it isn’t always the case. If you find a place that covers just your lodging, you must make a budget for your meals during your stay. 
  • Visa – Some countries require it, so check if the country you are going to needs a specific type of visa. 
  • Pocket money – You will need to save up money, or if your job allows it, you can also freelance after you do your volunteering work.
  • Other traveler requirements – During Covid times, a test would have been necessary for most destinations, but now this rule is almost gone. Make sure to check if the country you are going to has specific requirements.
  • To keep costs low, consider the following – Find a no-fee program, volunteer for longer, find a place that covers both accommodation & meals and is flexible with your travel dates so you can find cheaper airfares.
Best Volunteering Websites

Summary 


Volunteering for free is a unique experience that will allow you to explore an area in depth, learn more about the local culture, meet new people, do new things, and learn new skills. 

Is it a beautiful experience that has the potential to enrich your life.

I couldn’t recommend it more, so if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to comment below or write me privately on my email.

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