Free volunteering: How to volunteer around the world without paying ridiculous agency fees

So you want to volunteer abroad? Good on you! We love that you are looking to give back. But you’ve gone online and you’ve seen some organisations CHARGE expensive agency fees for your kindness. How crazy is that? You know us by now, and you know what Workaway stands for, (if you’re new, we are a website that connects volunteers and hosts from all around the globe and allows them to come together; volunteer help for a few hours a day and hosts exchange that for accommodation and food. Simple.) so we’re not here to ramble on about that, what we are here to do is show you how you can volunteer around the world without paying a cent:

travel meaning free volunteering

1. Have a little look on Workaway

Get to know our site and what we do, have a look at other Workaway profiles to get an idea of their experiences and read our blog which has hundreds of helpful articles from volunteers’ stories, to tips advice and some of the best Workaway destinations in the world. Don’t get too caught up in reading though. You have some important steps to take before you can start volunteering around the world for free.

2. Sign up

Like what you see? Awesome! Let’s get you signed up. A membership to Workaway costs $42USD a year. Here’s what you get for that:

3. Contact 1000s of hosts in over 180 countries

travel the world budget backpacking trips

  • Create a unique profile telling hosts all about your skills and enthusiasm for helping
  • Upload photos in your profile showing yourself and your skills
  • Upload your own short video to show on your profile page
  • Join your account with a friend’s to visit hosts and apply together – whenever and wherever
  • Create your own personalized host list to save all your favourite hosts
  • Find hosts on a map in your area or the area you are planning on travelling to
  • Use your smart phone and login to the mobile site to make changes or apply on the move
  • Add yourself to our last minute Workawayer list so hosts can contact you for immediate volunteering opportunities
  • Get and give feedback to and from hosts to build up your Workaway profile
  • Contact other members to ask about their stay with hosts
  • Link your travel blog to ours to share your interesting Workaway journey with our readers
  • Get to know like-minded travellers on the road with our “Meet Other Workawayers” function
  • Enter our monthly Travel Photo Competition and win money to extend your travels
  • Help the Workaway Foundation Project and watch the projects grow
  • Be a member of our unique travelling community and exchange amazing stories and ideas!

4. Create your profile

This is your most important step! A bad or incomplete profile won’t be interesting to hosts and you may struggle to get any replies. Take time and effort when filling it out. Try and show your personality and experience and include lots of photos showing how fun you can be. Hosts also respect honesty. Only available for one week? Say that. Don’t want to do work with kids and animals? Just let them know. We believe there is a host out there for everyone!

5. Contact hosts

Ok, now you’re ready to start contacting the hosts you’re interested in. Use our filter function to find your perfect projects. From then, email each host individually. DO NOT copy and paste, it’s so obvious and won’t do you any favours. We recommend you email a few and make sure you always put the dates you are available. Wait up to 10- 14 days for a reply and if you don’t get one, give them a gentle nudge by emailing again to see if they received your first one. Do keep in mind our hosts are busy people and may be in an area with bad wifi.
host volunteers cultural exchange free

6. Go prepare

You’ve scored your first free volunteer project? Go you! Your journey has begun. Here’s a few tips to think about before you go to make your trip as good as possible:

  • Talk to the host and ask if there is anything in particular you need to bring
  • Get travel insurance
  • Get a sim card for that country
  • Check for visa/vaccinations
  • Buy some small gifts from your hometown to give to your host to introduce them to your culture

free volunteering tips preparation advice planning rtw trip

You are now well on your way to volunteering around the world, for free! We think you deserve this; you’ve already done something many haven’t done before by offering your time to others in need. You guys rock! Don’t forget to tell us all about your experiences! 🙂

34 replies
  1. ridhima
    ridhima says:

    It seems unrealistic sometimes, will be gratefull of one work away traveller or volunteer can help new people sign up

  2. Wellem Evangelista
    Wellem Evangelista says:

    Unfortunately it seems like volunteerism became tourism for some agencies and some “non-profit” organizations, where they say they are going to give some money to help those families but actually it doesn’t happen most of the time. However, I’m glad workaway exists! (:

  3. Lany Rh
    Lany Rh says:

    I did a few trips as the concepts of workaway, in my home country, Indonesia. But with this site, hmm.. I think I know how to expand it in the next 2 years!
    *still try to earn and save money though 🙂

  4. Celeste Low
    Celeste Low says:

    We just finished 3 1/2 weeks in Sri Lanka with workaway. It was a great place to be, fantastic hosts, and we used some of the money that would have gone to an agency to buy robotics & tech supplies for the school!!

  5. Mark
    Mark says:

    Just discovered this site…so intrigued by the concept. Soon to retire from a career in medicine and looking for volunteer opportunities in my community. I had no idea that Workaway existed. Can’t wait to learn more!

  6. Christian
    Christian says:

    After hours of looking into this Workaway website reading into their philosophy, encouraging articles, and user stories both big interviews and delighted comments—I feel like I’m already going to do this—I finally found it, now I’m going to do it. I feel like this is the lifestyle I didn’t know I was looking for or just didn’t think was possible to find. Looking forward!

  7. Andreja
    Andreja says:

    Hi. This is what I was looking for very long time and just today I found right place, this organisation. Most definitely I’m going to travel this year. I’m so oooooo happy to hear for this from just random nice girl at doctor surgery. Totally accidentally. .but is it really by accident 🙂 I don’t think so. Everything happens with reason. Thank you nice girl who told me but this. Maybe you recognise yourself. – Girl from Ireland Cork. Thank you thank you

    • Jocelyn Li
      Jocelyn Li says:

      Hi Lucie, you have to be at least 18 to sign up as a workawayer, but there is no maximum age. In fact many hosts prefer more experienced workawayers who have specific skills!

  8. Tamara
    Tamara says:

    Very interested in this volunteer opportunity. I have the plane fare and looking for a unique experience.but no money for a trip. Can’t wait to learn more. A bit anxious about traveling alone. How do I get started. Must use ticket by June?

  9. Natalia irene Terraza
    Natalia irene Terraza says:

    Hi fellows! I love the idea of exchanging cultures, making friends, while travelling around the world. Last summer holidays, it came to my mind of getting a job to stay in Patagonia a few days more. Luckily, I had the chance of working in a hostel that gave me that possibility I was looking for. I must admit that I really enjoy every moment of my stay, since I learnt a lot from the different cultures of people I met…listening to their stories, going to dance Tango, sharing meals together…Sweet memories, I will keep in my heart forever. Currently, I am working in the city but I hope it won`t last for so long . Simply, I can`t stop dreaming about another trip as a volunteer away from the city!!

  10. Maribel
    Maribel says:

    Hi guys, what a great idea this is! I have been looking at volunteering abroad for a while and fees are totally unaffordable, unfortunately. So this is the way to go! I can’t wait to start my “workaway” journey, being able to help out, make a difference, being grateful to meet up other likeminded people. Let’s do this!!! I’ll see you all around 🙂

  11. Daylon Hudgel
    Daylon Hudgel says:

    I’d love to join up and travel just need to save up some funds first, I’m just worried about finding a host that will allow me to stay for more or less then a year

  12. Carolyn Nimmo
    Carolyn Nimmo says:

    Hi everyone,
    I am a 62-year-old lady and have done 30 workaways in 10 countries in the past 3 years. Do it – it’s wonderful!
    Thank you Workaway team.


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