With summer fast approaching many of us are trawling through travel agency websites and desperately scrolling for the cheapest deal. Are you looking to spend some time abroad this summer but don’t have the money for a big blowout holiday? This article is for you! Many students want to spend their summers exploring a new country but lack the funds to make it happen. It can also often be difficult to find a short-term job in a new country especially if you don’t speak the language. This is where volunteering comes in. Different organisations around the world are set up to allow people to volunteer their skills and work in exchange for bed and board. These organisations have been vetted and are used by hundreds of people around the world yearly. By doing this you will spend some time working but have lots of free time to explore a new city and meet people along the way, without spending a penny on rent!
If you are looking for a retreat from city life, farm work could be for you. There are farms all around the world looking for people to help them for any period of time- from a weekend up to a few weeks! An organisation that is very popular among students who are looking for farm work is WWOOF- World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. These farms located on each continent focus on organic farming and its principles. Alongside this, they offer a range of farms such as flower farms, dairy farms or vegetable farms so that you can choose the experience that is right for you.
The process is simple, you can make an account for yourself or the group you would like to travel with and search through farmer’s profiles. They will each have pictures, reviews, working hours, tasks, and dates available on their profile. Once you apply to a farm you can engage with the host about any queries you may have. Don’t worry, most of the farmers on this site do not expect any extensive farm knowledge and are looking for interested, cheerful and hardworking people.
All food and accommodation are provided for free in exchange for roughly 5 or 6 hours of work a day. The rest of the time can be spent enjoying the beauty of the countryside and enjoying some delicious organic food!
If you are looking for something more fast-paced, then a hostel worker role is for you! Many hostels around the world offer accommodation and sometimes food in exchange for a range of jobs around the hostel. These jobs could include housekeeping, serving breakfast, washing dishes or some general maintenance of the property. This is the perfect role for somebody who wants to experience authentic life in a new place. Hostels are always very social places and working there will allow you to make friends with both the guests and hopefully some of the locals!
There are many organisations and independent hostels that offer this service. A go-to website to find a place to stay is Worldpackers.com. They have profiles for hostels worldwide that are looking for assistance. On each hostel’s profile, you can see how long they are looking for a volunteer for, what type of dormitory is offered to them, working hours and whether food is included. The majority of hostels will get volunteers to work in the morning giving you the rest of the day to explore as you please.
If you choose to volunteer at a hostel, make sure the check the minimum volunteer period on the website as many hostels are looking for volunteers for a minimum of 4-6 weeks. This length of time would really allow you to immerse yourself in a brand-new culture and live like a local!
Other roles – Au Pair, Teacher, Builder
Helpstay.com is a website that allows you to use the more specific skills you have in the same manner as the hostel and farm workers. Through this, you can develop your skills while having a holiday at the same time. This can be very useful if you are training in a field and can get some summer experience abroad. Some of the positions listed on this website do require previous work such as vetting or experience working with children, but most are suitable for people who are willing to learn.
This website is full of opportunities around the world from helping an older family maintain a back garden in Wales to assisting in the management of a hostel in Venice. With varying amounts of working hours and conditions, there is something on this website that suits everyone.
Volunteering not only saves you money but can add to your CV and give you the life experience of living independently in a new place and meeting a variety of people along the way.