How much money do you need to volunteer overseas?

Volunteer plays with orphaned baby monkey at Merazonia - Ecuador
Volunteer Lucy nurtures an orphaned baby woolly monkey at Merazonia – Ecuador


So you want to volunteer overseas? It is important that you have enough money for your trip!

For the most part, the main expenses when volunteering are flights, accommodation, insurance, volunteer fees and food. Depending on the program you choose, if you are a skilled long term volunteer, your flights, accommodation or food may be included.

For all short term, unskilled roles, your flights will be your responsibility, and food and accommodation will come at an additional cost.

Often if you are volunteering in a developing country you will probably find that there is less to spend on and that things are cheaper than you are accustomed to. Here are some things you should plan for…


Shop around and you will find huge variations in costs for flights. If you are on a budget, check out our tips on how to get cheap flights.


The cost for travel insurance will largely depend on where you are visiting, how long you are away for and the countries you are passing through. Any time you add USA or Japan to your itinerary your costs for travel insurance will expand greatly.

If you are likely to be doing any special activities like rock climbing or skydiving check if it is covered under your plan. We love World Nomads and you can get quotes directly on their website.


Costs for taxis and internal flights can add up. As well as flights, you need to consider taxis to and from airports, and daily travel needs. If you have booked an inclusive organisation these costs may be already included.


Some programs will have clear accommodation costs. Others may require you to source and book your own accommodation. Consider the type of accommodation that you want to stay in, then budget accordingly.

Trip Advisor can give you a good indication of the types of hotels and hostels on offer in any location. Once you find a good place, visit their website for prices.

If you are staying in hostels you can get ideas of costs on websites like:

If you are staying in hotels you can get good deals on websites like Wotif and Last Minute

If you are unsure about accommodation and staying for more than a week, just book the first few days accommodation. This way you can look around locally once you get there and get familiar with the place. The only exception to this is if you are coming into a major local holiday, a holiday season when many places will be full, or if there is only one option in town.


Some volunteer programs include food, many do not. It is worth asking what typical meals consist of in the town where you will be staying, especially if you have special dietary requirements.

Donations or organisation fees

Do you need to pay fees or a donation to volunteer? Are there weekly costs, or just a one off donation? Find out in advance any fees they have and an idea of additional costs for daily transport or materials once you are in the country.

Shopping, sightseeing and activities

Are you just going to volunteer or will you have time for other activities? Make sure you budget for shopping and any activities that you can enjoy before or after your volunteering time, like boat trips, scuba diving, shows, theme parks, tours and adventures.


If you like to party then remember to budget for drinks, cover charges and taxis. Of course this is not so important if you are out in the middle of nowhere, but if you are staying in a city and love the nightlife you may find yourself wanting to include some partying in the budget.

Volunteering Overseas

This post is an excerpt from our brand new eBook… Volunteering Overseas: Get Yourself a Life Changing Adventure. To download this awesome resource simply subscribe in the side column, oh and yes, it is free!

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