Have you ever thought about volunteering abroad? Not only is it a way to meet new people, discover a new country and learn about new cultures. It is also a sustainable way to travel for free.
Becoming a Worldpackers volunteer gives you a platform to explore programmes all over the world, exchanging your skills for free accommodation, food and laundry.
The most expensive part of travelling is the accommodation.
So, by taking out this expense and doing work for rent exchange, you are not only saving money, but giving yourself a bigger budget to explore the surrounding areas.
Travel for free as a volunteer
This backpacker budget guide will go into detail about how to become a Worldpackers volunteer, how it will expand your travel plans and move you in directions you might not have thought of going.
In this Worldpackers review I will cover the costs, the reviews, the experiences and the safety elements that come with volunteering in a new country.
Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, if you decide to press on them and make a valid purchase I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you and for that, thank you!
What Is Worldpackers?
Worldpackers is a platform that shows you different volunteer programmes from all over the world.
They have all kinds of opportunities from working in a desert camp in Jordan, to being on an holistic eco farm on the beach in Chile. Worldpackers has many different categories you can volunteer in like; animal care, content creation, Au pair work, farming the list goes on!
Worldpackers helps you to travel safely, have life changing experiences and make a positive impact in the world.
The Worldpacker community houses 3.2 million travellers and hosts, making it easy to collaborate and communicate.
Wordpackers encourage you to trade your skills for accommodation and by doing so you gain new experiences, create a positive impact and get immersed in the local culture.
Being part of the Worldpackers community is one of the safest ways to volunteer abroad. Each host is verified by the platform and is therefore safe. Fellow travellers also have the opportunity to review every experience. Which helps spread awareness if hosts are behaving incorrectly.
How much does Worldpackers cost?
Before we deep dive into all things Worldpackers, you should know that being part of the community isn’t free.
However, the cost is so little that it really is worth the money. For $49 USD a year, you get access to the platform, all the hosts, safety of experience insurance and a 24/7 support system.
And if you use my code LITTLEONEEXPLORES or click any of the Worldpackers links in this article, you will get $10 off.
That takes the cost down to $39 for the year. That is less than a night’s accommodation!
How to become a Worldpackers Volunteer
There are a series of steps you need to follow in order to become part of the Worldpackers traveller community. This ensures that all hosts and volunteers are vetted for the safety of everyone.
- Pick a destination and search available programs
- Pick your plan and create a profile
- Fill in the Worldpackers Questionnaire
- Complete the mini Worldpackers course
- Apply for the Worldpackers experiences
Firstly, pick a destination you wish to volunteer in and then check out what programmes Worldpackers has to offer.
They have everything from teaching English in Tanzania, working on an Alpaca farm in Norway, building bee houses in Nepal, and housekeeping in Thailand.
Once you have chosen what and where you want to go, then you need to pay for the plan and create a profile.
You will be asked to fill in a brief questionnaire asking about your skills, your languages and what you are most interested in.
Then it is up to you to make your profile stand out.
Create an about me section, give some background on your previous skills, add photos and social media platforms.
You do not need experience to be a Worldpackers volunteer.
So do not fret if you feel you don’t have a certain set of skills. Hosts are opening to giving opportunities to those willing to learn.
You will also take a mini-course on how to be an outstanding Worldpackers volunteer, which will improve your profile.
Then it’s time to apply for the programmes you want, set the dates you wish to visit and send a message to the hosts. Be sure to read carefully through the advert information and send a message tying in what you’ve seen and how you can add value to them.
A copy and pasted message will not work here. In order to get a response, be genuine and actually say why you want to volunteer and give a brief description of yourself.
Then keep your fingers crossed and see where the wind takes you!
Why Be a Worldpackers Volunteer?
There is a reason why 3.2 million people are on the Worldpackers platform and it isn’t just because of the experience.
Worldpackers have created a safe space for travellers from all walks of life to come together and try new things.
Becoming a member allows you to reach out to fellow travellers who have volunteered with the host before and can give you honest, personal feedback on their experience.
You can reach out to as many hosts as you like and fill your calendar with as many programs as you wish to be part of.
No two volunteer programs are the same. Each one has a different length of time you can stay, hours you are required to work and benefits for helping them.
The top destinations for Worldpacker Experiences are:
- Costa Rica
Worldpackers open you up to opportunities you might not have been able to do in normal circumstances.
For example, I worked at a wildlife sanctuary mucking out Koala poop and getting up close and personal with these beautiful creatures. There are so many animal care projects all over the world that you can be a part of.
Here are some examples of the type of work you can do whilst volunteering with Worldpackers:
Animal Care – This is probably one of the most popular categories on the Worldpackers website. And although the hosts will be verified, still do your research on the “sanctuaries” as some might not be as legitimate as they make out.
Housekeeping – A job like housekeeping is needed all over the world. This type of role is perfect if you want to volunteer in the morning, enjoy the afternoon and then work hospitality in the evening.
Teaching a Language – This type of position would be great on a resume. Most of these programs are helping less fortunate kids who can’t afford a proper education. But some are in proper schools. I think this would be such a wholesome experience where you are genuinely bettering the lives of others.
Party promoter – If you love to party, meeting new people and having fun, then this would be the perfect programme for you. The shifts are long but the locations and the parties make up for it.
Au Pair – If you like kids and want a home away from home feel then look into this role. Each family will run things differently, but your main responsibility is to look after the children and entertain them for the days you work and sometimes cook for the family too.
There are so many positions in so many different categories!
Perks of volunteering with Worldpackers
Each Worldpackers programme has different benefits for joining.
For example, in exchange for me working 18 hours, I received accommodation in a 6-bed dorm, free laundry and leftover food from our guest’s breakfast buffet. Some hosts offer private rooms, 3 meals a day, free transport and activities. It really depends on the nature of the tasks.
By becoming a Worldpackers volunteer, you will be able to save more and travel for less.
As accommodation is at least 70% of a travel budget, participating in a work for rent exchange will eliminate that expense and will make your money go further.
If you want to learn a language in a new country, volunteering and living abroad will broaden your surroundings and expose you to local life.
Another great benefit about becoming a Worldpackers volunteer is that you get the opportunity to learn new skills and improve your resume. Worldpackers is all about equal opportunity and will help you develop the skills you want to learn.
Read the reviews
In order to get the best out of your Worldpacker experience, you want to read the reviews of previous travellers.
Each programme has a section showing you who has been, who is there and who is going.
Worldpackers have made it very easy to give good, honest feedback.
The procedure they have in place is the host and the volunteer have 2 weeks to write a review and neither party can see until the end deadline. Unfortunately, not all hosts make time to do this, so if you want a review make sure you give them a gentle nudge to do it.
It is important to take the reviews into consideration.
If the same bad feedback is being said, then there may be a problem. Whereas if there is only a smattering of negativity, it might not have been right for that person.
Seeing people giving 5 star reviews and raving about the experience will give you peace of mind that this programme is the right move.
Is Worldpackers safe?
One of the great things about becoming a Worldpacker volunteer is that the platform is there to keep you safe.
Worldpackers hosts are verified before being able to advertise on the platform.
They also regularly monitor the hosts’ behaviour and the experience the volunteers are receiving.
If you ever feel unsafe or unsure about the opportunity you are receiving, Worldpackers offers support 7 days a week in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
If, for whatever reason, the situation escalates and you are in a position where you need to leave the programme, Worldpackers offer 2 types of insurance policy.
The basic package is included in the $49 year subscription. This covers 3 nights’ accommodation up to $49 and is available on all trip plans.
And the extended insurance that is included in the $99 subscription. This covers up to 7 nights’ accommodation worth up to $199.
How much I spent in a month working for Worldpackers.
You can save a lot whilst working for Worldpackers and travel practically free.
But whilst I was on Magnetic Island, I chose to enjoy myself and take in all the island delights.
In hindsight, I could’ve saved a lot of money by buying alcohol at the bottle shop and not eating out as much!
£20.16 – Return ferry
£101.77 – At the Bungalow Bay Bar (blimey!!)
£72.73 – Cash bleeped out for buses and other things
£165.41 – Eating out/bars/icecrream
£61.34 – Food shopping
GRAND TOTAL – £421.41
My Worldpackers Experience
I chose to do the Wildlife Park Volunteer experience with Bungalow Bay Koala village in Magnetic Island, Australia.
The experience is still available but the programme has changed slightly. The new programme now asks for Housekeeping and Wildlife, which will be divided up throughout the week.
My experience was a month and I had the option to choose between 2 weeks and 12 weeks.
Looking back, I wish I had done 12 weeks as I absolutely loved the island life.
I was rostered 18 hours per week with 2 days off and did 2x 7am – 10am shift and 3x 6.30am – 10.30am shifts. Having the morning shifts allowed me to spend my days lying on the beach, exploring the island, blogging etc.
I could have got a job on the island in the evenings but I enjoyed the work life balance I had.
My role was split into two sections:
7am – 10am Wildlife Park Shift
The first role was the mucking out of the animals and the feeding (7am – 10am). Each morning I would head to the back door of the wildlife park, sanitize the racks and the dustpan and brushes, grab a bucket and head into the enclosures.
I would always start with the Koalas, as they were the easiest.
I would then rake up their poo and the eucalyptus leaves. I’d then take out yesterday’s branches and bring in fresh water and eucalyptus branches. Then I would hose down the enclosure floors, give the koalas a quick scratch behind the ears and move onto the next pen.
Then I would move onto the sand enclosures that housed the Echidna, the lizards and a separate pen for a wombat.
This time I would rack the poop, the leaves and the food and then siv the sand (apparently it was expensive). I would use the old eucalyptus leaves from the koalas to create hiding places for the lizards and a bury spot for the wombat.
Harry, the resident wombat, has been at the sanctuary all his life. Unfortunately, when he was in his mumma’s pouch she got hit by a car and died. Now Harry is more like a puppy.
My least favourite job was raking the paths and siv the sand to make it more presentable for guests.
The final part of the day would be preparing the food for the animals.
Eddie the echidna would get ant’s powder and water mushed up into a puzzle contraption, to keep him entertained. The small holes in the puzzle represented holes for his tongue to go through, like he would in the wild.
I’d then make Harry’s food of sweet potato, apple, carrot, leafy greens, beetroot and sweetcorn. We would also add some oats into an egg container for him to rummage and find.
And finally, the lorikeet mix which consisted of lorikeet nectar, grated carrot, sweet potato, apple and oats mushed up in water. The strangest feeding experience was chopping up the mealworms for the baby turtles to eat.
6.30am – 10.30am Koala Breakfast Shift
This position was to help prepare the buffet breakfast for the guests who had purchased the Koala breakfast. Rangers Matt and Cat would introduce the guests to all our resident animals including snakes, lizards, birds, the koalas and the wombat.
I would prepare the fruit salad, assemble the breakfast burgers, top up the juices, make milkshakes, create yogurt pots, get the cereals and granola out, make coffee and prepare the pancakes. Matt or Cat would then make the hot food.
The best part of this shift was getting to move the koala pebbles to and from her enclosure, which meant frequent koala cuddles for me.
Overall, my Worldpacker experience was amazing.
I made some great friends who worked at the hostel. Magnetic island itself is a truly beautiful destination and the hostel was nice with live music every weekend and had a home camping feel. It got taken over by the Selina chain whilst I was there and they started developing the hostel straight away.
I personally worry that this will make it less affordable and maybe take away its friendly charm.
In summary, becoming a Worldpackers volunteer opens you up to a world of opportunity, helps you travel for free, learn new skills and creates amazing memories. I highly recommend checking them out.
Don’t forget to use my code LITTLEONEEXPLORES or click this link here for $10 off per year!
As always, Happy Exploring!