Many Indians are not aware of the concept of volunteer travel in India. Here’s a concept that has helped tourists not only travel cheap (and sometimes even free) but also connect with the actual essence of the places they visit. This is the only how-to guide you will need to plan a pocket-friendly, worthwhile, and purposeful trip. So, let’s begin.
What Does Volunteer Travel Mean?
Volunteer travel or as many like to call it, Voluntourism is a privileged chance to travel around the world free of cost, or at a minimum expense. It involves volunteering for an organization where you get a chance to work for a meaningful cause. It could be to teach underprivileged children in a secluded village, maybe somewhere in the mountains. Or it could be attending the wounded/rescued animals. There are plenty of options, and one can choose anything as per their interest.
FYI, India is one amongst a few countries to offer the cheapest and even free volunteer travel opportunities.
Why Choose Volunteer Travelling?
It is a great opportunity for all philanthropic travellers. Ever wondered how foreigners are able to plan frequent visits to India? Well, now you know the secret.
For adults above 18 (sometimes above 17) who often depend on pocket money and can’t afford it or convince their parents, it’s a golden opportunity. Some organizations also offer a certificate of internship. Cherry on the cake, right? But sadly, only a few people are aware of it though.
Perks Of Volunteer Travelling
Travelling, exploring hidden wonders, reaping bonus karma points, learning about different cultures, free food, free stay, certificate, experience, networking and personality development are just a few benefits. The list is long and demands a dedicated blog for itself.
It’s a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity. A trip that is worth your time and every single penny.
How To Find Organizations That Offer Voluntourism Packages?
Coming back to the point, let’s discuss how you can approach or connect with various organizations in India that offer this service.
- Decide your area of interest. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the plethora of options available online that might end up confusing you. So, first things first, decide a cause you wish to volunteer for.
- Figure out the time frame you are comfortable with. It’s fine if you don’t plan to go for a long duration. The dates should be in sync with your schedule. So, plan accordingly.
- Finalize your budget. Now the third most important decision is to decide whether you want to spend a certain amount of money or not. If yes, then how much. The next most crucial step depends on this decision.
- Now you are ready to search for organizations or host profiles that fit your requirements.
Also Read: History of Backpacking
Websites Offering Volunteer Travel In India:
1) Helpstay: https://helpstay.com/
2) Ispiice- volunteer in India: https://www.volunteerindiaispiice.com/
3) Sankalp volunteer: https://volunteersindia.org/orphanage-volunteer-work.htm
4) World packers: https://www.worldpackers.com/
5) HelpX: https://www.helpx.net/
6) WWOOF: https://www.wwoofindia.org/
Organizations Offering Volunteer Travel In India
However, if you don’t intend to go through the websites and want to contact the organization directly, then here are a few options you can consider:
1) Ecosphere Spiti, Himachal Pradesh: Spiti is one place that is found in every traveller’s wish list.
This organization particularly focuses on the conservation of culture and livelihood of those working closely with nature. The volunteer activities involve looking after their office work, helping in the daily village activities, etc.
I wonder who would want to miss a chance to plan an affordable trip to Spiti and learn about its culture.
Bonus- They would also teach you how to make Spitian food.
2) Salaam Baalak Trust, Delhi: As the name itself suggests, it’s an NGO that works in favour of street children. They take care of their mental, emotional, and physical health. Not only that, but they also provide nutrition and education that is free of cost. The volunteers can live in a shared flat made available to them by the organization, at a minimal cost.
3) Joe Homan Charity, Tamil Nadu: This organization is over 50 years old. What makes us add them to our list is that they don’t only give a safe and secure environment to children but also teach them basic skills like sewing, sports, music, etc., so they never have to depend on anyone for their livelihood. They aim to make a society that is poverty-free. Over the years, they have made seven residential homes for boys and similarly, for the girls as well. It requires volunteers to do the same and they can stay at their guest house at a cheap price.
4) LHA, Dharamsala: It’s a non-profit organization, situated in a city that is every travellers’ dream. They provide classes in various languages and IT sectors to the Tibetan refugees, with an aim to empower them. They also look after their basic needs.
What a good cause to work for in such a picturesque city of Himachal Pradesh.
5) Sikkim Homestay: The ecotourism and conservation society of Sikkim has been religiously working for conservation and sustainability in the state. What is more impressive is that UNESCO backs them up. Sikkim is popular for its panoramic landscape. The ones who have been there, call it a home away from home. A perfect getaway location for those who seek some quality time with themselves.
6) LEDEG (Ladakh ecological development group): Like Spiti, Ladakh as well is in the wish list of many travel freaks. The volunteers are not only responsible for skill training, but they also have to work for the purpose of livelihood initiatives and promote similar practices. The NGO looks after the underprivileged people.
The volunteers can conveniently reside in the hostel at low prices.
7) Sadhana forest, Auroville: They aim towards reforestation and water conservation. Volunteers gain knowledge about various species of trees, medicinal herbs, plants, eco-friendly alternatives and more such nature-related subjects. Whoever wants to take a break from the occupied and polluted city life can consider going here. Food is chargeable, but accommodation is not. This opportunity is for those who would love to work while staying close to nature.
8) The student educational and cultural movement of Ladakh: It is a beautiful remote place, where volunteers teach special skills like photography, ice skating and English to the people.
They provide food and accommodation at a reasonable amount.
9) Seva Mandir Udaipur: This organization, as well, is one of the oldest on our list. It has been working towards the development of rural areas for the last 40 years.
Udaipur is one of the most beautiful cities in Rajasthan, known for its tourist-friendly environment and lakes. They provide the volunteers with dorms/guesthouses. Though they are not responsible for the food, the stay includes a kitchen shared between the people staying there.
10) Rural organization for social elevation aka R.O.S.E. Kanda, Uttarakhand: As beautiful as its name, the group tends to contribute the same spirit to its cause. Their motive is to ensure quality living, which means improving society’s health and education system.
They provide homestay to the volunteers.
Keep these simple tips in mind while looking for a place to volunteer and travel for free in India:
- Drafting a message: Time and again you would have to write messages to explain why you are suitable for the opportunity. Look at it as a cover letter. Why would a company hire you, or how would they benefit from having you onboard? The best way to deal with this is to write from your heart.
- The organizations look for the best prospective candidate. They get several enrollments for a place that only has vacancies for a few. Sometimes, hosts even schedule a one-on-one interview to learn more about you. They want to be sure that you are eligible and willing to help. This is to ensure that nobody misuses the platform for their selfish benefits.
- Couples, family, or friends can volunteer together, but it depends on where they are going. This is something that has to be kept in mind while conducting research. Prior research saves time for you and the organization as well.
- Insurance: It is always advisable to take precautions, so you don’t have to worry about the cure later. To keep yourself and your belongings safe, it’s something that you should not avoid. Especially those who are coming from other countries to explore and practice volunteer travel in India must be very careful. One must always prepare for the worst.
I get that it’s difficult to enrol or get selected for one of these volunteer opportunities in India, but the efforts would be worth it. In fact, for some, it might even turn out to be a road to Damascus.
So, what are you waiting for? Just find your liking in the place of your choice and get ready to experience a different travelling experience altogether. This goes out to everyone who thinks that they need money to travel and explore. I hope I have gone ahead and removed that blocker for you through this blog.
“For those who travel & roam, the world is their home. So next time you plan a trip, don’t forget to acknowledge our tip. I swear by it, and you will too.”