Volunteering abroad has been a popular activity for tourists for decades, and it's easy to see why. Finding an opportunity to help overseas can give you a sense of community and that warm feeling when you know you're making a difference.
Volunteering abroad can also look great on your resume and help you land jobs. Plus, you've got the opportunity to change the lives of people who need it most.
Are you considering volunteering abroad but need help figuring out where to start? You may have heard of International Volunteer HQ in your research. Let's get into the highlights and lowlights of their organization and see if it's right for your next trip abroad!
What is International Volunteer HQ?
International Volunteer HQ is a company that provides a wide range of volunteer opportunities to would-be travelers. The company started on a family farm in New Zealand in 2007 with a mission to make volunteer opportunities more accessible while addressing the needs of communities.
Since then, they have helped thousands of travelers connect with volunteer opportunities abroad.
What Does International Volunteer HQ Do?
International Volunteer HQ has a dedicated team that sets up a diverse list of volunteer opportunities in many countries worldwide. Their platform works as a search engine for travelers looking for volunteer opportunities.
All you have to do is click on a destination or select the type of opportunity you're looking for and browse the options available until you find the right one!
Is International Volunteer HQ Legit?
Yes! Over 40,000 people have booked a trip with International Volunteer HQ, and many more are coming. They have glowing reviews from websites like Go Abroad and Verge magazine. They are a certified B Corp with a Zero Carbon Ekos rating and many more awards.
But, if you dig a bit deeper on Reddit, you'll find comments mentioning shady volunteer operations that either don't need help or are beyond saving. Redditors also note that the company keeps a larger portion of the funds than stated.
If you thoroughly vet the people or organization you plan on volunteering with, it's still an excellent company to use.
How to Book a Trip From International Volunteer HQ
First, browse the many destinations and volunteer opportunities to find one that interests you. Read guides about others' experiences of volunteering or working abroad to see if it's right for you.
Apply on the website and talk to a volunteer travel agent to confirm your choice. Pay the registration fee and secure your volunteer opportunity. Organize your passport and visa then you can pack for your trip.
How Much Does it Cost?
The registration fee for International Volunteer HQ's platform is $329. This fee gives you access to their services and in-country essentials like airport pick-up, orientation, meals, accommodation, and in-country support.
The fee doesn't cover visas, vaccinations, travel insurance, flights, or spending money. In addition to this sign-up fee, every program has a per-day cost. This fee can vary from $11-$40 per day.
Key Features of International Volunteer HQ
The website has a few handy features to help would-be volunteers through the process from start to finish.
- Dedicated program manager
- IVHQ program guide
- Access to special insurance partners
- Online training
- Completion certificate
- In-country support
- Local discounts
Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash
Beach being cleaned by a group of people
Where Can You Go?
International Volunteer HQ has many destinations in over 9 regions in the world. You can pick from countries like:
- Costa Rica
What Kinds of Opportunities Are There?
Volunteers can choose from a long list of programs all over the world. Plenty of opportunities under all categories exist in most of the countries offered. Here are some popular programs to consider:
- Marine conservation
- Climate action
- Women's empowerment
- Elderly care
My Initial Impressions of International Volunteer HQ
My initial impression is positive after discovering that Go Abroad gives this company a high rating and has many positive reviews. International Volunteer HQ takes full responsibility for its volunteers while on projects and is there to help you have a good experience. You're also spoilt for choices with many destinations to travel to.
I paused before booking with International Volunteer HQ not because of the company itself but because of the downsides to voluntourism and its impact on local communities.
Voluntourism sometimes creates more work for local guides, supervisors, and project managers when volunteers lack the skills to do the job. The locals spend time teaching the volunteers, occupying all their time and not getting to the project. It's something to consider before embarking on any volunteer abroad program.
Is International Volunteer HQ Worth it?
I don't think International Volunteer HQ is worth it. The program is way too expensive for what it is, with a top-tier sign-up fee. This fee eliminates potential travelers interested in volunteering but can't afford the steep cost, in addition to flights and visas.
The Reddit comments are compelling from past volunteers. Although they should be taken with a grain of salt, people had many negative experiences with this company. There are plenty of affordable or free volunteer abroad programs if you're looking for experience abroad.
These experiences allow you to work with smaller businesses and families that need help and are less likely to be money-hungry corporations. Other programs you should check out include Global Vision International, Volunteer World, and Worldpackers.
Our Rating: 3.2/5
- Many countries to choose from
- Many opportunities available
- In-country support
- Lots of resources
- Positive website reviews
- Effects of voluntourism
- Negative online forum reviews
- Affordable alternatives
Map Out Your Volunteer Abroad Experience With Pilot!
Now that you understand International Volunteer HQ, you can start to craft your ideal travel experience for you, your family, and your friends.