Work exchange and volunteer programs in the United States (2022)

Is Work Exchange and Volunteer in the United States for you?

The answer to this question depends on your personal taste, budget, dreams and wishes. One thing is safe to say: from the most shy to the most outgoing person, there is a type of trip for everyone.

Do you dream of traveling around the world? You can do it with work exchange. Or maybe you feel like exploring your own country in a deeper way. Why not volunteering in the countryside!

Wanna travel, but you’re short on cash? You can save money by earning free accommodation in a hostel work exchange experience.

What does that mean? It can mean you help hundreds of hostels, guesthouses, NGOs, ecovillages and all sorts of settlements around the world with tasks like reception, making and serving breakfast, cleaning, changing linens and things like that. Or maybe, you could be the handyman and paint a creative mural in a hostel common area to get lodging and benefits in return :)

Does it sound interesting? So, work exchange is for you!

You can also learn a new skill by exchanging accomodation and breakfast for hours of work as a bartender, social media person, video-maker, photographer or language teacher.

If this sounds awesome but you don’t know where to start, don’t sweat it. We’ve crafted a quick USA volunteer guide to give you an overview of the country, and help you find nice volunteer opportunities in the USA. Keep reading and check it out.

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Why should you volunteer in the United States?

The country has a vast territory with endless possibilities. So it's cool to think about the best region for short term volunteer opportunities in the USA or for a long stay as a volunteer abroad in the USA.

Second, do you like cold or warm weather? In the US you’ll find cold and temperate climates in the regions around Boston, New York, and Chicago. However, summer in New York is really cool too, a must-see for millions of tourists every year! Which scene do you see yourself in? Cozy by the fireplace in snowy Boston, or walking around in Central Park during fall?

Well, if you really enjoy summer and water sports, go to the west coast. From cities like San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and Las Vegas you can visit amazing landscapes like the Grand Canyon and Horseshoe bend! Also, there are so many national parks and forests in this part of North America, it’s amazing. Don’t forget to visit Yosemite National Park, and the Sequoia Forest. You can make your travel savings last longer for hiking trips if you work in exchange for housing in the USA! Is it for you, though?

Like we said, when it comes to free accommodation in exchange for work in the USA, you can find almost any kind of task and any kind of host. The country’s size and variety of things to do make the USA a great work exchange destination.

If you don’t enjoy the rush of big cities like NYC, you can go rest on a paradisiacal beach. How about spending some time in Hawaii? Yep, Hawaii is an archipelago in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but it’s also a US state. We're not kidding around when we say you can find any kind of trip in the United States. Check out Worldpackers volunteer opportunities in Honolulu!


In this versatile and huge country, a trip can get expensive, especially if you don’t make money in a strong currency. So, backpacking in the United States is a great way to get in touch with your inner self, spend long hours on train rides and road trips with awesome mountain, forest or desert landscapes. Combine cheap train tickets and paid volunteer opportunities in the USA and you got yourself a low cost backpacking journey.

Each state is different from the other, so a long road trip USA is definitely worth it to watch the scenery change. For example, you don’t need to go to Italy to work in a grape farm and learn how to make wine - you can work in a winery in Mason, USA!

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Let’s say you like working in a team, try a work exchange in NYC! Hostels are never empty in the Big Apple. You can work as a tour guide or night shift in the city that never sleeps!

Like a cultural trip? Washington DC, formally the District of Columbia, is the capital of the United States and a great place to find the best volunteer programs in the USA. Do a work exchange in DC and give a host a hand by welcoming guests, taking care of facilities or being the best cook ever!

The US capital is the most appropriate place to absorb history and learn about the nation’s spirit. Like the rest of the country, the city has a very cosmopolitan personality. When you work exchange in DC you have the chance to be in contact with dozens of ethnic neighborhoods and attractions that go beyond the White House and Capitol. Visit Chinatown to experience authentic Chinese cuisine more than 6 thousand miles away from China. Travel to 16th street to check the Mexican Cultural Institute, with exhibitions of artists from the neighboring country.

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We’ve already mentioned the west coast and big cities like New York, because those are the most famous US attractions and great places to possibly find free volunteer programs in the USA.

Be one of many United States volunteers and get free accommodation and meals to save some money while getting to know like-minded people. You can also learn a lot from the more than 50 museums in DC, and more than hundreds of other attractions all over the country.

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How Can you Find Free Volunteer Programs in the USA?

It’s important to find trustworthy volunteer programs in the USA. Always check if they provide you good support and clear info.

Sometimes a thing that looks cheap turns out expensive when you have a problem and no one to help sort it out. Traveling to another country can be tricky, so it's good to be part of a strong community that will be by your side at unexpected times.

At Worldpackers your costs will drop a lot, because you’ll get free accommodation, meals and other benefits given by hosts.

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Also, the annual membership helps keep the Worldpackers support team running, which is very important for your trip to go off without a hitch. In addition, if something unexpected happens, Worldpackers offers you 3 days accommodation in a place similar to the one you first chose. Think of how many small trips you can make during the year paying a one-time fee that will bring you peace of mind and help you plan your trip step-by-step ;)

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Overall, regardless of your style or personality, there is a very wide variety of work exchange types. Take a look at our host list and find the one for you. In the end, what counts is that a volunteer program has given you chances to improve as a person, to progress as a human being and to help others. Also, let's not ignore the practical side: work exchange is a great way to save money.

Maybe you’ll set goals and nothing will go as planned. Well, isn’t this when adventure happens? Let life surprise you. Ask our experts for help or read our bloggers’ stories to plan a trip according to your budget. If you seek to discover yourself, observe the world around you and live your life to the fullest, take the first step with a volunteer experience, the rest is still unwritten :)

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What is the top volunteering activity in the USA? ›

1. Love Volunteers. Love Volunteers is at the top of the list of best volunteer programs in the USA for good reason.

Can I do volunteer work in USA? ›

Can a foreigner volunteer in the USA? While working in the United States can be difficult for a foreigner, volunteering is usually pretty simple. Forget the hassle of work visas. As long as you aren't being compensated for your volunteer work, you shouldn't need one.

What is a work exchange program? ›

A work exchange, also known as work travel or voluntourism, is a type of travel where you exchange your time and abilities for accommodation. You find a host who is looking for a certain kind of help, and lend them a hand for a limited number of hours per week. They provide you with a place to stay and other benefits.

Where do most people volunteer? ›

People in the States spend an average of 52 hours a year volunteering. Most of this time goes to the top four national volunteering activities: food collection and distribution, fundraising, tutoring, and general labor.

What age group volunteers the most? ›

By age, 35- to 44-year-olds and 45- to 54-year-olds were the most likely to volunteer (28.9 percent and 28.0 percent, respectively). Volunteer rates were lowest among 20- to 24-year-olds (18.4 percent). Teenagers (16- to 19-year-olds) continued to have a relatively high volunteer rate, at 26.4 percent.

How long is a volunteer visa USA? ›

For How Long the Visa Will Be Valid

Depending upon the "reciprocity agreement" between the United States and your country, the visa may be valid for just a few months or up to ten years. It also might be valid for one or multiple entries.

Can international students do volunteer work in USA? ›

F-1 and J-1 students are free to engage in volunteer work as long as it meets the above criteria. For example, it would be okay to volunteer at a local homeless shelter, charitable food pantry, or American Red Cross.

Do you need a visa for volunteering? ›

The visa application process is usually very straightforward, but you should check visa requirements immediately. Normally volunteers only need tourist visas when participating in our projects, but every country has different visa requirements and the length of stay they grant can vary.

What are the benefits of employment exchanges? ›

  • Job seekers can search for suitable jobs based on their qualification.
  • The registered job seekers can check their status on the job waiting-list online.
  • The unique Registration Number provided by Employment Exchange can be a reference while applying for jobs, especially government jobs.

How do I get paid for traveling? ›

Here are 18 ways you can get paid while traveling:
  1. Telecommute to your current job. ...
  2. Explore your company's other locations. ...
  3. Teach English or another language. ...
  4. Become a tour guide. ...
  5. Write a research guide. ...
  6. Become a flight attendant. ...
  7. Start a side gig. ...
  8. Find a new remote opportunity.

Do Workawayers get paid? ›

What is expected of me as a Workawayer? Generally you will be expected to help around 5 hours per day in exchange for food and accommodation. Some hosts may give a paid allowance to ensure they are offering at least the minimum wage in their country.

Is there volunteer programs that pay you to work around the world? ›

You can apply to a no-fee volunteer project with the Peace Corps, Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO), or United Nations (UN) Volunteers. These organizations don't require a program fee, may cover all of your expenses, including airfare and room and board, and even provide a stipend.

How do I find international volunteer opportunities? ›

9 Resources to Find Paid Volunteer Work Abroad
  1. [Get matched with paid volunteer jobs abroad for FREE]
  2. Peace Corps.
  3. WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms)
  4. Become a GVI Trust Scholar.
  5. SVP (Sudan Volunteer Programme)
  6. United Nations Volunteer.
  7. HelpX.
  8. American Village Camps in France.
13 Feb 2019

What gender is more likely volunteering? ›

Research shows that women are more likely to volunteer for organizations in the areas of social and health services, particularly unpaid care work beyond the household, while male volunteer participants are often found in political, economic and scientific fields.

How much does the average American volunteer? ›

People aged 35-44 and 45-54 are most likely to volunteer (28.9% and 28% respectively) while 20-24 year olds have the lowest rates (18.4%). On average, people spend an average of 52 hours per year volunteering their time.

Which state has the most volunteers? ›

The most generous state in America is Utah, which boasts the highest percentage of volunteers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

Why is volunteering declining? ›

Amid economic uncertainty and restrictions on public activity in the initial stages of the pandemic, Americans' charitable activity declined. More than a year later, monetary charitable donations are mostly back to their pre-pandemic levels, while volunteerism still lags.

Why do youths not want to volunteer? ›

The most common reason for not volunteering is lack of free time (about half of Americans cite this as the main reason), and another common reason is that the volunteer schedules and commitments are too inflexible.

How many Americans do volunteer work every year? ›

Ó This yearÕs report found that 62.8 million adults (25.3 percent) volunteered through an organization last year. Altogether, Americans volunteered nearly 7.96 billion hours last year, worth an estimated $184 billion, based on the Independent SectorÕs estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour.

Who is eligible for B-1 visa? ›

You may be eligible for a B-1 visa if you will be participating in business activities of a commercial or professional nature in the United States, including, but not limited to: Consulting with business associates.

Can I do volunteer work on tourist visa USA? ›

Volunteering in America with a tourist visa is feasible, so long as the nature of your volunteer work agrees with the rules of the US Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) and the US Department of Labor.

How much is a B-1 visa? ›

What Does a Tourist Visa Cost You? TheUS Tourist visa fee (B1/B2) costs USD 160.00. This amount is dependent on the nationality and can be paid at the time of the interview or during the application process. The application fee receipt is required for the interview.

Can you work for free on F-1 visa? ›

An international student may need proper F-1 or J-1 work authorization even for unpaid work. Only if the work is properly "volunteer" unpaid work under DOL rules can the international student perform the work without proper work authorization.

What is the difference between volunteering and unpaid work? ›

Volunteers are not employees and don't have to be paid. As with work experience and internship arrangements, all relevant factors must be considered to determine whether a person is a genuine volunteer or whether, in fact, an employment relationship exists even though the worker is called a 'volunteer'.

Can you volunteer on j1 visa? ›

International students are allowed to engage in volunteering while studying on a J-1 visa. However, you must be sure you can distinguish between unpaid labor and volunteering. Volunteering in the U.S. as a foreign national can be complex and has requirements as laid down by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Can a tourist work in the USA? ›

If you are a nonimmigrant visa holder, such as an international student, researcher, or refugee you may be able to work temporarily in the United States with an Employment Authorization Document (EAD) work permit.

What is charity worker visa? ›

The Temporary Work – Charity Worker Visa route is for individuals who have a job offer to undertake voluntary work in the UK for up to 12 months. The Temporary Work – Charity Worker Visa is not a route to settlement, but a partner and children under the age of 18 can apply as dependants on this route.

What is Tier 5 charity visa? ›

The Tier 5 (Charity) visa is for those coming to do unpaid voluntary work for a UK charity. If you are a registered charity you can obtain a Tier 5 (Charity) sponsor licence and then sponsor your volunteers to spend up to 12 months working for you.

Is employment exchange a source of recruitment? ›

Employment Exchanges are good source of recruiting employees. The services rendered by them are free of cost. Employment Exchanges are established under Act of Parliament. The vacancies are notified to them on their prescribed Performa.

What is NCS card? ›

Bringing Talent Closer to Opportunities… A National ICT based portal is developed primarily to connect the opportunities with the aspirations of youth. This portal facilitates registration of job seekers, job providers, skill providers, career counsellors, etc.

What's the meaning of job shadowing? ›

Job shadowing is a type of on-the-job training that allows an interested employee to follow and closely observe another employee performing the role. This type of learning is usually used to onboard new employees into an organization or into a new role.

What job allows you to travel? ›

Popular jobs that involve travel
  • Cruise ship chef.
  • Train conductor.
  • Flight attendant.
  • English teacher abroad.
  • Truck driver.
  • Travel technician.
  • Travel nurse.
  • Blogger.

What places will pay you to travel there? ›

These countries will pay you to travel
  • Maldives. The Maldives has announced plans for “Maldives Border Miles,” a loyalty program that rewards travellers for their frequent visits to the island. ...
  • Japan. ...
  • Italy. ...
  • New Brunswick, Canada. ...
  • Cancun, Mexico.
9 Oct 2020

How can I travel the world for free? ›

  1. Couchsurfing. ...
  2. Research what's free in the places you are going. ...
  3. Start trying to save at least a little / Earn money online. ...
  4. Travel somewhere less expensive. ...
  5. Travel to that less expensive place at the least expensive TIME. ...
  6. Stay in rural areas. ...
  7. Consider hitchhiking or car sharing. ...
  8. Volunteer.

What is better Workaway or Wwoof? ›

Many volunteering friends I know use Workaway and say they prefer it over Wwoof. Why? Because it's cheaper. As a matter of fact, it costs only 30 euros per year and it offers a worldwide list of volunteer solutions.

Do I need a visa for Workaway USA? ›

Generally, Workawayers do not need to apply for a work permit or work visa because Workaway is classed as 'volunteering'. Most countries see it as volunteering because the Workawayer is not paid a wage.

Is Workaway for free? ›

Workaway is free to browse but to contact hosts and arrange placements you need to become a verified member and pay the £37 registration fee (approximately $46 USD). If you sign up using my affiliate link you will also get 3 months extra free on your membership.

How can I work and get paid abroad? ›

How to Make Money While Living Abroad: 18 Job Ideas
  1. Switch to Remote Work. Photo via @digitalnomadistas. ...
  2. Work for a Travel Company. Photo via @advwomen. ...
  3. Be a Free Tour Guide. Photo via @elisabethappy. ...
  4. Consider Becoming an Au Pair. ...
  5. Teach English. ...
  6. Work as a Digital Translator. ...
  7. Monetize Your Gap Year. ...
  8. Do Freelance Work.
7 Mar 2022

What is a paid volunteer called? ›

Paid volunteers, also called compensated volunteers, are individuals who volunteer to work for an organization without getting paid but still receive some form of compensation or reimbursement.

Do you get paid when volunteering? ›

Volunteering is unpaid work for someone other than a close relative - for example, working for a charity or not for profit organisation. If you're a volunteer, you'll have no contract of employment. This means you decide how many hours you want to volunteer each week.

What is the most common form of volunteering? ›

Fundraising for an event is the most common type of volunteer role in the United States. 70% of corporate volunteers believe volunteerism boosts morale more that company mixers.

What is the difference between volunteering and voluntary work? ›

A volunteer provides their services voluntarily. A voluntary worker does not work voluntarily but is under a contractual obligation to provide the services for which he or she is engaged.

What is the biggest volunteer organization? ›

Points of Light is the world's largest organization dedicated to volunteer service.

How many people volunteer in the United States? ›

Approximately 63 million Americans — 25% of the adult population — volunteer their time, talents, and energy to making a difference.

What are examples of voluntary work? ›

Types of volunteering
  • Volunteering to work with animals.
  • Volunteer for a community project.
  • Sports volunteering.
  • Volunteering in hospitals.
  • Green volunteering.

Can a Canadian volunteer in USA? ›

U.S. border law says Canadians do not require a visa to enter the country for volunteer work, as long as they can provide proof that their work will not be compensated.

Which state has the most volunteers? ›

The most generous state in America is Utah, which boasts the highest percentage of volunteers in all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

What gender volunteers the most? ›

Volunteerism in the United States is substantially more common among women than men. According to a 2014 survey, on average, women are nearly 30% more likely to volunteer.

How many Americans do volunteer work every year? ›

Ó This yearÕs report found that 62.8 million adults (25.3 percent) volunteered through an organization last year. Altogether, Americans volunteered nearly 7.96 billion hours last year, worth an estimated $184 billion, based on the Independent SectorÕs estimate of the average value of a volunteer hour.

What is the difference between volunteering and voluntary work? ›

A volunteer provides their services voluntarily. A voluntary worker does not work voluntarily but is under a contractual obligation to provide the services for which he or she is engaged.

What is volunteer work called? ›

Community volunteering, in the US called "community service", refers globally to those who work to improve their local community. This activity commonly occurs through not for profit organizations, local governments and churches; but also encompasses ad-hoc or informal groups such as recreational sports teams.

What type of community service can you volunteer for? ›

Volunteer at an animal shelter. Volunteer at a community center. Volunteer as a lifeguard. Volunteer to be a crossing guard.

How long is a volunteer visa USA? ›

For How Long the Visa Will Be Valid

Depending upon the "reciprocity agreement" between the United States and your country, the visa may be valid for just a few months or up to ten years. It also might be valid for one or multiple entries.

Can a non US citizen volunteer? ›

As long as no compensation is involved, and the opportunity is officially advertised as a volunteer position, the foreign national may participate.

Do you need a visa to do Workaway in USA? ›

Do I need a visa for the USA? Yes you do. Upon acceptance as a participant on the program you will need to apply for a H2B visa, which specifies the function you will perform over a defined period of time. You will have to go for a personal interview at the USA consulate in your home country.


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