This question was asked a couple of days ago in our amazing Facebook community. If you’re looking for a supporting environment to get answers to all your travel related questions, please join us there!

Now on to volunteering: it is one of the greatest ways to explore the world on a smaller budget. It brings a slower pace and usually comes with a community of incredibly interesting people to show you the hidden gems of their home. I have volunteered in Thailand, Canada and Denmark and it has always been an unbelievable experience, I made friends for life, lived in ways most travelers don’t and saw places I would never have explored otherwise. 

I’m currently planning my move to Portugal and I’m again looking for a place to volunteer for the beginning to connect to locals and make new friends. So I thought I’d share my tips with you to find a safe place to volunteer as a female solo traveler, because let’s be honest we have to take some precautions.

1. Use a network like Workaway or WWOOFing

There’s usually a small registration fee but it’s definitely worth it in my opinion. Besides a better overview, these sites have verification systems, host ratings and the possibility for former volunteers to leave a comment. Read the description of a place and any comments people have left to get a picture of life and work with the host.

You can browse places by region, interests or keywords, find host close to you and can contact them directly through the site. The messaging board keeps your personal information (phone number or email address) hidden until you decide to exchange direct contact information with your host.

I asked Workaway.info how they make sure people are safe and what they do when someone reports a host (or volunteer), and here’s what they said:

Safety of site users (both workawayers and hosts) is always a priority for us.
We have numerous systems in place to avoid issues, including safety filters which pick up hosts who are asking for too many helping hours, using the site to advertise paid stays or using the site to message mainly just female volunteers. Each of these alerts is dealt with by a trained member of our support team and investigations are conducted to ensure that the site is used for its primary purpose.

We also have a feedback system where volunteers are able to leave both public and confidential feedback for hosts. We deal with these issues on a case by case basis when a host is reported to us via feedback or email. If serious issues are raised we launch an investigation into the reported incident, and we remove hosts from the site if we consider them a threat to the safety of our community.

As well as the support desk, each workawayer also has a personal advisor and can chat to our team live in real time via our live chat feature on their account page. Should any members have issues, they are encouraged to contact us directly so that we can investigate and take the necessary action.

 

Sintra Portugal

2. Talk to your host BEFORE you go 

If you found a host you like and have messaged and agreed about the possibility of volunteering, ask them for a video call to get to know them better. Talking in person makes it easier to figure out if you get along and you get to ask all of the questions you may have, about the living conditions, food, work, free time, transportation, whatever. Don’t feel weird or nosy, you’ll get a better feeling if it’s the right place for you. It’s also important to agree on the weekly work hours and the exchange you get, while some offer accommodation in a dorm or a tent, others have single rooms and provide food. 

safe volunteer thailand

3. Watch out for scams

If someone wants any weird personal data, financial information or a deposit – run. Never a good sign.

4. Trust your intuition – better safe than sorry

Our gut feeling is usually right. If something feels off in any moment or sounds shady, leave. You don’t owe anyone anything!

volunteer workaway canada

5. Research for a safe place 

Especially when you’re going to a remote area, check if there is a hostel/guesthouse/bus station nearby. If you have to get out of a dangerous or unsafe situation you’ll be prepared and have a safe place to go. 

volunteer workaway denmark

Volunteering is supposed to be fun, so make sure you find something you enjoy doing where you will meet people with similar interests. There are surf hostels, farm stays, yoga retreats, movie theaters, cafes, bars and families all looking for volunteers. You can find a raw vegan retreat center, a hostel right in the city center or a self sustainable permaculture farm in the Rocky Mountains (how rad is that?!).

Now tell us about your volunteering experience below! We want to hear everything!