I haven't volunteered abroad before but I want to try and teach english as a foreign language in south america for 3 weeks (specifically Chile or Argentina). I have done the usual google search for a company that would facilitate this for me, so far I have found despite me volunteering the companies charge quite a lot for their packages and don't include flights. Ordinarily I wouldn't mind but considering these aren't charities I feel like I am being taken for a bit of a ride. So my question is as follows: 1. For UK residents are there charity boards/lists that offer this type of excursion in Chile or Argentina? 2. Where do I find out what a good cost band is? Are there any popular bloggers in this space?

So far quotes have been £1200 - £1800 for 2 - 3 week programs. Any help, advice or shared experience would be appreciated.

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    Chile and Argentina have English teachers, and to the extent they want native speakers (generally with skills and experience in language instruction) to come and teach English, they want people to stay for a long period of time, not a couple weeks. It's hard to judge these packages, as we don't know what's included, but the services you're offering aren't in particularly high demand, so I wouldn't expect them to be highly valued. Feb 11, 2016 at 0:34
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    This was flagged as off-topic, because it's about 'immigration or moving for extended periods of time'. I disagree with this, the OP clearly states that they want to go for 3 weeks only, as such I think this should stay open.
    – drat
    Feb 11, 2016 at 1:57
  • @drat I agree. Voting to keep open.
    – JoErNanO
    Feb 11, 2016 at 9:11

1 Answer 1


What you are encountering is "voluntourism". It is a feel good travel product, which provides some minor benefits for the organization you are being volunteered for.

Many countries require work permits or business type visas to volunteer, as they consider your benefits (free room, food, etc) as remuneration for "work". Organizations counter this by packaging the volunteer experience as a travel offering. You pay for your room, board, transport, guides and "activities". Those tour "activities" then center around helping out with whatever the project is, teaching, building, etc. But since you receive no compensation for your effort and pay for all your expenses, you can enter the country as a tourist.

The offerings are never for a long period of time because you are only supposed to be a "tourist". And prices are not cheap (even from the source) because: 1) it is a source of revenue for the organization; 2) a big part of the market is well off folks wanting to give back a bit (and be comfortable too).

Plus as is common in travel, you have the re-sellers, folks who promote the packages, hooking you up with the local "providers" and of course add in their mark up as well.

These packages are often marketed as "giving back travel" or "responsible travel" or "volunteer experiences" or other such feel good concepts. And there are websites that list the programs, but you have to filter through to find the ones that actually do something with their activities.

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