Ever thought of volunteering in Mexico? Check out this list of opportunities – from working for an NGO to painting graffiti in a hostel, you’ll sure find the right one for you to volunteer in Mexico.
Sometimes I wonder how the travel addiction works. Why once you start traveling, you just can’t stop. Just a few weeks – I remember I said the first time I left on a 3-month trip. Now, I’ve been on the road for a few years, and I don’t even know anymore how many countries I’ve touched. And I don’t know when I am going to stop.
Something similar happens with volunteering. At the beginning you may think you are volunteering just to save money, or because you need to have a couple of quiet weeks before hitting the road again. But when the finish line approaches, you realize you don’t want to leave the place you have been volunteering at. You realize something happened inside of you and magically, you created a bond with the place and the people you have shared time with.
When you leave for some volunteering abroad, you think you are the one who’s going to teach something to people. But in reality you are the one learning something everyday, and you go home with a full baggage of learnings, no matter how long the experience was.
But what exactly do you mean with volunteering abroad? – you may be asking yourself now. You basically go and help someone. It can be in a hostel, or an NGO, or some environmental program. Volunteering allows you to travel all around the world, while exchanging your skills for, at least, accommodation. Sometimes, hosts offer you up to three meals per day and some pocket money.
But, as I said before, that’s not the most important thing about being a volunteer. When you volunteer, you meet people, you understand how the locals behave, you learn what’s the typical food of the country you are in, and what’s daily life is like for your hosts.
Another good thing about volunteering is the fact that you will get to know beautiful places around the world like Mexico on a budget.
Because let’s be real, how many times have you thought of traveling to the paradise beaches of Mexico, but money was an issue? Unless you’ve managed to put apart some good savings, traveling long-term, unless you have a remote job, requires plenty of cash, even if you’re going to travel cheaply. Choosing to take part in a volunteer experience in a place like Mexico allows you to travel to some of the most beautiful places in the world without spending that much money.
Imagine volunteering in a rural community in the middle of Mexico or, why not, working at a hostel in Sayulita and surfing in your free time. I’m not here to talk about dreams. I’m here to talk about how you can make your dreams come true.
Benefits of Volunteering in Mexico (or Anywhere Else!)
1| Learn a new language and/or culture
As I said before, being a volunteer allows you to know how the locals live. Let´s say your volunteering experience starts in Vietnam, teaching English. In your spare time, you will be able to learn about Vietnamese food, how they cook it, what ingredients they use, at what time they eat, and many other things.
You will be able to chat with local people, to learn how they think, about their past, their history and how they see the world. Are they Buddhist? Do they believe in God? Do they pray?
As you will be teaching English to their community, they will want to pay you back and will teach you for sure some Vietnamese. Yes, it will be hard and you may leave before learning how to say a whole sentence. But that’s not the point. Have you ever thought, 10 years ago, that you would be learning Vietnamese in the middle of Ho Chi Minh? Incredible, right?
If instead you travel to Mexico, you might want to learn some Spanish before leaving (it’s much easier than Vietnamese!). During your stay, it’ll be easier to communicate with the locals and improve your language skills day after day. Stay a few months and you’ll become fluent without even realizing it!
2| Save on accommodation
Volunteering means living a life changing travel experience on a budget. When we travel long-term, we need to know how to take care of our money. If we want to continue traveling, we need to save all the money we can. Many times the best way to save money is not getting a job and earn extra money (which is illegal in most countries with a tourist visa), but is to travel without spending it.
When you volunteer, the least you get is free accommodation. Hosts offer you a bed to sleep and, most of the times, they are nice private rooms that are much better than a hostel bed. Saving in accommodation for a while will allow you to extend your trip while exploring a part of the country.
Because remember, you’re going to have a couple free days a week and usually you will only be working half of the day, which leaves you plenty of time to explore the surrounding areas, and go on day and weekend trips.
3| Learn different skills (or develop the ones you already have)
When looking for places to volunteer at, we may find hosts asking us to do tasks we never did. We’ll get to do and learn things we know little or nothing about. The good thing about volunteering is that this doesn’t matter. No one was born knowing everything and that’s something the hosts know.
As volunteering is a way to exchange skills, you are not required to be an expert in the tasks you are going to apply for. You will learn know to perform them on the way. Unless the host specifically asks for someone with experience, they will teach you how to do your job.
If, instead, you find a place where they ask something you are really good at, consider it a chance to improve your own skills and, why not, to teach others how to perform them. That’s life. Sometimes we teach. Sometimes we are taught.
4| Make new friends
This is, in my opinion, the most important thing about volunteering. It doesn’t matter if you are a volunteer in Hawaii, Mexico or Kenya, you will always leave your experience with new friends. You will end up telling your deepest secrets and fears to people that, two weeks ago, were completely strangers to you. That’s the magic of traveling, and of being a volunteer too.
Worldpackers: A Great Tool To Find Volunteer Opportunities in Mexico
We talked a lot about volunteering, about its importance, and about how it can change both our life and the life of others. But how do you get the chance to be a volunteer in Mexico for free?
It’s not that easy to do things on your own, and sometimes volunteering agencies asks you thousands of dollars for you to go and volunteer somewhere. What?! But there are options that make things a lot easier without having to spend almost anything.
Worldpackers.com is an online community, with more than 1.5 millions of travelers and hosts worldwide. Worldpackers lists all the hosts looking for a long or short term volunteer in Mexico and all around the world. It is, without any doubt, a great toll to start your experience as a volunteer.
Worldpackers asks you to pay a one-time-per-year membership. The membership usually costs $49 but by using this link you’ll get a special discount of 20% off ($10 off), so it costs you $39. If you think about it, you can save so much money on accommodation and food with this membership fee, that in my opinion makes it absolutely worthwhile.
Let’s do a simple calculation, shall we? Let’s say a bed in one of the cheapest hostels in Playa del Carmen costs you $6 a night, and a cheap meal $3. By volunteering for 5 days at a place that offers you a bed and one meal a day, you’ve already more than made up the cost of the membership. And there are 365 days in a year, with infinite possibilities for volunteering all around the world!
Once you pay this membership, you will be able to access all the volunteering offers around the world. You just have to filter by continent, country or city. All the options will be displayed and it’s just a matter of choosing the one you like the most. Create a nice and charming message and… apply! Your life is about to change really soon.
Consider it a sort of working holiday in Mexico, or a work and travel in Mexico, with the difference that in this case you aren’t paid, yet you don’t work the whole day and you get to enjoy your hosting country a lot more. It really depends on what your goals are for your summer or gap year in Mexico.
There are a few things that distinguish Worldpackers from other companies out there.
Support Team: Volunteers cam count on 24/7 support by email, phone, or app from Worldpackers’ customer service team, who can help them in case of any issue. Especially if you are traveling alone for the first time or it’s your first time on a volunteering program, this really can bring some peace of mind.
Verified Hosts: Before any host can post looking for volunteers on the platform, they go through a verification process. This process makes sure that the host is offering a safe and worthy experience. Many volunteers are solo females, and it’s great that the company is making sure safety is a priority.
Worldpackers Insurance: If a volunteer has any problem related to their host at any point during the volunteering program, Worldpackers will pay for 3 nights at a nearby hostel and will help you find another host ASAP.
I did a little bit of research myself regarding volunteering in Mexico. If you’ve followed my adventures in the past, you’ll know I absolutely love Mexico. This country offers some incredible landscapes, beautiful cities, breathtaking nature, and some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met.
On Worldpackers, there are hundreds of volunteering opportunities all over the country. You could decide to spend a couple of weeks at each place and travel the country over a few months, and learn Spanish at the same time.
Check out my favorite opportunities for volunteer work in Mexico.
NOTE: These volunteering opportunities in Mexico are open and accurate at the time of writing, however listings change over time. Check out on Worldpackers if these listings are still available, or if there are some new ones that are even better!
Volunteer in Mexico at Social Enterprises
Help an NGO in Chiapas, in the South of Mexico
The state of Chiapas in the South of Mexico might not be at the top of your bucket list when it comes to Mexico, but it should be. This region is home to some incredible natural landscapes like canyon and waterfalls, Mayan ruins and Mexico’s largest population of indigenous people. That’s why you should definitely consider volunteering here for a truly authentic experience.
This NGO in Las Margaritas, Chiapas, contributes to the integral development and well-being of indigenous youth through educational, cultural and artistic workshops.
What they ask for is 24 hours of help per week. They look for people able to create, edit, and publish digital videos, take, edit and provide photos, and maintain and update social media channels. Think of it like a sort of a community manager and content creator.
In exchange, you get 3 days off per week, a bed in a shared dorm, and yoga classes for free.
Teach English in a rural community in Campeche
On Worldpackers you’ll find plenty of “teach English in Mexico” type of programs, like this one. The host for this opportunities, United Vision, sends well-trained volunteers to partner communities to help local residents to learn English. United Vision organizes classes for both children and adults. Every volunteer is well trained before the departure and equipped with methodological materials so don’t be afraid, you won’t be sent to teach a class without knowing how to do it.
The host asks for 30 hours per week, teaching language to guests or local communities, in exchange of 2 days off per week, free lunch, free dinner and a bed in a shared room.
Look after children in Hostotipaquillo, Jalisco
Casa Colibri is a hospitality house in Hostotipaquillo, Jalisco, that provides opportunities for development to the most vulnerable and in need families in the area.
This center one hour from Guadalajara is looking for volunteers willing to take care of children, looking after them, educating, and instructing them.
They also appreciate people who’d like to teach languages, help with some graffiti, or do volunteer work in local projects and communities. This is perfect if you’re looking to do some community service in Mexico.
The host asks for 30 hours per week of work in exchange for 2 days off per week, a bed in a private room, and free breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Teach music in Chiapas
A music school is looking for people who enjoy sharing their musical talents and teaching kids, and who wants to learn Spanish and get to know some wonderful places in Chiapas.
La Casita Musical is located in Comitan, a city near the border with Guatemala. The school ask for 4 hours of help per day in exchange for 2 days off per week, plus a bed in a shared dorm, free breakfast, and free lunch.
Teach sport and languages in Mexico City
This preschool in Mexico City is looking for teachers who want to share a bit of their country, their language, and leave a mark on kids who are ready to learn from the world. You can come and teach English in Mexico in the summer, for example, and live a once in a lifetime experience.
This school is a Top Host, meaning it has already welcomes lots of worldpackers and has a high average rating.
They’re asking for 20 hours of work per week, where you will be asked to teach sports, languages, and to take care of the children. In return you will get 2 days off per week, a bed in a shared dorm, and free breakfast.
Mexico City is an incredible place bursting with history and culture.
With so much to see and do, it’s a great base to stop for a while, so you have time to take it all in. From Mayan ruins, to a bustling Downtown, and hipster neighborhoods, you sure won’t get bored in Mexico City.
READ ALSO: A Sample Itinerary for Mexico City
Environmental Volunteer Programs in Mexico
Learn Permaculture in El Oro de Hidalgo
Apply and learn permaculture techniques and bioconstruction while you get along with other people who share the same likes and hobbies.
You will be asked to help 30 hours per week, farming, gardening or being a handyman. This is a good way to practice your Spanish skills and get to know the Mexican and Mazahua culture.
El Oro de Hidalgo, located about 2 hours and a half from Mexico City, is a Pueblo Magico (“Magic Town”), one of the Mexican villages whose cultural, historical, or natural treasures are particularly interesting.
Help with reforestation in Palenque
A small ranch located 24 km from Palenque, Chiapas, is starting a project of reforestation by planting cedro and lemon trees. They’re looking for people with some knowledge and skills in this area.
You will be asked to help 30 hours per week, farming, gardening or being a handyman.
Working time will be from Monday to Friday, 6:30 am – 12:30 pm. Weekends are off. You will sleep in a tent, in a camping site, and you will receive free breakfast and free lunch, and free language classes.
There are plenty of opportunities for day trips and excursion in the area. You obviously cannot miss the Palenque Ruins (my favorite Mayan ruins in all of Mexico), as well as the Misol Ha and Agua Azul waterfalls.
Hostel Life – Volunteer at a Hostel in Mexico
Work at a hostel in San Cristobal de Las Casas
Puerta Vieja Hostel in San Cristobal, Chiapas has three listings for different roles. They ask for help at the reception, in the kitchen, or with housekeeping, so you can choose the role that best suits you. It’s a good opportunity to share time with local people, staff, and another volunteers (the hostel most of the time has up to 10 volunteers working).
They ask for 27 hours of help per week, in exchange of a bed in a shared dorm, free breakfast, free lunch and lots of discounts for different activities. You will be able, of course, to use all the common areas and the common kitchen. This is a Top Host with over 30 great reviews from previous volunteers.
Reception and bartending in Tulum
A hostel in Tulum is looking for volunteers to help them at the reception/bar and making their guests feel welcome and having a good time. All you need as a volunteer is a good attitude. See? You don’t need to be expert in something for volunteering around Mexico.
The hostel asks for 28 hours of help per week, helping with check-ins, check-outs and guest assistance, making and serving drinks, and helping to maintain the beverages inventory.
You will get 3 days off per week, a bed in a shared dorm, free breakfast and free beverages.
Volunteering in Tulum is such a good idea. Tulum is one of my favorite destinations in Mexico and the Yucatan peninsula, with such a charming, boho vibe and beautiful beaches, as well as incredible restaurants and bars. But get out of Tulum itself and things get even better, if possible. There are so many opportunities for day trips, to stunning places like the Las Coloradas pink lakes, the Sian Kaan Biosphere Reserve, and swimming with turtles in Akumal.
READ ALL ABOUT 11 Unmissable Day trips from Tulum.
Be an artist in Puebla
These guys are opening a new hostel and need someone with an artistic touch to help them paint murals in the hostel. You don’t need to be an expert about graffiti, also muralists are welcome.
The hostel is very well located in the city center of Puebla, a charming city 2 hours from Mexico City. Puebla is a very livable city, full of street art, colorful buildings and nice cafes. You can easily walk everywhere in the city center.
READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Puebla, Mexico
The hostel’s owners ask for 25 hours of help per week, in exchange of 2 days off per week and a bed in a shared dorm, plus tons free trips, parties, and activities.
Help at a hostel in Mexico City
This hostel looks for people that help in maintaining the common areas clean and help at breakfast time. The hostel is super well located in Condesa, one of the best neighborhoods in Mexico, and offers a flexible time schedule and the company of a great team of other staff members.
They ask for 30 hour help per week, in exchange of 2 days off, a bed in a shared dorm, and free breakfast. It’s a great opportunity to explore Mexico City, which offers so much to do and so many locations to visit.
Teach Yoga in paradise
This hostel in Cancun is looking for volunteers who are able to teach yoga classes at their property once or twice a day. Yoga shifts will be in the morning from 8am to noon, but you might also be asked to help around with other morning tasks like helping with breakfast.
As a volunteer, you’ll get free breakfast, free dinner, 1 day off per week and a bed in a shared dorm, in exchange of 24 hours of help per week.
READ ALSO: 41 Fun Things To Do in Cancun, Mexico
Social media, web designing…or even modeling!
Spread the word about the importance of cacao in Oaxaca
Oaxaca is an incredible city with bustling markets and colorful buildings, which becomes even more vibrant during Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead). You can take day trips from Oaxaca to Mayan ruins and petrified waterfalls, and learn all about cacao, which is important in the history and culture of this region.
READ ALSO: Best Things to Do in Oaxaca, Mexico
The host for this opportunity is looking for help with social media and creating content, in order to spread the importance of cacao in the world from Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico.
You will need to write and publish inspiring content, take photos, create and edit amazing videos, and maintain and update social media channels.
20 hours of help per week are required in exchange for 2 days off, a bed in a shared dorm, and free breakfast. Hurry up!
Web designer in Tulum
This host is a dog foundation that is urgently looking for a web designer able to create a simple website for them.
They ask for 28 hours of help per week, in exchange of 3 days off per week, a bed in a shared dorm, and free breakfast. If you are a web design guru, this is a great option that will leave you plenty of free times to enjoy the beaches and the cenotes of Tulum.
READ ALSO: What To Do in Tulum: A Full Guide
Social media guru at surfers’ paradise
Sayulita is a charming town on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, known as a great surfing destination. If you take a day trip to the Marieta islands, you might be able to spot dolphins and humpback whales.
The Amazing Hostel in Sayulita is looking for a proactive and professional person able to handle Facebook, Social Media channels, their website and different online activities. The main thing that they ask from volunteers is initiative and good team work.
The host asks for 5 hours of help per day with one day off per week, in exchange for a bed in a shared dorm. You will need to have an intermediate level of English or Spanish.
The hostel is located 10 minutes from the beach, so you’ll have plenty of time to tan or play at the beach.
Be a model in Playa del Carmen
Have you ever dreamt of being a promoter for a hotel in one of the most sought-after destinations in Mexico? This may be your chance! This hotel is looking for couples or singular travelers to fill up their spot for subjects-models-promoters of their hotel brand… a sort of an in-house influencer.
You will get 2 days off per week, a bed in a shared dorm, free breakfast, and free laundry in exchange of 30 hours of help per week. Actually, there are not really any set hours in this offer, but shifts definitely will be less than 5 hours per day.
There are so many options for free volunteer opportunities in Mexico! And so many categories, and hosts looking for different skills. This means you have no excuse to delay an experience that will truly change the way you look at the world. And if Mexico isn’t your thing, there are volunteering placements available in every continent.
If I convinced you and now you can’t wait to leave, you can get a discount of $10 on your yearly membership. Don’t forget to use this link so you can save a little for all the cool activities you’ll do while in Mexico!
Pack your things, buy your flight ticket and be ready to know the world with one of these volunteering/ work abroad in Mexico programs. Volunteering will definitely change your life. You will meet new people, learn about new cultures, save some money and experience moments you will never forget!
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