An Online Primer for Budget Exploration
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V. WORKING and VOLUNTEERING
If you simply need to break even, I highly recommend participating in a few voluntary work camps. These are organized all across Europe during the summer, and generally involve an internationally mixed group (usually dominated by Europeans) of up to 15 people doing some sort of worthwhile community service project, such as historical site renovation, forestry or agriculture, and work with children. Volunteering will provide a breakthrough experience in your travels, since you are able to work, play, cook, eat and generally have quality time with mixed groups of internationals. One drawback is that these programs are aimed at student-aged travelers, although an age limit may not be in force for some projects.
Two organizations that have been arranging camps for many years are mentioned below. There is a membership fee to join each group, and a registration fee for each camp. While these prices have gone up over the years, it’s still works out economically. You must pay your own travel costs, but once in the camp, room, board and excursion costs are covered. Often you are included in the national health insurance plan as well. While you will not gain financially, the work is not that strenuous and you will make new friends and have fun, too. OK, here’s the real secret; at the end of camp everyone exchanges addresses, which means you have a whole list of people to visit now across the Continent!
There are other opportunities for volunteers through various organizations and government programs. Sometimes these involve quite a bit of advanced payment on your part to cover food and lodging. Before you commit, get plenty of information and feel satisfied that your money is going to be well spent.
Volunteers for Peace (http://www.vfp.org/): They send out a directory early each year announcing the summer's camps (2,558 programs in 2006). Membership is $20, and each camp or program has a fee of $250.
Service Civil International (http://www.sci-ivs.org/): They arrange 2-3 week work camps and longer volunteer placements. The first camp fee is $195; additional camps cost $80. Of this, $35 goes towards membership.
The European Union has a helpful list of youth volunteer programs at http://europa.eu.int/youth/volunteering_-_exchanges/work_camps/index_eu_en.html.
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