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Volunteer in Mexico!

Would you like to experience a dynamic culture in a beautiful setting while making an actual difference in the world? Explore Mayan culture, discover the country's diverse landscapes, and contribute to positive change in the lives of those less fortunate when you volunteer abroad in Mexico.

Welcoming people, beautiful weather and scenery, amazing food, and affordability are some of the reasons to visit Mexico. This fascinating country also has some of the most impressive ruins in the world along with complex indigenous cultures to explore.

Alongside this beauty, however, more than half of Mexico's population lives in poverty, with more than 10 percent in extreme poverty. Income inequality is the main contributor, with just one percent of the population owning more than half the country's wealth. A lack of adequate education and resulting poor employment opportunities, along with rampant government corruption and poor infrastructure, all contribute to the cycle of poverty.

Today, Mexico desperately needs volunteers more than ever.

This is where you come in. Help change the lives of disadvantaged communities and enrich your life by working in community and conservation projects, including health care, special education, and sea turtle conservation and much more.

Grow spiritually and find new life direction while contributing to lasting, positive change in the lives of the people you touch.

Gain new skills and experience while helping those less fortunate. Request information about volunteering in India and choose a program that speaks to you!

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Available Projects in Mexico:

IFRE's Mexico volunteer program supports local schools, NGOs and conservation efforts. Volunteer projects are available in Melaque, Bucerias and Campamento Majahuas. In IFRE's volunteer Mexico program, you can use your skills, talents and experiences for the benefit of children, disadvantaged communities and conservation program.

Do you want to help disabled children while experiencing a new culture, and feel warmly welcomed by local staffs, parents and community? Volunteer in special education project and give your time, love and skills to children in a small Mexican town.

Visit the detailed program page for more information.

Have you always dreamt of saving endangered species and never got the opportunity to do so? Volunteer in Sea Turtle Project in Mexico and make your dream come true by working in a project has been assiduously trying to conserve sea turtles for over 2 decades.

Visit the program page for complete information.

In addition to the projects listed above, IFRE offers group programs for high school and college students, family volunteering, alternative spring breaks, and many other unique programs. Contact us for further information.

Volunteer in Mexico: Program Dates

Most programs are available year-round. We recommend volunteers begin their placements on a Monday, scheduling their arrival and departure on the weekends. However, due to flight availability, particularly traveling internationally, start dates are flexible.

We ask that all volunteers ensure to communicate their arrival and departure plans clearly to their country coordinator to ensure transportation and accommodations are properly arranged.

Please check the program page for the available dates

Our Fees:

Since 2006, IFRE has been the most trusted and respected volunteer abroad organization in the world, and also the most affordable. We’re dedicated to providing the highest quality volunteer programs at the lowest fees, which make it possible for everyone, especially students, to volunteer internationally and make a positive impact in the lives of others. We believe in 100% transparency. Rest assured; we never use middlemen. Your one-time registration fee of $299 covers our administrative costs. The low weekly fee is paid in the host country directly to your host family and project (via country coordinator), and includes housing, food, and minor expenses. IFRE is a non-profit organization, so your program fees are tax deductible.

Volunteer Program Fee (US$)

Week Special Education Sea turtle conservation
1 Week   $258   $420
2 Weeks   $391   $750
3 Weeks   $524   $1,080
4 Weeks   $657   $1,410
5 Weeks   $815   $1,575
6 Weeks   $948   $1,875
7 Weeks   $1,081   $2,175
8 Weeks   $1,214   $2,475
9 Weeks   $1,372   $2,775
10 Weeks   $1,505   $3,075
11 Weeks   $1,638   $3,375
12 Weeks   $1,771   $3,675

The cost for airport pickup to turtle project is $100 for a one-way trip, while both pickup and drop-off services are available for $180.

Comprehensive Travel Insurance $3.49/day ( below 28 years) and $4.49/day ( above 28 years) »

How your fee is allocated?

Program Fees Cover:

  • Accommodation (volunteer house/host family)
  • Food (local food 3 times a day)
  • Program Orientation
  • In-country support
  • Personalized project
  • Pre-departure information
  • Certificate of completion
  • Fundraising ideas and letters
  • Discount for returning volunteers

Program Fees Exclude:

  • Visas
  • Personal expenses on soft drinks and foods
  • Daily transportation
  • Airport pick up and return transfer for Special Education Project

The volunteering programs in Mexico fees will cover expenses that will begin on the first day of the program (usually the first or third Monday of the month) to the last day of the program. If you arrive before the first day of the program or you decide you stay beyond your program’s last day, you will be responsible for the additional expenses, which would typically be around $30 a day for room and meals at a hostel.

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IFRE manages living accommodations, provides meals and supervision for volunteers for the entirety of their stay in Mexico. During the volunteer period, volunteers will stay either with a host family or in a tented camp in the sea turtle project. Our host families in Mexico are wel-screened and they will offer you a safe and secure place to stay. Staying with a host family is also a wonderful opportunity to immerse in local language and practice Spanish. In the sea turtle project, volunteers will stay in tented camps inside the project and very close to the beach. There will be project staffs to prepare your meals and guide you through the project.

Unless otherwise specified by the volunteers, the main meal is served around 2 pm, usually consisting of various versions of a meat/chicken dish, served often with rice and beans or salad/other vegetables. Fish and shrimp are also popular with some families. Breakfast is often eggs/tortillas, fruit/yogurt or cereal and fruit, depending on the volunteers preferences and the host family.

Throughout the volunteer project, our local staffs will stay in contact with volunteers either with face-to-face visits or via email/telephone. IFRE's main office is in Melaque and our in-country coordinator serves as a point of contact for local volunteers. With longer placements, we visit our volunteers every 2 weeks (when possible) and volunteers are always welcome at the local office. If project placement is local, we request that volunteers stop by the office once a week to keep us posted on how they are doing with their home stay and project. If project placement is very far from our main office, then our local staff members maintain communication by either email and/or phone and the local project director serves as a volunteer's contact.

Free Time

For volunteers in teaching and special children project, you will work and stay with host families in and around the small towns of Barra de Navidad or Melaque. Barra de Navidad is located on the western coastline of the Mexican state of Jalisco. It has a population of 7 thousand and offers beautiful unspoiled beaches, fabulous restaurants, and friendly people. During the free time, volunteers can swim in nearby beach, surf, boogie board, cycling, horse ride, fish and snorkel. Melaque is located only 2 miles northwest of Barra de Navidad and shares the same long curving beach. Besides Melaque, the schools are located in Emiliano Zapata, and the tourism students study at Jaluco. Both towns are just 5 minutes from Melaque.

The orphanage project is located in the town of Bucerias. Volunteers in the project will stay with host families in the same town. The turtle conservation project takes place in Campamento Majahaus. The camp is quite isolated, so free time is often spent resting, reading, walking (the beach and lagoon are beautiful) or playing games with other volunteers such as volleyball, football etc. It is also recommended for volunteers to alternate rest time from the camp, splitting the group into two (depending on number of volunteers), and allowing each group to take 2 -3 days break in Melaque or Puerto Vallarta (both places are 2 hours bus ride from camp); costs for food, travel and accommodation during breaks will be at the volunteers’ expense and are therefore optional.

Volunteer in Mexico: FAQs

You probably have a lot of questions about volunteering, and we’ve compiled an extensive list of our most frequently asked questions to help you better understand the process and aspects of our volunteering experiences.

Which airport do I need to fly in?

Depending on which project you are traveling to you will either fly into Puerto Vallarta Airport (Turtle Conservation & Children’s Home) or Manzanillo Airport (Teaching English & Special Education).

Do you organize airport pick up?

Yes, that service is available. Volunteers will receive information regarding their transportation from the airport included in their detailed project information.

Where do I go from airport?

For the Turtle Conservation Project, if you arrive before 1pm you can have transfer straight to turtle camp. Volunteers who arrive after 1pm usually spend the night in Puerto Vallarta or Bucerías and transfer the following day – please discuss this with your coordinator before booking. For all other projects, you will be transferred to your accommodations.

What happens if I missed flight or arrived late?

You will receive complete contact information for your coordinator included in your project details, if there is a delay in your arrival, please contact them immediately so that they can arrange the schedule accordingly.

Who will come to pick me up? How do I recognize the person at the airport?

Usually your coordinator, but you will be notified in advance if someone else if picking you up. Your coordinator will either send you a photo and request one from you or have a sheet with your name on it.

If my assignment begins on Monday, when should I arrive?

Start dates are flexible; please agree upon dates with coordinator before booking flights.

If I want to arrive earlier than when my assignment begins, where do I stay and who will organize the accommodations? Does it cost me extra?

Volunteers who arrive prior to their start date are responsible for arranging their own accommodations, however if they are staying in a home stay, they may be able to arrange for additional days at an affordable rate and should contact their coordinator to do so.

Who will bring me to the airport for my departure?

Airport drop off is not included, volunteers are given instruction on how to get to the airport.

Can you help us arranging our flights? Do you recommend any cheapest flights to fly to Mexico?

No, volunteers must arrange their own flights.

What kind of food do we eat in the project?

Within the Sea Turtle Conservation project when there are fewer than 6 volunteers in the camp at once, volunteers and staff prepares their own meals, taking turns to cook. Breakfasts could be eggs, cereal, fruit etc; lunch is usually the main meal of the day, and then a light evening meal (sandwich, soup etc). Facilities at camp are basic and any chilled foods are kept in an icebox.

For all other projects in Mexico, volunteers can expect to be provided authentic Mexican fare for 3 meals a day prepared by their host family – this generally includes a sack lunch for volunteers to take to their project with them.

Does the project have internet? Electricity?

With the exception of the Sea Turtle project, there is electricity available. The camp at the sea turtle project has a limited supply of electricity that is utilized for lighting the camp at night and charging small devices. Internet is also not available at the camp unless you have arranged to have it on your cell phone. All other project will have internet available on site, or nearby at a local internet café.

Do we get hot shower in our accommodation?

Yes, there is a shower at the sea turtle camp, which uses water pumped up from the lagoon. 

All other accommodations will have showers and western style restrooms available.

Is it safe to keep our items in the camp or accommodations?

It is not recommended to bring expensive items to the camp, mainly because of the salt in the air from the ocean, but also there is no place to lock things up. However, there is always someone in the camp. All of our host families are closely screened for safety and security, but volunteers should never travel with large sums of money or valuables.

Is water safe to drink or do we need to buy bottled water?

You will be provided with drinkable water in camp. Volunteers should be conscious of the water they are consuming while traveling in Mexico and be prepared to purchase bottled water.

Is it an issue if I am vegetarian?

Any dietary restrictions should be noted to your country coordinator prior to your arrival. While staying with Host Families it is easier to accommodate these needs, where as if you are staying in the turtle camp it may be more difficult.

Do the members of the project speak English?

Yes, there are members of each project that speak English.

If I arrive with my friend, or girlfriend/boyfriend, can we stay together?

Yes, however please note the in advance to your country coordinator so proper accommodations can be arranged.

What are the bathrooms and toilet facilities like?

Basic, similar to those in America.

What are the laundry arrangements?

There are laundry facilities in town available for your use in all placements, or you can discuss compensating your host family for assistance doing your laundry.

Can I use appliances if I bring them from my home country?

Depends on where you are travelling from, Mexico and America utilizes the same plugs.

What bedding materials like? Do I need to bring sleeping bag?

Sleeping bag and sleeping bag liner, as well as travel pillow will be necessary for camping at the Sea Turtle Project while linens will be provided by the host family.

Is it safe to travel to Mexico?

Reasonably, as long as you follow basic guidelines and avoid known troublesome areas.

What are safety measures you take for the volunteers? How can you guarantee volunteers’ safety?

While on their project, volunteers are always with a staff member. Volunteers who choose to travel after their project do so at their own risk.

How can you help volunteers in case of emergency? Is there someone we can get hold of in case if we need immediate help or support?

Volunteers are always provided with contact information for their country coordinator and instructed on measures to take in case of an emergency.

Is it safe to travel alone?

Reasonably, as long as you follow basic guidelines and avoid known troublesome areas. We urge our volunteers to use common sense and take certain precautions while traveling to any new country.

For further readings:
Volunteer Health and Safety
Safety tips for your volunteer abroad trip

Are ATMs easily available?

Within the sea turtle placement, there is very little cash needed and an ATM available in the nearest town. For all other projects, volunteers will have access to ATM’s and banks.

Where should I exchange my money?

It is a good idea to arrive with Mexican Pesos. Once here you can withdraw money from ATMs in pesos or exchange dollars in banks/money exchange.

How much money should I bring with me?

For camp, you require very little extra money (aside from the project fee). Approximately $200 pesos per week is usually enough (approx $13USD). You are provided 3 meals a day at all placements so the amount of money you will utilize depends on your spending habits.

What does the weekly program fee cover?

The program fee for all programs in Mexico cover your accommodations, 3 meals a day, coordination fee and a donation to your project.

Is it safe to carry cash with me?

It is safe to carry small amounts of cash, but large amounts are not needed.

For further readings:
Cost /money matter
Why to pay for volunteer abroad
How to reduce the cost of volunteer abroad
Pay fee directly to host family

How do I contact to the local coordinator?

You will be provided contact information for your country coordinator prior to your departure for Mexico.

How do I contact my family and friends once I arrive in Mexico? How can my family members contact me?

You can call using local pay phones or internet (only available about once per week while in the camp).

Can I bring my mobile from my home country? Does it work?

Yes, as long as you have a roaming plan, but it is very expensive to make/receive calls and send text messages etc.

Please provide detailed information on year round climate in the country which consists season you have, average temperature and average rainfall in each month.

June/July usually dry and hot 

August-November is the rainy season with lots of rain and very warm temperature day and night (up to 37°C) 

December -February little to no rain, very warm during the day and much cooler at night.

Health and Safety

What are the principle health risks in Mexico? Is there any mandatory vaccination we need to take?

There is no malaria, although Dengue Fever is present. No vaccination, just precautions against mosquito bites, such as long sleeves and long pants in evenings, as well as using closed footwear and insect repellent.

What kind of gifts would be appropriate to bring for the project?

Notebooks and pens are great for recording data at the Sea Turtle Project, as for all other projects we recommend bringing a gift representative of your home country or you to share with your host family or students.

Could you please provide me the packing list?

All volunteers are provided with a detailed packing list in their placement details.

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