Volunteer in Mexico
Home > Central America > Mexico | Written by Tara Tadlock | Last updated on 11th Jan, 2023.
We at HelpStay believe that Mexico is a criminally underrated destination. Its flavourful food, colourful culture, and screensaver-worthy scenery are just some of the many reasons to volunteer in Mexico. Individuals looking for a help exchange can find everything they’re searching for in the beautiful, booming country of 127.6 million people.
Volunteering in Mexico is a straightforward, 3-step process:
Create a dynamic HelpStay profile.
Submit a standout application.
Preparation and research.
This guide is going to walk you through each of these three steps in detail.
Steps to volunteering in Mexico
Why volunteer in Mexico?
We know that a lot of mainstream media hasn’t always portrayed Mexico in a very flattering light, and that’s a real shame. There is so much to love about Mexico and all those lovable attributes make it an ideal destination for volunteers.
Mexico is quite affordable, especially compared to other Latin American destinations.
Nature lovers will rejoice over the country’s variety of landscapes. From jungle-swathed mountains to pristine white sand beaches, if you like the outdoors, you’ll find eye candy in Mexico.
Mexican locals are warm, welcoming, and friendly.
Types of volunteering opportunities
Mexico has a great variety of opportunities for helpers to sift through as they look for the one that fits them best. Currently, the majority of help exchanges in Mexico are in customer service/hospitality.
There are also opportunities to volunteer with children and to help in the architectural and agricultural sectors.
Who should volunteer in Mexico?
Volunteers seeking an exciting volunteer experience in a dynamic, people-driven setting need look no further than Mexico. Since most volunteer opportunities in Mexico have an element of customer service, the best people for these volunteer projects are those who love interacting with new people, are naturally friendly, and have a welcoming presence. If you’re more of an introvert, these ops may not be of interest to you.
In-demand volunteer skills
Many of the volunteer opportunities in Mexico are looking for help with hostel reception areas. This means the most in-demand skill hosts in Mexico are looking for are things like friendly demeanor, work ethic, and customer service experience.
Having some Spanish language skills are extra appealing to hosts, as it makes working the front desk of hotels and hostels easier for both you (the helper) and the guests checking-in. Minor Spanish knowledge will also allow you to connect with locals during their time in the country, particularly those on projects in more rural locations.
Is it expensive to volunteer in Mexico?
In a word: no.
Mexico, like many countries, is as cheap or expensive as you make it. There are fine dining establishments in major cities that cost more than a day’s worth of food at a smaller “mom-and-pop-type” taqueria.
Visas for up to 180 days are free on arrival for most visitors, and Mexico’s popularity with tourists means cheap flights are bountiful if you know where to look. Google Flights, Skyscanner, and Expedia are all good jumping-off points for cheap flight searches.
Safety, Health & Covid-19
When traveling through Mexico, remember that safety isn’t a place, it’s found in our actions.
Mexican cities have a reputation for pick-pockets and petty theft, like most urban areas in just about every other country. Know where your most valuable items are and keep debit cards separate from cash so that you always have some money in case of emergency. Really, as long as you keep your wits about and have a general sense of awareness for what’s happening around you, you will be fine.
Mexico remains a very open country, despite COVID-19. Luckily, the Mexican community at large are doing well to take care of one another by means of wearing masks and staying physically distanced. We suggest following the locals’ lead in this way.
Most restaurants, supermarkets, and other public indoor spaces require face masks and temperature testing upon entry. Being patient in lines and respectful of these rules shows the Mexican community you care.
A negative COVID-19 test is required by most airlines before flying out of Mexico. These can be obtained from nearly every local farmacia (pharmacy) and at mobile testing sites throughout tourist hotspots like Tulum and Puerto Vallarta. Tests cost anywhere from USD $19 to USD $100, so budget accordingly. You can find the latest travel-related information in relation to Mexico and Covid-19 at this link.
We do advise that you have appropriate travel and health insurance when travelling to Mexico. Our motto is -- it's better to be safe than sorry. Any travel insurer should be able to provide you with the correct cover. Our preferred insurance partner is SafetyWing.
When to start planning your volunteer trip to Mexico
There is no better time to start planning your volunteer journey to Mexico than right now, especially given the current world situation and its ever-changing travel restrictions. The more time you give yourself to research, apply, and prepare, the easier it will be to settle into your volunteer project role when you arrive.
Please note: Mexico is currently on the U.K.’s red list for travel restrictions. This means once you have finished volunteering in Mexico and return home to the U.K., you will be required to adhere to the strictest of quarantining and COVID-19 return procedures. The process of returning from a red list country can be quite expensive, so budget accordingly.
Do I need a visa to volunteer in Mexico?
As a volunteer in Mexico, you will be entering on a tourist visa. Whether you require a visa or qualify for a visa exemption to enter Mexico will depend entirely on the duration of your volunteer project and your passport.
U.S. and U.K. citizens get a free visa on arrival that’s good for 180 days. Volunteers should always check their government website to determine whether their visit will require a visa.
Building your online profile
Once you’ve become a HelpStay member, it’s time to start creating an online profile in the 'About You' section of the HelpStay dashboard. Once the required information is entered, you can begin to message hosts and start conversations about volunteering.
Double-check that you haven’t forgotten to include these things when creating your profile:
An up-to-date photo of your face looking friendly (smiling never hurt anybody).
The places you’re most interested in volunteering.
Projects of interest to you- are you hoping to volunteer in agriculture?
A little about who you are - this is the part of your profile where you want your personality, interests, and special skills to shine through.
Writing your volunteer application
First impressions count, so message exchanges with your potential HelpStay hosts are very important. You want to make sure you come across as friendly and eager in a clear, polite way.
Here is a little checklist to lookover when putting together your application:
Hosts love an eager, enthusiastic, and polite volunteer applicant. Start off on the right foot by making sure your tone is friendly!
Check to make sure you have a clear understanding of what the host is expecting from volunteers in the host listing.
Clearly express your availability and intended duration of stay. Typically, it’s best to be open and flexible with dates but, regardless, having an open conversation about this with your potential host is highly important.
Let the host know what special skills, certifications, and training you have that make you an asset to the volunteer project. Think about all of your collective experiences and how they make you unique. Do you have a degree? Have you volunteered before? Do you have previous work experience? Have you traveled or do you speak multiple languages? Apply all of this to the volunteer project!
Mexico is a giant country. Because of its size, you’ll want to carefully consider the location of your volunteer project before booking a flight. Some of the major flight hubs in Mexico like Cancun, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico City, Los Cabos, and Guadalajara have flight deals with budget airlines that can save you money if you’re willing to pack light and book ahead.
Buses connect many of the towns and cities within Mexico and are a great option for volunteers on a budget needing to get from a major city to a more remote location.
Private taxi/transfer services are another option for getting from the airport to your final destination, but tend to cost more. If you’d prefer to use a private transfer, you can save yourself money and hassle by arranging this prior to landing at the airport. Some of the most reputable transport services that can be booked online are USA Transfers, Yamevi Travel, and Hopper.
Explore available opportunities