Just as there are thousands of places you can volunteer in the world, there are thousands of ways to do it. Fortunately, most of them fall into one of two categories: going with a volunteer-sending organization or going on your own.
Think of the spectrum of volunteer abroad choices like booking a vacation: there are all-inclusive vacation packages and there are those trips that you plan entirely on your own. For some, the ideal volunteer abroad experience is to travel solo, deciding for yourself where to volunteer. For others, going with a program that arranges such logistics as housing and meals is a far better fit. Both can result in an extraordinary experience…it really just depends on what you're looking for.
Going solo is also often a more affordable option although it comes with the caveat of more work; a rough rule of thumb for this could be the less you pay for your volunteer abroad experience, the more work you'll need to do to plan and prepare.
With that in mind, here are some pros and cons to consider when deciding whether to volunteer abroad on your own or with a program:
There are many more pros and cons to going on your own or with a volunteer-sending organization but this should get you started. At the end of the day, the best advice you'll get will be from fellow volunteers, so talk to or email folks who have volunteered with a program and/or have gone on their own. Ask them what they loved, what was hard, what they learned about the process, and how they might do it differently—or the same—the next time they volunteer internationally.