Last month I was hanging out with my Workaway hosts renovating a ruins of a farmhouse in rural Bulgaria, last year I was helping to homeschool three boys in the forest of Dean and now I am en-route to help out at a lush spiritual and yoga retreat in Southern Portugal.
People often say to me, Anna, I wish I could travel like you do.
This statement usually leads to the person then explaining to me all the reasons why they couldn’t. Most likely because my stock-standard response to this statement is ‘well, why aren’t you then?’.
The more time I spend in perpetual transit, the more I realise that everyone can travel. Yes, everyone. Perhaps not quite everyone. Terminal illnesses, severe injuries and pending court cases aside, most of you can travel. I know you don’t believe it, believe me, almost every day I hear new reasons why. I have kids, I’m too old, I’m not skilled/talented/motivated enough. The list goes on.
And yet I’ve met along the way, lots of people, who manage to travel despite any, and sometimes all, of those things.
However, the most common reason people give me.. I don’t have enough money to travel. For the longest time I held the exact same belief. However, being on the other side of the world from home while simultaneously running out of money, over and over again (and before you ask, no I do not have savings left, and no I don’t have a credit card) has taught me a few crafty ways to keep on traveling even when the funds are low. One of my absolute favourites is Workaway, and it might just change your life.
The premise of Workaway is simple – you exchange around 25 hours a week of your time and in return you get full board, generally speaking that includes your accomodation as well as some, or all of, your meals. This is a lifesaver – it means you can chill out, meet some new people and do something interesting without having to worry about any costs. (It’s worth noting that not all hosts include meals, so read the profile carefully. Personally, for 25 hours of my time, I only contact hosts who include food as part of the deal)
So – let’s get onto some common questions.
How is Workaway different from WWOOFing?
Many of you might know about Woofing, or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.. A clever concept that’s been around for yonks. When WWOOFing you sign up to the country of your choosing and receive a list of hosts to call. Previously this came to you packaged in a handy booklet, but nowadays it’s generally an online database.
Once en-route, you contact the hosts. If they have space for you then you head there direction where you will do all manner of outdoor/farming/gardening work in exchange for a bed and meals.
In all fairness, this is a pretty good deal. WWOFing can be a great way to travel. However, I propose that Workaway, in many cases, is even better.
First of all, WWOOFing exists as a different entity in each country. This means for each country you plan to visit you need to sign up on a new website and pay a different fee. This if fine if you know you are headed for a year in Australia. Not so great if, like me, you are wandering about Europe with no solid plans for where you’ll go next.
Workaway allows you to sign up once. One website, one fee. Then you’ll have access to a global database of hosts. Perfect if you’re a big nomadic and like to change plans, countries and even continents with a moments notice.
Workaway is also not limited to just organic farming. Oh, no no no. Workaway offers some of the most downright fascinating opportunities for work. Helping out with sled dogs in Canada? Check. What about helping to build a school in Ecuador? Yup. Jobs range from the dreamlike (eg. help me crew my yacht around Croatia ) to the more regular (Such as working as an au pair or teaching English. There is of course a plethora of organic farm work and gardening on there too, if that really is your thing.
Is Workaway safe?
Ok, fair call. I am known for Couchsurfing, random road trips across Bulgaria, tenting in refugee camps and making friends on the side of the road in small town Portugal. So don’t take my word for it. Go and check out some projects for yourself (like this one, for example)
If you head down toward the bottom you’ll see references from previous workers. If the person has a ton of positive references, then that means a bunch of people have been there and checked it out for you. Of course you should always tell people where you are going and have a backup plan for if it always falls to pieces. This might just involve ensuring you know the number of a nearby hotel, and know the local public transport options.. Just in case.
Do Workawayers get paid?
Not in money, if that’s what you’re thinking. Although, I have seen the odd host that claims to offer financial compensation for highly skilled workers who want to say on longer term and take on a role with them.
But, stop thinking about the money for a moment. A roof over your head and a meal or three a day will save you a ton of money. If you combine this with some remote/online working in your free time you will be raking in the cash without any outgoings.
If you’re traveling on savings, it’s money you wont be spending.
On top of it, often hosts are super keen to show you around their local area, play tour guide and even occasionally loan you a car to get about. Besides, you’ll get to see the local area through the eyes of a local, somebody who knows the secret gems of an area.
But I don’t have any skills
Ok, first of all, stop being so hard on yourself. I’m sure you have some skills. However, the beauty of Workaway is that not only do you not require special talents, but it’s an opportunity to get some new skills!
Workaway both working, volunteering and training all in one. Of course you can put these experiences on your resume! Hosts are often so pleased to have eager volunteers that they will show you the ropes before you get started.
Always dreamed of working with horses? Well here’s your chance. There are ranches, horse trekking companies and families who own a bunch of horses all over the world who you can go spend a few weeks, or perhaps a few months with. By the end you’ll come out not just with a new found respect for how much work horses actually are, but equine experience for the resume and a reference from your hosts outlining just how wonderful you were.
I still can’t afford the airfare
I never said you absolutely had to go somewhere exotic for this. Workaway is exceptionally global. Have a look in your own country or town for something you can afford to get to. Go take a holiday in your own backyard! A huge part of travel is the mental experience of just being somewhere different. And who knows what exciting doors meeting new hosts will open for you.
Using Workaway with a family
Don’t strike off the wanderlust just because you have a few kids in tow! Although many hosts prefer just a couple or single, there are definitely family friendly hosts out there, and a whole bunch of people who successfully use Workaway as a family!
Some family friendly Workaway hosts I found to entice you:
Be inspired, motivated, and be part of making a positive transformation for children in the Central part of Uganda, we are currently looking for teachers to teach in our kindergarten to help children living in poverty.
P.S – It’s easy to find family friendly Workaway hosts, just expand the ‘+ more search options’ menu and check the box for ‘Can host families’ to filter your search results for child friendly options.
Any more excuses not to travel?
I’d love to know (If only so I can blog even more about how to get past it and travel anyhow!) so comment below and let me know what’s holding you back!