Here at Workaway we now have an amazing 40,000 + hosts involved in our volunteer exchange projects and communities from all over the world. From agricultural work, scuba diving, yoga retreats and most things in between, we are so proud to be associated with so many amazing hosts. So, we are introducing a new feature to help recognise what a difference cultural exchange can make to travellers and to hosts. Going by the name of ‘Workaway Host of the Month’ we will reveal more of what it is like to be a host and let you into their routines and how their projects have changed since opening their doors to you guy.
For the month of July we head over to a one of our favourite countries, Turkey – despite all the depressing news and negativity. Our thoughts go out to this beautiful country… (if you haven’t already been, GO, even just for the amazing food) So let’s go back to all of our roots and find out what it is like running and working in a backpackers hostel. Over to you Aran…
Hey, Aran, we spotted your hostel on our Workaway site recently and just had to get in contact with you – those views look stunning! Can you tell us more about your hostel?
Sure, we run a backpackers hostel in Bodrum, we welcome a lot of solo travellers that have come to Turkey as well as groups and couples – we love meeting people from all different walks of life. Our rooftop terrace looks over Bodrum’s Bay with St Peter’s Castle at its heart and we’ve enjoyed many a night chatting to travellers up there. The Aegean ocean is just a stone through away and the roof terrace too with view continues onto the Greek Islands. So as you can imagine, we love spending our time up there. But when we fancy a night out we either head to our hostel terrace bar or adjoining high street bar. We are also only 100 meters from the beach and world renowned Bodrum nightlife, so our hostel is the place for people who want to get the most out of their Bodrum experience.
It sounds – and looks – perfect! How long have you been involved in Workaway and how did you hear about us?
We got involved in Workaway only last year after hearing about it from volunteers in 2014. We used to advertise on Gumtree in London for the last 15 years, but since we discovered Workaway life has become so much better and easily and we now just use your site!
Wow, we’re honored you made the change to us, and so glad it has worked out! How many Workawayers have you hosted so far?
At a guess more than 14 so far!
So what does a normal day look like for you as a Workaway host?
I believe in flexi hours so if there is nothing to do, then there’s nothing to do, and that’s fine – volunteers can have free time. But when there is something to do, all hands on deck until it is done. We also evaluate each person’s skill sets to select who would be best for what we need help with in line with which project we have going on at the time. It could be anything from welcoming guests at check-in to repairing and general cleaning around the place, you know what hostel life is like, it’s always changing.
Oh, we definitely know what hostel life can be like. What is the best thing about being a Workaway host?
It is very satisfying for me personally to put groups of volunteers together and watch them form what I know will often be lifelong friendships. It also helps keep the spirit of travel alive throughout our community, as well as connecting people from all over the world. We LOVE being Workaway hosts.
Is there anything you have learnt or done while hosting that you wouldn’t have done beforehand?
I don’t think I could pinpoint one particular thing I have learnt but it is more what I learn on a daily basis about their travel habits and new trend and the “in” places to go now. 🙂 I travelled and worked in various countries all of my life but before Workaway was around, and during those travels I learnt valuable experience that I now bring to my hostel, and I’m happy now I get to share it with all of my volunteers.
Can you tell us any funny stories that have happened during hosting Workawayers?
A group of rough-tough guys from Workaway after a very hard day laying 120 tonnes of stone wall on the new camping project decide to go out and cool off with a few beers in our local bars. After a very long hard night in the town, they woke the next morning and to their surprise they had all got belly button piercings. Deciding this was not macho enough they quickly removed them, went out the next night and returned with tattoos with BB15 (an insider’s hostel joke) incorporated into the design to forever remember their time together here.
Do you think culture exchange programmes like this are changing the way we travel?
Yes, I think programs like Workaway are fantastic and help people to travel further and for an extended period of time. They also bring volunteers in close contact with the local population in a more ground level way and not just with a holiday mentality. This can only help to promote cultural awareness and acceptance which in turn will lead to positive developments in future generations.
We couldn’t have put it better ourselves. Can you give us one bit of advice for all our Workawayers out there looking for a host?
When you are looking for a potential host read the host’s requirements very carefully and do not take a position just for the sake of it. You will find something suitable if you keep trying, but the most important thing is to find something you know you can help and grow with rather than just to find somewhere for free food and accommodation.
Do you want to be our next WA Host of the month? We are always on the lookout for hosts who have a great story to tell! Email us over at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be in our next feature!