We love hearing adventures and stories from workawayers as well as hosts. Often we find great blogs about what’s been happening in Workaway world. This week we´ve found A Nomad’s Adventure: How to Use the Workaway Program where the authors discuss the merits of Workaway and how to utilise it.
In their own words:
“This blog is our way of sharing our travel experiences. We are a young couple who have decided to embark on an adventure and see where it leads – after recently graduating college we got married, quit our fulltime jobs, sold our cars, finished out our apartment leases and phone plans, and have packed our bags to travel for… however long!”
How to Use the Workaway Program
Our first three destinations abroad have been workaway locations and we have been very pleased. Though I call Workaway a “program” you do need to realize it is an internet service and not exactly a program. I mean this to say you do need to be careful! The webservice provides a place for “hosts” (people who can offer you a place to stay – often plantations, retreats, resorts, farms…) around the world. The webservice is not able to do any sort of background checks on these organizations so you as the traveler need to do some background checks of your own.
How to join:
To join the workaway program there is a small fee, but it is one time and well worth it. There are two options – join as a single traveler or as a couple (just means two travelers together) and the fee comes to around 20-30 ish bucks for a two year membership. I obviously signed up as a couple as I am traveling with my wife.
Once you have paid the fee you can then set up your profile (not only are you checking out your host but they want to check out your profile for their own safety) detailing your travel ideas, who you are, how to contact you… etc. I strongly suggest you spend time putting together a good profile because many of the best hosts get several volunteers asking to stay with them – so you do need to sell yourself similar to giving your resume to an employer to get the best opportunities. You may also want to consider doing a travel blog to provide more information.
How to find a Host:
There are several different approaches to finding a host. Ultimately the decision comes down to your own personal travel goals and expectations. If you’re say interested in Yoga or eco resorts you can simply type that in as a qualifier in your host search on the bar titled “containing”. You then hit enter and all of the hosts in that field will pop up. Maybe you’re more interested in a certain country or location – all you need to do is type in the location in the “where” search bar. You can also specify what kind of work you want to do or do a combination of all three of these search bars.
For my travels I like to link locations together to keep my travel prices down (though the destinations are free, getting there is your own dilemma). I started in the United Kingdom and did two location there and used a Britrail pass to get from one location to the other and then used a discount from my Eurail pass to get from the United Kingdom to France. We stayed in Paris for a day and then used the Eurail pass to get to our next workaway location in Italy. When I search for a host I look for a country or location nearby or with a cheap travel option, then write the top 5 hosts (this choice relies heavily on my opinion of the hosts safety and reliability – more on this below) Good hosts usually respond back within a few days and I never commit to them until I have emailed them several times to work out details and get a better understanding of who they are and what they expect.
What is expected:
The Workaway website has loose guidelines that define what hosts should expect of their volunteers and what volunteers should expect of their hosts – but you do need to define these with your individual hosts of choice yourself. Generally it seems most hosts want 3-5hrs of help 5 days a week and will provide you accomodation (which can be wide ranging) and food.
At my curent location my wife and I have the entire basement of the house with a small kitchen area, a bed, a tv with dvds, wifi, and an eco loo out the back door (but we are welcome to go upstairs and use their personal bathroom if we like). We are in the heart of beautiful Tuscany Italy and looking out every window is like a postcard. Our work ranges from pruning olive trees, picking grapes and other fruits, to helping with dinners at night – but never more than 5hrs a day. Our host makes incredible healthy meals and has already taken us on some day trips to see some local festivals and hot springs. I can’t complain about living in paradise!
Travelling can be dangerous especially when you venture off from the safety of using a planned tour or staying at a resort – but this is also the most rewarding travel available! Through the workaway program you can stay with locals and see their culture, not just the highlights of tourist traps. Other advantages to the program are learning new skills and obviously saving money.
Planning your own adventure can be very challenging and even dangerous but learning to navigate your way around in a foreign country is very rewarding. With the Workaway program you need to do your homework on the hosts you would like to stay with. I strongly suggest staying with a host who has been visited before and has positive reviews. When you find a host you would like to stay with that has postive reviews make sure to get all of their information including where they are located, what they expect of you, what your accomodations will be. After you have this information make a back up plan. If you at all feel uncomfortable you can always back out, in Europe a Eurail pass with flexible dates is a great option to escort you out to another location.