At Workaway we absolutely love getting to know you all whether it be meeting on the road, hearing stories through emails or by actually going on a Workaway trip ourselves. We couldn’t be prouder to be involved in such an inspiring community of travellers!
You would have seen our ‘Workaway Host of the Month’ feature we recently started which introduces you to some of our amazing hosts, but you didn’t think we would ignore the ones that are actually going out there and helping make a difference did you?
This month we received an email from a newly-wed couple who have just completed the trip of a lifetime; a 16 month honeymoon around the world! Through Workaway and a passion for travel they seem to have had the most incredible time. We wanted to find out more…
Hey Mark and Camille! First of all, congratulations on your marriage, your honeymoon sounds like one cool trip! Are you currently doing a Workaway project?
We’ve just actually finished a 16-month backpacking honeymoon around some of the world. Now we’re in the Philippines catching up with some family and friends before we venture off to Bali for a meditation retreat and another workaway opportunity. On our year-long (longer) honeymoon we started in the USA, went to Tanzania and Kenya, then came back to the Americas, backpacking from Guatemala down to Panama and then flew into Colombia and “finished” up in Ecuador. We discovered Workaway through a common friend and we were encouraged enough to try it to save some money and prolong our travels.
Wow, that sounds like it could be made into a film! What an adventure! What Workaways did you do along the way?
We’ve done a few Workaways mainly in Central America and South America during the past year. We started in Costa Rica workawaying at a bed and breakfast catering to hikers going up the nation’s highest peak, Mt. Chirripo. The work exchange was incredible. It was a pretty relaxed environment, our hosts were very helpful and gave us a very informative orientation about the do’s and dont’s of the place. We originally signed up for 2 weeks, but the owners were set to leave for vacation for a week and we happily agreed to stay until they came back. During our time there we hiked in our free time, worked on our blog, learned tons of Spanish, met people from around the world, and got into birding.
What was it that made you choose Workaway?
Originally we had a plan of picking up ESL jobs on the road to help fund and sustain our travels. While we were in Central America the “backpack trail” was pretty active with long-term travelers, many of them using Workaway as a sustainable means of travel. We heard tons of stories and found out there were lots of opportunities to travel longer, slower, and more local. Once we got closer to Costa Rica we started looking for a Workaway. We knew the costs in Costa Rica would be way more than Nicaragua and Guatemala but still wanted to get a feel of what it was like. Fortunately for us we found a Workaway that fit our needs.
How do you feel travelling through Workaway is different from other kinds of travel?
Camille and I have always tried to move slow and local. We found that by staying in one place longer rather than rushing through a place checking off all the tourist activities was a way to travel deeper. We’re able to have neighbours, interact with locals more, create relationships, break bread together, and share more life. Most people travel to get away from work to vacation. This is their time to disconnect from the world. For us, it’s completely different. The reason we travel is to shatter our assumptions of this world, to break down our prejudices and biases based on mass media. We seek to connect with others and understand the culture. Even if the exchange you’re doing is at a hostel there are locals you end up working with each day and a deeper sense of connection to a particular place.
Amazing answer! It is so refreshing to hear that you guys didn’t travel to escape, but to discover! What is the most valuable lesson you have learned through cultural exchange?
Love’s always been in the center of our movement. We came up with a motto of travel in love, love in travel. We came out of this trip unlearning tons of our formal education. We tore down some of our incorrect assumptions and biases. What came out was an increased understanding of who we are in this world. We’ve moved even further and come to realize that culture from different countries is always misunderstood and assumed through a perspective of media. People aren’t always meant to be understood but should always be loved. From understanding to compassion to true love. We can truly say we feel more love in this world through cultural exchanges!
‘All you need is love’ we couldn’t agree more! What is the funniest thing that has happened to you while on a Workaway experience?
The funniest experience would probably be the free walking tour we had in Medellin, Colombia on our day off. Our tour guides brought us to areas that felt a little bit sketchy while making us understand the culture. He explained how most people in the country are very welcoming to tourists and are mostly just curious. Right as he mentioned for us to not be scared or intimidated of locals peeking in, an old Colombian guy peeked through our group. Everyone laughed and was entertained as this happened multiple times during the tour. Another vendor passing by even approached our guide and insisted on having our guide tell us that we are very welcome to Colombia and they were happy to have us. We ended up having a really cool tour understanding both the culture and people around us. It’s amazing how learning and understanding your surroundings can help diminish fear when traveling.
Colombia is definitely one of our favourite countries to be, and it’s so misunderstood… what a great story!
Have you had to overcome any obstacles while on Workaway? How did you overcome them?
The idea of workaway exchange and going on the road on a long-term sustainable trip is very unconventional. While a common theme on the road, it’s very misunderstood once you get home. Our main obstacle is being misunderstood about the way we’ve created our lifestyle. People look at what we do and can’t believe we’ve traded our masters degree for reception jobs in hostels. These days we’ve been holding workshops in the Philippines trying to educate and empower people on how to long-term travel sustainability (I guess this is a way to respond to this “obstacle”).
Is there anything you wish you’d brought along with on your travels that you didn’t?
There really wasn’t much we wish we brought along that we didn’t. We felt like we had all that we need in our bags and the small things we might need we could always find on the road. We have our basics covered for the most part and never thought I wish I had brought this or that. Often times it was the other way around– I wish I hadn’t brought this many clothes or this item or that. When preparing for a long trip most people pack more than they need and end up giving stuff away or leaving things behind. We came into this trip knowing that there will be a lot of unknowns, but the one thing we are happy to bring is the ability to have an open heart and soul to different opportunities. Because being open to learning and trying new things doesn’t only help you grow but it helps you discover a million other things you never knew you could do.
Do you have plans to do another Workaway? What kind of work exchange would you be interested in doing?
These days we’re starting to settle into the idea of living and working in the Philippines but are already feeling our itchy feet. We’re currently playing with the idea of going to Bali or some other location in Southeast Asia to write an ebook of our year-long honeymoon. We’d love to find something that could help us stay for a long period of time and are open to different types of workaway opportunities.
Now, that’s a book we would read! If you could give any advice to new Workawayers what’d it be?
Try new things. There’s a huge process of elimination in finding out what you’re passionate about. You never know what your likes and dislikes are until you try things, even if it’s completely and utterly terrifying. There are tons of travel volunteering opportunities to feed various types of people, so be open to what the world is willing to throw at you. Even if you get into something that isn’t for you there are still tons of learning opportunities and too many things you could be doing! So stop dreaming and start living.
Camille and Mark, it has been so great talking to you! We have no doubt you are going to have an incredible future together travelling the world and spreading your positivity! What’s your next plan?
We were originally planning to head to Austria to work there but plans have changed and we’ll be in the Philippines indefinitely. We will be heading to Bali for a month or two or a few depending on what opportunities come up. We’re also playing with the idea of starting up a hotel and getting Workawayers to come over and help out. We’re looking at expanding our online presence and/or starting a new blog. After honeymooning for the past 16 months, we’ve found that there are an infinite amount of possibilities in the world and sometimes all you need to do is ask.
Thanks so much to Mark and Camille for sharing her experiences with us, we really love learning about fellow Workawayers. 🙂 Do you want to be featured as our next WAyer of the month? Email us over at firstname.lastname@example.org!