www.TheBudgetMindedTraveler.com. She has been to more than 35 countries in
the last 10 years and is passionate about inspiring and equipping others to
travel the world as well, on a budget. She is the author of The Aspiring
Traveler’s Handbook http://www.thebudgetmindedtraveler.com/book, a
step-by-step preparation guide to planning an international trip. She has
participated in two Workaways of six weeks (Mexico) and two months (Italy)
and believes in its ability to give many travelers not only the
structure they may need to travel abroad, but also an unmatched opportunity
to get to know a foreign culture.
” Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you
didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away
from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream.
Discover. ” *Mark Twain*
Workaway blog did a little digging and found that it is unlikely that Mark Twain actually did write or say these words, great as they are. Their first appearance seems to have been around 1990. The following quote though is definitely by Mark Twain:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime. – Mark Twain, The American Abroad speech, 1868
The Budget Minded Traveler: Why Workaway.info?
As many of you already know, my husband Nate and I are currently in Mexico on a Workaway exchange. If you have never heard of Workaway before, you can listen to this podcast episode that goes into the details or read a bit about it in this blog post.
We chose to spend six weeks in Mexico doing a Workaway exchange for four specific reasons:
- We wanted to go to one place and stay there rather than do a lot of traveling around
- We didn’t have a lot of funds to make expensive travel happen at this point
- We wanted to get away from the endless Montana winter we’ve been having
- Workaway is the cheapest way we’ve found to travel
This Workaway experience has differed greatly from our last one that we did in Italy in 2009. While both have been spectacular locations, the workload in Italy was far greater than our current workload here in Mexico, which is nice, to say the least.
Volunteering on the Beach in Mexico
I could stop there and you’d probably be sold on Workaway already, but I want to give you a glimpse into our everyday life down here.
Every Workaway experience is different, from the obvious things like country, host, etc., but also by the everyday things like the projects we do, the people we meet, the sunsets we watch… So I’m going to paint a picture for you of what this particular experience looks like.
Our host Robert is a “retired” American who runs a guest house right on the beach in Pescadero, Baja, Mexico. I definitely recommend coming to stay here yourself if you’re looking for a quiet ocean getaway.
While the waves are quite big and pretty loud, the beach is actually very quiet, which makes for a great running trail or yoga platform, that is if you can stand to run or do yoga on the sand (it’s hard!). The sunsets are different every night, and every night we sit and watch for the “green flash” which I’m convinced is just a consequence of staring directly at a bright light for minutes on end. But our host begs to differ. He is a green flash believer.
Robert has a crew of local cleaning ladies and very capable builders to do most of the regular work around here, which leaves the odds and ends jobs to his volunteers. I have been helping him out with some computer needs, everything from emails, to photos, to website copy, to his Facebook page, as well as taking care of some general organizing. Nate has been the master handyman around here, using the chainsaw to cut wood to size for the wood-fired hot tub, fixing the irrigation drip line, reorganizing key systems and other odds-and-ends jobs, all of which he absolutely loves to have help with.
We do not have a set schedule, which we really enjoy, and I don’t think that’s normal for most Workaways. It certainly is nothing like our last one in Italy which was very much by the clock. I have enough time and freedom to run my business online, which is great because I couldn’t do this Workaway otherwise. During our free time, we enjoy the lounge chairs on the beach, the bean bag toss or bocce ball games, playing cards, venturing out to neighboring towns and beaches, or simply just watching the waves. We’ve both learned how to pick out a rip current, as there are several in front of our house. I actually have yet to swim in the water, I much prefer staring at it from solid ground on the beach. Nate has braved the waves and been wrecked by them a few times now 😉 It’s not quite as dangerous as it is funny, so don’t worry, mom.
This particular Workaway exchange does not include any meals. Usually the host will provide at least one meal per day, but Robert doesn’t ask for too much when it comes to work, so we buy all our own food and prepare our own meals, and it works out just fine. We’ve actually been able to try some new recipes and expand our Mexican cuisine cooking skills, which is a great bonus that we can take home with us.
Last night we enjoyed a dinner of seared, fresh-caught yellow-fin tuna, straight from the fish truck that drives through the neighborhood selling the daily catch. We bought a half kilo of sashimi-grade tuna caught less than 6 hours ago for less than $6. Umm- yes please! Accompanied by homemade tortillas, guacamole, rice, and beans, with a front row seat to the sunset over the ocean, it was quite memorable. That’s the second time we’ve had fresh fish from the fish truck. The first time we had marlin, a fish that I hadn’t tried before but am now easily hooked. Of course, these meals compete with fish tacos that I love to try from all different places, but cooking up these fresh seafood meals on our very own beach is quite an experience in itself.
We have ventured out at night several times to watch our friend and a former Spanish student of mine, Eli (from Montana believe it or not), play live music at various places. The other night he happened to be playing at THE original Hotel California in the nearby town of Todos Santos, where we can now say we’ve had some beers and listened to “Hotel California” played live. He and his wife spend their winters down here, and I’m hoping to get him on the podcast one of these days to tell us how he affords to do that, so stay tuned for that announcement.
Life here is simple, our host is very laid-back, and it’s been a great place to warm up and unwind from a long winter. Workaway has given us the opportunity to come here very inexpensively, which we are grateful for. If you are interested in learning more about this type of travel, definitely take a listen to my podcast episode number 5 entitled Volunteering Abroad’s Best Kept Secret: Workaway. The show notes for that episode will be updated with a final expense amount for this entire trip, including airfare, food, fun, and everything else. So if you want to know exactly how much this trip and experience is costing us, be sure to check that out, you may be surprised.
The sun is out again today and the beach is very loudly calling my name, so it’s off I go, but I hope this simple glimpse of our Workaway life has showed you what is available to you, all over the world, through this amazing program. This is one of the single best ways to travel on a budget, AND you get the bonus of making new friends and really experiencing and getting to know a place as the locals do, not just as a traveler passing through. Check out Workaway.info, daydream until you can’t take it anymore, and then go. And come back and tell me all about it!