Here at Workaway we now have an amazing 36,000+ hosts involved in our volunteer exchange projects 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 our blog, 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 project or business have changed since opening their doors to you guys!
This month we interviewed Workaway Host Clare, an artist and writer based in Italy who runs a quirky B&B.
1. Can you tell us a little bit more about your B&B arthouse?
I am an artist and writer, running a thriving studio, B&B and arthouse in an Italian medieval quarter. I paint and write, photograph, blog, etc- I have an active Patreon campaign, and am developing a book series. As an artist and writer, I’ve had a colourful career in several countries, as well as being heavily involved in community- and land-transformation: in 2009 I arrived in the abandoned medieval quarter of Guardia Sanframondi and bought a house here for 10,000 euros- then proceeded to bring the place to international attention, inspiring a new international community here.
2. How long have you been involved in Workaway and how did you hear about us?
I was despairing about my workload this spring, when a masterminding friend in Rome recommended you- she’d mentioned Workaway before, but I was a tad concerned that having a volunteer might also mean more work for me! I liked the website a lot though, and saw that there were loads of lovely, shiny people there, who I thought would fit in well with my work schedule… I was amazed that as soon as I got a profile up, I got lots of offers of help, and just a couple of weeks in, I had my very first Workawayer!
3. So how many workawayers have you hosted so far?
I have my third Workawayer with me right now.
4. What does a ‘normal’ day look like for you as a Workaway host?
There is not such a thing as a routine at the arthouse! But we usually make a brief list of tasks for the day over breakfast- then we get on with whatever the priorities are: my helpers usually do basic cleaning tasks, but also head out and about for shopping and specific things related to fixing up my house. There are still a couple of rooms to be fixed up, so the volunteering right now involves some cementing, moving of furniture, etc. We eat lunch together, catch up and make plans for the afternoon and evening… then it’s siesta time. Afternoons, my volunteers usually do their own thing, whilst I’m in my studio and/ or on the computer. In the evenings, depending on how energetic we feel, and what’s happening in the town, we might head out for pizza or a glass of wine, or to see an event. I like to involve both my B&B guests and my visitors/ volunteers in the happy life here!
5. What is the best thing about being a Workaway host?
Making new friends! And the cultural exchange; I love introducing new people to the town I live in, which is a wonderful, friendly place- I love hearing about others’ lifestyles and ideas too. I also really love the creative discussion/ sharing/ interaction with my Workawayers, as they are usually artists or art-related practitioners.
6. What is the best thing you have learnt from a Workawayer?
My first Workawayer, Nicole, found me a recipè for cleaning drains, involving bicarbonate of soda and vinegar- it is a marvellous solution for medieval plumbing!
7. Can you tell us how your B&B has improved since hosting travellers?
Things are running a lot more smoothly, since I started having Workawayers- in particular, I am able to relax a lot more, and to spend more time with my B&B guests, without the weight of a huge workload all on my shoulders. This means I can be much more efficient in my studio also, which as an artist is my core activity.
8. What has been a fond memory while hosting Workawayers?
A fun day was spent at an Italian wedding, with the family of my neighbours – a real old-style traditional family wedding, with all sorts of eccentricities and beautiful sweet memories… We went to the wedding with a couple who were also staying (in the B&B room), and it really was the highlight of the year.
9. Do you think culture exchange programmes like this are changing the way we travel?
Absolutely. I do think that programmes like this are helping and changing the way we travel, and absolutely love how we are all becoming more positively interconnected! I adore how networks like Workaway allow us to find mutually-beneficial relationships, which allow us to thrive creatively and culturally. Of course it saves travellers money, and it also allows them to really get immersed in the lifestyle of another culture, rather than just peering in at it from the outside!
10. Can you give us one bit of advice for all our Workawayers out there looking for a host?
For my own project I am looking for very specific kinds of volunteers (I won’t usually reply to all of the offers I get, but try to at least give a thank you), so prefer when someone has read through all the requirements, and who is enthusiastic and generous in their energy. I give a lot to my guests, so expect a good mutual-exchange.
My personal preference is for people who are great communicators, and positive and helpful- also, folks who can adapt to the spontaneous nature of whatever is happening in the arthouse, or in the town! I advise all potential volunteers applying to Workaway to really read through the profile they’re applying to, rather than just randomly applying to as many as possible – it is obvious from the initial communication how little or how much attention the applicant is paying to their communications, and this helps me decide whether or not I want to get to know the person better.
It’s essential to remember that you may be sharing a person’s house and personal space with them, and they are likely to be cooking for you, keeping you safe and well, and spending a lot of time showing you around, etc – it is great to find people who are appreciative of all of this, and want to give in return.
Thanks to Clare for sharing with us what it is like to be a Workaway host and giving us some great advice to future Workawayers.
If you would like to be featured as a Workaway host of the month get in contact with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.