Workaway is not just for students and gap years

Here at Workaway it is inspiring to see how many “older” workawayers are using the site and it seems that the word is spreading.

Many people who have had a fulfilling career and learnt many useful skills along the way have either become disillusioned with the monotony of routine or are taking the opportunity to do now what they wish they had done when younger but for whatever reason did not. That being… to see the world and travel!


Building a Project

Of course we´re not talking here about taking luxury cruises or staying in a 5 star hotel being served drinks by the pool! We’re talking about being able to reach different projects and communities throughout the world and being able to utilize those skills learnt for the benefit of others.

The oldest successful workawayer we’ve heard about so far was 75 years old and travelled across Europe giving advice and helping where he could on different small holding projects. We know of “retired” builders who have used their trade to renovate, create eco buildings and provide expertise in areas where skilled help was very hard to come by.



Recently I visited a Workaway project in Southern Portugal ran by a couple who had bought an old ruined hotel and were renovating it to become Portugal’s first holiday centre for the disabled. It was inspiring to find a team of extremely capable, skilled workawayers who had given up their time to help develop this incredibly worthwhile scheme. Tilers, gardeners, ex-builders as well as enthusiastic backpackers were all living and volunteering together doing something incredibly beneficial and at the same time being able to experience life in a different country. This is what Workaway is all about!

I’ll leave you today with the thoughts of Jon and Sandra a couple of more mature and very skilled older workawayers who had become disillusioned with the rat race in England and so signed up to Workaway to experience different ways of living whilst searching for what they really wanted to do. Please forgive the bad filming, I need to practise!

38 replies
    • Seva Khalsa
      Seva Khalsa says:

      I am from the US. I just found this website yesterday and apply to many hosts. Wondering what your experience has been and how long did it take for you to get and exchange position? Did you have to apply to a lot of hosts? Thank you.

      • Cynthia Campbell
        Cynthia Campbell says:

        Hi Seva! Looks as if you were the last person to leave a message here! Did you ever get a reply?

      • Workaway
        Workaway says:

        Hi Seva,
        Noticed that no-one had replied to you about your question; it really depends on the hosts you apply to, hosts looking for help immediately and that are on the last minute list will most likely get back to you quickly whereas hosts looking far in advance for helpers may take longer to decide who they want to invite.

      • Dan
        Dan says:

        Just want to sure,need to sign up / register on workaway website first? To able to work abroad. And must buy own airplane ticket. The work sounds fullfulling and that one can make a positive impact. I would much like more info/advice. I’m also tired/disillutioned w the rat race in Thx a lot. Regads. Dan.

  1. Sharalee, New Zealand
    Sharalee, New Zealand says:

    I could not think of a better way to learn the French language and culture! I am going to do this one day! I am studying at the moment but once that is finished and I have saved a bit of money, I am applying!

  2. Kathy
    Kathy says:

    I am looking into workaway opportunities and as a retired, single woman, I would like to find out from experienced older travelers what kinds of things I should watch out for. I would really love to have a positive experience or more from this.

    • Sheila Purvis
      Sheila Purvis says:

      Hi Kathy – I am also a single retired female, I am 62 and will be travelling alone around Asia from Jan to Apr 2013. I can’t really share my experience yet as I’ve not done it yet but just wanted you to know that I’ve taken the plunge. I haven’t secured work with a family/establishment yet, have written to 3, so now await an answer. There are lots of sites you can go on to get tips etc., backpackingforgrownups etc. Hope you have fun whatever you decide to do. And if you’re going my way we could hook up for a cuppa!! Lol. Kind regards Sheila

      • Anna C
        Anna C says:

        Hi Kathy and Sheila. I have decided this is what I am going to do when I retire next September! Sheila, I will be 3 months short of 62 then, and I am confident there will be plenty of suitable workaway opportunities. It would be great to hear of your experiences. Kathy have you taken the plunge yet? I bet there are loads of retired females travelling solo and doing wonderful things too 🙂

      • Christine
        Christine says:

        Hi, Kathy, Sheila and Anna,

        I am volunteering in Rwanda at the moment with VSO. I am searching out placements for when I finish here at the end of June. You all sound like my type of people and hope to bump into you at some time. Perhpas we could have a plan together…..? I’m 64 but very young!
        Kind regards,

      • Liz Nichols
        Liz Nichols says:

        Hi Christine Kathy Sheila and Anna Would love to hear how you are coping with working away..Im having trouble working out the visas and how much money Im going to need to get by. Love hear from you all cheers Liz from down under 🙂

      • Linda
        Linda says:

        Hello just found workaway website. Am 63 and itching for a life style change. Good to hear your positive experiences do you have any tips for a new be with no definite skills. Linda

      • julia
        julia says:

        Hi Sheila I have recently retired and your posts caught my attention. I would love to do something like this. Can you give e me any pointers or would you be willing to correspond with me. Regards. Julia

  3. Melissa
    Melissa says:

    I am a 49 year old single mother of 4 grown children, who has never really travelled. I have had three workaway experiences in the last 6 months, and 2 of the 3 have been excellent, (the third was a ‘so-so’ experience) What i have found is my lack of any definite skills has not mattered, it is my work ethic which is so important, as well as having a positive and happy outlook. This is a wonderful website, and now branching out into boat owners is a great move!
    Thanks workaway for your great website!

    • Teri
      Teri says:

      Hi Melissa. Just joined workaway,and havent been one yet, but I’m so excited. I too, have 4 grown children. I’ve been a stay home mom forever it feels like. I loved it, but I’ve gotta go out there and “find myself”. The self I wanna be for the second half of my life. My husband is very supportive of my taking this journey on my own…I mean, somebody’s gotta work to pay for my plane tickets, right? No really, he’s great. Anyway, you’re the first person in workaway that I’ve contacted. If you could be so gracious as to lend any helpful tips, warnings, or just share your experiences, I’d love to hear from you! Have a great day. Peace!

  4. Anna C
    Anna C says:

    Isn’t it wonderful how exactly what you need comes into your awareness at exactly the time you need it?
    I have just discovered ‘workaway’ and I am SO excited at what it offers.
    I have just returned from a tree-planting working holiday in Andalusia, which I loved. Trouble is, although it was a working holiday it was still a lot of money for me.
    Workaway offers the perfect solution, and when I retire next September I know for certain that I will be spending several months of the year on workaways.
    I can’t wait! 🙂

  5. Phil Beswick
    Phil Beswick says:

    Hi all! I’ve just spent a full 12 months travelling with true purpose around SE Asia and NZ and Australia, in fact most of my time was spent volunteering with Workaway at different projects in 8 countries! The effect was so profound that i wrote a book whilst on the road. I returned to the UK in August then walked the 900km Camino de Santiago for a local Hospice raising money along the way! This changed my life in so many ways, as all this started with my wife and I separating! I’d love to hear from anyone who shares the same passion in helping others. My book will be available on Amazon mid January, and i’m excited by the fact that by recording the true impact of what volunteering can do for the heart and mind, it may serves a purpose in helping change not only the direction of our lives but those of so many others too.

    • Bernadette Kirsch
      Bernadette Kirsch says:

      Dear Phil,

      I wanted to travel away from Germany soon after I separated from my partner of ten years. But friends adviced me against it since they said you bring a broken heart everywhere. So I stayed put and still feel miserable after almost a year now. How did the travelling help you when you were in the process of separating from your wife.Should I pack up and go?
      Would love to hear from you soon. Take care, Bernadette

      • Carol
        Carol says:

        Hi Bernadette, I’m not Phil – but I would say this. If you want to do it – do it. The experiences brings you out of yourself and takes the focus off your broken heart and you see a healthier side of life which helps you to heal and become happy again as an independent person.
        I hope you have done some workaways since your post. If not – ‘get out there girl!’. Carol.

    • Michelle
      Michelle says:

      Hi Phil,

      Sounds great. I have the same idea for next year. I would like to work my way around the world using workaway. Think it’s good to do something to give back whilst travelling and definitely beats the 9-5 gigs.

    • Lorraine
      Lorraine says:

      Hi Phil, What is you book called. I would be interested in reading it. Will it be available in Kindle form. We will be walking the Camino in August this year and volunteering at Vaughantown as well. Would love to here about any tips you have re the Camino. I am from Nelson New Zealand. I hope you got down our way.


    • Liz Nichols
      Liz Nichols says:

      Hi from down under..Your post was soo inspiring.How i would love to be able put my thoughts on paper. I too am at the time of life where the fork in the road is near..Im nearing 60 very fit and active just worry about the safety aspect of travelling solo to do these workaways. And I guess you still need a lot of money to survive.. i would love to hear more of your experiences on here or by email. Are you on facebook? I love reading travel blogs Im addicted to travel and photography..cheers Liz

  6. Cat
    Cat says:

    Here is what I suggest for older workawayer’s as we have had also had people from 45-60 yrs old.

    Act like a kid – By that I mean be open and adventuresome! Realize that you are not the “parents” in this situation. It is not your job to chasitize or be the one who says “no,”.

    Things are going to be different that you are used to – the bed may feel different, the laundry soap is different, etc. Realize that you are not in your same comfort zone as your home that you lived 30 yrs. Also realize that this is not your job to “teach” this time. It is your option to “learn”…

  7. Sharon
    Sharon says:

    Hi everyone! I’m an active 60 year old with two adult children, looking to find opportunities with this site to learn all methods in alternative medicine and natural healing. Other volunteering sites have very little to offer. Can anyone direct me to the right site?

  8. dee
    dee says:

    I have read these posts with interest as I too have grown up children and a partner who doesn’t share my dreams so onward and upward to do something with my life, and give something back to others, any ideas anyone. I have August free !

    • petra
      petra says:

      what an interesting thread to read! i am 57, live in the bush in nw alberta, canada, and am wondering if hosting a more “mature” workawayer woman might be just the thing for me to get some help AND some company. from reading this, i think it could be a great experience for both sides. will have to put a profile in 🙂

  9. Em
    Em says:

    …also looking in…….last child just off to uni and needing to move onin my life and away from their dad…….this is an exciting prospect……..

  10. Rhonda
    Rhonda says:

    Hi everyone! I am a 49 year old woman from Texas who recently traveled to Thailand alone…and I just want to say that I had a wonderful experience traveling solo and felt very safe. Prior to Thailand, I walked the Camino de Santiago with a friend…and was so inspired by meeting new people and experience new cultures that when my friend returend to the US, I just decided to “take off on my own” to see where the road might lead. I have just discovered Workaways…so I do not have any experience with this site yet…but I am looking forward to my next adventure.

  11. Amanda Clarke
    Amanda Clarke says:

    Hello everyone! I have been ‘looking in’ for quite sometime. I find I am in a similar situation re husband/children as others here and I believe I am ready to test the waters for a short period next year. Willing to share first experience with someone, who like me is a little apprehensive; also willing to hear of any tips/ideas for older first time workawayer

  12. kam
    kam says:

    Wonder if there’s any hosts out there who have taken on or are willing to take on a whole family – I want to do this with my husband and my little boy who’5 years old.

    Obviously it maybe that we can only do this once a year for maximum of 4 weeks (work and school commitments). We’ve traveled to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vanuatu, all over Australia, Caribbean, Maldives), done the hotels and the tourist thing but what we love is helping as a part of a project/family/community for our next destination.

    Just want to know if families have been volunteers in the past and how hosts found them to be – how successful or not it was.


  13. imma
    imma says:

    As a host, I can only say that, after hosting several travelers, from 19 to 55 year old, we have discovered that mature workawayers tend to be more responsible and to be fairer about their skills and the work they can do for us. As a result, when we reach to a commitment, they normally don’t need nearly any guidance, as they know how to do their work and have more experience and a more defined personality. So now we tend to prefere more mature travelers!
    We have nothing against youngster helpers, it’s just what we can tell from our experience!

    • Emma
      Emma says:

      Hi Imma
      You have given me the confidence to sign up to workaway, I am 50 something and looking for a new life experience. We have a family business of a farm and hostel and I would like to leave them behind for 3 months to get on without me as I think they would also benefit from my absence.
      Emma in Wales

  14. Sean
    Sean says:

    My name is Sean and I’m a 55 year old fit person with experience and skills in teaching, fitness and children’s games. I’m from Brisbane and would like some ideas to search the host list as a single male over 50 years.
    I wish to travel in Australia, Ireland, England and France.
    I have sent some emails so all advice would be most welcome.
    PS I would like to become more fluent in speaking french

  15. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    We are hoping to workaway our way around Europe this year. We would love to take our standard poodle with us. Can any experienced workawayers tell me if this is possible or would it limit our opportunities?

  16. Sue Ball
    Sue Ball says:

    Just to add my ‘pennyworth’ on the subject of age- I’ve been hosting for 2 years now and have had Workawayers from 18 -69 years in age. As Imma says, the more mature Workawayer brings advantages in experience, responsible attitudes etc., but this does not mean that younger volunteers do not also have valuable attributes, too! I am happy to accept anyone who shows some initiative and sufficient interest in their application email.
    Wendy, if a host is happy for you to have your dog with you and it is well behaved and socialised, I don’t see a problem! I have a terrier who loves canine company, so why not ask in your initial email and see what the response is!
    My main irritation? Any Workawayer who emails without reading your profile and puts NO personal information about themselves on theirs! I have had a number of such applicants recently and they are very annoying! I do still respond, albeit rather briefly!

  17. marie deleage
    marie deleage says:

    Je suis retraitée,et j’ai commencé,mon expérience workaway il y a quelques mois.J’ai enchaîné,les missions et je suis satisfaite de mon expérience.Si ça ne convient pas avec un host on a toujours le choix de partir.Je compte bien continuer et de voyager dans différents pays du globe.


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