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!
Time flys when you are travelling the world. We have already introduced you to two of our amazing hosts and now we are talking to our second Workawayer of the Month Trisha Velarmino a digital nomad working her way around the world one WA project at a time:
Hey Trisha thanks for letting us interview you this month! Can you tell us more about your current Workaway exchange and what it involves?
Hi Sarah! Thanks for having me! I’ve been travelling South America for almost three years now just doing Workaway. I’ve been a receptionist in Colombia, a kitchen volunteer in Cusco, Peru, a bartender in Bolivia and an English teacher in Brazil. Thanks to your fantastic Workaway team, I was able to do all these just through the Workaway site. Today, I am the new bar manager of a hostel bar in Paracas, Peru where they offered me the job after volunteering with them for four months! I am currently processing my residency visa here and will be here until May 2016, as per the contract.
Have you done any other Workaway exchanges other than in South America before this one?
Yes! A lot. Not just in Latin America but also in Africa. Actually, I found out about Workaway when I first ditched my job to travel the world in 2012. I think the first step I took was to make a Workaway account since I didn’t really save money to travel. From then on, Workaway has helped me almost travel for free. I’ve never paid any accommodations for two years straight and that made me save over $15,000 just on accommodations.
What was it that made you choose Workaway?
What you have here is really fantastic. Once you start browsing the host list, you’ll never want to stop. The thing that attracted me the most is the ability to live with local families and learn about their daily lives, how they eat, sleep and cook. I had no idea that this could be possible considering for many, travelling the world is a luxury. I’ve met a lot of people just by being a Workawayer and we are still connected up to this day! Since I haven’t been home for a long time now, I consider the people I met on Workaway as my bestfriends – and that thought still amazes me. I never imagined that you could meet lifelong friends on the road!
How is travelling through Workaway different from other kinds of travel?
Very different. There is no time pressure — if you feel good about the volunteer work, stay. If you don’t, leave. As easy as that! Everyday is always something new, most especially when I volunteered in hostels. Within the 2 weeks time I was a receptionist in Quito, Ecuador, I already met tons of people and learned a lot of things that I never knew before. It also gives you a chance to know the current city you are in and it gives you an insider’s perspective on how living in that country’s like.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learnt through cultural exchange?
Workaway allows you to be different versions of yourself through it wide variety of volunteering projects. I can’t believe I’ve helped in the farm, kitchen, bar, hotel, etc. — things that are far from what I used to do back home. I worked in fashion and I never had bartending experience. The thing about Workaway is that you are not limited. Hosts will not tell you that you can’t work with them because you don’t have an experience. There is always a room for learning. The most valuable lesson I learned through cultural exchange is learning a language is a form of respect. Most of the travellers I know don’t exert any effort in learning and I am deeply staggered by this. People who are hosting you are actually welcoming you in their home and if you can’t speak with them, how can you connect? I was hosted by a family in Colombia 2 years ago where I didn’t know any Spanish. None of the family members speak English! I stayed with them for three months and at the end of the stay, I was fluent. I am very thankful for this experience and I consider them as my family.
Do you have plans to do another Workaway? What kind of work exchange would you be interested in doing?
Yes! I am planning to do more Workaway projects in Central America and the whole of Africa. I am really interested in sustainable living and I would like to learn more about growing my own food. Being in Latin America for a long time made me realise the importance of eating healthy. I want to travel longer so I think having a healthy diet and educating yourself about sustainable living is really important.
If you could give any advice to new Workawayers what would it be?
Do not limit yourselves. When I first started applying for Workaways, I was just looking for ‘teaching’ posts as (I thought) this was the only thing I could do. Then I ended up being a bartender, cook and receptionist all over South America! Don’t filter your keywords when searching for a host because you will be surprised on how much available hosts you can find through Workaway. Discover something new and challenge yourself to do something you’ve never done before. This will make your experience different.
Amazing Trisha, we are so glad to have connected with you and learnt about your amazing journey through Workaway. What is your next plan? How long do you think you are staying in Peru?
I don’t have any plan to be honest. I will be in Peru until May 2016 and after that, I might grab whatever is in front of me. I think my life worked out very well without too much planning. Wherever I am, I am there. I don’t think of the future that much as the present is more beautiful to live in!
We couldn’t agree more. But if you could go anywhere, where would it be?
I want to go to Central America for a year then continue a one year road trip visiting the famous parks in the USA! I want to rent a trailer, convert it into a food truck so I can travel and at the same time, earn a few bucks along the way. Those are some of my beautiful dreams and I hope I can make it possible!
Wow, what a great plan.. We would love to come and eat from your food van one day in the future. How can you keep following your journey?
You can follow me over my travel blog, but it is not your typical travel tips blog — I write about real life experiences, on what happens when you are really out here exploring the world. I have come to realise that I am not “travelling” — I am just choosing to be alive somewhere else.
Anything else you want to say to those aspiring travellers among us?
I have met amazing people through Workaway who have influenced me to pursue a life of travel. Workaway is the best platform to explore your way around the globe, to learn about how other people live and especially, I learned 5 languages just by Workawaying! I would definitely recommend Workaway if you are looking for a different kind of travel experience.
Thanks so much to Trisha for chatting to us about her experiences, 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!