At Workaway, we absolutely love getting to know you all whether it’s 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 with such an inspiring community of travellers! So we just had to share some of the stories you tell us!
Workawayer Lisa contacted us about travelling through the Middle East as a solo female traveller and we just had to hear more and share it all with you. It’s a good one guys; over to Lisa!
Hey Lisa, thanks so much for letting us chat with you today! We are so excited to hear about your Middle East adventures! Firstly can you tell us about your latest Workaway experience?
My latest Workaway experience was in Asilah, in the North of Morocco. I was workawaying there in an amazing hostel for about a month. My tasks included more or less everything which needed to be done – starting with preparing the breakfast, maintenance of the common rooms as well as cleaning the dorms, helping at the reception and ending with hosting amazing barbecues on the roof terrace.
How did you chose this particular project?
It was the perfect end of my route through Morocco, which started in the South and led among the coast up North. Beside the geographical aspect, I very much liked the host profile on Workaway- it was welcoming, colourful, and guaranteeing an unforgettable stay in an international surrounding with the chance to meet like-minded backpackers from all around the world. The hostel’s owner himself gave me an open-minded, friendly impression in the first mails we exchanged so I felt comfortable from the very first moment on.
That’s so lovely to hear. How many others Workaway projects have you done?
In Spain I stayed twice in a Yoga retreat centre which offers also equestrian tourism. After having experienced there the most amazing, beautiful, and inspiring six weeks of my life up to that point, I decided to come back for a shorter stay. During both stays I mainly was working with the horses – a dream come true!
In Morocco I stayed – beside at the hostel- with two more workaway hosts. In Marrakesh I stayed 10 days with a local teacher who just asked for a little help around and the house and conversation in Spanish. After staying in Marrakech and a 2-day trip to the desert I travelled with some stops on the way to Essaouira where I was helping out in a precious little Café.
What an adventure! Have your hosts always lived up to your expectations/ stuck to what they said on their profile?
They all lived up to my expectations and the places or type of help corresponded to the profiles. There were also two hosts which were really outstanding. One of them treated me more like a friend than a “Workawayer guest”, he invited friends over and organized meetings to introduce me to their culture and helped me to arrange trips. The other host also was particularly generous and very thankful for my help. In the end, he insisted on partly paying my train ticket to the following destination, because he wanted to thank me for my support and help during the stay.
We have to admit, our hosts are all pretty amazing too, but these guys sound outstanding! But, tell us, how did you feel travelling through Morocco alone?
In the beginning I was very insecure and almost anxious but soon I simply fell in love with this miraculous, mesmerizing, beautiful country. After two days in Marrakech, I went out alone during day and at night in the company of other travellers and sometimes my hosts, without feeling uncomfortable. I was so proud when I knew my way around in the maze-like medina, I loved to go shopping, buy delicious food at the market and to haggle in the souks. The public transport system was mostly nerve wrecking and challenging, there were a lot of moments when the adrenalin was rushing through my veins, but always everything turned out to be fine or at least solvable.
You go girl! Was it different from what you expected?
Definitely! I thought I might feel limited, as I just cannot wear whatever I want like at home or I cannot move freely because of being a girl, but this turned out to be just wrong. I felt much safer than I expected and I was getting along without any problems, despite the language barrier… However, I have to admit that especially in the North I often felt bothered by all the young men who wanted to talk to me and in order to do so sometimes even followed me through the streets.They just don’t accept a “no”. But this was something I expected and I learned to take it in my stride, so I still enjoyed my stay to the fullest.
Did doing Workaway projects help you from feeling lonely during your solo travels?
Yes and No. I never feel really lonely when I am travelling, because in the hostels there is always someone around who will join you on a tour, have dinner with you or just some all-night talks. However often – especially in the bigger cities – travellers just stay for some days so it is rare that you can develop something like a real friendship with someone.
This is something you can experience far easier during a Workaway stay. As you are together with your host(s) and /or fellow Workawayers during a longer time period, it is almost inevitable to establish a friendship or even feel like being part of a new family in the end. To me, this is one of the many advantages of a Workaway stay, because after over one year away from home it feels so good to have someone around whom you can trust and talk to like a very good friend.
What was one stand out moment?
There are so many, I hardly can pick one.
- In Andalucía, after a long, hot exhausting day riding through the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen in my life
- Feeling this particular this-cannot-be-real-feeling while cruising on a scooter through the insane traffic in Marrakech.
- Bursting with pride after having bought a dress for not even half of the original prize after forty five minutes of haggling!
- Making it to a new, unknown destination, overcoming a lot of problems and insecure moments on the way, realizing that I just outgrew myself on so many levels..
- Switching between four different languages while having an great barbecue with a lot of new fellow-traveller-friends in the hostel.
- And over all, this feeling of pure amazement and unbelief while browsing through the pictures of the trip after returning home for a while, still not really able to believe that this is your life, that you did that…!
Beautiful words Lisa. What advice would you give to any solo females looking to travel and volunteer alone?
Be curious but cautious. Don’t let your fears or assumptions get in your way, but don’t be reckless. When choosing hosts, you probably will feel safer when you stay with someone who has already a couple of positive feedback than with a host without any feedback at all. When you have a “weak moment” during your trip, allow yourself to rest and stay a bit longer in the same place with people you already know.
Above all- go for it! Nothing in this world is as precious as the experience of having travelled / volunteered alone. You will make an incredible amount of new friends, you will come far closer to who you truly are, it will make you (even more) self confident, you will learn, see, hear, taste, try things, you couldn’t have imagined before…
Lisa, thank you so much! You are inspiring, brave and have a beautiful soul! Thank you for encouraging others to follow in your footsteps!
For those who are interested in finding out more about Lisa’s amazing journey, go check out her account on Instagram.
Do you want to be our next Workawayer of the month? We are always on the lookout for inspired workawayers who have a great story to tell! Email us over at firstname.lastname@example.org and you could be in our next feature!