My first Workaway (volunteer) experience
My first Workaway experience was already four months ago in Sweden. Time flies! In this post, I would like to tell you about Workaway, some pros and cons, my experience and some tips!
What is Workaway?
Workaway.info is an organization that allows travellers to work for someone around five hours a day in return for a free room and board. It is similar to WWOOFing or Help-X, but the work is very diverse. While WWOOFing is more focussing on voluntary work on organic farms, Workaway jobs are very varied from painting a farm to taking care of children or language exchange.
You have to pay around € 22,00 for a membership which is valid for two years. Hosts can be filtered by country and the type of work you are looking for. You will also create your own profile with information about the countries you would like to visit, when you would like to volunteer and some personal information like hobbies, skills and pictures. Based on this information, hosts can also find and contact you.
The screenshot below shows an overview of my personal profile on Workaway.info.
Pros of using Workaway:
- The diversity of hosts. You can find so many different kinds of jobs to do. You will definitely find something you like. Either it is going to be something like taking care of horses, teaching a language, helping in a bar or painting a house. It is a great way to explore new things!
- You will meet many amazing people all around the world and make some good new friends.
- You will gain knowledge about other cultures (from the other Workawayers or from your host). You will taste new food, explore new habits and maybe learn a new language.
- It is worldwide! You can go wherever you would like to go.
- You can maximize your travel budget. Most of the time you will get a free room. Some hosts also provide free food. Even though Workaway is not for paid jobs, there are some hosts who give some small salary or a free excursion you can join.
- You become part of the locals. This is what I like the most of Workaway. The hosts will show you the habits of the country, but next to that, he/she can help you to explore the best and hidden parts of the country.
Cons of using Workaway:
- Profiles can be falsified or lacking information. Sometimes the work is not the same as what is described in the profile. Instead of taking care of animals, it can mean taking care of the poop of the animals.
- Some of the hosts will not reply to your emails. The reason for this? I do not know. Either there are already equipped with volunteers or they are too lazy to answer and not interested in you. Do not take it personally and move onto the next one.
- In a work exchange holiday, you will not be on holiday. Be prepared to work at least 5 hours a day and that you have limited time to explore the surroundings.
- Since you are not on holiday and staying in a hotel, at most of the volunteer places you are expected to help in the household, cooking etc.
My Workaway experience:
Instead of two weeks, I stayed two months at a beautiful farm in Sweden. It was a great place, located in a little village which was surrounded by a lot of forest. I was fortunate with two great hosts, a nice room and lots of free food and drinks. My volunteer jobs at the farm were every day different. Every day I took care of the animals and sometimes I helped in the forest with maintaining some new trees and clearing ditches. Moreover, I did other things like painting, gardening, creating vegetable gardens, cleaning, fixing paintings, helping in an Antique shop, cooking and when not working we were having barbecues at the river, enjoying saunas, hot tubs, baking cinnamon buns, watching movies, playing billiard or taking a walk or bicycle ride in the forest.
I had enough free time to explore the surrounding. I took a four days’ hike to the top of Areskutan in Are, did some kajaking on the Harkan river and often went for a bicycle ride or walk with their dog to the forest or nearby lake.
I was very lucky with this positive first Workaway experience. Below you can see a picture of me creating a vegetable garden in Norderasen, Sweden. You can see the amazing view behind me with just forest everywhere. I am still in love with the beautiful nature of Sweden!
Tips for using Workaway:
- Do some good research. Try to find some jobs you really like and see if you get a good feeling by reading the description and seeing the pictures of the particular place. Also have a look at the references. Some might be months old or not truthful written. The best thing you can do, is to contact one of the volunteers who worked in that particular place and ask for his/her experience and advice.
- Before agreeing to a Workaway job, it is important to ask the questions you have in mind. Do you offer towels and bed linen? Do you have WiFi? Do I get a meal? How many hours do you expect me to work?
- Be flexible and open minded!
- Always have a back-up plan. In case a Workaway host do not show up at the meeting point or is not like what you expected, have something prepared to go to.
- Personally, I always keep the conversations and communication within the Workaway system. I kind of feel more secure by talking to them via Workaway, rather than email or phone. In case, a host turns out to be different than expected or than what is mentioned in the communication before, you still have the prove on Workaway.
- Keep in mind that you are not obligated to stay at a place. In case you do not feel welcome, safe or appreciated, you can always leave. You will not sign a contract or anything, so everything is still possible.
Do you have any Workaway experience? I would love to hear about it!
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This sounds very interesting. Never tried it before but definitely would like to try it someday. An alternative way to get you accomodation and at the same time learning things by doing stuffs in different places. Must be worth a try.
This is an interesting and innovative concept. It affords travelers an opportunity to visit countries they would like to and also work and earn their boarding and lodging expenses. It is also a great way to soak in the local ambience and culture.
I am so envious of all the opportunities young people have to work abroad these days. When I was 22 there was no internet and finding work overseas required a huge gamble of just turning up (I did once in Italy only to find that no one knew I was coming but it’s ok a local family took me in) or working very hard to uncover opportunities. This is a great concept.
You are totally right! The technology and development of internet have such a big influence on how we travel nowadays. It is a great way to find new adventures. Remember you are never to old to travel (so in this case, by using Workaway). I met some Workaways between 18 and 45 yeas old during my travels =D
When I was 22 there was no internet and so finding work overseas was incredibly difficult. I love the idea of being able to seek out different adventures online and am slightly envious that I am not 22 again. That said, I’m not envious of shovelling poop.
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That looks interesting but I guess the question of legality arises. Do you then need to apply for a working visa to do this? For someone like me who holds a third-world passport, it’s gonna be very very complicated. Lol.
Yeah, I am not sure about it. However, you are not working, but volunteering. You do not officially have register that you are working and you can quit whenever you want. I think in most cases you can just enter a country with a visa on arrival or holiday visa.
I hadn’t heard of Workaway before I read this, and think it sounds great. I’m a fan of the concept of WWOOFing but recognise that other people might prefer a more diverse offering and might not be interested in organic farming. Good tips for anyone considering this too.
Yeah, Workaway is a bit more diverse =) Cool to hear that you have experience with WWOOFing, what have you done?
I’ve never done a workaway before but absolutely would! Especially somewhere as beautiful as Sweden.
Yes, I can definitely recommend it Diana Chen! I am planning to make a world trip after my study and will then definitely do more Workaway jobs =)