I was in a hostel in Prague, talking to Matías, when he shared with me about Workaway. It’s how he got this job at the hostel, bringing guests out to pub crawls, walking tours, hosting game nights and partying with guests in different clubs every night. Tough job eh? In exchange, he gets to lodge in the hostel for free and 2 meals a day taken care of. He also gets to meet hundreds of people a month, travellers from different countries, and exchange stories and experiences.
I googled workaway and signed up immediately for access to the platform. Its USD $42 for a year. If you’re curious about the kind of hosts, you can easily Google Workaway and check the hosts out now. You don’t need to sign up for it to explore. You only need an account to send hosts messages.
Workaway is basically a platform to connect travellers with hosts. A host is anyone who can offer accommodation (and most times meals) to travellers in exchange for some help. What kinda help? It depends. The description of duties would be clearly stated on the host’s listing, along with the kind of sleeping and living arrangement provided. Work is expected to be for 3 to 5 hours a day, 5 days a week.
There’s an app access too once you sign up so it’ll be easy for you to track messages.
I thought it would be difficult to find a host. But I found one within a week, after sending out 5 or 6 messages to hosts in Spain. At that time, I really wanted to go to Andalucía so I searched for a workaway there.
Unfortunately, I got stuck in England even before I could get to Spain, so I had to kiss my South Spain dreams adiós
The good thing was that there were plenty of workaway hosts in UK. I’m now staying in Leicester, working alongside 2 other travellers with our host family.
Questions I can currently think of:
1. Is there a minimum stay period? I would say no but of course, most hosts would request you stay at least a week or sometimes a few weeks, depending on the skill required. This platform encourages a cultural exchange, as well as some form of mutual benefit to both parties. If the job requires teaching of skills, hosts would typically want you to stay a while longer if not it would be tiresome having to retrain people all the time. Then again, some hosts just need help with daily chores so people might come and go as they please.
2. What kind of work will it be? It depends! Could be anything from being a crew on a sailboat, to babysitting, or even just house sitting. My previous workaway required us to babysit and do some light gardening, but this current one involves more manual work like digging holes, building bonfires, sanding bricks etc. I’ve also seen hosts needing help with taking care of huskies in Iceland, horses in Scotland, teaching english in Vietnam. The type of work varies so much, everyone can find something for them.
3. Is there an age limit? Minimum to sign up is 18 but no maximum age. In fact, if you have a browse around the website’s blog you will read about 60 year old doing workaways. Some hosts even prefer taking more experienced travellers because they need their level of skill.
4. Can you travel as a couple or family? Yes to both. You can even sign up as a couple to save costs on membership fees. Just make sure hosts can take in your group size.
5. How do you get confirmed? After setting up an online page, start sending your hosts some messages! There are certain things you can clarify with them first before confirming the job. I usually make sure I know what the job entails, where I would be sleeping, if meals are provided, if they can pick me up from a certain location, timings and hours of the job, nearest supermarket, if I can cook for myself, if there’s fridge space, if there are laundry services, free WiFi, etc. The best way to get personal is to ask if they’re okay to do a video call. That way, you get to virtually meet them and suss their vibe out before you actually commit. Once you do commit, try not to cancel last minute as hosts would have turned down other travellers after confirming you.
6. How do you choose a reliable one? Similar to most apps, they have a feedback section. Read through the feedback section, you can find out more from past travellers. If they have no feedback it might be because they are new hosts. In that case, rely on your savyhood and suss them out during your interactions. If in any case, you get there and don’t like your host, I would usually just make sure I can find cheap stays close to their location JUST IN CASE I need to GTFO immediately.
7. Why do a workaway? It provides you to live out your dreams. If you’ve always wanted to live in a yurt on a mountain, a dog shelter, learn permaculture skills, practice the languages you’ve been learning on Duolingo, sail from Greece to Canary Islands, help restore a 500 year old castle, tend to sheep in New Zealand, learn pottery making……… And yet want to do it cheaply with little commitment time, Workaway is the best way to do it. For long term travellers like me, its a cheap way to travel, but also my preferred way because I get to experience local life and be a part of families, have a home away from home.
8. Why not do a workaway? If you only have a few days and want to have a luxurious holiday, obvi this isn’t the best option. If you don’t like living with strangers, if you’re not open minded, adaptable, friendly, sociable, and basically expect to do as little work as possible, workaway isn’t for you. The best way to enjoy a workaway experience is to throw yourself out of your comfort zone!!
Challenge yourself to go out there, and think positively of your experiences that are to come. I’m so glad I got introduced to workaway, so early on in my travels, so that I didn’t have to waste too much money on hostels and airbnb.
I never thought I could travel for more than 6 months, or even a year. Because I don’t have skills to be a digital nomad. Because of workaway, I can be just a nomad! Haha. I hope this helps all of you dream a little bigger in terms of your traveling plans. Here’s a link to some other questions via the webby. https://www.workaway.info/en/info/faq
Hasta luego, muchachos!