As a traveller on a budget, I’ve found that a work exchange with Workaway is a great way to travel. And you don’t have to spend much money at all!
The website connects volunteers with hosts who provide accommodation and food in exchange for a few hours’ work per day.
I’ve used the site twice so far; once in Thailand and once in New Zealand.
Here, I’ll share with you thoughts on my experiences and the basics of how to use the service.
Register with WOrkaway
There is a low yearly fee for signing up to Workaway, which I think is great value for what you get in return.
The current rate for signing up (as of August 2019) is US $42 for a single person and US $54 for a couple. This fee covers you for 12 months.
Theo and I signed up together, so we were able to take advantage of the couple offer. This meant that we paid less per person than if we had signed up separately.
Once you’re signed up, you’re able to contact any of the 40,000 hosts in 177 countries around the world.
What’s great about the site is that you can browse the host list before signing up, so you have an idea of what’s available and what you’ll be expected to do before making any payment.
I always get so excited looking at all the different opportunities available all over the world!
Your payment also allows you access to 24 hour support, a personal reference letter highlighting feedback received from hosts, an interactive weekly Q&A session and live chats with a personal advisor.
Once you’ve signed up for the site, it’s time to get in touch with some prospective hosts!
Before you do, make sure you look at the feedback left by previous workawayers for each host that you’re interested in.
You can also contact the people who left the feedback to ask them anything you’d like to know before actually reaching out to the hosts themselves.
When writing to a potential host, remember that you are often asking them to accept you into their home. So make sure you come across in the right way in your messages.
Be genuine, let them know what skills you have to offer and ask questions.
The more they feel like they can get to know you, the more likely they are to accept your request.
My first work exchange experience through Workaway was in Pai, Northern Thailand, on a natural building project.
The owner built the accommodation, which was an earth brick dorm and a large open air bamboo kitchen structure complete with fridge, stove and drinking water.
We helped create a cobbled path and we built the cob pizza oven which is now used by other Workawayers.
The area was beautiful and peaceful, surrounded by rice paddies and with waterfalls and other attractions not too far away.
As we visited at the beginning of the venture, there was not too much work to do but we were still able to stay for free in this little Thai paradise!
The second Workaway experience was in Great Barrier Island, New Zealand.
In exchange for four hours of work per day, we had our own private room in the owners’ house and were provided with cooked breakfast and lunch, and ingredients to cook dinner.
The view from the house was simply incredible, and the island is still one of my favourite places in New Zealand.
The work varied depending on what was required that day; from painting the interior of their second house, to gardening, feeding the chickens, making jams and preserves, renovating a caravan and cleaning their Airbnb cabin between guests.
We would work from 8am to 12pm, leaving the rest of the day free for us to explore the island.
Our hosts were lovely and would often give us a lift somewhere or let us take their vehicle, and were very helpful in recommending events and attractions.
They even took us out for a meal before we left!
Overall, my experience with Workaway has been extremely positive and I have so many fantastic memories from just two placements.
Work exchange websites like Workaway are great for budget travellers such as myself because the main daily costs are covered, so you could stay for weeks or even months with some hosts and barely spend a penny! All while making wonderful memories.
These sites allow us to volunteer abroad without the huge fee that a lot of companies charge per placement!
I love that the small yearly fee on Workaway gives you the freedom to take part in as many or as few placements as you like, and I look forward to taking advantage of more fantastic opportunities in the future.
Have you taken part in a work exchange? What opportunities excite you the most? Let me know in the comments!
Want more like this? Check out these articles:
- Great Barrier Island’s most beautiful day hike
- How a Working Holiday Visa could change your life
- 14 Easy ways to save money while you travel
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