Are you considering doing Workaway? Are you an open-minded and daring person eager to live new experiences? Would you like to travel and offer your help in exchange for free accommodation and meals? If the answer is yes, you are reading the right post. Next, I am going to offer you the complete kit of motivation and tips for you to jump into this magnificent and enriching experience.
“Take risks! Do not stay with the desire to know what would happen. Go for it. Live. Dare. If success is enjoyed, mistakes are learned.”
WHAT IS WORKAWAY?
For those who do not know it, it is a platform (https://www.workaway.info) whose mission is to build a community of travelers who really want to travel and lend a hand wherever they go. So, thanks to the list of thousands of hosts from all over the world who have registered on their website, as a workawayer (this is how travelers are called) you will be able to contact these hosts to communicate them your interest in living the experience .
Briefly explained, you can get free accommodation and meals in exchange for providing your help in many different fields. There are some hosts who are even willing to pay you for your service. Despite these benefits, among many others, I would like to place special emphasis on the importance of doing Workaway due to the special desire to help others. Also mention that despite not having to pay for accommodation and meals, the flights or the type of transport you decide to take to get to the place, will be borne by you.
I recently wrote a post specifying in greater detail the steps to follow in order to become part of this community:
In addition, you will find interesting information about no-common travel alternatives that, among many other benefits, will not damage your pocket.
MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE AS A WORKAWAYER
In summer 2019 I finally had the opportunity to cross this activity off my “Things to do before I die” list and the truth is that I could not have done it with a more satisfying feeling.
I am very happy to have had such a good first experience because when I heard about this platform for the first time, it conveyed me a certain mistrust. In fact, before giving my vote of confidence, I tried to search for information on the internet about the experience and advices of other Workawayers. As I could not find much information at the time, I have considered that it may be a good idea to share mine, so that it can help others to make up their mind (or for those gossip ones haha). So there I go!
I spent two weeks in a small town in Southern Germany, right on the Swiss border, called Gailingen. In this town of around 3,000 inhabitants, there was a beautiful and cozy 200-year-old house in which I was so lucky to live with such a charming family. They offered me a single room and complete freedom to use the common areas.
It is said that Southern Germany is the most beautiful area in the country and, without a doubt, after being there, I dare to say that it is absolutely true. The specific area in which it was, stood out for being full of charming villages on the banks of the Rhine river and fields full of green where only pure air and tranquility could be breathed.
As I worked most days in the morning, I used to take the bike in the afternoon and explore the surroundings, either alone, or together with the family. I show you below some of the photos I took to give you an idea of the beauty of the place.
Because I had one day off a week, I took advantage of one of them to go to a lake that I had been longing to visit for a long time, Lake Constance. As I was getting into it, I decided to do both the outward and the back journey by bicycle. In Germany, people use it very often, so I must say that tracks were in perfect conditions. It took me a total of 9 hours, 9 hours of bordering the Rhine river and touring towns and landscapes that were gorgeous.
I cannot feel more grateful and blessed for the family with whom I had the opportunity to live this experience. If I had to choose three words to describe them, they would be: empathy, respect and kindness.
The family’s daughter, Hannah, who was my age by the way, had spent a full year in Canada doing Workaway. Her parents, Kirsten and Thomas, decided to become hosts in gratitude for the opportunity and treatment their daughter had received.
Even before meeting them in person, I could already feel their kindness. Thomas, the father of the family, did not want me to take a train at 1 am to get home. Instead, he took his car and came to pick me up from the train station, in order to bring me to what was going to be my home for the next 2 weeks.
During the staying, they made me feel like at home. Hannah took me to Hohentwiel, a town with a beautiful castle on the top of a hill. Thomas arranged a getaway with Hannah and me on the Rhine with his beloved ship, Frida. Kirsten prepared and taught me delicious recipes of all kinds. Also, I remember with special affection an afternoon that we all spent together in Schaffhausen and bathing in the Rhine surrounded by nature.
Without a doubt, it was a wonderful family that not only gave me beautiful moments, but also taught me a lot, especially about veganism. Both Kirsten and Thomas had been vegan for years and their lives had changed for the better in many ways. During those two weeks I decided to eat vegan too and watch some documentaries on Netflix about it that shocked me a lot: “What the health” and “Cowspiracy”. If you have not seen them yet and you are interested in the field, I highly recommend watching both of them.
My main task was to take care of the huge garden at the back of the house. I was in charge of watering the plants and doing different activities depending on what they asked me to: removing weeds, cutting roses, planting fruits and vegetables, etc. A total of 4 hours a day for 6 days a week.
Since I did not have much prior gardening experience, Thomas explained me how I had to do each task before getting down to business. Moreover, in case I had any questions, I could feel totally free to ask him.
Honestly, it wasn’t a job I loved, especially since being in the sun in the middle of the summer was quite exhausting, but I must say that I learned a lot and I was very happy to help a family that was making me feel that good. Then the positive aspects outweighed the negative ones.
TIPS FOR A FUTURE WORKAWAYER
After my personal experience, there are several aspects that I consider important to take into account, especially when choosing who you want to stay with:
First of all, you need to have it clear and be honest about the work that you can and are willing to do. Think that you are going to spend a few hours a day working on it, so if you don’t like it, it can be very unpleasant.
There is a wide variety of interesting fields in which to give a hand. Search well because I am sure that there will be many that will fit your interests and abilities.
Another very important aspect to consider is if you will have your own bicycle to move around. In case you do not like to travel and, therefore, you do not expect to visit the surroundings, it might not be such an important point to take into account.
If your host cannot lend you a bicycle, it would be interesting to find out beforehand about the accessibility to public transport.
Find out if the host you are interested in accepts more than one person at a time. Sharing this experience with other workawayers might be very nice. It will allow you to meet, learn and share moments with other people, with whom I am sure you will end up generating strong ties.
Also, I bet that it will become more enjoyable and fun to work and visit the surroundings in company than by your own. If not possible, I would not directly reject the respective host. In my case, for example, I lived the experience alone and was awesome. I suppose it will depend on the type of person you are and, therefore, it is you the one who will have to value it personally.
There are hosts who are on Workaway to get ‘cheap labor’. Check the working hours that are required per day, they must not be abusive. Moreover, it is very important that hosts transmit you flexibility and understanding.
When choosing the host, also be largely guided by the table shown on the right. This is a simple example, each profile has its own with its respective values. The ones that I recommend paying the most attention to are:
- Host rating (>90%)
- Read the comments that other workawayers have left. When I made my decision, it is what I valued the most. I also recommend writing privately to the workawayers in case of having further and specific questions about the host.
- Badges, specially, the “Top rated host” one. They are not easily earned, so it is a way to guarantee that those hosts who have them are really good ones.
If at this point you feel ready and with enough dose of desire and motivation to go for this great experience, I feel happy to say: Goal accomplished!
I also hope the tips will help you find an awesome host with whom to be a workawayer for the first time. Do not hesitate to write any messages or doubts in comments and/or directly to firstname.lastname@example.org . I will be so happy to read them and be of any help to you. Greetings dear travelers!