Here are some questions to ask your Workaway host, to make sure you’re all on the same page when you arrive at your project.
In my experience of Workaway it’s best to have all the nitty gritty details out in the open before you arrive. If you both know what’s been agreed and you’re both happy with it, you’ll find you’ll have a much better experience.
After all, you don’t want any surprises when it comes to where and who you sleep with, and what and when you eat, do you?
Obviously most of this information should be on the Workaway profile, but sometimes it’s not. Getting a double confirmation will just make you feel a bit better about arriving at someone else’s house.
My three Workaway placements were all wonderful, and I look back with fond memories.
I did three Workaway projects during my four months in Europe:
- Conil, Southern Spain: Painting villas, gardening and cleaning.
- Ceglie Messapica, Southern Italy: Laying paths, pruning trees, building, gardening and chopping wood.
- Bechyne, Czech Republic: Gardening, cleaning, handyman duties.
Getting to your Workaway placement
Make sure you know exactly how to get to your Workaway placement before you set out, it could end up costing you some serious dollar, and you don’t want that!
1. What’s the exact address and how will I get there?
This is your chance to subtly try and get them to pick you up. Some of the locations can be right out in the sticks – difficult if you don’t speak the language and have a huge backpack.
See how far they’ll go to get you. Good measure of how the whole Workaway thing is going to work out right there.
On your Workaway experience
You need to firm up exactly what’s expected of you. Our second Workaway host, in Italy, expected us to work about 8 hours a day, but she did give us a LOT in return. Free lifts, delicious food and great intros to all her friends too.
2. How many hours will I work a day?
The Workaway guidelines state five, but I did a lot more on my Italy project, and a lot less in the Czech Republic. It’s best to know beforehand so you’re both on the same page.
3. How many days a week?
Again, the recommendation is five, but you never know. You might be able to condense your working hours so you have more full days off.
4. What can I do on days off?
Make sure you ask about the transit options in the area too.
When I worked in the Czech Republic my host, John, had a car we could use, although I never did. In Italy we couldn’t get anywhere but walk to the local town, and in Spain we tried to work out the bus timetable to no avail. We still managed to have awesome days off thanks to the hosts driving us, and taxis.
Asking your Workaway host about this is also a good chance to find out if anything cool is happening or there’s something epic around to see that you didn’t know about.
5. Where will I sleep?
My 3 projects were very different.
In one I had my own villa that wasn’t being used (out of season), another was a room in her house with an en suite bathroom, and the last one a room in a different house he owned. We didn’t actually know any of the details before we arrived, and we were lucky to be happy with all the options.
6. How many meals are included and what sort of things do you eat?
When I had the apartment my host bought us food to cook for ourselves, but on both the other projects our meals were cooked for us and we ate with the hosts.
Our host in Italy was an incredible cook but she barely ate.
It was 10/11pm before we had dinner and after all the work we’d done all day I was ravenous and could’ve eaten a scabby dog. Make sure you take some supplies in your bag if you worry they won’t feed you enough. One day I ended up trying to smuggle a bit of bread and oil for me and my boyfriend, then I tripped in my hurry and the oil splashed all over her wooden dresser in the hallway. Gawd it was embarrassing – she was so annoyed at me but we were so hungry!
This is also the time to tell them about any allergies or food issues you have.
7. Do you have Wi-Fi? A TV? Bikes? A pool?
Anything that you’re bothered about, now’s the time to ask. If I went somewhere and they didn’t have Wi-Fi the tears would start to flow. I didn’t check this in Spain and ended up sitting at the local bus stop to connect to the village-wide Wi-Fi. This was not fun.
8. Will there be any other Workawayers?
Always good to know if there’s anyone else about to have fun with. When we were in the Cezch Republic there was another girl there who was doing Workaway with us, it was really nice to have someone new to talk to!
Money and Workaway
Make sure you’re fully clued up on how much the Workaway experience is going to cost you – check if there’s anything extra you have to pay for, or any other ways to make money at all. Make sure it’s all clear.
9. How much money will I need and are there cashpoints about?
Whether you have an international bank account or one based in your own country you’ll want to make sure to withdraw some cash before you start your project. Some of the Workaway placements can be very remote and finding an ATM may be difficult, never mind getting money out.
Check the situation with your host before you arrive.
Awkward questions to ask your Workaway host
Seriously, it’ll be even more awkward if you need to ask these questions to your Workaway host when you arrive. Get it done before you get locked in!
10. What happens if we don’t get on?
This is your opportunity to find out if they’ve had any problems in the past with past Workawayers. For them, having someone in their home can be an odd experience. And for you, you’re trusting someone you’ve never met before with your safety. You need to do whatever you can to scope them out.
In Italy, our host’s friend had some Workawayers run off on them. They said she’d worked them too hard!
Don’t get yourself in this situation with Workaway and make sure it’s all agreed on before you arrive. Busting your way outta there could be a costly mistake.
Questions about Workaway
WORKAWAY QUESTION: I am just wondering if indeed there is any written contract between the host and the workawayer? I got accepted into one in rural Japan and I just wanna know how I could make sure that it would indeed push through. Will appreciate it so much if you could help enlighten me.
MY ANSWER: There’s no written contract unless you initiate one, which I think would be perfectly acceptable. If there are a few things you want to be clear on I’d definitely recommend you sort it out before you go. Just ask!
WORKAWAY QUESTION: Hey Vicky, after registering how long can it take before I get a host?
MY ANSWER: Hello Lucy, Totally depends on how active you are. Could be within the hour!
WORKAWAY QUESTION: I’m just looking into the work away website and wanted to ask how you determine what’s safe and what’s not. Obviously there’s some of the reviews people leave for the sites. But is there any other information you can provide when looking into different sites and places. Also what would you say is the biggest cost is other than flights.
MY ANSWER: Hello Laura, Unfortunately there’s no other way of checking other than the reviews. You could do a quick Google search and see of they have other websites and reviews, but that’s it really. The biggest cost would depend, but probably just getting there and making the most of your days off. Some of the projects are out in the sticks so could take some effort to get to. Hope that helps x
WORKAWAY QUESTION: Hi Vicky! Sounds like you had amazing experiences. How much time did you stay for your three projects? On the website they say there is no minimal time but I am wondering if hosts would be interested in a volunteer staying for a week for example. What do you think?
MY ANSWER: Yeah, you can stay for just one week depending on the host. When I went to the Czech Republic I stayed for around 10 days, Italy was around 17 and Spain 15 – all were great fun. Some do like you to stay for longer, but you’ll just have to sieve through the site!
WORKAWAY QUESTION: I love your experience and am also looking to do a 3+ month workaway tour. However, I thought that 90 days is the max allowed in Europe withOUT a visa. Are you a US citizen…was it a problem to return after 90 days without a visa? Not even a tourist visa?
MY ANSWER: I hadn’t even thought about this and yes, you may have some troubles. I’m English so I could just pop over for as long as I liked. I think you’ll need to get some proper advice on this as I don’t really know the rules for people coming over here, sorry.
Top tips for Workaway from readers
– One way to potentially check out the veracity and safety of a particular party: If they run a business and want the guest to work in their business, look the business up on yelp.com. This is most likely to work if they operate a retail business or service for the general public.
Hope you find these tip offs useful – just make sure you ask any questions you have beforehand as you might not like the answer when you’re there.
By doing a Workaway project you get to see a side to the country no tourist usually would. We got to live in their homes and meet their friends and family and hang out as if we were locals. It saves loads of money, especially in Europe, and you also get to gain skills and do things you never thought yourself capable of.
Within minutes on all three of my projects I felt completely safe. Workaway is such a good way to really get to experience a country as the locals do. I often find myself trawling through the pages on the site and imagining my next holiday. I would absolutely 100% do it again.
Have you checked out my 11-step guide to Workaway? Even more advice over there.
Wednesday 10th of November 2021
Hi all Interesting article, I'm thinking of becoming a host, I am considering also being a workawayer at some time. When reading your article one thing jumped out at me. When you say about your safety, this is something I've had on my mind being a single person hosting. So thought it might be of interest that I personally too am wary about this. Good luck all x
Away to Work: Or a Newbie’s Opinion of Workaway | Dream. Discover. Explore.
Monday 21st of March 2016
[…] This blog post has a great list of questions to ask your host before you agree to anything. I think she does a great job of covering the most important topics and gives both parties clear expectations. […]
Tuesday 13th of October 2015
Do workaway host sometimes pay for your flight? Curious rookie here
Tuesday 13th of October 2015
Hi Phil, I doubt it very much. Sorry!
Your Complete Guide to Traveling on Workaway | Outlandian
Sunday 21st of September 2014
[…] For more on things to ask your Workaway host before you arrive, check out my blog. […]
Wednesday 14th of August 2013
these are really good questions to ask. i'd like to add a tip - if you're gonna work on a farm, take a pair of hardwearing gloves. my girlfriend and i have just come back from working on a farm in the algarve and we took our own gloves not really knowing if they would be supplied or not. just as well coz the gloves available were more holes than glove :)