What is Workaway?

When I went on my Big Trip I knew that I didn’t enough money (any money) to travel for long so after booking cheap flights I looked for ways to stay abroad for free, and found Workaway. There are loads of amazing projects all over the world that you can help on, from teaching kids in Cambodia to helping in hostels to being a tour guide in Costa Rica. All you have to do is work for five hours five days a week on the task they set you and then you’ll get your bed and board for free.

On the Workaway project in Spain

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.

Each one was absolutely brilliant in its own way. 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.

Me pruning olive trees

How to sign up

Go to the website and build a profile. Just add a few pictures of yourself looking happy and friendly and a few lines about what you enjoy in life and what you’re looking for in a placement and that’s about it. Have a look around the site to see if there are any projects you fancy then pay the €22 if it’s just you and €29 for a couple to join, and from then you’ll be able to contact the hosts and arrange some stays.

Safety

This was my biggest concern – it’s a bit nervewracking going to someone’s house in a rural area. To get over this make sure you check the review section on the Workaway site for each host and make sure previous guests have had some good experiences.

Remember the worry goes both ways: they’re inviting a stranger into their house too, so it makes sense to email a bit beforehand and get to know eachother. You could also swap Facebooks before you go, just so you know a little more about them. Make sure you give the folks back home the address of where you’re going too.

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.

Mowing the lawn in Bechyne

How I Made Money While Travelling
Learning to Ski in Slovenia
tagged in volunteering

26 Comments

  1. by Doc Wends on August 2, 2012  8:47 am Reply

    I just loved the thought that this can be an awesome experience for me when I will pursue long term backpacking too. It is just my first time to encounter this and sounds I'm hooked already.

    Thanks Vicky!

    • by Vicky on August 2, 2012  9:57 am Reply

      Yeah, it's amazing. Have you seen the website? I could literally spend hours scouring the projects and imagining the possibilities :)

      • by luaih on March 5, 2014  4:53 pm Reply

        can I register from kenya

        • by Vicky on March 7, 2014  8:32 pm Reply

          Yes, I believe you can. Everyone around the world can register as they wish.

  2. by eemusings on August 2, 2012  9:45 pm Reply

    Hi Vicky - I recently found out about Helpx/Workaway online and am thinking about doing this myself. Curious as to whether you workawayed on a tourist visa, or did you obtain working permits/visas?

    • by Vicky on August 2, 2012  10:49 pm Reply

      Hello, because you don't actually get paid any money you don't need any visas. You work for your bed and board, but no money exchanges hands so there's no need for the paperwork :)

  3. by crispy on August 25, 2012  11:04 am Reply

    Hi Vicky,

    we liked reading your article, and have posted a link to it on the official workaway blog, hope your travels and writing are progressing well!

    Crispy

    • by Vicky on August 27, 2012  8:25 pm Reply

      Aw, thanks Crispy – brilliant news. Hopefully one day I'll be able to use Workaway again. It's definitely one of the best things I've ever done :)

  4. by Sophie on September 12, 2012  8:43 am Reply

    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 volonteer staying for a week for example. What do you think?
    Thanks :)

    • by Vicky on September 12, 2012  12:12 pm Reply

      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 I'm afraid.

  5. by lauren on January 16, 2013  10:57 pm Reply

    Hi I recently found out about the workaway website and now am very eager to try it. Did you only bring what could fit in a back pack or did you bring a suitcase? And if you dont mind me asking about how much did the whole trip cost you so i can get an idea of how much to save?
    Thank you so much
    Lauren

  6. by Whitney on February 11, 2013  9:54 pm Reply

    Hi Vicky,

    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?

    Whitney

    • by Vicky on February 11, 2013  10:20 pm Reply

      Hi Whitney, 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.

      xx

  7. by Marissa on April 15, 2013  5:26 am Reply

    Hi Vicky,

    My name is Marissa and I am an American currently living in China teaching English at a high school. I've been nitten by the travel bug and want to continue to travels. I've been looking into Workaway but I have a few more questions and I was wondering if you could contact me by email?

    [email protected]

    I just have questions about the type of work, the amount of money you spent travelling, and money exchange!
    Thank you! :)

    - Marissa

  8. by Laura on June 3, 2013  2:07 pm Reply

    Hi Vicky,
    Love the blog :) 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. Many thanks :) Laura xxx

    • by Vicky on June 3, 2013  7:51 pm Reply

      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

  9. by Julia on February 26, 2014  2:03 am Reply

    I have just signed up on woraway. But i wonder one thing. Do you earn any money by doing this or do you get some pocketmoney? Cause I come from no job so I need a bite so I can buy some necasssary stuff while I'm abroad.

  10. by luciah on March 5, 2014  5:07 pm Reply

    Hey Vicky,after registering how long can it take before I get a host?

    • by Vicky on March 7, 2014  8:32 pm Reply

      Hello Lucy, Totally depends on how active you are. Could be within the hour!

  11. by Oliver on December 6, 2014  3:08 pm Reply

    Hey Vicky,
    we also had a great experience with Workaway in Nepal. We stayed at a family who has a small organic farm with some animals and we helped with all kind of farming and animal care. It was really cool! The family was really nice and we got some unique insights into Nepali life and culture. We can only recommend it!

    Read about our experience on our blog:
    http://www.ditte-olli-blog.com/en/2014/11/24/relaxing-in-pokhara-working-on-ashoks-farm/

    Cheers,
    Oliver

    • by Vicky on December 6, 2014  5:11 pm Reply

      Ooo that sounds fun. Great idea to do one in Nepal. That's definitely what I like most about the Workaway experience – that you get to see the 'real' way of life in a destination rather than just the city or what they want you to see. Hoping to do some Workaway projects again next year.

  12. by Eme on January 26, 2015  2:50 pm Reply

    hello Vic, great blog, very hopeful! :) We r leaving with my boyfriend in a week to Costa Rica via workway too.. We were just wondering if there is any contract being signed between host and volunteer upon arrival ? Many Thanks & best wishees too uu, Eme

  13. by Meiko on June 22, 2015  7:27 pm Reply

    Hi Vicky!

    Awesome blog, informative but concise! I know it's been a while since you've posted this, but 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.
    Thank you and best wishes to you!

    Cheers,
    Meiko

    • by Vicky on June 23, 2015  8:51 am Reply

      Hi Meiko, 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!

  14. by Julie on February 19, 2019  12:18 am Reply

    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.

    • by VickyFlipFlop on February 20, 2019  11:01 am Reply

      Ah yes that's a great idea. I'd definitely recommend doing some background checks on companies to make sure they are who they say they are. Great idea!

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