For anyone who hasn’t heard of Workway.info, they are “the world’s leading community for sustainable travel and cultural exchange.”
As a Workaway member you can contact thousands of hosts all over the world (they currently have placements in 180 countries) and arrange as many exchanges as you wish… offering unlimited travel opportunities!
I’m currently 3.5 weeks into my first Workaway placement, so I’ll be here for another 5 weeks. I can’t imagine much will change in those 5 weeks because I’ve learnt the ropes now, but if anything does I’ll be sure to update this post 🙂
How to apply
In a nutshell: you sign up for a yearly fee (this is currently €36 for singles and €48 for a couples/friends account) and then you get access to 38,000 Workaway hosts worldwide. Usually the deal is something like this: you work around 5 hours per day, 5 days a week and in exchange you get free food and accommodation.
NOTE: The projects vary greatly, so you really do have to read each profile/project for the specific details of what you are signing up for! Some don’t offer food for example, others might be 6 days a week, and other projects might be less hours. Don’t be lazy… the only way you’re going to get a brilliant Workaway placement is by spending time researching and then contacting your favourite hosts with specific dates and a personalised message telling them why you’d be perfect for the job. Yes, it is a job – kinda!
Workaway strongly advise copying/pasting generic messages to multiple hosts (they get so many messages and it’s *SO* obvious if you do this!) You will also need to give as much detail on your profile as possible, so that potential hosts can get an idea of who you are and what you can offer.
I personally spent at least 2 hours creating our joint account and then countless hours researching different placements all over the world. The reviews are key – hosts can leave reviews for Workawayers and vice versa, so reading the reviews of previous Workawayers will give you a good feel for if they are a good host or not.
My Workaway Project
I’m literally living in paradise. No joke.
As I say, I spent hours researching, so it wasn’t luck that I came across this specific exchange.
I liked the sound of the work I would be doing: “looking for someone who loves the outdoors and animals to help our family in Gharghur, Malta”, the work was only 3 hours per day, 6 days a week (the profile says 5 days a week but I usually do about 1-2 hours work on Saturdays) and in exchange I would get “a large double room with an en-suite bathroom and washing machine. Own entrance and own kitchen and living area. Food will not be provided but an allowance of €25 per week is given for food, €50 if it’s a couple.”
I was expecting like a little granny annex or something.
What I actually have is a 3 bedroom house all to myself – it’s massive! There’s an open-plan lounge, fully equipped kitchen, bathroom with bath, shower and washing machine, a massive double bedroom and a walk-in wardrobe! Needless to say I’m VERY comfortable here 🙂
I’ve checked with my hosts and they’re happy for me to write about my experiences and share photos. But I’m not going to post any pictures of their house or anything because I feel like that’s an invasion of their privacy. But here’s a picture of their cheeky sheep:
I’m mainly looking after the family’s menagerie of animals: 2 horses, 4 dogs, a couple of stray cats (one of them just had kittens!!), a sheep, chickens, 2 ducks and a parrot!
And, yes, looking after animals does mean picking up poo! No princesses need apply 😉 But the dogs are sooooooooo cute, so what’s a bit of dog shit between friends, eh?
I also do some light cleaning duties: mostly hoovering, sweeping and mopping. Sometimes I have to make beds, change beds, rearrange closets, put items into storage, that kind of thing. Basically whatever the family require at that specific time. It’s very fair for what I get in return!
The nitty gritty
The times I work vary – most of the time I can choose my own hours, sometimes my hosts request I work at specific times but it’s generally very flexible!
This particular exchange is also really good for me because I can cook my own food! €25 a week really isn’t a lot (especially with food intolerance) but I supplement that with my own savings. If you can eat pasta, bread and beans I’m sure €25 will do you just fine!
They’re aren’t many!! But I do have to be honest!
1. I have to feed the animals every single morning (including Sunday – my only day off!) but it literally only takes 10-15 mins. This particular placement isn’t for you if you can’t get up early in the morning.
2. I’m on my own a lot. I thought I would see more of the family/animals than I actually do. But they’re very busy people so…
3. Being attacked by a cock!! Hahahahaha! I can laugh about it now, but it certainly wasn’t funny at the time!
Some advice before starting a Workaway project
- Don’t be a dick. If you want a decent placement, you have to put the work in. Write a detailed profile and add at least a handful of photos.
- Research, research, research. Read the profiles and reviews carefully for any potential hosts you like, these are like gold dust!
- Get as much information from the host as possible before starting your placement. If there’s something you want to know that isn’t listed in the profile – just ask! If they’re a decent host they will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
- Work out how you’re going to get there. Will they pick you up or do you need to take a bus/taxi/train etc etc? Plan your route in advance, no one wants to start off with a panicky phone call that they’re lost…
- Are you happy to work alone? Or do you want to work with other volunteers/Workawayers? If you’re in a couple or with a friend, this probably won’t be an issue, but if you’re a solo traveller (like me) then you will need to consider this.
- Have fun! Cheesy but true! You are working but it’s working holiday… so enjoy it!!
- Lastly, here are some tips on how to be a good guest from Workaway themselves!
This is my first official Workaway – but it certainly won’t be my last! I plan on doing at least a couple of different exchanges while I’m in Asia… plus I’m going to volunteer at LASSie Langkawi and Elephant Nature Park again! 🙂 🙂 🙂
Have you ever done a Workaway placement? Or if not… will you in the future?
Last updated: May 2019