Looking for ways to travel for less? I have been travelling Guatemala for over 2 months now and my total accommodation bill comes to less than $30. The $30 was for 3 nights in a hostel in between Workways. My total is on average $10 a day. So in one month, I have spent only $315 on “living expenses”. As someone without a fat saving account and a limited monthly income using Workaway has been a lifesaver!
So how does it work?
- First things first, you need to sign up and pay a small fee. Don’t worry about the fee, it is 100% worth it.
- Next, you need to complete the profile as best you can. Make sure you add some nice images and don’t forget to spell check! Some Workaways can be very competitive so make sure your profile is showing you in the best light.
- Once you are all set up you can begin searching.
- I normally search by country I’m going to and then look over all of the available Workaway places there. If you are looking for a particular type of job then you can narrow down your search.
- Make a quick list of things that are important to you. For example, if you need good wifi and prefer your own room, you will need to check this. My first Workaway there was no wifi in our accommodation and there was 3 of us sharing a very small room. Don’t just go on what the profile says either, email and ask questions about the accommodation and things on your list.
- When you find opportunities you like the look of you can save them in a list. I normally do through quickly and save all the ones I like the look of, then I go back later and look through each one in more detail.
- Once you have narrowed down your list, start emailing the hosts. Remember to ask questions about the work, accommodation and anything else not clear from the profile.
Workaways vary drastically! I have stayed in some pretty awful places with easy work and lovely people. I have also stayed in some nice places with not so nice people and really challenging work.
Some of my Workaway highlights:
I spent a week in a Guatemalan Cooking School
Working for an adventure tour company Ox Expeditions in Guatemala. I was supposed to stay for 2 weeks…I ended up there for 2 months! And I got to climb the three main volcanos there for FREE as part of my job.
What’s generally included:
- Accommodation – This is the main pull for me because you will normally be accommodated in a house you also get access to a kitchen. Once I even had access to a washing machine! That saved me about $10 a week on laundry!
- Food – sometimes you may get lucky and get food. I personally always look out for these ones!
- WiFi – This is a dealbreaker for me! I need to have access to wifi so I can work my normal job alongside my volunteering. At one place I was staying the wifi was broken and it cost me over $50 that week in coffee/ drinks at a local coffee shop, that’s a lot out of my budget!
What they normally expect from you:
The normal working day is 4-5 hours a day. Make sure you double check if it’s 5-7 days a week…some expect 7! That said if there are 4 volunteers and only one person needs to be there then you are generally left to work it out between you. The hosts don’t mind so long as the work is done. For example, if I wanted to take a few days off I would offer to cover extra shifts so my fellow volunteers could take time off too.
Why Workaway is amazing:
- Save food and accommodation money to spend on other things, like scuba diving and salsa lessons
- Meet other travellers
- Sometimes you earn extra money through tips
- Meet and work with local people
- The work is often really interesting
- Great way to build your CV – especially for those travellers on a gap year but my first few Teaching English as a Foreign Language jobs were volunteer positions I got through Workaway
- I’ve also met some of the most incredible friends through volunteering together who I’ve ended up travelling to other places with. For me, this is probably the biggest highlight.
Why Workaway is not a good idea
- If you don’t like slumming it a bit – OK so if your idea of travelling is 5* hotels and fancy meals each night, this is not for you. As I said before I have stayed in some pretty nasty places and some amazing ones. You never really know until you get there!
- You don’t want to commit to working 4-5 hours a day during you trip
- If you don’t like people – most of the Workaway jobs have some kind of customer service focus unless you are building or gardening, so if you aren’t really a people person this probably isn’t for you.