Many wonder how I’ve been able to sustain myself over the past 4 years I was away – one useful way was to do work-exchanges! A work-exchange is pretty self-explanatory but you work in exchange for housing, and sometimes food as well. Of course if food is also included, you’re most likely to work more hours!
The kind of work depends on the host themselves obviously, however many include the following:
- Work around the house, chores or au pair/babysitter
- Construction – a building project or something similar
- Agriculture – assist with a garden, farm, or something of that nature (pun intended)
- Cleaning – hostels/backpackers/guesthouses or motels
- Teaching – languages, technical, artistic, etc
- Service – front desk, translation, graphic designing, web design, etc
Some require you to stay and commit a certain amount of time to the work – for example, it is common for a mandatory one month stay at a hostel for work-exchange. You’d stay for a month or longer cleaning and/or doing front desk kind of work in exchange for free accommodation and possibly food as well.
Of course there are week stay work-exchanges as well – more common with agriculture-based or construction-based projects! You can find some language teaching work-exchanges that are for a week or two as well.
But why oh why would I work, basically, for free!?
- Great opportunity to save money on a long trip
- Only legal way to work on a tourist visa
- Different and more immersive cultural experience
- Amazing way to settle into a new place with no acquaintances
- Gain insight into various types of work
Any way you see it, you are bound to get more out of it than expected and you’ll forever remember it!
Tell me how oh mighty one
What’s great about Workaway is that you can search the possible hosts in countries all over the world prior to signing up! The kicker is that there is a membership fee, and it isn’t one-time – it is annual now. It used to be about $25 for two years if memory serves right, but it is now $32 for a year.
At least you can search for hosts and see if it will be useful enough for you before signing up and paying the membership fee! You do need it if you want to contact the hosts and start the process of planning any work-exchanges.
Reviews are also available so please read all of them to be safe! And there are many useful info about the hosts to ensure you find the best one suited for you!
Obviously Workaway and Helpx are very similar however the largest differences are:
- Helpx has two kinds of accounts – a free basic one, and a paid premier membership whereas Workaway has only one paid – applies to both hosts and workers
- You can register for an account on Helpx for free to view reviews and host info; you don’t need to sign-up or need an account to view this info on Workaway
- Hosts with a premier account on HelpX can contact any worker, even with a free membership so it is possible you won’t have to spend a penny to land a work-exchange
- A paid membership with HelpX costs 20 Euros that lasts for 2 years, whereas a paid membership with Workaway is 32 USD for only a year
- Workaway’s host search is in my opinion more helpful than HelpX’s
- It appears you can see the host’s availability only on Workaway and not HelpX’s site
Last and definitely not least is WWOOF! It is most likely the more well-known and famous organization of these three. It’s a great opportunity if you are looking for an agricultural and enlightening experience however nowadays there are similar opportunities on Workaway and HelpX as well – especially in countries like Australia and New Zealand.
Also WWOOF is a large organization and every country is managed separately with their own rules, regulations and membership fees. So if you were looking to WWOOF across multiple countries, you may have to end up registering and paying for membership fees for each and every country. Just something to keep in mind!
Like mentioned every country’s WWOOF organization has their own membership fees and seems like it is more than Workaway and HelpX. Their opportunities are also all focused around agriculture as well which limits other possibilities. Yet it is well-known and utilized very often!