About two weeks ago I lugged my over-sized duffle bag up a gravel trail to Chalet Martin, the hostel that would become my home for the next three weeks…or two months. I wasn’t sure what I was getting myself into. I had “met” the owners via WorkAway and we’d both agreed to commit to at least three weeks of a volunteer exchange — I helped out around the hostel [changing beds, basic housekeeping, etc] in exchange for a place to stay. As I walked in the hostel reminded me of the farm house I grew up in — a mud room for shoes + gear and cement stairs that led up to the creaky wood floors of the main level. I was home.
When I decided I needed to put my “tourist card” to use for the last few weeks I had in Europe I started looking into Workaway opportunities in a variety of countries. A few days after I started my search I had myself set up with a Workaway host in rural eastern Czech where I’d be helping out on a small homestead.
All of my experiences were positive + I’d happily return to any of the hosts’ homes to once again become a part of their lives. I want to share a few tips for choosing a volunteer exchange gig that works for…YOU. These tips can apply to WorkAway, HelpX or WWOOF + they helped me find great hosts with interesting backgrounds while learning about new cultures + lifestyles.
When I started to dig into budget travel, especially international, I came across someone’s story about WWOOFing while abroad. They used this volunteer exchange network as a way to reduce costs while soaking up local culture. WWOOF stands for “World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms”. It is an online network puts traveling volunteers into contact with organic or permaculture farms around the world. The volunteers commit to a certain amount of work + rather than being paid for their work the host offers them housing + food.