I was introduced to Workaway in my first couple weeks of international travel. In the first year, I worked for nearly a dozen hosts. While volunteering can be amazing, at other times it’s a nightmare. Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of using Workaway.

What is Workaway

Workaway is a site where volunteers from around the world can work for hosts at a huge variety of jobs. At this time there are over 40,000 hosts in more than 170 countries across the world. Jobs range from working in hostels, training horses, working on farms, babysitting, teaching languages, cooking, etc. Nearly any skill you have will be useful somewhere on Workaway.

The premise is that you work for 20-25 hours a week (usually 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week) in exchange for a place to stay and usually three square meals. There’s even a small handful of jobs where an allowance or commissions are offered, but this isn’t officially part of the program. The cost to join for an individual is currently about $27 $43, or the equivalent in your local currency. Two people can sign up with a joint account for a little more money. The account lasts for two one year from the payment date. Update: The subscription plan was changed from two years to one sometime in 2016, and the cost for the year nearly doubled more recently.

Sign up for Worldpackers now with code SKYETRAVELS and get $10 off (20%) a year’s membership!

Selfie Training Horse #4

Advantages of Workaway

What I consider to be the biggest advantage of Workaway is the ability to meet up with amazing people around the world to get the experience of living and volunteering in their country. Many times, it’s individual families looking for volunteers. Other times, it’s hostels or large establishments who will have lots of travelers passing through and people to meet. Other benefits could include learning a new language, tasting or even learning homemade cooking of the local cuisine, and maybe some local parties or tours.

Of course, the most obvious advantage to the budget traveler is the bed provided, and sometimes food too depending on the job. While Workaway is not for paid jobs, there are sometimes hosts who offer small salaries, and others who have commissions if you sell tours, activities or other products. In Italy at two different Workaways, my hosts cooked me the most fabulous Italian dishes, and taught me how to cook them as well!

Another advantage of using the website is the advanced planning it offers. Showing up at a hostel and asking to help is doable but not always successful. I’ve shown up at businesses and offered to help in exchange for a meal or place to stay, but they can be hard to find and not every country will allow it. Workaway allows you to contact multiple hosts in advance and work out your plans.

Finally, staying for a longer period of time allows you to absorb the culture more. Many hosts want you to stay at least a couple weeks, if not a couple months. Work will usually be for 4-5 days, allowing you 2-3 days to explore the city or country where the host is. Some jobs will actually involve traveling around the country, giving tours, etc.

Floating Bungalow at Zanzibara Camping in Riga, Latvia

Disadvantages of Workaway

The biggest disadvantage to Workaway is you don’t always get what you signed up for. Profiles can be falsified or lacking, circumstances can change and some hosts might just be looking for free labor. Workaway puts this disclaimer on their site: “Workaway is for cultural exchange or learning possibilities and a way of making new friends. It is not a way for hosts to substitute paid employees with volunteers.” Usually that’s true, but not always.

Personally I run into the difficulty of hosts that don’t answer. I will sometimes send out a dozen personalized requests to different places to volunteer at and only hear back from one or two, if any. I’m not alone in this either. Jillian Kozak writes a great article on her blog comparing Helpx.net and Workaway.info, highlighting the same difficulty.

Workaway hosts do not always operate on the same level of exchange as one another. The site says you will work 20-25 hours a week. Some hosts expect less, while others will try to get more. Five hours might be worth the cost of a hostel room in a few countries like Sweden or Switzerland, but not in most. This is simply something you should work out with your host. When I worked in Belgium, I came to an agreement to do some extra work in exchange for meals, as the profile only mentioned a place to stay. I saw after I left that the host changed the profile to include meals. You’re welcome.

Workaway feedback could also be improved. You can read details about this in my post on Workaway feedback.

My Workaway Experiences

I would have to say my favorite Workaway experience was in Sarzana, a tiny town just south of Cinque Terre, Italy. When I was helping on this Italian villa doing landscaping, renovations and building boats, I had a place to stay in one of the most beautiful locations in the world, with ungodly delicious Italian meals cooked by the mother of my hosts. The work was hard, but I enjoyed it so much I would put in extra time. I was only there a week but wished I had stayed much longer.

Clearing the Trees for Workaway in Sarzana

In Albania, the hostel I helped at had no frills or meals, but the work was hardly the most difficult I’ve ever done. In fact, it was a blast! The manager Linda was one of the most fun individuals I’ve ever worked with.

The campground I worked at in Lithuania was definitely hard, fun work and while the meals weren’t always on a schedule, they were delicious. The location couldn’t be better.

The hostel I worked at in Bangkok was a little confusing, as the shifts kept being switched between volunteers at the last minute. There was no food provided, but the work wasn’t that hard. Just cleaning and reception duties.

The most interesting hostel was the one in Kuala Lumpur. I went there expecting to be doing shifts at reception, but instead was told I would help at the bar. On my way to the bar, the owners stopped me, said they had seen my blog and wanted me to design the hostel website instead. I happily agreed. Later some friends were surprised I was doing that kind of work (which usually pays very well) in exchange for a dorm room worth less than €4 a night. The amount of work over the next two weeks wasn’t much, and it was good to develop my skills even more with website design. I was also treated to some very nice Indian meals by the owners while I was there, as well as a couple delicious specialty cocktails by Warren, the bar manager.

Travel Hub Workaway

On the other hand, my experience in France could almost be called as bad as it gets. I’m sure there have been worse, but not for me. The host was in Touzac, a tiny village in the Midi-Pyrenees. Population: 355, and about 10 km away from the next decent-sized town. The only services in town were a beauty salon (obviously, it’s France) and a bar which my hosts ran. My hosts were British, not French. The mom was drunk the whole time, and the dad was high on pot. The first words out the woman’s mouth when she met me at the bus stop were, “Hi, I’m Simone. I’ll need to vet [censor] your feedback before you leave.” Alarm bells were already going off in my head, but since I had just traveled 29 hours to get there and I was starving, I chose to get some food instead of question what she meant.

It got worse. The food she gave me from the bar was so bad I couldn’t finish it. Then, while I had signed up to do landscaping, I was told I was going to be painting the bar instead. When I said I didn’t have a pair of clothes I could get paint on, I was told “too bad.” (As a comparison, my host in Sarzana said the first thing they needed was painting, but before I could say anything, added that they had a jumpsuit for me!) The food for the next week in Touzac was either leftovers from the hosts’ own meals, more meals from the bar or a couple items (potatoes and eggs) purchased for the volunteers to cook by ourselves. Otherwise, I had to travel 10 km to get my own groceries. The house had no heating, no hot water most of the time, no internet and the work was nothing as it was listed on the profile.

Finally, when I left and wrote a negative review (a very watered-down version of the above with the simplest details of what other volunteers could expect (the type of work, no heat or hot water, etc), Workaway.info wouldn’t post the review. When I questioned them on this, they said they didn’t want “bad blood” between hosts and volunteers.


I learned from the France experience that just glancing at the reviews isn’t enough. They might all have just been written by the host on the volunteers to make the host look good. The references might be months old (as in the case with the hostel in Kuala Lumpur), or the reference might just be blocked by Workaway. My suggestion would be to email one of the most recent volunteers (which the site lets you do) and get the true facts.

Since a disadvantage is the lack of response, don’t be afraid to send out multiple requests. In some areas, there aren’t many to choose from and I’ve ended up applying to them all (and not heard back from any). You might also have a problem like I had in Kuala Lumpur where I was accepted by four hosts and I had to choose the one I liked the best!

You should know that you are not obligated to stay for the whole time if things go bad. You might get a bad review from the host if you leave early, but a bad experience in your travels is not worth it. If things go wrong, try to resolve it with the host. If it doesn’t resolve, don’t be afraid to leave. You are not contracted to stay, and you should never be in a position where you aren’t happy or don’t feel safe (although Workaway is usually very safe, just like Couchsurfing).

My own verdict is that volunteering is a great way to travel the world, learn new cultures and exchange for your room and board. There are definitely some improvements that could be made to Workaway.info. As long as you follow the advice you should have a great time. Otherwise, there are the other options of Helpx.net and WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, or Willing Workers on Organic Farms) at wwoof.net. I don’t have personal experience with those yet so I can’t comment or compare.

Switching to WorldPackers

Now that I’ve been harping on Workaway, I should probably point out that I’m actually not a fan of the platform. The Workaway reviews are too-easily misleading, volunteers and hosts both have problems with maintaining their end of the exchange, there’s absolutely no support system, etc. Recently, I’ve found the perfect alternative. Worldpackers is a volunteer platform that offers everything Workaway does, plus everything Workaway doesn’t. Worldpackers screens all their hosts and focuses on quality over quantity. They also offer a way better support system for the volunteers, even going so far as to offer a place to stay away from a host if things go bad, and then setting up an alternative volunteer location.

They focus a lot more on social impact and eco projects, which instantly grabbed my interest when I saw it. They already have hosts all over the world, and over 1.5 million volunteers (so you need to join quick and get ahead of the competition).

Sign up for Worldpackers now with code SKYETRAVELS and get $10 off (20%) a year’s membership!

How Can I Help?

If you would like my help in getting you started with Workaway, volunteering or just traveling around the world, feel free to contact me via the comments below!

Click to Pin It

Workaway Volunteering Pin

Further Reading

I believe that giving back in your travels is a huge plus, and I’ll always spend a few months out of every year doing volunteer jobs. Here are some more articles that cover volunteering, the pros and cons, and some of the experiences I’ve had.

Affiliate Disclosure
This post may contain affiliate links. These links help give me the wherewithal to continue traveling at no additional cost to you. For more information, click here.
Author Skye Class

Hi, I'm Skye. Writer, photographer, adventurer, foodie, teacher, masseur, friend, dreamer, etc. I think "normal" sucks. Let's aim for extraordinary. SkyeTravels seeks to find the good around the world, focusing on adventures, food and wellness. Be inspired. Be yourself.


  1. Hi Skye,

    We ‘re currently in Australia. Before leaving we signed up with Workaway because it looked attractive… At least the website… But up till now we haven’t been able to find one host here. It seems that WWOOFing is far more popular here.

    We come across all the problems & disadvantages described in your article and honestly we feel ripped off! We sent out heaps of request and got only 3 replies. Before we left one of this 3 hosts accepted us, but when we contacted her again a few weeks before we were supposed to start there, she wrote she ‘d accepted someone else and that we were not welcome anymore.

    Most host profiles are not up to date either.

    When writing Workaway about this low response rate and other problems, they answers that they know about this problem and do their best to encourage hosts to respond. NOT!
    Which annoys us the most – in our correspondence with Workaway – is that they keep repeating to ‘upgrade’ your profile, make it more attractive and send out personalized emails.
    Well, we ‘ve done all that, but the result stays the same: no replies!

    We are definitely NOT recommending Workaway!

    Luckily we had an amazing volunteer experience at Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat in Tallebudgera Valley. We found it by coincidence NOT using any of the volunteering workaway/helpx – style websites. From this opportunity we got 2 more volunteer exchanges: a home- and catsitting one and 1 on a farm where we get a bed and food for 3 hours of work.
    Our experience is that it’ s far more easy to find volunteer opportunities NOT using any of these websites…

    It feels good we could share this. Thank you!

    Wishing you well and lots of happy travels

    Dimitri & Els

    • Thank you so much for this! I totally agree with you on all points. In fact, I also get most of my volunteer jobs directly without using an intermediary website. Hopefully I can get to Australia in the near future and try some of the jobs there too. I know it’s harder for me now that I’m over 30, but it looks like such a beautiful country. Good luck with all your travels!

    • Hi thanks for the great info
      Do you need work permits for workaway or worldpackers?

      • Usually you don’t, but there are a handful of countries that do require work visas even for volunteers. Things are always changing, so you just have to check the current requirements for the country you want to visit.

  2. Skye, thanks a lot for this post! I was deeply browsing the web to find the best websites to start a period as a traveler-volunteer. I had already heard from workawayer that the site is not really true and it’s not all a bed of roses. So, thanks to your article, I decided to sign up for Worldpackers and Couchsurfing! πŸ™‚
    I have browsed on WP and it seems very well structured and serious, I like that in case of difficulty you will be given assistance so as not to get into trouble.
    Many many thanks for your blog post! πŸ™‚ I will leave in March and start doing volunteering in Italy where I live in the meantime to gain confidence with this new way to travel, and then hope to move to Europe. I will follow u on IG (I’m @tripstaholic there). Have a nice day! πŸ™‚

    • You’re very welcome. I’m glad you found the right programs for your travels. Enjoy Italy! I had some wonderful volunteering there.

  3. Barry NICOLLE Reply

    We are/were Workaway hosts and ended up unwittingly giving free ‘all inclusive’ holidays, in 5 star accommodation, to a pair of German lesbians and an Italian PHD student who arrived in a pair of wellingtons and ate up to 10 meals a day but was always tired. Neither worked the required 15 hours a week to merit free food. The Italian got through 20 pints of milk in 4/5 days and when Workaway were confronted with this they just showed our, not his, profile as under review and have continued to do so for the past 10 weeks. The fact that feedback left can only be ‘good’ is ridiculous because hosts need to be able to rely on it to decide who and what they are potentially allowing to stay in their house. In our experience Workaway is just a platform for freeloaders from the continent of Europe who come to the UK because they think we as a nation are rich and so should subsidise them which is immoral but something Workaway are not prepared to take issue with.

    • That’s disgusting! Workaway volunteers have just as much if not more responsibility to keep their exchange in, deliver what is requested and maintain the integrity of the website. 15 hours of work is fantastic exchange for a place to stay and meals. The fact that Workaway would take their horrible behavior out on the hosts is unexcusable, and they need to be called out for it. You are not the first host whom I’ve heard from with a similar story. I think it’s time to revise my article to ensure both sides of the story are known about.

      • Barry NICOLLE Reply

        Thank you Skye for your understanding of our experiences with two workaway freeloader workers.
        We are both 64 and live entirely on our pensions but are/were perfectly happy to accomodate people in new en-suite bedrooms in exchange for between 20 and 25 hours work a week at our Ornamental Waterfowl farm being run as a hobby. We expected workers to join us for meals eating a balanced, wholesome and homemade diet but the Germans were undisclosed vegetarians and the Italian PHD student, being paid to investigate cattle identification in the 3rd world a piscatarian dispite stating ‘he ate meat rarely’. When confronted about the amount of food he was consuming and how much it was costing us he offered to contribute to the grocery bill and then did a runner the following morning before doing so.
        Workaway have no interest in the safety of hosts preferring to side with the workers who pay them a subscription. The feedback censorship by Workaway is reprehensible because it gives both hosts and workers a distorted picture of what to expect.
        We decided to open our home to strangers because at 64 we needed help with our waterfowl during the breeding season but sadly on both of our experiences we have been taken advantage of and disrespected into the bargain.
        Workaway have ignored the problem and our numerous requests for updates on the fact that ‘our profile is still under review’ and why ‘our detail update is waiting to be checked and go online’ despite our reply rate being 100%.

        • I’m really glad you shared this hear so others can see the accurate information about Workaway. As a volunteer, I can only share the problems I’ve encountered from that viewpoint. But even today I found out from the hostel I’m staying in that Workaway was just rubbish for them and they’ve since switched over to HelpX where they’ve found great volunteers. Perhaps that would be an option for you too.

          • Barry NICOLLE

            I think that could well be the way forward Skye, so many thanks for the suggestion. My wife however might take some persuading in light of our past experiences.
            We have just had an 18 year old lad ‘staying’ who we were in effect giving the parents of, who are in total denial, 3 weeks free respite care so it just gets better!!!!
            He was an introvert, so very heavy going and sold to us as a passionate animal conservationist. He couldn’t however see the irony of taking 2, 15 minute showers a day and its overall effect on the environment!! He intends being a Zoo Keeper when he leaves University in 4 years time but interestingly neither of his parents allow him to keep any pets.

          • It sounds like you’re definitely down on your luck with Workaway. Do you wait or volunteers to request you or are you reaching out too?

          • Barry NICOLLE

            We always allow volunteers to contact us but have recently been told by other hosts that once you invite them into your house and provide the type of accommodation we do that any work ethic tends to go out of the window. We may be better moving to HelpX and putting up potential workers in a cedarwood cabin on our land, as our Workaway listing is still showing ‘Your profile is under review’ & ‘Your profile update is waiting to be checked and go online’ and has remained so for weeks.

        • Barry could I offer a suggestion when choosing your volunteers. Go for older ones who generally have more life experience and better work ethics. I’m a volunteer with Workaway AND Helpx and the stories I hear from hosts about their experiences with β€˜young’ volunteers are upsetting. I’m not by any means suggesting all youngsters are the same, I’ve worked with some lovely ones. Workaway are usually quite responsive but they do make up the rules and change them as and when they choose and their host response rate is very low. Helpx on the other hand is very unresponsive and a low budget website which is not as user friendly as Workaway. I’ve had much better response rates on Helpx though. I hope you do continue to host as you sound like a great hosting who has had a bad start. Good luck

          • Due to Workaway only being interested in harvesting payments from volunteers and using good hosts such as our self as “bait” we no longer wish to be part of Workaway

            We are currently having to use our time and effort dealing with the havoc caused by one volunteer who arrived on false pretences, who NEVER intended to participate in the help requested and made everyone (including other volunteers) lives hell! Since being asked to leave she has been on a DAILY campaign to discredit us on every bit of social media and public space she can. Everything she has written about us is untrue. Workaway have been emailed several times and have never returned our messages.

            Shame on you Workaway….we have hosted over 150 volunteers, many of whom have returned 2-3 times and some of whom have gone to the trouble of leaving feedback which totally contradicts what this “bad” volunteer has stated about us. In 150 volunteers she is only the third one to have left negative feedback about us and it’s no coincidence that the other two were also asked to leave (we were never going to get a fair or positive review from them).

            Because we have now had 3 bad reviews out of 150 volunteers our account has been blocked! I have been unable to leave feedback for any of our recent volunteers which is such a shame for THEM as well as the others who would have loved to volunteer here.

            Like any host we give up our freedom and privacy when hosting volunteers. Unlike most we had a comprehensive profile description which most volunteers loved and were so grateful to have this “warts and all” account to give them the information to judge whether we were the right hosts for them….this was done to ensure we were receiving offers of help from suitably matched volunteers.

            You would be pretty naive to think that the majority of volunteers are looking for a “cultural exchange”….for over 90% of them it is simply to obtain free accomodation and food…volunteers happily admit this and we were fine with it…we have always gone above and beyond the expectations of volunteers: the food is fresh and home cooked, the accomodation luxurious, the amount of time off has astonished them and we often take them out for dinner and give them lifts!

            We could write a book on the “characters” we’ve hosted but we’ve been fair to them all unless they are just exploiting us/ stealing/ being cruel to our animals. We’ve spent four years replying to 200-300 emails each month from would-be volunteers and have seen 150 complete strangers stay with us.

            It is very unfortunate that Workaway act so unilaterally when dealing with negative feedback they completely fail to contact the other party for their side of things….and you’re being extremely naive to treat negative feedback as always just and truthful without considering it is often done with mallice (as in our latest case)! It is now long overdue for you to review your actions in such cases!

            Most hosts stop using workaway pretty soon after joining but their profiles are left up for years as bait to volunteers.

            So it is time for us to say goodbye to Workaway…we’ve had enough…we will no longer be the bait they need to get volunteers to sign up! Workaways actions (or lack of actions) have just one sad result…that other volunteers from around the world will miss the opportunity to share our lifestyle and experience our generosity.

            We have always been members of wwoof and now use them for volunteer help on our smallholding…we’ve had much more consistency in the volunteers we have hosted

          • Barry NICOLLE

            Yes I think you are entirely correct Wendy. We are now with HelpX so only time will tell. We always made it very clear that we were opening our home to total strangers because we needed help, not hindrance but it became abundantly clear we were being targeted by free loaders because of he accomodation (ensuite bedrooms) we were offering. The lad who came with undisclosed autism/aspergers also had a heart condition which his parents kept from us. His mother at one stage suggested they only sent him to us to be inspired. Clearly she had never heard of the saying ‘You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!!! In other words there needs to be something there in the first place for it to be inspired!!

        • Hi, I’m Bashil from Liberia West Africa. I’m highly interest and was very impressed when I read some of your stories. This Volunteering stuff helps you meet different people and allow you experience different cultures. Can you please tell me the requirements that are needed for this adventure. I’m interested in doing a volunteering in Canada.

          • Requirements can vary between countries, but the first step would be signing up for a volunteer platform. I would recommend Worldpackers. Use the code SKYETRAVELS to get $20 off your membership there.

  4. This helped me a lot! I think this will be a great opportunity for me to explore and see the world! I’m a bit concerned about how much money I should save for a trip. I am the type of person who loves to try new foods and buy things in different places, so I was wondering if you had any tips on how to accurately plan a budget.

    • You’re welcome. Wow, that’s a big questibon, and something I cover a lot throughout the blog, but could probably write even more about. Obviously websites like Workaway, TrustedHouseSitters and Couchsurfing are a great way to start saving money, while also paying back in your travels.

  5. Hi, thanks for the information! I’m considering using workaway and I was wondering if you have advice as to how many reviews you should look for on a host’s site? I suppose if the site doesn’t post negative reviews, this can be a bit misleading, but do you have a number you look for? I’ve used airbnb a bit and I try to find ones with 30 or more reviews. I really like the idea of emailing the previous volunteers too!

    • To be honest, I was looking for hosts with fewer reviews simply because it was indicative of them being less popular, meaning potentially having fewer applicants and thus more openings. It also depends on how many years they’ve been a host for, and how long they keep their volunteers. I forgot to mention it in my post on my Swedish Workaway experience, but the host had several reviews, which all turned out to be fake, as she said I was her first volunteer. She just had friends post reviews for her, and even that couldn’t necessarily be detected with emails. There’s always a chance, but I guess the main point would be looking for the authenticity of the reviews, more than a certain number. I’ve stayed with hosts that had no reviews and were great, and I’ve been with hosts with dozens of reviews who turned out to be horrible. Sorry it’s vague, but that’s just my personal experience.

  6. Hi Skye!
    Thanks for your post! I’m not sure that you were in such situation but still.
    I’m now doing my volunteering through workaway, the problem is that according to the profile of the host I was expected to work no more than 5 days a week, 4-5 hors a day. In reality my schedule has only one day off and more than 10 extra working hours.
    Undoubtedly I’m going to talk with a host but I believe that there is a slight chance that he just throws me away.
    Do you know what workaway could do in this case? Is reporting about the situation helpful?
    Thanks for your answer in advance!

    • Thanks for your comment, Maria. I certainly did find myself in that scenario more than once. You can read about what it was like in Sjuntorp, Sweden at Skyetravels.com/Sjuntorp. Sometimes you have to cut your loses and move on. Sometimes it’s still worth it to put in the extra work. I don’t think there is anything Workaway can, or rather will, do. They are only the platform for connecting hosts and volunteers, but don’t seem to have any function in regulating the hosts. It’s a shame, as the hosts seem to get away with quite a bit which is against the guidelines of Workaway, from some of the stories I’ve heard. As you can also see in my post on Skyetravels.com/Workaway-Feedback, they won’t even post a negative review about a host which gives correct information about them. Such a shame for a website that has such potential.

    • Hey Maria, did you go to the US via workaway? What VISA did you use? Thanks!

  7. Hey Skye,

    Which type of Visa you would highly recommend to get if I were to go for Workaway in NY, United States? is it B class of J class?

    • Looks like you’ll need a Class B visa, which covers working or tourism. Class J seems to be more an educational visa. Since you aren’t being paid for your Workaway volunteering, you shouldn’t have to worry about getting a work visa.

  8. Doralynn (Dori) Blair Reply

    Skye, Thank you for taking the time to post your article!! You have a lot of good information here but i do have a couple of questions, I am not sure exactly where i am traveling to and i will probably go through the Workaway program but how do i know what vaccinations i need before i go, aren’t there different ones for different countries? Also, how will i know what water is safe to drink especially if there f bottled water is not offered?
    And, did you carry your laptop so you could do research along the way, i am concerned about by belongings being stolen.
    Thanks again!

    • Hi Dori. Good questions. In terms of vaccines, you have to research each country separately. I’d recommend searching for “(country name) vaccinations blog” to find what other travelers have run into. Personally, I haven’t gotten any shots in my travels to 45 countries.
      Water is also different by country. Some countries like the UK, Sweden, Croatia and others have delicious, clean tap water. Others like Thailand and Romania have very cheap bottled water. Then there are the hosts that have their own filtration systems.
      As to the laptop, I’ve always had it in my travels, as I’m a travel writer and always working. In truth, I rarely even use lockers at hostels, unless I get a sixth sense to do so. I’ve lost a few articles of clothing here and there, but I don’t think I’ve ever had anything outright stolen. [knock on wood] Someday I’ll have to do more posts on specific countries where I’ve worked and experience I’ve had.

  9. Your article was great and resonated so much with me. Response rate from hosts runs at around 10% which can be soul destroying – it takes only 30 seconds to respond with ‘no thanks’, at least you are not kept waiting. Personally I think the problem with both Workaway and Helpex is that hosts do not have to pay a fee (and many hosts use both sites), therefore there are a lot of time wasters on there and certainly people looking for cheap labour. I spent 5 months in South Africa on 5 hostings and only worked less than 7 hours on one of them. Its difficult to turn round and say ‘ok that’s 5 hours up’ as you don’t want to appear to be a clock watcher.

    With regards to feedback the best advice is to always contact a couple of previous volunteers for further feedback, and believe me, on a few occasions the feedback received personally was very different to the feedback that person had left on the site. The reason being, no-one wants bad feedback – you leave the host bad feedback, then they will leave it for you. I am now in Canada and I’ve been on the verge of returning home due to hosts cancelling, and getting no responses from applications. I have come across a diamond of a host now though who has saved my soul so to speak.

    Everything is a learning curve. Workaway has a great user friendly site, Helpx doesn’t, but if I could find a site that worked much better than these two, then I definitely would not be using them. Another thing to point out is that Workaway advocates the ‘fair exchange’ as being up to 5 hrs work 5 days a week in exchange for board and lodging, yet they allow many hosts to advertise hours far in excess of this. A bed in a dorm and no food is not a fair exchange either unless you are working 1-2hrs a day and by prior agreement.

    I recently had a host contact me from Hawaii and offer me a position as she said she had liked my profile and thought I would fit in well. I got so excited about this and asked for more info which she sent me. It stipulated working 7 days although only 2 hrs on a sat and Sunday. I asked how this would work if I wanted to travel around a bit on my days off and she promptly withdrew her offer.

    I feel I’m more at a disadvantage due to being in my mid fifties, yet I’ve worked harder to prove that I can work as well as anyone and I also have life experience to add too, but many people have told me they have an issue with hosting an ‘older’ volunteer. Anyhow, at the end of the day you should always make sure you have a back up plan, a credit card, and a mobile phone and if you are not happy – DONT STAY – good luck everyone and enjoy the journey.

  10. Your article has been very helpful. I’ve been deliberating whether to do workaway.info and I’m not sure if it’s worth my time. I’m a travel looking for local experiences, but if the host doesn’t fill their side of the deal then what’s the point. Furthermore, I’m thinking there must be better alternatives to give you a local experience i.e. couchsurfing.

    • You’re definitely correct. Couchsurfing is a wonderful alternative. It’s also easy in many countries around the world simply to walk into a hostel and ask for a job. The hardest ones to justify are those where you work full time on a farm or something for sub-par accommodations. But sometimes even that is still worth it, like my five weeks on a farm in Sweden. Good luck on your travels. I’m sure they will work out.

      • Not in all countries. In Mexico if you apply and apply and apply on HelpX or Workaway and never hear from the host and then try to do the walk-in thing they will just throw you out on the streets and tell you to pay for the hostel that no they don’t take people who don’t pay and work for it instead. They don’t seem to understand the concept of work-for-keep here in Mexico even if they are on Workaway and HelpX and Worldpackers. When you get to the front desk the front desk doesn’t understand either English or the concept of not-paying. Mexico here.

        • That’s sad to hear. I’ll admit I haven’t tried volunteering in Mexico yet. Thanks for the heads up!

  11. Thank you for linking to my blog! This is such a hot topic! I’m glad we could work together to bring people answers. πŸ™‚

    • You’re very welcome. I’m so glad you had your wonderful blog post for me to refer to. I’m just bummed to find out the subscription cost is now only for one year.

        • Yeah, I posted an update on mine. Maybe I’ll have to join again this year, see what’s changed and then write another post myself.

  12. hey thanks for this post!

    im travelling the balkans and hoping to volunteer for free but it seems all those site are always requiring you to pay! πŸ™ do you have any idea of whether the register fee is paid to these sites or the hosts?

    also would you say usd29 per year is worth it for workaway? helpx seems to be cheaper – eur20 two years?

    and wow i didnt know there are so many ppl using workaway to get volunteers in KL! ? (im from penang πŸ™‚ )

    • You’re welcome. I think the title of this post hints that Workaway isn’t always worth it, but usually it is. First of all, the $29 is for two years, which isn’t much more than HelpX. But since I’ve never used HelpX, I can’t really compare. I’m pretty sure that Workaway has far more hosts. Then factor in that a single night in a hostel in some cities is nearly $30. Thus, a single day of volunteering pays for the subscription cost. Yes, the subscription goes to the site, not the hosts. Good luck on finding hosts, and enjoy your travels.

      • hey im pretty sure workaway is $29 for one year i just tried to sign up last night

        but i think i’ll stick with couchsurfing for now and learn more skills before offering them by volunteering πŸ™‚


        • You’re right. I see they’ve changed their subscription. When I signed up in 2015, it was for two years. Perhaps this is another reason to choose HelpX.

  13. Hovos.com is the most accurate developed website for volunteering.
    Searching for an host or a volunteer is really simple and intuitive, the graphic is clean and straight to the point.
    You have a lot of option to choose when searching.

    Another great thing is that you can contact people also without paying. This is a great help for the ones who can’t afford to pay.
    ]Anyway the yearly subscription costs just 25 euros and they totally deserve that money.

  14. Hi! This is a very interesting article. Thank you so much for writing about workaway. I am actually planning to be a workawayer in Germany. To think that I will be travelling alone and I’ve never been to Europe so I have so many fears. Though I have a friend in Germany, I still need to be independent in exploring different places. I’m super excited about this but scared at the same time. Maybe you could give me some tips on how you mentally, emotionally and physically prepare yourself on your first travel experience. Thank you so much.

    • Dear Lizzie,
      Thanks for your comment. Preparation is about as diverse as the number of jobs. I’ve worked in hostels where there was hardly anything to do, and virtually spent hours chilling with the guests, while other hostels are intense work for 2-3 hours. I’ve worked on farms when there were countless chores to do all day, and others where I was just given duties as needed. Germany sounds like a great place to start (my first was in Belgium). The make sure the conditions are clear before you start (hours, food, etc). Courage is the result of actions; traveling and getting out of the comfort zone is what makes you less afraid. Feel free to ask me any other questions, or check in with me after you start if you need further help.
      Sincerely, Skye

      • This was indeed a very helpful response. Thank you very much. I just would like to know if there are important papers that you need to have in order for you to volunteer. And how about insurance and visa?
        Sorry I have a lot of questions..

        Thank you Skye. πŸ™‚

        • Usually no papers, as you aren’t getting paid. But some countries can be a little prickly on the matter. Best is to ask your host. If it’s a farm or something, there shouldn’t be any problem. Some hostels might need a work permit, but again that’s a questionable point. Insurance is a separate matter, and up to the traveler. I’ve never traveled with insurance. While I’ve never had insurance myself, and I’ve had expenses that it would have covered, I don’t think I’ve spent 1000 a year, which is what it would cost for the cheapest travel insurance in America. PS: it’s closer to $150 a year in the UK! And Visas are different in every country, but as an American the only fully European country (not Russia or Turkey) that you need a visa for is Belarus. Hope that helps.

  15. Hi! Thanks for your article. I am considering traveling for one year using workaway but I had two questions I hope you can answer.
    1. How much money should I take with me leave for one year…not considering flights to and from. For example to go to Europe and just go to like 5 different countries next to each other.
    2. Do you have any recommendations or places/countries to avoid being a female solo traveler?

    • You’re very welcome. As far as expenses for a year using Workaway, it’s definitely hard to estimate. If you have back-to-back hosts that provide both a bed and food, you would only need to pay for activities, snacks and travel between cities, and could get away with as little as $1000 for a year! Use Flixbus for traveling around Europe. You can also use Couchsurfing between hosts.
      In regards to being a solo female traveler, it’s really hard to say. I could give a general rule to avoid party cities and districts at night, as drunk men add an unknown element. Beyond that, it’s more about using common sense. I know a young, blonde girl who’s been hitchhiking around Turkey for the past three years! Then again, one of the only bad stories I know of is from Albania. But that doesn’t make all Albanians bad. It’s still one of the friendliest countries I’ve been to.
      I’d recommend simply researching solo female blogs for the country you’re planning to go to, and see if they have any advice. And you can always ask me for more help regarding Workaway.

  16. I’m planning on being a host and I really like Workaway’s user interface a lot better, helpX looks dated and with less users. I know UI isn’t everything but it gives the impression that Workaway is more professional. However, having read these comments, it may not be the case. I will sign up for both and see how they compare.

    • Thanks. The Workaway UI has definitely come a long way recently. The number of host has almost more than doubled since I signed up less than two years ago. Hopefully you can post an update later on with your thoughts from using both.

      • Well I can report that Workaway wouldn’t post my profile that I spent an hour working on. They said it sounds too much like a job, even though I listed copious cultural activities in the city and surrounding. I mean, I’m in Baltimore, they won’t be building a school out of palm fronds. it’s a US city sandwiched between DC and New York, but there is such a thing as urban cultural experience too. I find they were just being arbitrary. Oh well, onto HelpX!

        • Interesting. Sounds like someone should write a blog post for those looking to become hosts on Workaway. I did sign up one person in Verona who had a non-profit and I don’t think they had any problems.

  17. Hi I read about your experience with workaway. I’ve done volunteer work abroad before, so I really love this idea and I’m looking to be traveling over seas for about a year soon. My question is how did you get by with money? Did you save up before hand and bring that with you? Did you find paid jobs over there? I’m just worried about not having money for my travels like transportation, activities, etc.

    • I didn’t really have any savings before I left, so finding the volunteer jobs was a blessing. I’ve been able to find a bit of paid work in my travels, but I’m still living on a tight budget. There are always ways to get by, like hitchhiking, getting the cheaper food from markets at the end of the day, etc. There are also places which will hire you as a temp job while you’re in town, but you have to look into the customs and such. Working under the table can be risky, but people do it all the time. I do prefer Workaway, although I’ve also started using Trusted House Sitters. The main thing is not to let that stop you from traveling. Things will always sort themselves out, and you will be able to find ways to exchange for what you receive from others. There are 101 ways to fund your travels, including busking, farms, etc.

  18. Abimbola O Reply

    Nice write up. I like to start international travels. I need your help on starting with workaway.

    • Thanks! I’m always available to help. You’ll be able to go far using Workaway. Hope you have some fantastic experiences.

  19. World Tour without being worried about your travel and accommodation expenses!!!!

    Welcome to HOVOS.com. We offer people an opportunity to fulfill their dreams to travel abroad.

    Connecting in a very unique way the host and volunteers. Volunteers in finding the best choice of place for stay and Hosts with the choice of work they want to get done in exchange. Get to choose your destination of travel and place in your bucket list. Check the project details and connect for details. Help people in need and get to experience the place through the locals.

    • This looks like a great alternative to Workaway, or more so for TrustedHouseSitters (Skyetravels.com/trusted-house-sitters). The minimum hours is a bit more than Workaway, but then again, as I mention, Workaway hosts don’t always hold to that minimum. At least this site allows them to be more honest in what’s required, as well as the meals provided (something Workaway definitely doesn’t do). The interface also looks good to work with. I’m looking forward to it building traction and more hosts signing up!

  20. I would like to find another website similar to workaway that is honest and not biased.
    Yeah, I am a bit disappointed with workaway . The fact that they don’t allow less than stellar feedback is a form of false advertising to me. I was in a situation that was not as described. I left accurate feedback as gently as I could. The host even admitted to a neighbor that it was the truth. But workaway would not allow it to show. It appears they cater to hosts – not fee to be a member and they present them sometimes in a false light.
    They also somehow read private messages. Here is part of a conversation between me and workaway: “Workaway does not read your messages, we care a great deal about our user’s privacy. However there are filters on accounts that check for profiles being used by people who are not registered. This is to protect users of the website.”
    My Response: This was not a profile being used by someone not registered. It was a message sent by me and I wasn’t sure if it would just be me as I was also entertaining the possibility of traveling with someone else. And, by the way, another workaway contacted me asking if I wanted to travel together. I did not make mention in my message specifically who I was thinking of so there is no way to be flagging someone who didn’t have a profile or not.
    There is more but you get the picture…. Thank You ~

    • Great review of your Workaway experience. I tried it 2x. One in Bali, Indonesia and one in Hong Kong. Both turned really great. I wanna try it again this year. πŸ˜€

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.