Last year I left Mexico and embarked on a long journey through Europe and Africa in which I participated in five projects with Workaway.
Workaway is a platform that brings together volunteers (people who are traveling around the world in general) with small businesses, families and organizations that are looking for help in different tasks that can range from caring for children in a family, protecting endangered turtles, helping at the reception of a hostel or doing marketing at a tourism agency. The standard at Workaway is 4 or 5 hours of work Monday through Friday (weekends off) for food and accommodation.
This was the first time I used this platform in my life and in general I can say that I really liked it and that I will use it again. I made many friends, visited different places and reinforced skills I already had when doing different kind of jobs.
Now I’ll share with you:
- The projects in which I participated
- My experience
- How to use the platform?
- How to find projects successfully?
1. The projects in which I participated
- Borghetto, Italy: dog and cat boarding centre.
- Burgholz, Germany: relaxation, yoga and massage center.
- Western Desert, Egypt: desert tour company.
- Giza, Egypt: hostel with a view to the great pyramids.
- Cape Town, South Africa: hotel with ocean view.
In most places I helped with marketing and social media as I have my own blog.
2. My Experience
In some places I had excellent experiences but in one it was regular. Each place was unique and each host had a mix of both good and bad characteristics:
- Location: some projects were located in accessible places with several activities to do, while one was located in a very small town.
- The job: I had hosts who respected the 5 hours of work set by standard or let me use my time freely as long as I finished the tasks of the day, but there was one host who asked for more difficult tasks for which I had to use more time.
- Other volunteers: I usually went to projects where there were already other volunteers and that’s great to go out and explore around and have fun.
- The hosts: Some liked to spend time with the volunteers while others only saw us during work hours.
- The compensation: with hosts the exchange of accommodation and food was complete, but there were other hosts who do not offer food so I had to make a budget for this expenses.
I left happy and today I am still in contact with several hosts and volunteers I worked with.
3. How to use the platform?
It is very easy to participate, just follow these steps:
a. Visit the website
In Workaway website (workaway.info) you will find the host database as well as all the necessary information and FAQs for your application.
You can view all the projects before you decide to pay the annual membership fee. I first found several projects that I liked and when I saw that it was worth it I decided to venture out, and pay for the membership.
b. Search for a host in the database
In the list of hosts, you will find the search engine to find hosts. You can filter these features:
- Location: if you are interested in going to a specific country or city you can select the continent, country and region you want to go to.
- Type of work: depending on your skills you can filter the projects by ecological projects, construction, cooking, help with tourists, art, teachers, childcare, gardening, care of the elderly, farming, animal care, language practice, computer help, general maintenance, help with the house, charity and others.
- Type of host: families, communities, NGOs, schools, farms, hostels, boats, sustainable projects, animal care and others.
c. If you find a project you like, buy the Workaway membership
You will only be able to send messages to hosts once you have registered. The cost is $32 USD for one person and $42 USD as a couple. After you register you can contact the hosts for one year.
d. Contact the host
Once you have registered with Workaway, you can send a message to the host and agree on the date you will arrive, how long will you be staying and what activities will you be doing.
4. How to find projects successfully?
a. Create a complete profile
Create a profile that shows all the activities you’re good at. Be convincing and give examples of how you can contribute with your skills. Also, fill your profile with good pictures that show your personality.
b. Send requests to a large number of hosts
Some hosts do not respond to requests because they are full, inactive on the platform, or simply not interested in your profile. So even if they’re not the perfect hosts, if you send a lot of requests and have different answers you’ll be able to talk to everyone and have several options for choosing a project at the end. If you’re too selective, no one might answer you.
c. Check the host reviews
Generally the hosts will have comments from other volunteers who have stayed with them before so you can see if they have good or bad experiences and decide whether or not to contact them. Never stay with a host who doesn’t have reviews and always looks for good reviews that are authentic, not an “excellent project, I loved it”.
a. If you don’t like the project, you’re free to go
The advantage of Workaway is that you are completely free, there is no signed contract so at any time you can decide to leave and continue your journey. Here relies the importance of contacting several hosts, to have different options if something goes wrong.
b. Make the most of your stay
Both at work and in getting to know the place and making friends from all over the world.
Are you interested in finding more different volunteer projects?
There are more formal projects with NGOs that will give you a diploma at the end and there are other websites similar to Workaway that will connect you to organic farms, boats, Au Pairs, etc.
Check all the details on the post: How to find paid volunteering projects abroad.
In the Volunteer Abroad section, you can find more experiences of volunteer projects abroad! If you had a similar experience and want to inspire others to apply please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
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