My friend Mezzo from South Africa worked as a volunteer at a hostel in Cape Town. In this post, she will explain her experience as well as everything you need to know if you want to volunteer anywhere in the world with Worldpackers.
The following are all the points we’ll see in this post:
- Worldpackers: characteristics
- Application fee, work and benefits
- Application Process
- General Opinion (pros and cons)
1. Worldpackers: Characteristics
- Type of Program: volunteer abroad
- Location: Cape Town, South Africa
- Nationality: any
- Age: from 18 years old, there is no age limit
- Language: it’s important that you have a good level of English to communicate with the host, the guests of the hostel, and with other volunteers that come from different countries.
- Skills: it’s useful to have previous experience in hostels but also being outgoing and fun are helpful characteristics.
- Duration: you can arrange the duration with the host. My personal stay at the hostel was 8 months and when my stayed finished I found my own place but kept on working at the Backpack for other 3 months.
2. Application fee, work, and benefits
- Application Fee: there is a yearly fee to register with Worldpackers (49 USD but you can use the promo code LIFESTYLEHUNTER to have a discount of 20 USD!)
- Finance: you have to pay for your bus or airplane tickets to get to Cape Town but accommodation will be provided.
- Work: I worked 5 hours a day for 5 days (free weekends).
- Benefits: in exchange my work, I received:
- Free accommodation in a shared room.
- Free breakfast every day of my stay.
- Extra money from selling tours and was also able to go to the tours for free!
3. Application Process
Check the website
Worldpackers connects travelers looking to exchange their skills for accommodation with incredible hosts from all around the world. It has a community of 1,000,000+ travelers and hosts worldwide.
Create your profile
Make a profile with info about your skills, experiences, and photos.
Search for a host in the database
In the Search Page you’ll find a search engine to find hosts. Search for hosts who offer what you’re looking for. You can filter your search by a specific location, kind of help needed, and time period.
If you find a project that you like, register to Worldpackers
You’ll only be able to send messages to the hosts once you’ve registered. When you find the opportunity of your dreams, all you have to do is become a verified member, The cost is $49 USD for an annual membership (use the promocode LIFESTYLEHUNTER to have a discount of 20 USD!)
Contact the host
Once you have registered in Worldpackers you can send a message to the host and agree when will you arrive, how much time are you going to stay and in which activities will you be working.
I am originally from Eastern Cape and I decided that I wanted to look for new opportunities. I heard that Cape Town was a big city with a lot of options so I decided to go there and try my luck.
The Backpack is located at Church Street in the City Center. It’s a good place and very secure because it’s surrounded by a busy environment with lots of bars and restaurants. It´s very close to Kloof Street were you can find a lot of places to chill. It is also close to MyCity bus station which is convenient to move around the city.
c) My Room
I shared a room with Mona, one of the interns from Germany. I usually don’t like sharing but it was nice staying with her because she was quiet and respectful.
d) The vibes
My colleagues were super cool, we were like a big family, the bosses Tony and Lee were like our parents. And the managers were very nice, we called them “auntie” and “uncle”. I met interns from other parts of the world.
I worked as a receptionist and as a bar tender, but then I found the Backpack as an opportunity to start hosting exhibitions with local artists to showcase their creations to travelers from all over the world.
I was doing check ins, check outs and also advising the people on tours and all the exciting things that are happening in Cape Town. I was able to go to some tours for free to try them and get educated to sell them better.
I was serving coffee and was a barista making cocktails. Sometimes we’ll have jam sessions playing instruments with the guests like playing drums, the guitar or other instruments. Every Fridays we’ll have beer pong and other fun games.
My own project
The backpack offers a very cool program in it allows the staff to prove themselves with new ideas, so if for example you’re a photographer, you can show your work or if you like helping people you can propose an idea tog get to more people sharing your idea.
For this I chose to work with artists who are struggling to get into the industry, to be recognized as artists. The Backpack gave me the platform to work with the people so I started hosting exhibitions every 1st Thursday of the month (in Cape Town every 1st Thursday the whole city is involved in a big event to visit galleries). I really enjoyed working with very talented artists and it was an honor to exhibit their work at the Backpack.
5. General Opinion (pros and cons)
- I got to know a lot of people from all around. There was a crazy bunch of people who became my close friends and party together. Leroy from UK, Solvey from Slovakia, Tatiana and Poline from Germany, Liz and Sophie from The Netherlands, too many people, too many great memeories. I’m still in touch with many of them by Facebook.
- Hosting art exhibitions I was able to introduce foreigners to local artists. A unique experience that is not usually offered at any hostel.
- Going to tours was awesome. I went Wine Tasting in 5 different wine farms – I can’t remember the end of the tour. I also took the Cape Point tour and saw the Penguins in Boulders Beach and the seals in Hout Bay. I also did quad biking at the Atlantis Dunes.
- The Backpack is involved in community activities. They have contact with Mama Rose from Khayelitsha township and Chipa from Langa Township.
- I didn’t like a lot reception work because it was too much happening around and I had to wake up very early in the morning around 7:00 am.
- I’ll definitely recommend the Backpack hostel: it’s a great place for travelers, its nice to mingle with people coming from different places, artists, locals, etc. And you get a chance to get involved in the volunteering activities as well.
- Always do enough research before making an agreement with a host: read reviews of the hosts on Worldpackers (I would also recommend only picking hosts with a lot of reviews and distinguish the real reviews detailing the experience of people from the standard ones like “I had a great time there”).
- Try to always talk or Skype with the host: even if you have emailed, you can also call the host to make sure everything is transparent.
- Enjoy your Worldpackers volunteerind and make friends forever. Even now I still come back to the Backpack and visit them.
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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