After few Workaway experiences we still have a mix of sad/happy emotions.
If you are wondering what Workaway is, we can briefly say that it promotes fair exchange between budget travelers with people that are looking for help.
We spent two weeks in Andalusia, three in Algarve, a whole month in Lisbon and, right now, we are in Ontario, Canada… and much more has to come! Since we left home we shared our story, we learned many things, met new friends and even dressed up as cows in a carnival party!
In the end was always sad leaving our hosts and the places we considered home for a while. We have to admit that it was exciting at the same time because we where never coming back to our daily routine in Italy, but moving somewhere else, with something new to discover and other people to meet.
WHAT WE LEARNED FROM OUR WORKAWAY EXPERIENCES
WORKAWAY REALLY WORKS!
First of all, we learned that Workaway is a real community, and it truly works!
It is not merely a trip planner, but a network of people willing to share the same aim and needs. Even if we are still at the beginning of our journey (or maybe because of it) we needed help several times like for tips about documents and Visa application, general information about hosts or even just travel suggestions.
We just wrote to unknown workawawayers and we got what we where looking for. They all answered us in a short period of time, most of them in just few hours!! So, in the end, asking questions directly to people in the platform could save you hours of googling that could make just a big mess in your head.
GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER
Try to have at least a Skype call with your future hosts. In many cases, for the most in hospitality related positions, the host itself will ask you for it. It’s always good to have a better idea of the place you will go and the tasks you have to fulfill. Talking directly with your host will always help, in the end you’ll live closely with new people, from a couple of weeks to few months, so it’s nice to have a proper introduction before.
Try to share your phone number, email and other contacts, in order to be able to reach him/her whenever you need to, especially if they don’t check their email daily. Have a double check with your host a week before moving to a new place, just in case…
TRUST PEOPLE AND THE PLATFORM
Ok you may have some doubt now but don’t! People related to this community are trustworthy, and all the information about hosts and places are most of the time genuine. You may doubt (as we did before leaving Italy) that someone will wait months for your arrival, but that’s exactly what happens! Hosts are scheduling the arrival of the volunteers, as you’ll schedule the stops of your journey, so they won’t forget about you.
You may think there could be nasty surprises, that beautiful host profile could be a lie or you’ll end doing terrible unexpected jobs. Well, we can not exclude it for sure bu it never happened to us. We usually choose hosts with good comments, or at least some, in order to be sure that they had some experience and if we are still in doubt, we just ask to someone who’s been there.
FORGET BORING ROUTINE
Be prepared to carry out any kind of task, you’ll never be bored and you’ll learn a ton of new and useful things! In most of the cases you don’t need to have specific expertise but just the willing to do activities that you may not be use to do.
Don’t be scared about tasks, hosts usually ask you about your skills and interests, in order to not to push you too far from your comfort zone. Based on our experience, most of the time hosts are there to teach you how to do things in which you are newbie.
Nevertheless, bringing an entire working outfit, from shoes to hat, is necessary. Avoiding shoveling dung with the same clothes you’ll use to welcome guest in an hostel the week after is always a good idea!
A HUMAN BASED PLATFORM
Workaway is truly human based, and this of course has it’s pros and cons. Volunteers that are choosing this platform can’t just expect to find a bed and some food in exchange of few hours of work; most of the time you will share the same roof with people willing to know you and your story. So, even if you can explore around just in your free time, you can discover real customs and traditions of the people in the country you are visiting.
Obviously when human relations are involved, things could go wrong too, it’s part of the game. Luckily it never happened to us, things went almost every time different as we expected, but never bad. In any case, one of the good things of this way of travel/living is that you didn’t sign any contract, so you are free to go if you don’t feel comfortable anymore.
Things might be slightly different if you pick a company based profile (i.e. guest houses, big farms, hostels…). In this case your staying there could be more similar to a regular job, with regular tasks based on a daily routine and sometimes you might have a proper boss.
Even in this case you will find human connections, you might share the place with other Workawayers (that maybe come from the next place you will visit or going in your same direction) or with guests of the place your volunteering for.
Our advice is to try both option, so you can have a complete overview and decide by yourself which one suits your needs the most.
We have to say that in the end, all the Workaway experiences we had were a chance to share and grow, thanks to the hundreds of people we met during this adventure… and a lot more has to come. Keep following us!