Are you wanting to travel abroad but desiring a more immersive experience that’s centered around volunteering and getting to know a specific area? There are many programs out there that help organize trips to various places in the world, but if you’re looking for a way to find an experience that fits with your travel style, often in exchange for food and accommodation, Workaway might be a good fit for you.
Workaway allows you to fully immerse yourself in a community abroad, while giving back to them through working on farms, beach cleaning, or even helping out in language schools.
What is Workaway?
Workaway is a website that allows you to create a profile, browse through verified Workaway hosts, and find volunteer experiences in countries all over the world. Using Workaway not only allows you to find experiences in a place you might want to visit, but also to connect with other Workawayers in the community.
The goal is to provide a platform for travelers who want to give back to the communities they visit while also enabling them to see the world. Generally, the expectation for a Workawayer is to work around five hours a day, in exchange for food and accommodation. It is important to note that Workaway does not organize any experiences themselves, nor do they act as a support network beyond helping you make connections through their site.
Workaway will not help you book travel to and from your destination, nor can they help with visas if you need one to visit the country where you want to go. Based on 415,118 reviews, Workaway experiences have been rated an average 4.9/5 by its users and hosts. Note that this grade is from individual reviews rather than of Workaway itself, so it’s still important to read through individual reviews before committing to anything!
Do you get paid on Workaway?
As mentioned above, the typical Workaway experience will be in exchange for food and accommodation, rather than money. There are some hosts who may offer payment for the services you provide, but it is not a mandatory part of participating in Workaway. If you are interested in participating for payment, be sure to speak candidly with the hosts you’ve selected to ensure you’re on the same page, and to double check if payment is an option with that particular host. A large majority of Workaway experiences are unpaid.
How much does it cost to join Workaway?
Workaway is a service that requires membership in order to contact hosts and book volunteer experiences. Workaway has two levels of membership, depending on how you like to travel. If you want to travel/volunteer on your own, or are a single parent (with children under 18), you’ll want to sign up for a single account. This costs $44 per year, and will allow you to book with hosts individually, as well as connect with other Workaway-ers through the community.
If you are someone who will always volunteer with a significant other, family member, or a friend, you can sign up for a couple account. This costs $56, but will allow you and your friend/significant other to book Workaway experiences together (the cost is inclusive of two people). This means that any contact with a host you make will be on behalf of both people on the account, and two people will be expected for any volunteer experiences. Therefore, if you’re only interested in volunteering together with someone for part of your trip, or only on one trip, it’s best to purchase two single accounts.
For both levels of accounts, membership is valid for a full year from purchase. Registering as a host is free.
Is there an age limit for Workaway?
In order to register for Workaway, you must be at least 18 years old. The minimum age for volunteering in most countries is also 18 years old. Minors traveling with their parents might be accepted on some projects, but that is not a guarantee, and must be double checked with the host. There is, however, no maximum age limit for Workaway, and you are free to partake in experiences at any age, so long as you’re over 18!
Is Workaway safe?
Workaway is a conduit for people to connect with hosts and other travelers, but they do not organize any of the volunteer opportunities themselves, which means that you are ultimately responsible for ensuring that everything set up is legal and in place before you leave. As such, you should heavily research where you’re looking to volunteer before you agree to an arrangement with a host to make sure it is somewhere you will feel safe and comfortable, as well as to educate yourself on any cultural norms that may be different from the ones with which you are familiar.
Since Workaway is a website to connect with others online, it’s important to not give out any personal information until you’re secure in your connection, and feel comfortable doing so. It is also important to set very clear plans with your host in order to be fully informed about the arrangements you are signing up for, and what the host’s expectations are of you. If you arrange something with a host that does not meet expectations in a way that you would consider a “violation of trust or misconduct,” you can report them to Workaway.
Things you can do on Workaway
Whether you’re interested in learning a new language, developing new skills, or just immersing yourself in a community, there are so many options of things you can do through Workaway. If you’re interested in teaching, or language learning, there are homestay opportunities or volunteer openings at schools around the world for you to engage with a new language. You could also work on a farm, in an animal shelter, dog sit, build homes, or even join a boating adventure. The possibilities are endless.
Without being a member, you can search through the hosts around the world to see all the opportunities and sort either by country/location or by keyword if you have something specific in mind. Postings will indicate what kind of experience it is (cultural exchange, sustainability project, language exchange, etc), and will also indicate if it is a paid opportunity. You can click on postings to view them in more detail, learn about the accommodation provided, language restrictions, and requirements wanted from the workawayer, as well as read feedback the host has received from other workawayers. You will be unable to contact any hosts, however, without being a member.
If you’re interested in partaking in volunteer opportunities around the world while getting to know other cultures, and communities, it might be worth it for you to check out Workaway!
There are so many ways that you can give back to local communities, or even just immerse yourself in a community, all while getting to experience something new. Workaway is a great resource for finding ways to volunteer abroad, but be aware that all arrangements are your responsibility. If you're looking for volunteering opportunities while traveling within the states, make sure to check out our review on WWOOF USA.
If you’ve found a Workaway experience, or are still trying to decide where you should go on one, be sure to also check out Pilot to help you plan your way there, and find exciting things to do while you explore the world!