>  Resources   >  Workaway: a life and travel experience. What it is and how it works
When I say that I have travelled for a whole year, many people are amazed and ask me “but how did you manage to support yourself?” Well, in this article I’ll tell you about Workaway, an online platform that nowadays is one of the many solutions useful to face a long-term journey interspersed with some voluntary work experience and in some cases, even paid.


Workaway is a site where travellers from all over the world can make their skills available and work voluntarily for their hosts (called hosts) in exchange for boarding and lodging. Any of your skills can be of great use to those who engage daily in the most disparate projects such as working in the hostel, teaching foreign languages, helping families in the home or with children as an au pair, or work in specific areas such as perm culture or vegan catering. These are just a few examples of activities to which you can contribute and which are distributed in more than 170 countries across all continents. To actively participate you must register for and pay an annual fee of 39 euros for a single person or 49 euros if you join in pairs (in this case you can register with a common account). The second step is the creation of your personal profile in which to insert essential news that is the countries you want to visit, when you are available to volunteer and also some personal information such as your hobbies, practical skills, photos, sharing your previous experiences and your way of living life. Based on this information, hosts can contact you directly for their projects and you can choose which of these you would like to focus on. Once you have chosen the field in which to operate, your working method will be about four or five hours a day for five days a week. Sometimes they offer you allowances or commissions, but this is not officially part of the program.

Workaway in Vietnam


  • What I consider to be the greatest benefit of Workaway is the opportunity to meet new and extraordinary people from all over the world and to have a life experience and volunteer in their country. Many times these are single families looking for volunteers, but in other cases, when you work in structures such as hostels, you can learn a lot about passing travellers with whom to exchange information and many other ideas.


  • You can learn the language of the host country, learn its culinary tradition and in some cases be able to participate in local festivals and move far and wide thanks to the advice of the locals.


  • Of course, the biggest advantage for the traveller who uses Workaway is the availability of a bed and also free meals. Generally the content of the ​ platform is about unpaid work, but you may find hosts that reward you with small salaries or commissions if you can sell products or promote organized tours.


  • Making the best use of the Workaway site means being able to plan in advance the various jobs that you will perform to contact multiple hosts in advance and to draw up your plans without haste.


  • Finally, staying in a country for a longer period of time allows you to get to know its deeper culture and become part of it. Many hosts want you to stay at least a couple of weeks, if not a couple of months. This way, during your days off, your hosts will show you their way of life, but in addition to that he/she can help you explore the best and hidden areas of the country.

yoga during Workaway


yoga at Workaway in Thailand


  • Some profiles may be falsified or missing some information. Sometimes the work is not the same as the one described in the profile; for example, “taking care of animals” can mean taking care of animal poop! In many cases, but not always, the phrase is true; “Workaway is for cultural exchange or the possibility of learning and a way to make new friends. It’s not a way for landlords to replace paid employees with volunteers.”


  • Some of the hosts will not respond to your emails. The reason for this? Hosts have already reached the number of volunteers they need or are too lazy to respond and are not interested in you. If they don’t answer, don’t take it personally and move on to the next announcement.


  • Hosts do not always operate on the same level of exchange as others. The site says you will be working 20-25 hours a week but some hosts expect less while others will try to get more by taking advantage of your time as much as possible.


My experiences, on the whole, were positive.


I remember pleasantly the Malaysian adventure made in a hostel in Kuala Lumpur, where I should have stayed a few weeks but at the end my stay lasted more than a month. After I finished my work hours at the reception, I loved going to the nearby China Town market where my trusted salesmen called me “the Italian”. Thanks to the strategic location of the hostel, I was able to meet the many travellers who passed through it and with them I shared travel ideas and many wonderful days around the Malaysian capital. An experience that has greatly broadened my horizons! Together with me, two other volunteers worked, a French girl and a German boy with whom, right from the start, I established a good relationship that grew when we spent Christmas together. On that occasion, each of us cooked a typical dish of his country and I of course won them with a good pasta dish. Always together, we also spent the New​ Year going to see the fireworks at the Petronas Tower. Well, what to say? A show!
Christmas lunch in KL

Christmas lunch in hostel in KL

Christmas lunch in KL

Christmas lunch in Kuala Lumpur

Christmas lunch in KL

Christmas lunch at KL


Another interesting experience was in Thailand, in Chiang Mai, where for three weeks I lived in the house of a lady, owner of a site where they were advertised and sold decorative yoga ball covers. The Covers were made by women from some small tribes living in rural areas of the Thai mountains. For 21 days, my job was to take pictures of the covers and manage the social pages of the site. The house was very cozy, but the owner was not present in the house. In this case I found the communication a bit difficult as we only felt telephonically to stable what we should have done. Unfortunately, the amount of work he gave us was more than we agreed and I think the lady probably didn’t even realize it. Nevertheless, I did not work beyond the agreed three weeks.

my photo workaway in Thailand


the covers for the yoga balls


a decoration I created at the Workaway


  • Do some good research Find ads that you really like and try to understand if you have a good feeling reading the description and seeing the images of the place. Read the reviews carefully because some may not be true! In this case, the best thing is to contact one of the volunteers who worked in that particular place and ask for his experience and some advice.


  • Before accepting a Workaway job, it is important to ask questions such as: “Do you offer towels and bed linen?” and “Do you have Wifi?” “Can I have a meal?” “How many hours do you expect me to work?”. Try not to leave anything to chance.


  • Always have a backup plan. In case a Workaway host does not show up at the meeting point or if the working mode is not actually the agreed one, you always have an alternative to use.


  • Keep in mind that you are not obliged to stay in the same place. In case you don’t feel welcome, safe or appreciated, you can always leave. You are not bound by a signed contract or anything else, so you can make your own decisions, without any constraints that could compromise your experience.


  • Be flexible and open-minded!
Have you had experiences with Workaway? Tell me about yours!

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