WorkAway 101: Everything You Need to Know About WorkAway

A Fun and Interesting Way to See the World for Free

wwoofing on a farm
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I'm always on the lookout for ways for students to keep their traveling costs down, and WorkAway seems like the perfect way to do so! 

I've just returned from a trip to Italy, where I met several WorkAway workers at a restaurant I visited. They would spend their days picking organic vegetables and helping out the owners; then in the evenings they could sit down for a delicious homemade dinner. It felt like the perfect way to see the world for students: you get to experience a local insight of a place you probably wouldn't otherwise visit; you get to save money because food and accommodation is provided in exchange for your work, and you get to hang out with new people from around the world.

 

What is WorkAway?

From WorkAway.info:

Workaway.info is a site set up to promote fair exchange between budget travellers, language learners or culture seekers and families, individuals or organizations who are looking for help with a range of varied and interesting activities.

Our philosophy is simple: 

A few hours honest help per day in exchange for food and accommodation and an opportunity to learn about the local lifestyle and community, with friendly hosts in varying situations and surroundings.

In other words: it's a way for you to receive food and accommodation in exchange for living in a foreign country and spending a few hours a day helping a local out. You won't just be limited to farm work, either -- through WorkAway, you could find yourself working to help someone paint houses, working as a babysitter, or even shearing sheep!

What Are the Benefits of WorkAway? 

Receiving free accommodation and food in exchange for work is a big one.

This will allow you to travel the world and live in a foreign country, even if you don't have any money saved up. If you don't plan on traveling while you're there, you could get by with only spending money on your transportation to get there and back! 

You'll also get to receive an insight into a country that most travelers will never experience.

You'll get a behind-the-scenes look at how businesses are run and feel good that you're helping them out and facilitating their success. Most travelers only really get to take a look at the tourism scene in a country, if that. You'll learn how, for example, food gets from the farm to the restaurant plate. 

You'll pick up some new skills, as well, whether it's farming or painting or building canoes by hand. You never know where this new skills can take you, and even if you do nothing with them afterwards, there'll look good on your resume.

You'll likely pick up some new language skills, too! If you choose to WorkAway in a foreign language country, you'll be exposed to a brand new language. Regular exposure is one of the best ways to pick up a language, saving you lots of money on expensive language lessons. 

And the Downsides?

You will obviously have to work. Some people prefer their travel experiences to be relaxing and a rest from day-to-day life. If you're going to be working every single day, you'll have less chance for relaxation, which may not be what you're looking for. 

You could also not bond with your fellow workmates or your host, which could make for an unpleasant experience -- especially if you may have to share a room with the worker you don't like!

In this case, it would be best to walk away and find another opportunity nearby.

It also might not live up to expectations. You could end up doing more work than you expected you'd have, the work might be harder than you hoped, and you might discover you hate waking up at 5 a.m..