Workaway and Helpx: Would I Travel with Work Exchanges Again?

Workaway and Helpx are both websites that connect volunteers and hosts to participate in work exchanges. Volunteers agree to work for the host in return for food and accommodation, which adds up to an experience living, eating, and working with a local family. Brent and I traveled for 8 months in Western Europe by participating in 6 back-to-back work exchanges, and moving from the home of one host family to another.

When I first stumbled across the Workaway website, I had only left North America once before, and imagined that long-term travel would require access to some bottomless pool of riches. Discovering work exchanges made me feel like the whole world had suddenly opened up and become accessible to me.

Since that day over 2 years ago,  I’ve learned about innumerable other ways to travel on a budget, and we’ve managed to continue traveling well beyond the time we participated in our last Helpx. So the question is, considering all that I know now, would I still recommend Workaway and Helpx to other travelers? And would I ever do it again myself?

The Pros:

Free! Free! Free!

Volunteer room Workaway France

I feel like it’s a little taboo to draw too much attention to the free-ness of Workaway and Helpx. After all, these programs are meant to focus on cultural exchange and language learning, rather than being viewed as a way to score free food and accommodation. But who am I kidding? The idea of traveling from country to country without worrying about the price of meals and accommodation was the main reason why we became involved with these programs.  The other volunteers we met during our exchanges were all backpackers and budget travelers, so I think I can safely say that Brent and I weren’t the only ones who were drawn to possibility of semi-free travel.

Local-Style

horse show in Spain Workaway

I often feel like we lived in Europe rather than traveled in it. Our time in Europe was less about capital cities and sightseeing; and more about long scenic walks, and home-cooked dinners with our host families. We helped at a charity luncheon in France, joined our neighbours for an Easter bonfire in Germany, and volunteered at a Halloween-themed horse show in Spain. In a sense, we didn’t experience the side of each country that is marketed to tourists. Instead, in a very real way, we experienced life as a local in each country, which included doing everyday things like buying groceries, walking the dog and washing the dishes.  In truth, this aspect of our experience felt like a pro on some days and a con on others. I can’t say this made Workaway and Helpx the best programs to help us check sights off our bucket list, but they did provide undeniably unique experiences.

Rent-A-Job

Helpx B&B Wales

Did I mention that the B&B was a repurposed church? It’s probably the coolest place I’ve ever lived.

Working with each host family felt like trying on a different lifestyle for a few weeks. Among other things, it provided an opportunity to get an inside look at the business of running a B&B in Wales, renting holiday villas in Italy, and operating a retreat centre in Germany. It was the equivalent of taking different possible home countries and occupations for short test-drives.  Owning a B&B was never something we had considered before, but after a positive 3-month experience with helping to manage one, we left with a new long-term goal to open a guesthouse of our own someday.

The Cons:

Farewell Privacy

Helpx retreat centre Germany

I guess I could hide in the trees?

Living and working with a local host family typically means sharing a house with them (although we did luck out by getting our own private villa in Italy). We became reluctant witnesses to countless personal fights between family members, and they were, in turn, fully aware when we were feeling moody.  Our relationship with our hosts was often a strange one. Our very close living arrangements made us all feel like insta-family, yet we were, at the same time, also their guests and their employees.

Usually the people who have the space and need for volunteers are inevitably those who own large properties in rural areas. It wasn’t always easy to find other people to socialize with, or to escape into the city for a few hours.

Good Volunteers Never Sleep

Workaway France kitchen

Cooking dinner for our hosts in France.

Living with our “employers” often created a vague division between “on” time and “off” time.  According to the Workaway and Helpx websites, volunteers should aim to contribute 20-25 hrs. of work per week.  We found that some of our hosts subtly (or, in some cases, not-so-subtly) implied that they expected more than this from us.

It always felt wrong to stop working before our hosts did; if they were putting in 12hr. days, we felt pressured to follow suit. Perhaps we were being a little neurotic, but we really did want to make the exchange worthwhile for our hosts, so we were always looking for reassurance that we were doing “enough” to satisfy them.

We frequently offered to do more work when we didn’t want to, hoping that our hosts would offer us comforting words like “No, you’ve worked enough today – just relax”. This was rarely the outcome. When we offered to work for longer, our hosts almost always found new tasks for us, which made us feel like there was no limit on the contribution that we owed them.

 Skills On Trial

Workaway France building a fence

Build a fence? Sure!

Workaway and Helpx profiles allow volunteers to provide details about their skills and experience, but, somehow this didn’t always translate to our hosts.

I found that our hosts were willing to teach us new skills to a certain extent, but most assumed that we had some basic skills to begin with. And well….sometimes we didn’t.  We spent our first days in France out in a damp, cold field for about 6 hours, panicking because we couldn’t keep a fire going long enough to burn some bramble piles that we’d be assigned to get rid of. (If you think that sounds ridiculous – seriously, try it – fires are surprisingly hard to maintain!) Our hosts only had so much patience for the “well-gosh-I’m-just-a-city-girl-and-I’ve-never-actually-used-a-pitchfork” routine.

There were exceptions; for example, our tasks at the B&B were pretty intuitive and didn’t require previous knowledge and experience. But, based on my conversations with other volunteers, the people who seem to excel at Workaway and Helpx are those who already possess applicable skills like carpentry, plumbing, gardening, or construction.

 

So would I do it again? The answer is no. I don’t regret our experiences for a moment because we did have some wonderful host families, however, we’ve found other budget travel approaches that work better for us. I would recommend Workaway and Helpx for people who have solid manual skills to contribute, as well as to people who aren’t afraid to be direct with their hosts, setting very clear expectations and boundaries both before and during the exchange.  I still believe that they’re fantastic programs for certain people, but for us, it just wasn’t quite the right approach to budget travel.

 

Have you ever done a work exchange like Workaway, Helpx or WWOOF?  

About Jessica

Jessica Dawdy is a Canadian freelance writer who is slowly working her way around the world. She has lived in seven different countries across Europe and Asia, feeding her ever-expanding appetite for food, culture and languages.

102 Responses to Workaway and Helpx: Would I Travel with Work Exchanges Again?

  1. Vanessa April 24, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Great post! My husband and I are thinking about WWOOFing around America after we leave Korea, and the cons you mentioned are definitely things we have to think about. Because we would be coming from the same culture as our hosts, we would be sure to tell the them our expectations up front (hopefully!). Did you ever feel like they assigned useless tasks to you? Or was there always something to be done?
    My recent post The Best Kind of Death: the Death of Winter

  2. @ACruisingCouple April 26, 2013 at 7:52 am #

    This is great! Dan and I have been thinking a lot about using HelpX and the likes when we start long term traveling, mostly because it seems like the easiest way to save money longterm. We're HUGE couchsurfing fans, but normally you can't really settle down with them for a month ;-P We're also looking into housesitting. Since you don't think you would do it again, what's your next-best alternative?
    My recent post Get it Straight: Fact and Fiction of Taiwan

  3. Steph (@20YH) April 27, 2013 at 6:38 am #

    I love how candid and informative this post was! I know so many travelers who feel like they have to volunteer or work while they take their long-term trip, otherwise I suppose they'll feel like they are just being too self-indulgent. We have considered trying out something like WorkAway or HelpX, but I know that in so doing, we'll sacrifice a lot of the flexibility that we have really come to love. I like the idea of really getting under the skin of a place, but I don't think you have to do manual labor to do that. This post definitely gave me a lot to think about, as I'm sure I would experience several of the same pitfalls you did ("guilt complex" is like my middle name!).

  4. emilylofgren April 27, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Good post! I've thought about doing a work exchange, but don't have any of those skills. Glad to see your opinion on it. Thanks for your honesty!
    My recent post 6 Easy Ways to Sneak in Exercise

  5. Helen April 29, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    Love! Love! Love this post! In the grand scheme of things me and my other half are considering doing a little volunteering in New Zealand. I totally relate to feeling pressure to work long hours after you should of clocked off, employers, especially small businesses have a knack for this!!! Your pros and cons are definitely food for thought.
    My recent post Arrowtown in Fall

  6. Lauren May 6, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    Great post, thanks for your honest views.

    I've recently started HelpXing and found that my first placement (at an English school in Taiwan) expected 11 hours work a day (their ad didn't say that) 5 days a week which was a shock to the system, and their expectations were very high. I'm on my second placement (renovating a hostel) and loving it – they don't expect an expert and are grateful for the work I'm doing, so I think it's hit and miss.

    One thing I have realised though is that 2 weeks per placement is my limit, so I'm going to move around on that basis and see what happens.
    My recent post A New Vocation in Taiwan

  7. Chris.GRRRLTRAVELER May 6, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this, Jess! I was wondering how Help X worked and if travelers had a good experience with this. I'd met a guy in Tokyo who was traveling this way as well… and his experience sounded a bit like yours. Free accommodations was like providing free 9-5 kinda help and then some. Thanks for spelling it out. I think I'd feel the same as you after that experience. I might have walked off earlier.
    My recent post What to do and see in Fukuoka in 24 hours on a shoestring budget

  8. ehiggs88 May 8, 2013 at 11:05 am #

    I've used Helpx for around 5 different placements, in South America, Europe, and Canada, and found my experiences to be really positive. I of course understand what you mean about people throwing in extra duties, working longer hours than you first thought, and the other drawbacks you suggested. However, that just became part ofthe experience to me and I kind of expected it as it's been the same in almost every single volunteer placement. The skills I've learnt haven't been the kind of things I may have thought I would do, but if you really throw yourself into learning all these new things you can use that to your advantage. I've learnt to now go in with a completely open mind and expect the unexpected, and I'm often met with brilliant experiences. (Not that I'm saying you didn't do that of course!! Just a note about my own way of thinking about it) Thanks for sharing though, I think it's useful for people to see both sides of the coin.

  9. TammyOnTheMove May 9, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    I have lived in Europe for 30 years and have never heard of this before. Only heard of Whoofing actually. Great idea! It feels more relaxed and homely living with an actual family rather then a hotel I think.
    My recent post Flashback Friday: The time a shaman spat in my face

  10. monty89 May 10, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    Thank you for your post, it's great! I am considering the possibility of using Helpx to learn German language while having new experiences. Would you recommend it to me? I've been working in volunteering workcamps before, but never this way.
    And I have another question.. What's better, Helpx or Workaway?

  11. Johann the Cabbie July 8, 2013 at 5:56 am #

    Excellent post. I've been traveling Europe for the past year using workaway and wwoof to live. I've loved it until recently when I ended up with an alcoholic host. Fortunately, I had a friend nearby who is putting me up while I search for a new place.

    I'll continue using workaway for the future, as I enjoy some of the cons you mention, and I have the construction and farming skills that many hosts are looking for.
    My recent post Risks of workaway, or boy, I had one hell of a week.

  12. karmaquinta August 5, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    Really interesting post. We have just registered with workaway as 'hosts' we could really do with some help. I'd love it if you could be candid, and suggest some tips for how to be a great host. My tendency is to do too much for others . . . so I think I'd probably end up running around after any 'workawayers' – so if you have thoughts on how to make it work . . . that would be great. It did occur to me that privacy could be awkward for both parties. Cheers.

  13. Matt August 13, 2013 at 6:47 am #

    I am looking into doing some sort of work exchange as a cheap travel option. You mentioned that you had found other budget travel options that worked better for you, what are some of those approaches?

  14. Downhillfromhere October 8, 2013 at 5:15 am #

    Can I ask what other budget ways of travelling you consider now if not helpx?

  15. Naresh Sharma October 13, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

    Hi, thank you for this wonderful post. Very informative. I was wondering if i shud invest in being a member of helpx. I plan to go to San Francisco from India for a month as my girlfriend is studying there and really wants me to come meet her and am more the happy to give my labour to get boarding and food for 24 hrs a week. Do you have any advice? I will be most grateful. Thank you 🙂

  16. Jacqueline November 1, 2013 at 1:27 am #

    Awesome article! Our first helpx experience will be teaching English in Thailand so I was looking for some inside perspective.

    We’ve always couchsurfed almost all the time on our trips in South America, Europe, and now 6 months so far in Asia so we were looking for a way to continue saving money but also give a little back in return. There aren’t so many teaching options which are more preferable to us than building fences or planting rice so I was curious how you found teaching jobs and if you have to commit for a whole year?

  17. Anna January 12, 2014 at 6:45 am #

    An interesting read. Thank you for your insight into the other side of the coin. We are hosts and into our 3rd year now and keep on learning . We have found out that the best thing for both sides is to ask lots of questions before deciding. The first year we had over 350 enquiries so now we don't feel we are at pressure to take anyone that we don't feel will enjoy fitting into our lifestyles . We have had bad and good experiences ,learning now if it isn't working to ask the helper to leave .On the other hand we have had wonderful helpers who have been treated to lots of extras and experiences that are above and beyond what is asked of us. 8 course tasting meals at Michelin starred restaurant ,£100 walking boots to take home or a music concert at a stately home .

  18. waysofwanderers January 12, 2014 at 6:58 pm #

    Thanks for your comment, Anna, and I agree – questions are key! I think having a few exchange experiences also helps you realize what those questions are, as you slowly narrow down what works and what doesn't.

  19. The Guy January 29, 2014 at 5:31 am #

    Some good reflections there. Free is definitely my favourite price for anything, especially accommodation. However as you highlight there are trade offs. Mind you I guess with the spirit of the volunteers you'll make some great friends.
    My recent post Hongmei Lu Shanghai – Drinking On The Hongmei Pedestrian Street

  20. KaleenasKaleidoscope January 29, 2014 at 4:36 pm #

    Thanks for the honest info! I'm planning a RTW trip next year and looking into various work exchange options so this is some good stuff to keep in mind. I think I could do it for a short period of time but I can see the lack of privacy and blurred line between guest and employee wearing on me after a while. Did you do much WWOOFing? If so, how did the experiences compare? Cheers! 🙂
    My recent post Cleaning Up the Mess from “Don’t Date a Girl Who Travels”

  21. Amy February 3, 2014 at 4:34 am #

    Great post! I'm heading off to Europe in April and have been looking into doing some workaway programs as I will be on a bit of a budget. I'm just worried about the visa requirements. Would you mind me asking whether you did the work on a working visa. There seems to be mixed opinions about this issue with some people saying its working illegally and others saying as long as no moneys changing hands its not considered work. I just don't want to run into any trouble! I understand that this is obviously not your area of expertise so I completely understand if you have no idea! Any advice would be great 🙂 Thanks

  22. Natalie February 8, 2014 at 1:51 am #

    Great post! We were just debating if we wanted to try workaway as both an experience and a way to extend our around-the-world trip by getting free accommodations. It's a tough choice (and we still can't decide) so it's nice to hear some candid information. Thanks!
    My recent post Upstairs Cafe in Siem Reap

  23. Charlie February 15, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    Really interesting article, thanks for sharing this. I've been thinking about work aways but it's quite difficult to trawl through so many and there are a lot of worries attached as well. Still undecided if my partner and I will actually do it…
    My recent post Picture This: Love & Apples in a Hertfordshire Village

  24. Oleg February 20, 2014 at 1:23 pm #

    Thank you for you great Article and also for all the replies which are all so informative as well! People like you give inspiration!! Now I feel, i know more about the possibility of work exchanges! Hope you don't stop travelling and I just want to wish you well Jessica!

  25. HelpX Host March 4, 2014 at 10:01 pm #

    We have hosted two times through HelpX. We never requested more than 5 hours per day of work, and only asked for 5 days per week. This is an amazing deal for the helper since hotel rooms in our prime urban neighborhood average $300 per night. However, assuming that the guest would do his share without close supervision was a mistake. The first worker was a lovely guy. He followed instructions, asked for help when needed and was meticulously careful. The last guy was horrible. He lied about his skills, submitted references from what we later learned were businesses run by his brother and his friend, didn't follow verbal or written instructions (and English was his first language); didn't do the agreed upon number of hours and damaged our home. We were very disappointed and removed our HelpX listing due to his behavior.

  26. Montevilla March 7, 2014 at 7:17 pm #

    As a host, I agree with the above post that it can be a double-edge sword. We had great experiences overall, but we did have one that kind of ruined it for us. So the risk goes both ways.

    The other risk is that you as a helper may actually be in an illegal situation if you only have a tourist visa. In Canada where I am, the rules for helpx and workaway are the same as those that apply to wwoofers. On a tourist visa, you can volunteer in exchange for room and board up to 4 weeks at one place. After that, you can move on to another place for another four weeks, up to 6 months total.

    In other countries where this is considered "illegal" (like the US), it might be an idea to pay a token fee to cover your room and board. You could also be more discerning as to what you volunteer for, as workaway and helpx have a much broader scope than wwoofing. Some hosts really are looking for cheap labour and exploit helpx and workaway to these ends.

    Stop for a minute and look past the idyllic description and comments to consider what you are "helping" with. Does it give back, are you truly helping someone with a life goal, or is it simply about making or saving money for someone else?

    Sure it would be great to stay in NYC while you babysit someone's kids a few nights, but is that really the intent behind these websites? I don't think so.

    It's up to you, as a volunteer, to figure out what's best…and legal for you. Don't place yourself in a risky situation where a disgruntled neighbour or laid-off employee could jeopardize your entire trip.

  27. Montevilla March 9, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    I was curious as to your conclusion of not doing it again. Would you have done anything differently if you had to do it over? Perhaps mix it up a bit more than you did? Like a few weeks off on your own in-between. Or just plain leaving somewhere in retrospect. As a host, I could never imagine being comfortable enough to fight in front of what we always consider "guests" first and foremost. Maybe that's because we started as couchsurfer hosts (not expecting anything back). When we discovered helpx and workaway, we felt it better met our needs and guests were willing to stay a bit longer. The exchange seemed more genuine and mutually beneficial. The other caveat I would have is not to base your picks solely on positive reviews. Because strangely enough, workaway and helpx are slanted towards positive reviews. If I, as a host, write a negative review for a helper, I can expect one right back. And vice versa. That pretty much raises a red flag for both host and helper. And you may want to consider that a host that has helpers in back-to-back (based on the frequency of reviews) may in fact be using you as cheap labour. Not that you wouldn't enjoy yourself. But it harks back to my point about what you are contributing to as a helper.

  28. tom March 25, 2014 at 12:12 am #

    You should try the free alternative where volunteers don't need to pay a membership to contact hosts 🙂 http://www.volunteersbase.com is new but it has future!

  29. purplewaterhaven July 10, 2014 at 11:00 pm #

    wow thank you so much for this post! It was soooo informative. Now I'm really considering doing this, maybe with a travel buddy. I'm about to be a junior in college and am trying to figure out which direction to go in when I graduate. I was thinking about teaching in korea or somewhere, but this sounds like so much more fun. I think it's great to learn new skills, and i'm sure will be very beneficial on a resume. It's like free work experience…of course i'd need start up money first though. Thanks again! I'm gonna tip toe around this blog now 🙂

  30. Jhon July 27, 2014 at 5:02 pm #

    Thank you for your insight into the other side of the coin. We are hosts and into our 3rd year now and keep on learning . We have found out that the best thing for both sides is to ask lots of questions before deciding. The first year we had over 350 enquiries so now we don't feel we are at pressure to take anyone that we don't feel will enjoy fitting into our lifestyles . canadian work permit visa

  31. Sylvia August 15, 2014 at 9:54 am #

    thank you for your post jessica! i will start a wwoofing experience in a couple of week in europe.
    i was checking both wwoof and workaway, but i found the two websites slightly different in term of the kinds of the host you can find there. in wwoof is basically only organic and family farms, while in workaway there is a little bit of everything. and while in wwoofing it seems to me that i could learn something (related with agriculture/cheese making and so on), i feel that with workaway people who run hostels (for example) mainly tend to have people under the workaway program to cover their staff needs – instead of hire a part time or full time person, they take people with workaway.. is that only my feeling? i would appreciate your opinion on this. cheers

  32. Duncan October 27, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    Try http://www.workingtraveller.com if your more interested in building or using your skills to get good references for when you get home.

  33. waysofwanderers October 28, 2014 at 12:26 pm #

    I think I mentioned in an above comment somewhere, but I much prefer house sitting now. It's the same benefit of living locally and having a home base, but without the pressure that sometimes comes with living with the hosts.

  34. Lulu January 2, 2015 at 6:28 pm #

    Wow! What an honest and informative post! Thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings on the matter. I was in the middle of paying for registering to either of these two sites when I googled them first and came across your article.
    I am so glad I read it! I don't really have any manual labor skills and don't have the personality to tell people what I think directly, so this article helped my decision making.
    You mentioned you found other budget approaches to traveling, I'm curious to know what those are. I'm traveling around Europe and love free accommodations to help out with the cost of traveling.

  35. basilis April 17, 2015 at 2:53 pm #

    Pyrgos hleias

  36. Hannah July 3, 2015 at 12:32 am #

    Hi! The post and all the comments have been so helpful! I'm planning a solo trip for next year and currently saving money but once I leave I think I'll want to make it last as long as possible! After tons of research the idea of workaways sound like they might really be the key to doing that and still moving around relatively frequently (faster than a year at a time at least!).

    I know I don't want to burn out by moving to quickly but I also have a long list of places I want to see and visit so my thoughts are to do around two weeks at each location and have some time in between work to just be a tourist. I'll also probably have opportunities to stay longer with some jobs if I'm loving it :). I've had friends do wwoofing and nannying and got homesick and tired of only seeing the family that hosted them and not being able to get out much because of remote locations.

    I think hostels are going to be the best way to stay in touch with the traveling world and other travelers and also be in a good location.

    I saw that you posted vaguely about visas. I'll be traveling mostly in New Zealand, Australia and Southeast Asia and the islands between. Do you know at all if these locations are strict about working visas vs. tourist visas? Hostels may be harder to get away with working at without a working visa if they're required. Or if you have no idea can you point me in the right direction? My google skills are failing me 🙂

  37. Brittany Thiessen July 24, 2015 at 4:11 pm #

    Great post! I am doing some research on budget and long term travel options and this was really helpful. Thank you for being so honest!

  38. Jane July 30, 2015 at 4:50 am #

    This is an excellent review. I read it before my 3 day workaway stay – cut short by about 7 days – and now after. It's right on. There were several misrepresentations, omissions and bs things in their listing but as a newcomer, all gung ho, I chose to ignore the red flags and carry on. Thank goddess I was traveling in my car and was able to pack it up and leave in the middle of the night when things got out of hand. I've written to workaway and am not very satisfied with their response. I'm afraid they protect hosts the way ebay protects buyers. The commodity they have least of is more valuable.

  39. Richard September 23, 2015 at 12:49 am #

    Great review. I did workaway in Spain for 7 months last year. I came home to Arizona and now miss it so much that I'm trying to find a job or school in Spain I can go to so I can go back. I do agree, needing to be weary and VERY clear with hosts is very important. The first family I stayed with wrote me a "good" review on workaway because I was good with the kids, but I have a feeling she wasn't telling me about something she may have been disappointed in, and didn't know that until I saw the review, still… it was a good experience. The second family I stayed with expected WAY more of me than we agreed upon, skills, and hours… and that got old very fast and I couldn't wait to get out of there. The 3rd family I stayed with actually hadn't joined workaway yet, but had heard about it from the first family and some others in the first town I stayed in. I thoroughly enjoyed being with them the whole time and everything went very well after we understood what I was to do exactly. They then joined workaway to find someone else after me. Overall it's a great experience, and the reason I'm reading this review is to try to find other sites that are comparable to workaway to see if maybe I can give something else a shot, otherwise, it's back to workaway for me for lodging for the first few months of my new life when I return to Spain. I would HIGHLY recommend doing a workaway to anyone!!!
    My recent post Slovenia: Gardening, building projects and household help under beatutiful Alps in Slovenia

  40. Inukie December 17, 2015 at 11:38 am #

    I'm really glad this is here, its candid without being disrespectful or unappreciative.
    I was with woof for a long time but wound up with a lot of hosts who, like you say, did 12 hour days and expected you to follow suit. I really liked one place, but at nearly a month, I was realizing there was never going to be any kind of break outside laziness, even when I hurt my thumbnail badly or was getting sick from overwork. Lost a bunch of weight tho.
    I agree completely with the bit on being witness to family squabbles but it was never any kind of a problem for me. I was always assured I wasn't at fault, could ask questions if I needed, and that I would never be talked about behind my back. Though the talking about behind your back can be an issue.
    I've heard a lot of good things about workaway from people in woof getting tired of hearing more and more stories of people taking advantage. In woof theres an issue that people who go out to farm and be their own boss just have a higher rate of not really functioning back in normal society, unreliable, hard headed, have different ideas of risks like with the possibility of getting hurt. There's just a lower rate of that in workaway with more business owners, and fewer placements needing only manual labor. Woof also deals with people who have idealistic notions about farming, and that lends itself to getting taken advantage of. A risk that increases for young people traveling alone or in just a pair who don't want to be unappreciative.
    I really want to mention, all these sites are set up so you can only leave positive feedback or complain if someplace really put you in danger. Star ratings mean nothing, it could be all 3 stars, it could be a bunch of 5s and two 1 stars. I went to a farm with dozens of reviews but their cows were scary thin, all the animals ran out of water frequently and it was summer, and I could do nothing about it. Heartbreaking and frustrating.

  41. Ingrid January 18, 2016 at 3:48 am #

    Useful post. I am a helpx host. I also am ambivalent about hosting, usually it is great but when things aren't great, I find it very hard to confront things. For example, recently I hosted girls who were heavy smokers. It seemed as if every time I turned around, they were smoking. It really got on my nerves,but I felt it was my fault because I hadn't asked before they stayed whether they smoked or not. Also people who are sill having coffee when we have arranged a work start time. It seems petty to make a fuss. Same I found helpers with the heater on and a boiling hot bedroom – feels like a waste of power costs but I feel slightly in The wrong or petty to ask them to turn it off though I might be very annoyed. So annoying things gone unaddressed when there is that crossover of guest / employee / quasi-fAmily member. I work hard to try andprovide a good experience for helpx ers so that is quite a bit of effort and only really worth it when the people work diligently. But there is no guarantee. Also sometimes after emails, I get a feeling that it won't be ideal, but I do 't cancel because I do 't want to ruin the helpx ers plans.

  42. Dos Gringos February 11, 2016 at 6:04 pm #

    For those of you trying to decide between helpx and workaway, here's something that might tip the balance. Workaway not only looks better and has more photos, but you can also see a host's reply rate. This feature is absent in helpx. In my mind, a good host will do their best to keep up their reply rate. So with helpx, you kind of gamble that the host will answer you. In workaway, you can decide whether or not it's worth your while to take the time to write a personal note based on the reply rate.

    In any case, do not copy/paste requests…make an effort to show the host you read their profile. The host is receiving you in their home, so show some interest. And complete your profile with photos, skills and your intended destinations and travel dates. Hosts sometimes search worker profiles by country, but if you put several countries (or all of them!), try to prioritize them with dates…they are not going to waste their time contacting you if they think you are just fishing for the best offer worldwide.

  43. Miami Golden Girl February 20, 2016 at 12:25 am #

    From the view point of a host , the view looks very different. We have been hosts for over 4 years now, our adult son was a volunteer for 5 years, so we do know both sides. Most of our 'work away ers have not done the most possible, but the opposite. Also most do not even have basic cleaning skills for ordinary housework and are not fast nor efficient. There have been some notable exceptions of course. When you count in the cost of hotels or pensions and meals, there is really an obligation to do some solid work each and every day or long days that are productive if yo the want to take a day or two off. It makes no sense for a work away er to sit and do nothing for hours a day. Better to work extra then take extra days of to cruise around, do tourist stuff, and have a couple days off to visit the nearby countryside. Also, food is a huge expense and work away ers for the most part do not come close to doing enough work to equal the value of room And board. We always try to make the situation as clear as possible beforehand and to exchange many emails trying to do this. Some of the work away and HelpX volunteers have never done anything serious in their lives and that shows , even that I have had to teach them how to sweep a floor, to do laundry, basic cleanliness. I found this experience just amazing. It had been wonderful help for us , at the same time, we have made life long friends with some of those who have stayed with us. Many of our volunteers also think we are supposed to be a tour service for them and a taxi service also. We never promise anything beforehand but for the best and most dedicated workers we make sure they are more than compensated. One young girl came twice to stay with us for 3 months each time, and we took her to Disney world for 2 weeks, all expenses paid, and the next visit we took her to a resort condo on the ocean for a vacation , and a drive trip to Key West. We live in Miami, Florida so that is a real treat. We also took some of our volunteers to visit the Everglades and the Biscayne National Parks here on a free trolly service, driving them to the pick up and back. We always meet at the airport and take them back again, a $50 savings each way. I really think quite a few of the volunteers appreciate what we do but many have no clue at all . Its a Russian Roulette game but the savings for the work away and helpX volunteers is huge . It is a huge financial savings for them. Meanwhile, we have strangers in our home, our personal freedom is not the same with them here in our house, and we always breathe a sigh of relief when they leave and we have a few days of just the family being in our home. We try to be great hosts and friendly and easy going and also helpful but we are not tour guides by any means nor do we have the time to be. We are living our lives with the demands of work and keeping up our homes and families, we are not on vacation like the volunteers are. Some get it and some do not.

  44. Charm March 22, 2016 at 8:23 pm #

    this is really great and informative! thanks! I am looking for a place to stay in NYC for an internship opportunity and thought this might be helpful, turns out it might not be the case. Do you happen to have any suggestions or site you know that would help me? it's a 10-week long internship. I can definitely offer the extra time I have from the intership since I really want to save as well. I would be very happy to consider any suggestions 🙂

  45. Kruffpump April 10, 2016 at 5:24 pm #

    Hi everyone! I really loved this article and decided to try Workaway. However after scrolling through the website, I only found 1 host that might suit me, and was wondering if someone with a workaway account would be kind enough to get his contact details? This is the link to the host's profile: https://www.workaway.info/661293143556-en.html Thanks so much to the kind soul out there!

  46. Laeti May 29, 2016 at 12:59 am #

    Hello Jessica,
    Thank you for this article about working, helpx and workaway.
    It seems more true, fair and structured than most of the articles I've been reading on this topic.
    I just have one question after reading it, you tell about another way of travelling on low budget, and I would be interested in learning more about it ?
    Thanks for your post,
    Cheers,
    A french traveler woofing in New Zealand 🙂

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