Workaway – what you should know

Workaway – what you should know

What is Workaway?

How does Workaway REALLY work? What’s it all about? If you are not sure about Workaway and the process, here are the things you really need to know…

Workaway.info is a website we found which allows us to take advantage of these opportunities, all over the world. It’s a site we heard about a while ago and we got really excited about, as they link up travellers and hosts from across the globe.

Workaway describes their philosophy as follows; “A few hours honest help per day in exchange for food & accommodation and an opportunity to meet others. Learn about local lifestyles and communities, with friendly hosts in varying situations and surroundings. We also promote paid work positions for hosts looking for extra help with their businesses.”

To find out more about them, here is their Information page for Workawayers. 

It’s been a great experience for us

We arrived to the beautiful island of Langkawi about a week ago. At this point, we plan on sticking around for about a month. But, we can leave whenever we want. We’re staying here for free, in exchange for a few hours of work a day, 5 days a week.

After a short international flight from Singapore, it was already late at night when we got in to the small island of Langkawi, found just off of the north west coast of Malaysia. We couldn’t see much of our new and unfamiliar environment in the dark hour we touched down.

Personally, I love arriving at a new place in the dark. It means that when you wake up the next morning, you get a surprise. Will it be a great view of the beach? Are you overlooking a concrete jungle or a concrete slab?

This time around, we had a great surprise. As i write this I am sitting on the balcony of our modest accommodation. With this view….

Working on this blog post from our free accommodation through Workaway. Not a bad view?

I get to eat my meals on this very spot each day. This view is my new normal. I sit on this balcony ovelooking the ocean that hugs Malaysia. We stay for free in exchange for about 4 hours of work, 5 days a week. The rest of the time is ours.

Working with us here are; a Polish couple, a Dutch and an Austrian girl, as well as some Malay locals, and Indonesians. What an experience. I know i will always treasure this time. 

We’re staying at the beachfront resort on the island of Langkawi, and we’re helping to manage the upkeep of the property. In exchange for free accommodation and two meals each day

Sunset views from our balcony

The work around the resort is hard, but only because we’re on the equator in tropical conditions with a gazillion mosquitos. Although I am from Africa, I hail from a part far south, where the mercury still drops. We do not have weather or humidity like this. 

Tomorrow I will join my first local Yoga class. Maybe i’ll take it up while we stay here over the coming weeks. That’s the beauty of travel, you can make it up as you go along. 

Exploring the island on the scooter we rented for the month that we'll be here.

Each Workaway “stay” is slightly different and if you are considering doing one, I recommend you keep the following in mind:

Workaway? – Keep this in mind

Read the host’s listing carefully, from top to bottom

This is where most good hosts would tell you anything you need to know. And you really need to know what you’re getting yourself in for, before you arrive. Like for example, I saw some workaway hosts that cater only for vegetarians. I love my meat, a lot (like a true South African), but I might be willing to try this for a few weeks. Would you?

The only way you will know details like this, is if you read the descriptions thoroughly. 

Another example is that some of the work might not be suited for you. Like if you are really afraid of heights and the work involves heights. Sometimes the hosts will warn you that their are dogs or cats on the property, that it is very remote, that they expect you to cook for yourself, etc.

These are all juicy pieces of information you should know before you sign up. 

Our current Workaway. Located in the jungle overlooking the coastline of Langkawi Island. From reading the post correctly and doing research on the area, we were able to make an informed decision. The really hot and humid conditions are not for everyone, and Workawayers here should not be too afraid of the "jungle life", as we have come to call it. Bugs, spiders, bats and plenty of mosquitos.

Know what experience you are looking for

If you want to interact with a lot of locals, look for that experience in the descriptions. If you want to help the local communities, look for that experience, you will surely find it.

There are opportunities to work with children, animals, or underprivileged communities. It’s all there. Just look for it.

If you’d like to work with and or meet a lot of other travellers, there are also lots of Workaways you can do at hostels or backpackers lodges. This is an amazing way to start a trip and meet some people who have traveled the area.

You may want to live with a local in their house and these opportunities are all there on the site. You just have to look.

Pay close attention to previous Workawayer’s reviews

This is where you will find out quickly what the experience will be like. If the hosts treat their Workawayers with respect, and if you will fit in to the culture.

Some Workaway hosts want to give you a good experience, they want to take you out and show you around. They want to help you find great local foods. But, some of them just want to have free labour. The reviews from previous Workawayers will help you see which type the host is.

For the most part the hosts are great, and I believe this is because the “bad” ones can be worked out of the system through the transparency of the review system. The review system keeps it honest and safe. Read them, and….

Write your own Reviews

Once you have completed your own Workaway, I think it is so important to always write your public review of your experience on the Workaway website. 

You might have avoided a bad experience because of another honest Workawayer. Pay future Workawayers the same respect by sharing your experience. Good or bad.

Enjoying a fire show on the local beach

Not all Workaways are created equal

EVERY Workaway will be different.

Not all Workaways cover your food costs. Some do. Some Workaways will pay you a small salary due to local legislation, or because of their big hearts. Some will give you cash for you to buy and cook your own food, whereas some will cook enough for you to join them for meals each day.

You may have privacy and your own place, or you may be sharing with other Workawayers or your hosts.

Again, you can find what suites you, the choices are very varied, you just need to read the descriptions carefully and make sure you are prepared for what you choose.

It can be truly amazing

Why do you travel?

For me, it’s about the experience of exploring the unfamiliar. It’s about learning more about myself through learning about others. It is the experience of getting lost in another place and another culture. Seeing the world outside of the bubble you were used to. Push your comfort zone a little bit farther.

Workaway allows me to do all this, and more. 

Workaway can be a great way to;

  1. Meet locals. Live like locals. Immerse yourself in their world.
  2. Do some good for a local community.
  3. Save money and allow you to travel for next to no cost.
  4. Feed your soul (or travel bug).
  5. Get some work experience on your resume. 
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Awesome to have you here!

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About Me

Full-time traveler. My aim is to inspire others to travel more, and to be less afraid of the world.

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