A working holiday is a great way to extend your travelling time whilst learning new skills, trying things you’ve never done before and meeting cool people.
You can use websites such a Help X or Work Away to connect with hosts all over the world who need help with their projects. The work varies from babysitting to farming. You can find something that suites you.
What’s to gain?
With free accommodation, you can afford to stay longer in a chosen destination. A maximum of 5 hours a day will be spent working. The rest of the day is yours, plus 2 days off a week.
- You can do things you’ve never done before (new skills)
- You will grow a lot more from the experience than you would sitting at the pool
- Develop patience with yourself and others
- The chance to explore a new culture
- Meet great people and learn how to deal with not so great people
- Develop your adaptability
What you should know
The agreement should be that you receive 3 meals a day and accommodation for approximately 25 hours work a week. Some hosts don’t offer 3 meals but at least 1 should be provided. It depends on the nature of the work.
Remember, you’re a volunteer, not an employee. If you have a good work ethic, you want your efforts to be appreciated. So make sure you check out the host thoroughly before choosing them. Bad hosts deserve bad volunteers. Vice versa.
How to prepare
Read the reviews. Check when the last review was posted. Don’t be in a rush to get there and enjoy the free accommodation. If you end up with a terrible host, you’ll soon realise you wasted your money travelling to them.
Be real about it. Only apply for a work away that you think you will enjoy and take something from. If you feel in your gut that it might not be for you, don’t do it.
Have a video interview with the host. If they agree to this it’s a good sign that they’re organised and have time for you. Come to an agreement on both sides as to what is expected from each other.
I ended up in the South-East of Spain in mid-August with a host that slept all day and didn’t have enough direction to give me work. I ended up watering the flowers twice a day, which was her one and only job that she decided to give to me. Her lack of enthusiasm and the intense heat quickly demotivated me and I ended up leaving after a few days. At the time I felt it was a waste of money getting to her but I guess all experience is good experience. Point is, you can avoid those situations by following these tips.
Before arrival, ask questions about what work they have lined up: how many hours, what kind of food they provide (maybe you’re a vegetarian and they are not) and accommodation. The point of these questions is not necessarily to find out exactly what the experience will be like, but the interaction will allow you to gage whether they are the right fit for you.
How to make the most of your free time
I have free styled whilst travelling. The spontaneity has been exciting at times and took me to places I had no idea existed. On the other hand, it can be stressful and expensive. If you know you would like to do a working holiday, it’s worth having your destinations planned out and your work lined up.
Once you’ve confirmed with your hosts you can research the areas you are going to be in. That way, when it comes to your days off you already have an idea of where you want to explore.
It’s always better to have extra cash incase you really aren’t enjoying the experience and want to leave early. This can be an added bonus to your travel – a relaxed holiday in between work away posts (maybe you want to arrange something like this regardless of whether you leave a post early or not).