Work Away

Trade volunteer hours for free accommodation, all over the world.
What It Is:

Perhaps the most popular volunteer work exchange site internationally, Work Away connects volunteers with hosts around the world. Volunteers work part time (or less) in exchange for a free accommodation. A Work Away site can technically be just about anything, but volunteer work at hostels, eco-farms, language programs, yoga schools, etc. are very common.

Recommended For:

Anyone who wants to get involved in different projects abroad, though of course this is particularly useful for budget traveler, adventure types.

How To Use It:

For volunteers Work Away costs $29 a year, which is pretty low considering the amount of money saved. Create a profile, then simply search for hosts by region, and message them showing your interest.

Doing volunteer work exchange, combined with earning online using sites such as the one we review on Nomad Playground, is a very effective way of budget traveling anywhere in the world.

  • Free accommodation.
  • Meet some truly amazing people, doing interesting projects, in many different countries.
  • Wide variety in types of volunteer sites, though how much variety entirely depends on location.
  • More hosts, volunteers, better designed site than similar competitor Helpx.
  • Just as with any host program, it’s possible to have a negative experience. Not all hosts or volunteers are great people. If you get a bad vibe from a host, it’s best to just leave and find something else.
  • Depending on the site you might be short on personal space or easy transportation access. It comes with the territory – make sure you’re comfortable with what a site requires.
Things To Know:
  • Time commitments vary widely between sites, though the maximum a volunteer can be expected to do is 5 hours a day.
  • Work Away, like other work exchanges, should not be seen by travelers as only an easy way to get free room and board, and should not be viewed by hosts as only easy way to just get free labor. The free aspect of work exchange is of course a huge part of the appeal, but the larger point is cultural exchange and connecting cool people with interesting projects. Invest yourself in the experience.
  • It’s up to you to make a good profile, find hosts, and arrange the details – you’re expected to take care of yourself.
  • Communicate about all the details with your host before volunteering. You don’t want to be in a situation in which there are different understandings or expectations.
Important Links:

2 reviews

  1. Extremely useful, amazing experiences.

    I’ve used work away in many different countries as a volunteer, and now am a host. This is a fantastic way to travel and find interesting projects.

  2. I have been on Workaway for four years and had great experiences, but have decided not to extend my membership anymore.
    On the positive side, the work exchange concept itself. I strongly recommend it and it can be a life-changing experience if you find the right project. Perfect for long-term travelling, to get involved in a local community or practising a foreign language.
    However, some things don’t work that well:
    1- Opening a profile is free for hosts. In my experience that leads to many host profiles created without real intention of hosting, so many requests are never replied.
    2- Some hosts take it as a way to get cheap (almost free) labour and don’t really care about having a meaningful interaction with their volunteers. In some cases the working and living conditions get to be really poor.
    This is specially apparent in hostel projects, that are always able to find young volunteers likely to accept almost anything, as they have no other way to continue travelling.
    3- Point 2 wouldn’t be such a serious issue with a good feedback system, but Workaway allows retaliation references, so I’ve seen many examples of sugar-coated references from volunteers that were afraid to get some negative feedback.
    Also, references need to be approved by the site and their text is only displayed if they are not negative, so if there’s some issue with a project it’s likely to remain hidden.

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