Long-Term Travel Series: Volunteering for Your Stay with Workaway

Hi everyone! Jess with TWC here. Today we have a new post that is a part of our blog series, Long-Term Travel! This series features different travelers we've met who are traveling for an extended period of time and have found a reliable method to fund their travels as they go! Our hope is that this series will show that it is possible to travel long-term and conquer some of your bucket list without needing a savings account to afford it.

This series will be featuring people who are working online, volunteering for their stay through sites such as Workaway, getting free stays through house sitting, are self-employed, etc! We hope their stories inspire you to create and share your own! If you have found a way to fund your long-term travel and would like to be featured in this series, please email jessica@travelwc.com.

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For our second blog post of this series, our friends from Italy, Silvia and Giacomo, who we met on the island of Tenerife, will be talking about their experience deciding to begin an indefinite period of travel, sustained by volunteering for room and board through the website Workaway. They will share what Workaway is and their best tips for applying to Workaway, picking a Host, applying for a position, and contacting Hosts. Luckily for us all, Silvia and Giacomo agreed to write a second part to this blog post, which will focus on their experience with Workaway after finding a position with a Host. Stay tuned soon to read Part Two! You can also check out Silvia on Instagram at @kimsoowear and on Facebook at Kimsoo @kimsoowear to see her beautiful work as a seamstress and an even more beautiful personality and person.

Tenerife, where we met Silvia and Giacomo!

To provide a little background for you, Gavin and I actually met these wonderful people, Silvia and Giacomo, when our paths crossed for 1 month while living and volunteering together on a permaculture farm that is nestled up high in the mountains of Tenerife, a Canary Island. 7 of us Workawayer volunteers shared an apartment and a little car, which we promptly nicknamed Chupito (Spanish for shot because he was small but mighty, of course). The 7 of us would pile into that little car, built to fit 4 or 5 people, and drive for hours around the island every weekend to natural pools, volcanoes, and beautiful nature.

Chupito & Mount Teide on Tenerife

During the week, we shared responsibilities around the farm and garden, learning from each other and our Hosts about renewable energy, organic farming, composting, cooking vegan meals, and many more lessons closer to our hearts.

Some of our Tenerife family!

But mostly, our little group was specifically focused on FOOD! Yes, that's right, all of the food we could get. We were mostly vegan while living on the farm, but I will admit that we would walk 45 minutes one-way several times a week to visit the Dulceria in a town nearby... Gavin and I will never forget the beautiful lessons about life, love, and especially food that we learned from this amazing group. Sharing special meals made with meaning each day was an experience we will never forget, and especially considering how amazing Chef Giacomo's cooking is...

Our 2 Italian friends, Giacomo and Silvia, especially left an impression on us. From the time Silvia spent over 24 hours making gnocci to perfection (and taking into the consideration the humidity of the air, as a proper gnocci-maker does) to Giacomo finding incredibly creative ways to make delicious meals out of any leftovers, we knew these two were special. We are so thrilled that they have written not one but two blog posts about their overall Workaway experience and have allowed us to share them with our Travel World Culture community.

And now... here is Silvia's story in her own words:

Hi everyone! I am Silvia, a recently turned 32 year old Italian girl, and I have been traveling for 6 months together with Giacomo, 33, my boyfriend. Welcome to our first Workaway post!

For a long time we had both dreamed of leaving and travel, but we had never taken this idea too seriously, call it some reasons or call it excuses, you decide.

Suddenly, last summer, an epiphany. While working on our laptops; I looked up at Giacomo and told him "Let's go". He replied "Okay", as if I had asked him to go and have a coffee together.

Since we were both working independently, we were lucky enough to not be accountable for schedules or constraints: I am a professional patternmaker and dressmaker, while Giacomo is is a good handyman with many hobbies. For this reason, plus not having to pay neither the rent or the mortgage of a house nor a car to maintain, we managed to organize a trip without a fixed return date.

We found Workaway to be the perfect way for anyone who wants to travel without being a tourist: in fact, it's a site that connects people who offer more or less professional skills with others who need it.

No contract, nothing formal, the Workawayer just trades a few hours of work per day for a bed and, usually, three meals from the Host.

Signing up is very simple: just go to www.workaway.info, click on Sign Up and, first of all, choose whether you want to create a single account or per couple account for a few more money. Obviously we chose the second option, but there is not much difference between the two formulas. No need to be married or engaged to sign up as a couple: just being a brother and sister, old friends or relatives who have decided to travel together.

The goal now is to be sincere and at the same time look more appealing than others in order to be chosen by a Host. We picked two very clear photos of us, two close-ups, taken outside, that could convey the idea that we are sociable people and nature lovers.

Then we chose our travel destination, in our case the Canary Islands, and indicated how roughly long we would like to stay on the road. When we were writing our description, we tried to be complete but not long-winded, exhaustive but not boring.

The next step requires you to check the fields in which you can offer your help to the Hosts from a list: we chose almost everything except babysitting. While describing your abilities, our suggestion is always to be sincere: the saying "Fake it till you make it" is also true, but, especially if this is your first Workaway experience, don't go too much overboard or the hosts could even kick you out if you don't meet the expectations.

The last questions asks you if you are in possession of a driving license, if you have particular allergies or if you follow a special diet, like if you are vegan or intolerant to gluten. If you feel confident in front of a camera you can even add a video but it's not mandatory, (we did not make one).

If you have followed these steps: congratulations, you are a Workawayer now!

Inside the Host List, you will find a fairly detailed checkbox that allows you to skim the Hosts to find the one that suits you the most. You can select from an entire continent to the region of a state. You can even add one or more keywords, such as the name of a city or an island where you would like to stay or the job you would like to do, and then see how many Hosts correlate to your first selection.

There are also additional search criteria, such as the number of Workawayers accepted by the Host, or the category to which the Host itself belongs, namely a farm, a hostel, an NGO and much more. Our advice is not to limit the search with too specific keywords: the risk is not seeing exciting options that you did not even think could be interesting!

For example, we had only two discriminators in our research: the first was to avoid job offers as babysitters, and the second one was working for 5 hours, 5 days a week maximum in exchange for accommodation and 3 meals a day (breakfast, lunch and dinner), but these may not necessarily the ones that best suits your needs. If, for example, you prefer to have more free time there, are also Hosts who are looking for just 2 or 3 working hours a day in exchange for only accommodation. Sometimes, depending on your Host's flexibility, you can always decide to work more for a few days in exchange for more free time in the next days.

It's now time to contact the Host that you have chosen. Again, our advice is to be concise but not telegraphic: describe in a couple of lines who you are and why you think you can be a good candidate. Take time to write a personal letter, calling the Host by name in case he or she specifies it, or writing about a concept he or she has explained. Try to establish a good contact already from the first communication, and show yourself interested in his or hers home or activities.

At this point you have to do the most difficoult step, i.e. waiting for a response. We had a lot of luck with our first Host, as they answered us in a matter of days, but with the next few ones we have been not so lucky: some viewed out message without answering, others never even checked their inbox, others asked us for a Skype or Whatsapp contact and then disappeared into thin air, and one in particular after confirmed our stay told us "I'm sorry, but we gave what would have been your place to our friends" two weeks before going to their house.

So, a very Zen attitude is essential to travel with Workaway. You can also decide to write to several people for the same period but remember, as we have already said above, to be as personal as possible: copy-pasting the same mail to every host will hardly open the doors you want.

And when will the Host's fateful answer be yes? What will be better to do in that moment, besides celebrating? Well, we'll tell you this in the next episode, always here at Travel World Culture!

Stay tuned soon to read Part Two! Don't forget to check out Silvia on Instagram at @kimsoowear and on Facebook at Kimsoo @kimsoowear.

ABOUT TWC

Hey there, we are Gavin and Jess. After graduating from the University of Texas, we quit our jobs, moved out of our apartments, sold our cars, and packed two backpacks to live life on the road. We've traveled all over the world and have learned many lessons about life and travel along the way. These experiences led to the idea behind Travel World Culture. The goal behind our business is bringing affordable travel to anyone. We create organized group trip packages with the goal in mind of growing and mentoring those who want to see the world. TWC tours give the comfort and guidance needed to begin traveling. Along the way, the travelers gain the confidence and knowledge that they need to begin creating their own trips and adventures.

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