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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Hi everyone, and welcome to the part two post for our Workaway experience! If you missed part one, start here.
So, your hosts have just replied to your mail and told you to come to their place: what are the best things to do right now? First thing first, not take it for granted. Your experience will start only when you will buy the tickets for the flight, the train, or whatever you will need to take to reach the place you have chosen — or, even better, when you arrive to your hosts' property.
Thousands of unexpected events could still happen, even after lots of emails, messages, calls, and reassurances: At this very moment being happy is totally fine, but keep it real.
Some hosts may require your flight ticket as proof you're really committed to go to their place, while someone else could just trust your word.
If something out of the blue prevents you from going to the hosts' house, try to tell them everything as soon as possible: Honesty is always appreciated!
But, if everything is going smoothly, it's time to pack up your stuff.
We suggest you bring a backpack rather than a suitcase, since lots of hosts often live in remote places, and you may have to relay on public transport to reach them. A backpack is always handier.
We're not going to make you a list of what to carry, but just some suggestions: We found it really useful to bring hiking clothes with us, which are easy to dry. In some places you could have problems doing regular laundry, or the weather could be rainy or damp. Moreover, packing some cheap and sturdy workwears could be a nice idea, depending on your tasks. You don't want your expensive equipment to be ripped or stained, do you?
Another useful pro tip is always bringing organic soaps. Your host could be totally off the grid, and you don't want chemicals to end up in the sewage where they could pollute the water and soil.
But you can't pack the most important things you will need, since they are only a matter of attitude. Patience and attention are the most valuable virtues during a trip like this. No host wants to repeat the same stuff over and over, so try to listen and understand your tasks pretty quickly.
If you show that what was written on your description was just a lie, you could even be sent home. We directly saw something similar happen: A guy, after only five days, had to go because he totally exaggerated his own skills while he was writing his resume. He also had problems interacting with most of the volunteers, since he was a bit selfish and avoided pretty much all of the chores we had to do daily to keep our space clean.
Being kind with the other volunteers, if they are present, is just as important as being polite with the hosts, and we're pretty sure that a positive mindset will make your experience unforgettable, like ours.
We have been traveling for seven months in the Canary Islands, since after 2017, when we first went there on holiday. We fell in love with their wild nature — and with their tasty food, too!
Tenerife was our first choice. We're really happy to have chosen it, because it was there where we met Gavin and Jess, the lovely owners of this website! We spent two and a half months there in a "finca", the Spanish word for "farm", amongst mountains and pine tree forests.
While I spent my mornings sewing, and Giacomo making short movies, our afternoons were filled with long chats, trekking in the mountains, saunas lighted by the stars, and s'mores under the moonlight. But what we loved the most about this experience was the people we met: Everyone had a story to tell, advice to share, a recipe to cook, or simply a smile to brighten the day. With the right pals, every ordinary day could become an epic adventure and a must-tell episode to entertain your old friends when you return to your home.
Throughout the Canary Islands, most of the locals are pretty easy going. If they feel that you can understand what they are saying in Spanish, they will start talking to you all the time in their native language. That is exactly how we learned Spanish: We started with a couple of words exchanged with a guy of a local bakery in Tenerife, and we have been kind of forced to steadily learn it since arriving in El Hierro, as the man and the woman who we were working with only spoke Spanish. When we finally started to understand the local language, we started to understand the culture, too — and to connect with the true heart of El Hierro. We could greet the people passing in the streets, ask for information in the "carreteras" (the rural roads), and go by ourselves to local events.
We were no longer tourists, at last! We were finally travelers, and this really made us happy.
We have been glad to change our mindset before arriving in Fuerteventura, because we managed to avoid all of the crowded places and enjoy the most remote and uncrowded beaches, where only locals and skilled surfers could be found.
During our stay, we learned a lot about natural building. On the whole island, you can see the damages caused by wild, unregulated construction, and it felt good to be a part of the solution, even if there is still so much left to do.
However, there's still plenty of untouched landscape left on the island, a literal desert surrounded by a great void. Ironically, it can make you feel full of spirituality.
When we left Fuerteventura heading towards La Palma, our last stop over before going home, the difference between the two islands left us speechless. It's really unbelievable to think that islands so close could be so different, like two distant worlds.
La Palma looks like Eden: Banana plantations cover up a great part of the island, and the variety in the local flora paints a canvas with a thousand shades of green. Our duty here was housesitting, so we had to do some gardening, cleaning, keeping an eye on the chickens, and, again, a little bit of sewing for me, and building lots of different things for Giacomo.
Taking care of someone else's property is pretty strange. You can really feel at home, waking up and doing stuff at your own pace. But don't forget to be responsible, because the owner put his or her trust in your hands — along with their house keys.
The last highlight of this island is the stargazing. Even if it is pretty small, you can still find a 7500 ft mountain, and from its top, thanks to the haze-free sky that surrounds the Canary Islands, you can earn one of the best views in the whole world.
Seven months have passed like this: traveling, working, and learning. We treasure myriads of unforgettable memories, all thanks to Workaway.
If, after reading our experience, you will choose to leave on your own adventure, we would definitely love to hear your travel stories! You can find us on Instagram at @kimsoowear — if you still have some doubts or questions, we will be glad to answer you.
See you around the world,
Silvia and Giacomo