If you’ve read my free e-book How to travel for free, you might recognize the word “Workaway”. For me, it’s an amazing (and as good as free!) way of travelling around the world. In this post, I’ll tell you more about what Workaway is and how you get started, but I’ll also share my own Workaway experiences in Canada with you!
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What is Workaway?
Workaway is a website where people who want to volunteer, also known as workawayers, and hosts can connect. There are so many opportunities since there are hosts all around the world! They are offering everything between volunteer positions in hostels to the opportunity to help out on a farm. Usually, doing a Workaway means volunteering for 25 hours/week, with two days off each week, and you’ll work in exchange for room and board. This might vary, though, depending on where you want to volunteer – make sure to check out your host’s profile before applying so you know what you can expect! Some hosts ask for fewer hours in exchange for only accommodation which suits volunteers who want more time off to explore the area.
How do I become a Workawayer?
It’s easy! Just go to Workaway’s website, click on Register and then Sign up: Workawayers. You’ll need to fill in some information and pay a fee to have full access to the website. If you don’t want to register yet but still want to have a look at different hosts, that is fine too – you just won’t be able to contact them! When you register you have to choose if you want to use the site alone or together with a friend or a partner. It is cheaper per person to register as a couple instead of having two single accounts. When you’ve paid the fee, you’ll have access to the full site for a year and after that, you can choose to pay for another year if you’re still exploring the world!
As soon as you’ve registered it’s time to make your own profile. Upload some pictures and write about yourself. Don’t forget to fill out your skills, preferences and if you have any allergies!
What should I know before my first Workaway?
Be ready for some tough work, but also remember that you deserve to be treated fairly. I’ve talked to way too many volunteers that have worked full-time although they were told it would be 25 hours/week – it even happened to me once. If you’re not being treated OK, you can always try to talk about it but, remember, you are not obligated to stay!
This also goes the other way around – work hard during your hours! Your host is giving you accommodation and food, so don’t do other things (like using your phone) during working hours. Enjoy your experience and have a great time while you might learn something new!
Is Workaway safe?
I’ve done 8 Workaway experiences in total so far and I’ve never felt unsafe, but there are of course exceptions. Make sure to read the host’s profile thoroughly before applying, and also read other volunteers’ reviews at the bottom of the profile. If you want, you may also contact the host’s previous volunteers to ask them more about their experience. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t risk anything – there are so many hosts out there!
My Workaway experiences in Canada
I’ve done 7 Workaways in Canada which I’ll share with you to give you some more insight and ideas for your future volunteer positions. Working for room and board while exploring this amazing country has given me unique experiences that I wouldn’t have had if I was just travelling!
Volunteering at a hostel in Newfoundland
Newfoundland probably is my very favourite place in this beautiful country. This was my first time volunteering in Canada and I had an amazing time! It’s actually one of my best Workaway experiences so far. In exchange for minimal work every day, not more than 2 hours/day, I got a bed in a dorm room and free food. That’s a pretty good deal for the volunteers, to be honest! During my time off I watched the beautiful whales and puffins that you can find in this part of Canada. I also went on hikes and explored smaller villages on the island.
Volunteering for a family in Nova Scotia
This was one of my first Workaway experiences in Canada and a shorter one, just over a week. I stayed with a family and didn’t really have any set hours – sometimes I worked for 6 hours and sometimes for 4, mostly every day. I worked for room and board. During my time off I went to the beach or on hikes, Nova Scotia is beautiful! I helped the family with various chores. I cleaned, helped in the garden and even went oyster picking on their oyster farm!
Volunteering at a hostel in Québec city
I stayed at this hostel for about two weeks and the work was very fair. What was written in the profile on Workaway was also what you got. I worked for 4 hours, 5 days/week, and got my own room and breakfast every day. Lunch and dinner were not included, but since there were quite many volunteers, we usually cooked together. Sometimes even the owner cooked for us! Since as good as everyone speaks French in Québec, including the crew I worked with, having some basic knowledge of French definitely helped me on this Workaway.
Volunteering at an eco-lodge outside of Montréal
This was a really cool experience! My partner Fredrik had just arrived in Canada and this was our first Workaway experience together. We got picked up at our hostel in Montréal by a guy working at the eco-lodge and went with him for about 3 hours to a remote place in the middle of the woods. The eco-lodge is located right next to a beautiful lake. We helped out with several different tasks at the eco-lodge, such as cleaning and closing it down for the winter, and had a lot of time to explore the area. I tried out kayaking for the very first time and loved it! We got our own cottage and every night someone cooked for all the employees and the volunteers, about 5-8 people. We were lucky to taste delicious food from all over the world!
Volunteering for a couple in the Okanagan
We stayed with a couple in the Okanagan for about three weeks and helped them with a variety of things, but most days we worked in the garden. We didn’t think about it too much before arriving, but after a week or two in the garden we realized that’s not for us – which is good to know for our future Workaways but also so we know not to get a big garden ourselves! The work was very fair and we had two days off each week with all meals included.
Volunteering at a winery in Osoyoos
This is one of the Workaways Fredrik and I have done together that we were most excited about. Getting to know the process of winemaking (and maybe taste some wine…) sounded almost too good to be true! We spent around 10 days at the winery and did have a good time, but we ended up working almost full time even though we were supposed to work 25 hours/week. We got supplies to cook our own meals every day together with other volunteers which was a nice way of getting to know each other. However, since we worked so many hours/week, we didn’t have that much time left for exploring the area – which is one of the reasons we usually do Workaways! But yes, we did get to taste some delicious wine, and the view we had while working among the vines every day was magical!
Volunteering for a couple close to Valemount
Our last Workaway in Canada was helping an older couple near Valemount. Both Fredrik and I really enjoyed this Workaway experience. We had our own cottage and all meals were included. There wasn’t a set schedule but we worked around 25 hours/week with two days off. Their place is beautifully surrounded by mountains, perfect for mountain lovers like us! We helped out with several different things, but mostly cleaning up before summer. In addition to living in this beautiful area, we also saw bears, coyotes and lots of hummingbirds. During our last days, the water stopped running so that was an interesting end to our stay, but we didn’t mind at all. It was quite an experience having to go down to the river to get water to drink and to boil so we could have a shower – actually, I think this is one of my best Workaway experiences!
As you can tell from all of my Workaway experiences in Canada, there is so much to choose between! Be sure you find something that interests you and don’t be shy to ask your future host more about what you can expect and what they expect from you if you feel like something in their profile is unclear.
How to have the best Workaway experiences
I think it’s all about what you’re ready to give – the more you put into your Workaway experience, the more you’ll most likely to get out from it! Try to find something that you really want to do, that you’re excited about. You could try basically anything! Who knows, maybe you’ll end up thinking “this is exactly what I want to work with” while doing a Workaway?
Ready to sign up? Visit Workaway’s website!
Have fun finding your future host, and have a great time as a workawayer!
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