My Experience Volunteering With Workaway

Traveling with Alice

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In January 2018, I left Italy for an experience in the U.K., where a family would have hosted me for about three months.

I was tired of my tedious job, and Scotland attracted me. Have you ever had the feeling you must visit a place?

Maybe it was the Outlander tv series fault, or I was just trying to run away from the situation I was living in.

I started evaluating possible ways to get a job in the U.K. as an au pair or seasonal positions, and I landed on the Workaway website.

It seemed a great way to improve my English and live an experience abroad while trying to figure out what to do next.

What is Workaway?

Workaway is an online website that facilitates the meeting between hosts and travelers. The hosts decide to welcome volunteers from all over the world to help them with certain jobs and during a specific period. There are companies, families, hostels, farms, hotels, or just people who want to make a new friend.

The travelers wishing to stay in a place saving on room and board may ask for hospitality in exchange for a few hours of work per day for 5 or 6 days a week. Y

ou must register to use the Workaway service; it is a paid site which cost varies according to the type of profile. Registration is valid for one year.

Once you have registered on Workaway, you can create your profile. Try to make it interesting for the type of host you are looking for and as much complete as possible.

A hostel needs a volunteer with different characteristics from those required by a family with children. Once the profile is ready, all you have to do is search for possible hosts. Create a beautiful personalized letter for each of them and start proposing yourself for the job.

Once you have found someone available, agree on working hours and duties to make no mistakes during your stay.

Finally, don’t forget that each country has its own rules on volunteering, medical insurance, driver’s license, visa, and vaccinations. Before you leave, make sure you have all the documents in order.

My experience with Workaway

Before deciding to sign up, I looked at some profiles to understand if I could go and do what I wanted. My initial idea was to go to Scotland or stay in a city big enough to move independently without a car.

This was not the case. I managed to find a family willing to host me in the Norfolk countryside; they put at my disposal a private room with a bathroom and a car.

My duties were pretty simple: cleaning, cooking, shopping, and taking the kids to school.

During the 3 months of my stay, I had the opportunity to visit Norwich, King’s Lynn, Cambridge, Ely, Peterborough, London, Lincoln, the Imperial War Museum Duxford, Sandringham.

I went to the cinema, to the sea, visited ruined castles, hat shops and saw fawns skipping quietly in the garden.

12 days between Scotland and Northumberland

In April 2018, I left for 12 days in Scotland alone. From Peterborough, I took the train to Edinburgh. The capital of Scotland was the base for some day trips by bus.

For the day tours I have entrusted the company Rabbie’s Tour, the buses have 16 seats. The guides have the freedom to customize the explanations as they see fit. From Edinburgh, I took 3 tours: one for Hadrian’s Wall, one for Alnwick Castle, and one for Loch Lomond National Park and Stirling Castle.

Then I went by bus to Inverness, where I visited the capital of the Highlands on a rainy half day plus took two other day tours: Isle of Skye Eilean Donan Castle first and then the trip around Loch Ness with a visit to Urquhart Castle.

After the excursions from Inverness, I headed by bus to Glasgow. Busy university city where tall, modern skyscrapers flank historic buildings. In Glasgow, I enjoyed the Cathedral with its cemetery, the Kelvingrove museum, the university, and the amazing street art paintings.

I only stopped in Glasgow for a couple of days. I must admit I didn’t enjoy it very much as the first part of the journey was incredibly intense, and I was exhausted!

From Glasgow, I returned to Edinburgh for a final tour of the city. In Scotland’s capital, I visited the famous Castle, the city’s dungeons, the Scottish National Museum, and the National Gallery of Scotland.

I climbed up Calton Hill, toured the Greyfriars Kirkyard cemetery and the Old Calton Cemetery, and admired the Scott Monument.

Would I do it again?

Living in a small countryside town and being stuck because you can’t use the car for insurance reasons was not very pleasant.

Yes, after a couple of months, I couldn’t use the car as I was supposed to. After all, my experience was positive because I didn’t work so much, and I learned many things living with an English family.

If I had to repeat the experience, I would try to find hospitality with a host who lives in a big city even if they are obviously the most popular.

Takeaway

I am convinced that every experience is different and strictly personal; for me, it was the first time as well as for the host family.

If you wish to try the experience with Workaway or other similar portals, like HelpX or WWOOF, I recommend looking for hosts that meet your needs and reading the reviews left by other travelers.

Speaking clearly and sincerely with the hosts you are proposing is important to avoid unpleasant surprises and disappointments. You can also ask for a sort of contract to protect yourself and the host in case something bad happen.

Also, make sure you have a plan B and some money left in case something goes wrong and you need to leave the place where you are staying.

This type of experience can give you a lot, you can learn and have the chance to teach others what you know but keep in mind that your safety comes first.

I hope you will have an amazing experience around the world volunteering or working with families and companies in the place you wish to visit!

P.S.: I'm not associated with Workaway by any means, I just wanted to share my experience so that other travelers can have an idea of what to expect by using the platform.

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