While planning my dream trip in Europe, I stumbled across WorkAway: a work exchange platform that offers an affordable travel option for peeps like you and me looking for the cheapest way to travel Europe while making an impact. We’re all here to help each other, right? WorkAway is a good strategy to become an international volunteer without having to pay those straight cray volunteer fees some humanitarian organizations charge. I’ve become so obsessed with WorkAway, that I’ve stopped swiping on Tinder and spend my time swooning over work exchange possibilities like living on a Tibetan Buddhist Monastery in Austria.
Are these digs Freedizzle?
For those of you who are about to become as obsessed with WorkAway as I am, basically you pay a nominal membership fee to become a WorkAway member then you live your best life trading your skills for free accommodation and food around the world. Note for the oblivious: you’ll be working (i.e. you’re definitely going to break a sweat renovating that castle in Scotland #toughlife). However, you’ll get to enjoy the glory of returning to said castle for the rest of your life with your friends or one-day kids, pointing at it in the distance, and saying, “look what I have created!”
When I lived in Argentina, I volunteered on an Argentine cowboy ranch for six months and it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. That’s a story for another time, though.
Now put down Tinder and fall in love with these unique experiences in Europe:
Play with Huskies in the Arctic Circle and Watch the Northern Lights
When I saw this posting, I was like, “what have I been doing with my life before this?” A note about volunteer opportunities with huskies … I reached out to several places to inquire and found that most wanted long-term volunteers willing to stay at least a month if not the whole season. Also, many of them required you to have travel insurance because you’re working with animals. That said, there are endless opportunities not just in the Arctic Circle region but also other countries as well.
Is this not the dream? WorkAway is full of “maker type” opportunities, but for some reason the thought of living in Austria making cheese sounds magical. A fellow WorkAwayer I met said he always chooses gigs based on skills he’d like to learn. Can you imagine coming home from a trip and instead of bringing home lame souvenirs you bring home the ability to make cheese for your friends?
Yes this can actually happen in your life, for real. The trade off I think, though, is that while you’re living on a boat you’re always on duty versus in other WorkAway scenarios you typically have the afternoon free to explore independently. From other yacht listings I read, you’ll be inhabiting some tight quarters. However, you’ll be living on a yacht so …
That’s right, someone will feed you and house you in exchange for riding their horses. Tough life eh? Working with horses involves a lot of physical labor, but at least you’ll sleep well!
In what other circumstance would you actually get to live with Benedictine nuns and get to know their stories? One thing I value most about travel is full immersion experiences, which is why I love WorkAway. You’re not just visiting a city and looking at beautiful buildings, you’re getting to know the people who inhabit the place.
Ok clearly you’re not going to just live there and expect to get by, you’ll be doing general maintenance tasks and other things around the house. I mean, but if you’re going to do that anywhere why not do it in a castle?
On WorkAway there are many remote and exotic places you’d only dream of going, like the Faroe Islands. Traveling places like these often can get quite pricey (I find that food and accommodation in remote places gets astronomical). Alas with WorkAway you’ll receive all the accoutrements freedizzle.
I know right?! By this point you’re probably like, is this real? Can I really ditch my life back home to work indefinitely at a surf school in Spain? Sure, I mean clearly there are visa restrictions, but if you max out your 3 months in Europe you can then find another surf school in places like Morocco and Costa Rica.
I went to Lake Como for the first time this year, it is as dreamy as the photos. I can only imagine how incredible it would feel to live there.
This experience looks like it’s not for the faint of heart. I mostly put it here hoping you’d write me your reaction about how crazy this is!?
To sum things up, WorkAway is incredible and I am so glad a system like this exists. While volunteering through this work exchange, I met incredible people who changed my life, explore some incredible places, and did some wild stuff I never dreamed of. It will definitely open doors for you and keep them open.