From Airbnb and Vrbo stays to study abroad programs and group travel companies, new ways to travel are often emerging to provide those with wanderlust ample opportunities to explore new places.
One of the newer arrivals on the affordable travel front are work exchange programs through platforms like Workaway or Wwoof. These applications allow you to find work in foreign countries in exchange for free accommodation. With these programs you can work on a farm in Italy, nanny in France, work at a hostel in Costa Rica, and essentially find work anywhere in the world.
Users can sign up as a traveler or employer. Travelers can view employer profiles to find location, type of work offered, accommodation details, and reviews from previous travelers. Some accommodations provide food and host multiple travelers at a time. Some hosts will even pay employees minimum wages, and others simply offer accommodation as compensation
Most platforms require you to pay a monthly subscription fee while using the application, but you can cancel your plan at any time and the fees will never break the bank.
- Types of work you can find
Some of the most common work exchanges are farm stays in which a traveler does agricultural work on a farm while staying there. This provides a great opportunity to be immersed in nature during allotted work periods and allows travelers to explore surrounding cities on days off.
Au pairing or nannying in a foreign country has been available for many years and primarily offers families in other countries ways for their children to learn other languages.
Some more unique opportunities include working on a hostel or hotel staff. These exchanges often ask you to work at the hostel: checking guests in, making beds, and caring for the space while you stay there for free. This is also a great opportunity to meet new people and make lifelong friends from all over the world. Staff in these locations are often like-minded travelers.
If you’re lucky you can find free accommodations that only ask you to care for an employer’s pets while they vacation. These are often competitive slots given the convenience of the exchange and not being required to share your accommodation with a family or other travelers.
Here are the most popular platforms for finding the perfect exchange for you.
Workaway is one of the fastest growing platforms for work exchange users. You can access the platform through your mobile device or on a computer. Simply pick a location on the search bar and the type of work you’re looking to do and find results based on your choices. Luckily, if you’re feeling nervous about the safety of these interactions you can feel assured by the platform’s access to the reviews of former travelers who worked at the accommodation. You can even contact these travelers to ask about their experience with a certain employer and ask for recommendations.
This platform was founded in 1971 and specializes in farm stays. WWOOF stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. According to WWOOF’s mission statement, users can find organic farms around the world to promote global consciousness of ecological farming and sustainability practices. On the site, you can select programs in 130 different countries.
Specializing in house sitting and pet sitting opportunities, this platform allows users to list their property and the work available for travelers from which to choose. Those offering their homes as accommodation can review applications from travelers and select the best candidate.
Those who enjoy childcare will find plenty of opportunities to work with kids on this site. Sign up, make an account and search for opportunities with a search function. Families can also reach out to you if they think you’d be a good fit for their household. But make sure to do your research and ensure that these families are legit.
For all platforms, once you select a host or exchange, the next step is to determine the length of your stay, agree on expectations and property rules, and eventually book your flight to your destination. We advise you do your research, comb through reviews and video chat with prospective hosts before you commit to a stay.