A beautiful valley in Mexico which we voluntereerd in and inspired us to write this Workaway Review for you

Workaway Review (What to Expect and How to Use it)

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If you are looking to travel long term while not spending a lot of money then volunteering is a great way to do so. In this Workaway review, I will tell you everything you need to know about using this platform.

Volunteering is a great way to travel cheaply and get free accommodation. But you can also gain great experiences with interesting locals. To me, this combines all the things that I love about travel.

The platform that I have used the most to find volunteer jobs is Workaway. In this article, I will give an in-depth Workaway review. Telling you what to expect and all the tips you need to have a great experience and secure a gig.

A view over a marina in Mexico with lots of Yachts at a workaway hosts house
The view from our first Workaway in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

What is Workaway?

Workaway.info is an online platform where you can volunteer with hosts worldwide in exchange for a place to stay. Some hosts will also give you food and in rare cases may even pay you.

But every host is different so you will need to read the hosts ad to see what you will receive. You are expected to work for 4-5 hours a day for a maximum of 25 hours a week. But some may require less work, it all depends on the host.

There are over 50,000 hosts available in more than 170 countries. So no matter what country you would like to go there is a high chance there is a Workaway host for you.

There is also a very wide variety of work available. Covering areas such as animal care, language exchanges, gardening, house sitting, boating, farm stays, and computer help. So no matter what your skills are there will be an option for you.

A woman in a baggy t-shirt painting an iguana on a wall for a Workaway host
Katharina painting a mural for a Workaway host in Mexico

Is Workaway Legit?

Yes! Because anyone can sign up to Workaway and the platform there is a chance of terrible hosts or volunteers signing up. But the vast majority of hosts on Workaway are legit and lovely people with you will have a great time.

You just have to be very selective about which hosts you sign up with and check the Workaway reviews and required skills to see if it is a fit.

Workaway Costs

With Workaway you can sign up as a single traveler for 49 USD. You can also sign up as a couple/two friends or families for 59 USD. So if you are traveling with a friend or partner it is much cheaper as you can split the cost.

The membership lasts for one year so you will have to pay the fee every year if you wish to continue. As you can see, the signup fee is not much more than 1 hotel night!

Workaway is also welcoming to families signing up. I have friends who have volunteered while they had a baby with them. There will be fewer hosts available but it is possible.

Read: 29 Proven Ways to Travel Cheap 💰

Workaway Paid Jobs

Even though Workaway is primarily a platform where you volunteer your time in exchange for accommodation there are some rare jobs where you can be paid.

The jobs will usually only pay minimum wage. But accommodation will be included which means it can be a great way to save money to travel more.

You will also usually need to have a work permit for the country where the work takes place. So make sure to check the requirements before you apply.

A blue plastic crate full of baby turtles - as propular volunteer job in Mexico
Volunteer Job: Releasing baby turtles 😍

Setting Up your Workaway Profile

Once you have chosen the membership that you want the next thing to do is set up your profile. This does not require a lot of hard work. However, some easy tips will make your profile stand out from others:

1. Pictures

You can upload a profile picture and a selection of other photos. For the profile picture, I recommend just having a simple photo of you smiling. Make sure your face is clear in the photo, just like for a passport but way more relaxed!

For the rest of the photos find some that show what you are like as a person and what type of interests you have, for example, you on a hike or cuddling a dog.

A man standing in front of a waterfall in Yelapa Mexico while voluntering with Workaway
Visiting a waterfall while on a Workaway in Mexico

2. Description

The next step is to write a description of yourself. This does not have to be too in-depth because most hosts are fairly relaxed and have to read a lot of applications.

So make sure your description gives them a quick overview of who you are such as age and where you are from. Tell them about your interests and what skills you can offer.

Make sure to include all relevant life experiences such as how long you have traveled and why you chose to do volunteering. Stating all these things will help to show that you are choosing Workaway for the right reasons and not simply looking for a free room to stay.

It may be a little harder to get jobs without any Workaway reviews. But as long as you describe yourself well it shouldn’t be too hard to find some cool opportunities.

Read: 5 Ways to get Free Accommodation 🏠

3. Facebook Verification

Workaway does not ask for any ID to verify your profile. However, you can verify your Facebook account. This does not give Workaway access to your account but helps hosts to know you are who you say you are.

This is very useful when you do not have any Workaway reviews yet but need to show hosts that you are trustworthy.

For example, we babysat for a couple in Mexico so they asked us to accept their friend requests on Facebook. Most hosts will not do this but it was reasonable for them to do so since they needed to trust strangers to look after their baby.

Once you have completed all these steps and your membership is paid, your profile is set up and you are ready to start applying to hosts ads.

There are thousands of hosts and some hosts can make or break an experience. So in the next section, I will go through what to look out for when picking hosts and how to word your application.

A colorful wall in a guesthouse in Mexico where people are doing volunteer work
Our guesthouse in Mexico where we cleaned, painted and walked dogs

Searching for a Host

On the search page of Workaway, you can search for hosts by using filters, such as host type, location, and last minute.

You can search by location if you have a specific destination in mind. For example, if you search for Mexico all the hosts in Mexico will appear. However, countries like Mexico are huge and you may want to be more specific.

When I want to search for hosts in a specific part of a country I find it easiest to use Workaways integrated map. Also sometimes if you search by keywords some hosts don’t appear because their profiles aren’t filled out properly.

Two men standing on the beach holding surfboards with waves and a sunset behind them
Our Workaway host Juan was awesome

Searching by host type is also a great option if you feel like a certain type of job and are flexible with your location. For example, right now we like to do petsits.

So instead of scrolling through the thousands of hosts worldwide, I will search for petsits on Workaway. This drastically reduces the number of search results and will only show you what type of job you want to do.

You can also choose the last-minute option. This will show hosts that need Workawayers right now. So if you are ready to start this can be a good option and may be less competitive than applying for other jobs.

You can also combine different search criteria to further refine your search. This will help you to quickly find a host that is right for you and your skills.

Do you like pet sitting? Sign up to TrustedHouseSitters via this link for free + use code HAPPYHEALTHYNOMADS at checkout for a 25% discount on your membership! 🐶 Read about our experiences here.

Choosing the Right Host (Check Workaway Reviews!)

Not all Workaway hosts are equal and choosing the right host can make or break your trip. I am fortunate because I have never had a bad experience with hosts.

However, I have met people who tell Workaway horror stories so you need to be very selective about who you apply to.

The first step is to read the profile of the host in detail. I would only send applications to hosts who have a clear profile. They should show clear photos of the accommodation and give a good idea of what the responsibilities and expectations are before you arrive.

A woman in a green bikini with denim shirts crouching down next to a black dog while volunteering with workaway
Walking Oso for a Workaway host in Mexico

If I apply to hosts who do not make some things clear I make sure to clarify any questions before arrival. This will prevent you from having a terrible place to sleep or being expected to work far more hours than you would like.

If you want to be safe choose hosts with good reviews. The Workaway reviews are also a good place to find out what the accommodation and work are like as Workawayers may be more honest than the hosts.

Top Tip: Before sending an application check whether the host is still active on Workaway. When you look at a host’s profile you can see when they last logged in. If they haven’t logged in for a few months or even years then there may not be a point in sending an application. This will save you a lot of time!

Read: 7 Fun Tips on how to Stay Fit while Traveling 💪

Workaway Accommodation

It is important to check what type of accommodation you will receive. Lots of hosts may only have dorms or shared rooms. We found that if you took jobs as a couple you most likely will get a private room.

But the standard of accommodation can vary drastically from tents to a huge double bedroom. So make sure you know what you will get in exchange for your work to avoid any bad surprises.

A bedroom with a large bed in a modern apartment that is part of our Workaway review
This is the bedroom we stayed in while we babysat in Puerto Vallarta 🤩

Sending an Application

Once you have found a host you would like to volunteer for you need to send them a message via Workaway. Some Workaway hosts will receive hundreds of applications. But there are some things you can do to stand out from the crowd:

The first thing is to personalize the application. Make sure you mention the responsibilities required and why you would be good at them.

Let the host know that you have read their profile in detail. Never copy and paste the same message to every host. They will notice this straight away and you will not get a reply.

Top Tip: Some hosts will even say you have to start your application with a certain word to make sure you have read their entire profile!

Be very clear with your travel plans and when you can arrive. If you have definite plans a host will be more likely to accept you. We talked to our hosts and a lot of Workawayers changed their plans and canceled their stays. So letting them know that you will not cancel on them will help a lot.

If you follow these steps you should get replies from hosts fairly quickly. Usually out of 10-15 applications we send we get a reply and can secure a gig. However, we talked to people who sent out far more without replies. So I think it all comes down to how you tailor your message to the host.

Read: How to eat Cheap & Healthy on the Road 🥑

Personal Workaway Experiences

I have done several Workaways both as a single traveler and as a couple. Below I will give you a summary of what it was like at a few of my hosts.

1. Hostel Reception & Cleaning in Budapest

The first experience I had on Workaway was working in a hostel in Budapest in 2012. The hostel was really nice so all the guests were very happy to be there. So when volunteering at a hostel make sure to check its reviews on Hostelworld.

Most hostels will offer you a dorm bed so you will have to share a room with guests. This can be a bit annoying because you have no escape from guests asking you questions. But usually, there are no difficult questions to deal with.

The work at the hostel was quite easy and it was a lot of fun hanging out with all the guests and other volunteers. My tasks were to clean for a couple of hours 3 days a week and then on 2 days to work the night shift at reception.

The cleaning was very easy as the hostel only had about 25 beds. However, the night shift at reception was super tiring. So there were many sleepless nights but it was still a great experience.

Read: Best Places to Stay for Foodies 🌮

2. Baby Sitting in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Babysitting was my first Workaway as a couple and it was a very different experience than any others I had done. We were a bit nervous about applying because neither of us had a lot of experience babysitting.

However, when we arrived our hosts were super friendly and relaxed. The hosts were a Canadian couple who had just moved to Mexico. They had a super nice condo in Puerto Vallarta and we had a massive bedroom with a private bathroom.

I won’t lie the babysitting was really tough to begin with. We felt a lot of responsibility to make sure nothing happened to their child and it took a while for her to get used to us.

A man standing next to a red motorcycle truck babysitting
Babysitting in Mexico

But after looking after her for a couple of weeks she got used to us and it was a lot of fun! We babysat 5 days a week for 3-5 hours a day. We even moved house with the family so we got to experience living in two different towns.

We also became good friends with our hosts and learned a lot about kids! So despite being nervous about applying it was a great experience we will never forget.

3. Helping with Tours & Property Maintenance in San Pancho, Mexico

The next host we had in Mexico after babysitting was super interesting. His name was Juan, a local Mexican guy, who ran tours through Airbnb. He needed help with marketing his tours and with maintenance around the property.

This worked out well for us because Katharina has studied marketing and I have worked on building sites. So while Katharina was sorting out marketing plans I was outside painting and gardening. This is one advantage of volunteering as a couple, you can bring different skills to your host at the same time.

Juan was an awesome host and introduced us to new experiences around the area. As a tour guide, he took us for free to check out archeological sites off the beaten track. He also took us to beaches away from tourists where we saw whales and heard them singing underwater!

He also took us to temazcals which was an intense experience. Temazcals are a type of sweat lodge that originated with the indigenous peoples of Mexico and Central America.

You enter a tent with a really low roof and sit on the ground. First red hot rocks are brought into the tent and placed in a hole in the center. Then the entrance to the tent is shut and everything goes pitch black.

It is so dark that you cannot see your hand in front of your face. The temazcal host pours water on the rocks and it starts getting super hot! The guests start to sing and chant which gets quite overwhelming as it is loud and hot.

Overall we were glad for our first temazcal experience. That was what made our time with Juan special as he was getting us out of our comfort zone.

A homemade tent used as a sweat lodge in Mexico
The temazcal tent that we went in with our Workaway host

Is Workaway Safe?

In my opinion, Workway is very safe. Because of the Workaway review system, you can make sure that you only apply to legit hosts with lots of good reviews.

I am sure that there are some Workaway horror stories from people out there who have had terrible experiences. But considering that there are thousands of hosts on the platform there are only very few negative situations.

Book: SafetyWing – best travel & health insurance for nomads. Read our experiences plus other options here 🚑

Travel insurance recommendation to be covered for Workaway trips

Does Workaway pay you?

On rare occasions yes! But generally speaking no. The main concept of Workaway is to trade in your time as a volunteer for a few hours per day in exchange for a place to stay.

We got paid twice as our hosts had some extra jobs to do that exceeded our arranged hours within the Workaway commitment. This was: Extra cleaning, painting, dog walking and night shifts babysitting.

But this was arranged on the spot and came up unexpectedly, so getting paid for Workaway jobs is possible but not super likely. Workaway also does not pay for your flights or transport to the host.

Read: 29 Proven Ways to Travel Cheap 💰

Workaway Bad Reviews

When you search for a gig on Workaway always make sure to check a host’s Workaway review section. By reading other experiences you will have a better feeling if this is the right host and place for you.

Most likely you won’t find a lot of bad reviews as Workaway removes hosts from their platform that have been reported, violated any rules or are just simply not good hosts.

There are a few Workaway horror stories out there, but once again as long as you use common sense, go with rated hosts and follow our tips in this Workaway blog review you will be fine and have a great time!

Read: Best digital nomad destinations 🧑‍💻

Is Workaway worth it?

The short and easy answer is yes! I found the platform easy to use and there are thousands of jobs worldwide to apply for.

In money terms, you will save so much more on accommodation than it costs to sign up. But saving money should not be the primary reason to apply but the experiences you gain from the hosts.

We have been traveling for years and stayed in some really nice Airbnbs in beautiful locations. But it is always the memories from our Workaways we bring up when remembering our travels.

I think this is because Workaway will introduce you to new experiences creating memories for forever. So if you want to meet new people and get out of your comfort zone go for it – you will have a great time and save money!

A picture of an avocado and a piece of bread on a wall with arms so that they are holding hands
Our painting on the memorial wall for all the Workawayers in La Cruz, Mexico

This was my Workaway Review

I hope my Workaway Review helped you to find out if this platform is for you and if yes, to match your skills and expectations with the right hosts. If you do your homework you will get amazing experiences in return.

Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions. If you would like to learn more about traveling on a budget check out the list below!


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Hi, I am Allan, a travel, health and fitness fanatic from New Zealand. I'm a former lawyer who turned into a full-time nomad in 2020. For the last 4+ years I've been traveling the world. I'm always on a hunt for good food, activities on a budget and workouts on the go. I hope you find my tips helpful and get inspired to travel more!

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