We were true newbies to the Workaway experience, and really just sort of came across this option by accident. (See previous post, Turning a Holiday into a New Life) Now, three months in and with four different locations and experiences under our belts, I thought it might be helpful to share some tips based on lessons we learned the hard way. Hopefully, you can learn from our mistakes and have an even BETTER first experience in New Zealand, or wherever else you endeavor to be a Workawayer or WWOOFer.
1*Take the time to develop a detailed and accurate profile, and it would be a good idea to update it periodically. This is the primary reference point for any host, and also makes it easier when initially contacting them. (Ex: “Refer to our profile, because it details pretty much everything we would choose to write here!”) Also, we have heard from hosts of Workawayers who intentionally misrepresented themselves in order to attract hosts. If you don’t like kids, don’t say to a family that you do. If you are a strict vegan, don’t write that you are vegetarian and then awkwardly sit out of meals that have animal products on the table.
2* Clarify your work hours on or before the first day. Most Workaway hosts will mention the number of hours they expect per day/week in their profile. Some are very specific, which is great for both parties, but others are less-so and may give a range. We found situations where hosts may change the number they expect, especially if you show yourself to be very keen the first day or two. Enthusiasm is great, but don’t shoot yourself in the foot. This is an exchange experience, and your own time is important and should be agreed upon.
3* Read and write reviews. The review system is very helpful for both hosts and Workawayers. When considering a potential place to work and stay, read all reviews and contact previous Workawayers if possible. People love to share their experiences, good and bad. We also found out from various hosts that we were selected from many interested Workawayers because of the reviews other hosts had left us. Also keep in mind that on Workaway, hosts are not able to leave feedback unless you the Workawayer leave feedback first.
4* Respond to all hosts that take the time to reply to you! This is a great way to start networking in the country, and even if your dates don’t line up with theirs, most are VERY flexible and happy to work with you later on when you do have a chance. We found also that even if you never get a chance to go and work with them, they are still willing to answer any questions you may have regarding the area.
5* Be straight up about your purpose for seeking a Workaway/WWOOFing experience. People come from all over the world and from all walks of life and are looking for a large variety of experiences. Be truthful if you are looking for practical experience, a place to do some inexpensive tourism, guidance on job-hunting or immigration, because this will ensure that you are well-matched with your host and can get the most benefit. We heard from one host that a couple of Workawayers initially expressed a desire to work and learn as much as possible during their stay at a small organic farm, but who in the end were just counting the minutes till the time was up so they could go to the pub in town. This naturally made a bad impression, and everyone missed out in the end.
The Workaway/WWOOFing experience is very valuable, and allows you to see the real-life side of a country. Not to mention being easy on the wallet! We have had such beneficial exchanges of knowledge and culture. I must also add that it is not something that must or should be limited to young people – anyone of any age can travel and Workaway! Just make sure to check the visa regulations before you commit!
Check out my other posts on a few of our Workaway experiences!
**Thanks for reading! I claim to represent no other’s opinions than my own. All experiences are my own, unless otherwise stated.**