Anika vs Cow - Romanian Monastery - Miss Maps

Miss Maps Volunteers: A Guide to Workaway

Wondering how I managed to spend just 2000 euros in 200 days of full-time European travel (CLICK FOR STORY)? Here’s one of my not-so-secret secrets: WorkAway!

Ah, Workaway.
If you’re planning to travel long-term, this is the site for you.
Do you want to live like a local? With a local?

Have you dreamt of volunteering abroad but are turned off from those sites which make you pay thousands of dollars to give your time to a charity?

With Workaway, travelers pay 29USD for one year’s access to volunteer opportunities and connections with hosts in 139 countries around the world (29usd for 1 person, 38usd for a pair)

At first, I was hesitant to pay the fee. Then I thought deeper: 29 dollars. That’s basically two days worth of food and accommodation in a very cheap city. 29 dollars to stay anywhere I wanted and to learn a new trade.

Why work for free?
Why volunteer when you have skills that can earn you big money?
Look at it this way..
Have you dreamt of driving dog sleds through the arctic? Do you want to teach in Ukraine? Learn how to make felted hats? Stomp grapes at an Italian winery? Help at a permaculture farm in Cyprus?
No? Well I hadn’t either.
But now that you think about them, how amazing do they sound?
You get to stay for free, volunteer around 25 hours/week and learn a new skill in exchange for accommodation. Typically, a few meals are included each day as well.

My Experience
If you’ve kept current with Miss Maps, you have a good idea of the fantastic experiences I’ve had along the road. Many involve Workaway to some degree. Between August 2015 and March 2016, I’ve spent over 100 days and nights volunteering through Workaway. That’s over 100 days living with minimal expenditures. Most hosts have included one meal per day. Others have included all meals, and possibilities for extra excursions such as attending concerts and visiting castles are always possibilities!

In Ukraine, I taught English in exchange for Russian lessons and an apartment. It was there I was invited to a Ukrainian wedding and learned to make Vareniki. Here I stayed with four other volunteers from different countries in an apartment on the school’s top level. The volunteers taught their native tongues and studied either Ukrainian or Russian based on his or her own desire.

In Romania, I stayed with nuns on a monastery for five weeks. During that time I learned to cook bake insane five layer chocolate cakes, was educated about bees and bee products, and was shown more (non-religious) love than I’ve ever felt before. Here I volunteered with four others, all women. The nuns are beautiful women with strong personalities, and were conscientious not to speak of religion with us unless we chose.

During a later stay in Romania, I worked as an Au Pair for a family in Bucharest. There I had my own apartment near the family’s home, helped the pre-teen boys with English and Maths, picked one up from school each day, and attended various family gatherings (THREE birthday celebrations!). I also got to go to theme parks, learned to ride a scooter, and met Jeff Kinney, author of the book series Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Not too bad, is it?

In Cyprus, I stayed with a small family in a self-sustainable village, built a greenhouse, and spent a surprising snowed-in day meeting locals. Here I stayed solo, working out a schedule with the family as fit our own needs.

In Macedonia, I stayed at a hostel, working the night shift – which basically meant mingling with guests, sleeping, and waking in time to set up breakfast. Here I stayed with another volunteer, alternating shifts as we chose. Even though I was staying in one place for a few weeks’ time, it felt like I was constantly traveling as I heard visitors’ stories.

Photos from various WorkAway experiences:

Take a look at the hosts’ calendar before asking to visit. Each month will be highlighted in a different color: red means they’re fully booked, yellow means they may need volunteers, and green means come on over.

Sell yourself. Many hosts get several emails each day. What sets you apart from the rest? Maybe its your cooking skills, your passion for flowers, your desire to learn how to milk a cow or your insanely good looks. Whatever it is, let them know!

Follow up. If you find a host which really catches your eye, explain what you like about them. If you don’t hear back in a week or two, send another email.

That one guy who insists he runs a nudist community? Ignore him. Keep your clothes on. You can find better.

Other than that one guy, keep an open mind. You never know where you’ll end up or who you’ll meet along the way. Some of my best friends are fellow Workawayers, and some of my favorite memories were made during Workaway stays.

Reach out as early as you can. Planning ahead is easier for both of you.

Search by continent, country or keyword. Check out “Last Minute Listings” if you find yourself in that situation. It’s still possible to find a person in need just a few days in advance.

As always, keep an open mind and spirit, and be gracious for the opportunity.

How can you become a WorkAwayer?
Check out their site, fill out your profile, search for specific places or keywords, and start traveling!

Interested in the experiences mentioned above? Follow the links to find out more!
For how I spent just 2000 euro in 200 days, CLICK HERE (hint: lots of Workaway
To learn about the Ukrainian Wedding Invitation I received while volunteering CLICK HERE
To learn how to make Vareniki as I did while volunteering in Ukraine CLICK HERE
To come along on to a month long stay at a Romanian Monastery CLICK HERE
To learn about my (not-so-great) time as an Au Pair in Bucharest CLICK HERE
And to get a glimpse of life on the farms of small-town Cyprus CLICK HERE

Have your own Workaway experience? Share below, we’d love to hear!

4 thoughts on “Miss Maps Volunteers: A Guide to Workaway

  1. I love this! I’m always looking for some creative ways to get on the road and live abroad again. Thanks for sharing!


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