It has been one year since I have done work exchanges. These experiences will always be special to me because I had the opportunity to live with local families in different countries.
More than 3 years ago, I happened to read an article about travelling in Australia for a work exchange that included free meals and accommodation. It was with an organization called World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farm (WWOOF). Travelers worked on the farm, lived with the host family and enjoyed the local culture. At that time, I thought I should try it at least once in my life. When I had the chance to start my gap year, the first idea that came to me was work exchange. It made long-term travel affordable and provided a unique experience. I did some research and found that there were three organizations providing work exchange for travel.
WWOOF: World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farm
I registered with WWOOF Australia. It cost me about AUD100 for a one-year membership which included work insurance. One week later, I received a thick book containing a list of contact details for all the hosts registered with WWOOF Australia. I was struck by the endless list. I didn’t know how to choose. There are different organizations in different countries that work with WWOOF, which means if you would like to travel to multiple countries, you need to pay membership fee separately to different organizations. Your membership cost will increase quickly.
HelpX: Help Exchange www.helpx.net
I did some more research and found HelpX. This organization provides all the work exchange details online. The premier membership is twenty Euros for two years for one person or two friends. And there is a huge variety of work to choose from. Babysitting, farm work, carpentry, driving and even boat programmer. The work is usually for 4-5 hours a day, but this depends on the agreement you make with you host. You can browse the host list before you pay for membership, but you can’t contact the hosts. After uploading a profile and paying the membership fee, you have access to every section of the website including checking the reviews. There are more than 14000hosts in Australia and New Zealand, 10000hosts in other countries.
This site has a similar database to HelpX. A two-year membership is twenty three Euros for a single person and thirty Euros for couples and friends. Once you sign-up, you create a profile explaining your background and skills, and then start browsing the list of hosts. You can email hosts that interest you and start a discussion with them to figure out if you’re a good match for each other. Most of the hosts are based in US.
I found out many hosts in US use both websites. But I suggest becoming a member of HelpX. As the member ship fee is a little bit cheaper, there are more hosts in other countries, more varieties for you to choose from.
I had a great experience with work exchange while I was traveling. I would like to continue having these special experiences.