After taking part in more than 20 Workaway projects in 12 different countries from 3 continents we decided to share some of our insights. Every project it’s one-of-a-kind and reading carefully the profile does not guarantee you to know where you are gonna end up. But it helps! It will definitely rise the chance to have the best possible Workaway experience. This list will assist you in finding your project!
Where exactly will you sleep? Do you have a separate room or you share it with host/other volunteers? Do you need your own tent, or maybe blankets? How far is the accommodation from the place you will actually carry out your volunteer tasks? It happened to us to have our house 1h away from the school we volunteered in or the plot a good 30 min stroll from the farm.
Is the food provided? How many meals does the host offer? Is not unusual to have day-off meals not granted. Or else you may just receive ingredients from which you have to cook yourself. And are you vegetarian/vegan/on special diet? Make it clear before crossing the doorstep.
What exactly are you expected to do? If you go for a rice farm it doesn’t necessary mean you are gonna spend your days with your foot deep in a paddy. The host may need help for example with painting the house or babysitting. Read carefully what are the expectations and skills needed. Pay special attention to the hours/day you supposed to work and the amount of time off. Usually, working on farms requires more time than, for example, hostels or teaching English. And that varies a lot on the single project. Don’t trust the timing claimed, it’s hardly that sharp. Rather read between the lines.
Is the project receiving volunteers in the period you want to join it? The host may be busy now or there are already too many people signed in for your time of choice. Monitor the calendar, is it red? It may save you time waiting for a replay which will never come. Sometimes, though, we really want to join a particular project, so we write anyway. Seldom, but it happened that they like us and open up the doors at last. Also check out the weather in that time of the year for the region you are hunting for.
Where exactly is the project located? Is it on your way? How can you get there? Can you reach the place by public transport/hitchhiking? Does the host provide a lift from the nearest city (especially important in case of farms or other rural projects)? It happens that the place on the title, on the description and on the map are not really matching.
Which languages do the people in the project speak? Do you know any of them? Pay attention about the language you are supposed to communicate already at the first contact stage. It happened in some occasion that English was claimed in the profile, but not present in real life. That never got to any frustration, though, clash of cultures make always up for an interesting learning experience!
Is there any money involved? We tend to avoid these kind of projects, as we think that’s not in line with the spirit of Workaway. But there are plenty and in some case it may make sense. It could be that the host is actually looking for a sort of intern/part time position, and so offers an allowance. On the other hand, you may also be expected to pay. That should be pointed out on the ending part of the project description. However, sometime the host does not mark it; in this case previous volunteers’ feedback may come handy.
Read very carefully feedbacks from other volunteers. There you can find the most crucial information about kind and amount of work you are expected to provide, general impressions, everything which was not mentioned in the description of the project but it’s important to know. Pay special attention to negative references. Remember, you can always contact volunteers who helped in the particular project and ask them additional questions.
9. PERSONAL MESSAGE
Did you make up your mind? Write a personal message, explain exactly who are you, what are your competences, what you can add to the project and why did you choose it. The more personal the message, the better chance they accept you. If you don’t get any answer, try again, our experience showed that most people answer the second message, even if they didn’t give any sign after the first one.
10. GET TO KNOW EACH OTHER
Although we don’t do it often enough, it may be a nice idea to have a skype conversation with your potential host, before deciding if and for how long you come. It will help you understand if you can get along and have good time together, as well as clarify expectations.