Do you dream about traveling, but you don't have much money? Try HelpX. Become a volunteer and for a few hours of work a day, enjoy accommodation and free meals. Connect HelpX with Couchsurfing and you won't pay a penny for accomodation the whole trip.
HelpX is a website that provides a list of hosts (including owners of hostels, organic farms and even boats). For a few hours of work a day, the host will offer you bed and board or half board.
HelpX is not the only one - there are more such pages. Personally, I use HelpX because it has thousands of hosts from around the world in its database and at the same time is cheaper (20 euros for a premium account valid for 2 years) than Workaway, WorldPackers or WWOOF (tu tylko gospodarstwa rolne). Możesz spróbować również darmowej strony VolunteersBase. However, it has a much smaller host base.
I heard about HelpX for the first time from my Spanish flatmate during a European voluntary service in Romania. Mario liked work in a hostel in Oban so much that instead of a month he stayed there 3. When I lgot to know his story, I immediately created an account on www.helpx.net and I wrote to Backpackers Plus (Host ID: 10490). The next day I received a positive answer! I loved this place with all my heart. Together with 8 other helpers from all around the world, I cleaned an average of 3 hours a day, 6 days a week (in return I received a bed and continental breakfast). All the time off allowed me to thoroughly explore the area and visit the nearby islands - Oban ferries depart for Isle of Mull, Lismore and my favorite Kerrera. I liked Scotland and the hostel's atmosphere so much that after returning from a 2-week vacation, I immediately gave notice in Poland and next month I was back on the islands.
Note: The hosts usually answer very quickly, so do not write to too many at the same time ;)
I started my 5-month Asian adventure in 2018 in Thailand. After 3 days in Bangkok, I went to Kanchanaburi to help in Our Land Nature Reserve for a month (host ID: 51968).
I was not sure if I should apply to this host. Well, in poorer countries such as Thailand, India or Nepal, hosts often ask for money for the opportunity to work for them. You heard correct! You must pay someone to be able ro work and live with him. These amounts, however, are not high - it's about 5-10 dollars a day (meals and accommodation are included). Sometimes it is worth it. Remember that these are really poor countries and in that way you help a local family, small company or NGO. In most cases you get in exchange extremely interesting experience (including the possibility of daily yoga or meditation). In my case, I paid $ 250 for a month in Our Land. During this time I enjoyed extremely tasty food (there was no problem with my veganism), I lived in a bamboo hut, I learnt about lives of real Thai people, people from the Karen tribe, as well as expats from India in Thailand, I spent the night on a deserted island on the Kwae Yai River, I saw wild elephants (I had to run away from one!), I got to know the work of the "snake whisperer" (he catches snakes that decided to live in someone's home or garden and releases them to a safe place, e.g. in a national park), I had the opportunity to guid a few groups through the small jungle and train catching snakes, I learned a lot about the nature of Southeast Asia and sustainability.
If I traveled through Thailand for a month on my own, I would probably spend 2 or 3 times as much and it would be a more superficial journey. I do not regret this decision. Maybe I would only stay 2 weeks instead of 4 (in 2 weeks I experienced most of the things that this first private nature reserve in Thailand had to offer). It was in Our Land that I learned about volunteering possibility at the Bamboo School orphanage, where I spent the next 10 days (I lived here in another bamboo hut, I didn't pay for anything, but it was harder work, I didn't like the attitude of the founder of this orphanage - she was very strict).
If you are going to Indonesia, want to get to know the lives of local people and take part in a project aimed at breaking the poverty circle by educating young people, consider volunteering in a tiny Muslim village on the island of Lombok (Host ID: 44218). I spent only 6 days here. It was really worth it. I taught English to young people 2 hours a day for which I received accommodation. I bought meals myself in local restaurants for pennies (note: Indonesian food is very spicy). I felt like a star - everyone wanted to meet me. I was invited to a schoolgirl's house, I rode a scooter with a 14-year-old (as a passenger!). My host was delectable, took me twice on a trip to the sea and to another English school (learning is free for students) in the north of Lombok. Sawaludin also took me to the port so that I could catch a ferry to the Gili Islands. Volunteering on the island of Lombok is a great idea to spend even a week between visiting the islands of Bali and Gili.
If you want to learn a foreign language, the best solution is to volunteer with a family or local community. After walking Camino del Norte in Spain, I spent 2 weeks with an ecological vegetarian family. Father knew English, mother only a little, but of course their two-year-old, talkative daughter did not. And she motivated me to learn Spanish intensively.
I've always wanted to try working on an organic farm. When traveling around Southeast Asia I heard about the annual Matchmaking Festival in the small town of Lisdoonvarna in Ireland, I decided to combine these 2 interesting experiences and became a helper at The Boghill Center near Lisdoonvarna (Host ID: 3895) for 2 months. The ecological center is an organic farm, a hostel and a place where interesting conventions and workshops take place, i.e. pottery, yoga, drumming, even Sweat Lodge Ceremony. The Boghill Center is located in a remote area. In exchange for 25 hours of work you will receive vegetarian meals (delicious! When there are no groups, you cook yourself, but you have access to boxes full of all vegetarian and vegan products, i.e. miso, inactive yeast, nuts, organic vegetables) and accommodation. The atmosphere is very relaxed. You have time for your own development, reading books and walking around the area. The Boghill Center is situated 15 km from the famous Cliffs of Moher and 10 km away from Doolin from where you can take a ferry to the mystical Aran Islands.
I have been a helper at the Casa Kraken Hostel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico for over 3 weeks (Host ID: 90134). My tasks include cleaning, reception service and organizing events for guests - for about 25 hours of work a week I receive bed and breakfast. There is a very friendly atmosphere here. I love Adela - the owner of the hostel. Puerto Vallarta is located on the Pacific Ocean. It is a city full of tourists, entertainment, beaches and opportunities for diving and snorkeling in the area. Well-developed and cheap public transport allows you to visit the numerous surrounding towns (picturesque San Pancho, Sayulita) and beaches outside the city. From December to mid-March, you can also watch whales in the bay. Sometimes you can see them even from the shore.
HelpX pomimo bardzo słabej estetycznie strony internetowej (wygląda jak z lat 90-tych!) jest obowiązkowy dla każdego budżetowego podróżnika. To nie tylko olbrzymia oszczędność, ale przede wszystkim sposób na powolne podróżowanie. Host będzie od ciebie oczekiwał przynajmniej tygodniowego zobowiązania – najczęściej jest to miesiąc (oczywiście warto negocjować długość pobytu 😉 – spotkałam ludzi, którzy od lat są pomocnikami w jednym miejscu!, sama też zostawałam krócej niż przedstawione w opisie wymagania. Po prostu zapytaj). Podczas tego okresu czasu, dokładnie poznasz okolicę z perspektywy lokalsów i nawiążesz nowe przyjaźnie. Masz szansę również zdobyć nowe umiejętności – choćby na samowystarczalnej farmie organicznej.
HelpX is only an intermediary between travelers and business owners around the world. In case of problems with the host you will have to deal with it yourself. But I have never had problems with any host. It's worth choosing a place that has at least one positive review for safety reasons.
My experience with HelpX is very positive. Do you also use HelpX or similar websites during your travels? Do you like to be a volunteer? What are your experiences? Leave a comment below.
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