Travel Secrets: Workaway, Along the Way

It’s a topic that comes up often at dinner parties and family gatherings:

How can long-term travelers like us afford a nomadic lifestyle?

j1In truth, for us it’s a combination of several factors including income from freelance writing and two rental homes. With those funds coming in, we operate on a strict budget of $2500/month (roughly $83/day for two people,) including all flights, transportation, lodging, food, entertainment, purchases, etc.

A few years ago we were introduced to what has become an invaluable tool for helping us stay on budget while traveling. The resource is a website called Workaway. The platform connects people around the world who need work done in their home or business with travelers willing to lend a hand in exchange for room and, often times, board.

Interestingly, this particular topic is what we are asked about more than any other aspect of our travels. Everyone wants to know what it’s like to work and live with strangers in a strange land.

The curiosity is understandable. We were curious too – and a bit nervous – before starting our first work endeavor, which I wrote about in September for Paste Travel.

Why You Should Work Your Way Around the World

A traveler discovers the barter system is alive and well.

Photo courtesy of Workaway and Paste Travel.

Photo courtesy of Workaway and Paste Travel.

Long-term nomads find it possible to navigate the world on surprisingly tight budgets by employing strategies to stretch every dollar, euro, and kuna. It helps to choose destinations where cost of living is cheaper than at home, keep day-to-day expenses low, and limit splurges, but for many, the real trick is wrapped in a practice as old as humanity: the barter system. Keep reading…

 

Over the last seven months, whenever we see that expenses are beginning to outpace income – usually due to too many nights out or unexpected transit costs – we begin applying like crazy for new Workaways.

So far, we have taken on three unique, rewarding, and at times, challenging endeavors.

Workaway #1: We worked on an organic farm in Northern Croatia, weeding, chopping wood, cleaning horse stalls, and living the rural life fantastic.
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Living the farmer fantasy, if only for a week, in Marija Gorica, Croatia.

For more about this experience, read The Farmer Fantasy and Whipping Up a Croatian Feast.

Workaway #2: We participated in a photo project in Budva, Montenegro, visiting beaches to shoot, then edit, over 400 photos for an initiative dreamed up by Mojo Hostel Budva to entice more visitors to this beautiful area.
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All day, every day, we visited beaches and took photos. It was a tough Workaway, but somebody – us!! – had to do it.


I recently relived the experience through Checklist: Budva for Paste Travel. 

Checklist: Budva, Montenegro

Checklist: Budva, Montenegro

Photo courtesy of Paste Travel.

By Jess Simpson  |  December 14, 2015  |  1:30pm

Medieval town walls dramatically rise above the Adriatic’s blue waters, earning the old town of Budva the nickname, “little Dubrovnik.” Less touristy and expensive than its neighbor to the north, Budva exudes a laid-back, cosmopolitan vibe even in summer party mode.

During July and August, beaches are packed with Eastern European and Russian sun-seekers, so plan to visit in early fall or late spring to enjoy mild weather, wide open beaches, and diverse cultural events. Keep reading…

A photo essay and more about this project are coming soon!

Workaway #3: Together with two other Workawayers – Cami from Canada and Brian from Costa Rica – and our hilarious and hardworking host, we built terraces and planted azaleas at Donald’s home in the wild and green Marche region of Italy.
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Our last project was the toughest physically, but it came with plush accommodations, delicious meals, plentiful wine, and good company.

A photo essay and project overview are also coming soon.

With each experience we have met interesting and lovely people, developed a few new skills, and best of all, truly gained an understanding of each area’s culture and day-to-day living.

In mid-January, we will take on project #4: a house-sit in the Tuscany region of Italy. In exchange for free lodging in a beautifully restored 300-year-old farmhouse, we will care for the couple’s pets (a dog and two cats.) You can bet I will be writing about the experience as well as welcoming every dinner party opportunity to tell the tale.

Have you ever considered or participated in a Workaway or other volunteer experience while traveling? If so, we would love to hear your stories, answer any questions, and/or provide a push/shove/kick in the pants (whatever you need,) to get you out there, working your way around the world.

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