Our workaway friends at Montefegatesi: Kate, Elena and Anna (on left)
– Research a variety of hosts to compare the work and expectations rather then just picking the first one that pops up.
– READ REVIEWS! READ REVIEWS! READ REVIEWS! Reviews from the volunteer to the host and visa versa can show an accurate depiction of what the experience will be like. Read a few reviews for each workaway profile as some people are just disgruntled by life itself.
– Try and allow for flexibility. We booked all our farm-stays back to back so we weren’t able to extend our stay at the ones we really loved.
– There is NO age limit. In fact, our hosts said they preferred more mature workers (aged 22 upwards). As long as you are willing and reasonably fit, you are eligible.
– Some of our hosts said that they preferred single workers or couples as they seemed to work harder and more consistently. If you are two young girls in their teens (and happen to be a bit lazy) then you might have a hard time finding a placement. Make sure you write on your profile that you are willing to put some elbow grease in and you understand the importance of good work ethic etc.
– When choosing a workaway experience, look at what languages are spoken by the hosts. We deliberately chose hosts that spoke both their native tongue and English. On one of our workaway experiences however, we had some trouble communicating with the father as he only spoke his native language and so it was difficult for us to know what work he wanted us to do. If you are going to be in a foreign country for a while, it’s a good idea to learn the language before you go.
– Plan your workaway experience a few months in advance. Contact the host well before you get there to organise transportation (you need to organise and pay for this yourself, but they can help you with travel instructions. They’ll also let you know what you need to bring (for example: on a farm they might ask you to bring heavy duty working boots).
– Make sure you have the hosts phone number, email address, home address and a place and time for them to pick you up. This way, if something happens and they can’t pick you up, you can find your way there.
– Having a phone with call and internet facilities really helps in a foreign country. We left our Australian SIM card at home, and brought prepaid SIM cards in France and Italy. You can get them for MIN 1 month, and it doesn’t cost much (France we used the provider Orange and it cost 30euros for one month + 10 euros for SIM card. In Italy we used the provider Wind and it cost 9 euros for one month + 5 euros for 4MG data + 10 euros SIM card). I guarantee that it will be cheaper then data roaming internationally.
– This may sound a teeny bit obvious, but when staying with your hosts, be respectful as you are in their house. It’s generally expected that you will help with cleaning up after dinner and keeping your room tidy, even when you’ve finished your 5 hours work. Just treat them how you would like to be treated.
– Take time when travelling between the workaway destinations. We stayed in some great and affordable accommodation with the organisation airBNB. AirBNB offers either a private room in someones house or the entire apartment of a house for a cheaper price then hotels and even hostels. For example, we stayed in the centre of Florence for a mere 50 euros a night with beautiful accommodation with an ensuite including breakfast. As with Workaway.info, read the reviews carefully before booking and book in advance as the host has 24 hours to accept or reject your booking. AirBNB has an app you can download to your iphone which is really handy.