There was only one thing I wanted to do after being back in England for a month after my year abroad and that was to leave again. I was slumming it all around the UK with various family members, working different summer jobs and already I’d had enough. But whilst I knew that I wanted to go away, I was also, inadvertently spending my pay check before it had even arrived. Basically I had no money to travel – but I wasn’t going to let that stop me.
I had really cheap return flights booked for Poland and little money to do anything else. After copious amounts of searching it seemed that there were few hostels that were in my budget and even fewer that were located in the centre, where I wanted to be. It was then that I remembered some advice from a good friend of mine, and decided to pursue WorkAway.
Now as you can probably tell already, the motivation for me to sign up to the site were purely selfish and centred around me getting to stay somewhere for free. But I did have some kind of idea about what kind of things I wanted to do with this opportunity. Mainly I wanted to work outside growing vegetables, but upon contacting the hosts listed who offered that kind of work, I got no replies and so that was a dead end.
It wasn’t until I broadened my mind and decided to write to all hosts that I managed to find a week’s placement working in Warsaw to help a lady with her life coaching business and her mother who suffered from ALS. A complete flip on the kind of work I was originally seeking; but it was a challenge I wanted to rise to.
Even when I arrived in Poland I was completely uneducated about what I would actually be doing and who I would be meeting. I didn’t even have the lady’s address until the morning I was getting on the coach from Kraków to Warsaw. Little did I know how amazing this little step into the unknown was going to be.
Whilst you might just be content with accommodation and free food that is provided with the WorkAway experience. The actual benefit comes from the fact that you are in a position to use your time wisely and get so much from this arrangement. It is the best £25 (registration fee) that you ever pay and here’s why:
WorkAway, out the way
Particularly in Warsaw, the hosts live a bit out of the city; which is something common I found from researching other WorkAway hosts in different cities and countries. Whilst I was still in Warsaw, I was an hour out of the actual town centre which is something I didn’t realise until the night I arrived.
Whilst on the surface this might seem like an entirely uncomfortable and shocking prospect, having to navigate your way through a city you don’t know to reach your host is one of the most rewarding things you can begin your trip doing. Not only do you feel like a nomad and – depending on your 4G – having to navigate completely with what your mumma gave you and what year 9 geography taught you about maps. But you also have to get out of your shell and interact with people too; talk about being thrown in the deep end! Just travelling to my host, I met countless people, many of whom I stopped to ask for directions and many of whom stopped me to talk. If there’s one true purpose of travelling, then its got to be meeting new people.
More than strangers
The beauty of WorkAway is that you meet people who were once strangers to your life and now mean so much. Living and working with someone in such an intimate and specific way, really allows you to create those lasting bonds that don’t just disappear when you move on. My host has now become a life long friend and we continue to talk every week. We are still in contact when it comes to helping with her business and we just generally work as a support network for one another.
More than just being in a place
WorkAway is more than just visiting a place, like on a holiday; it’s all about living in and fully experiencing a new place. Of course you will visit sites and city attractions during your time volunteering but you may do it with the guidance of someone who knows the area which is so handy. What better way to explore a new place new than to go with someone who knows it like the back of their hand and can give you endless advice about their home town.
Getting the itch, and it’s not from the hostel bed bugs
There is absolutely no way of predicting who you’ll end up meeting through workaway and what memories you will come away with.In most cases you will be returning home, or moving onwards, with a deep-rooted feeling that you need to travel more. What I learnt from this experience is that I am so much more independent than I thought and a lot more capable too. I put my skills to use, turned my selfish holiday into an enriching travelling experience, made a new best friend and I gained a deep passion about helping to cure ALS – which I was not expecting at all.
I honestly cannot recommend WorkAway enough, so give it a try and make your journey one that never stops.