I wanted to start this new series where I interview different people from the travel community and gain an insight into the ways people navigate around the globe. From seasoned professionals to backpackers to expats, I felt it would make for interesting content to create an interview series where questions could be asked about their experiences and perhaps inspire others who read it.
I'm beginning this series with Anna Stanton, who embarked on her travels through the global site: Workaway. The concept of Workaway is that you can work, learn and volunteer literally anywhere around the world in exchange for food and accommodation. (Please note that this is by no means a sponsored post, just an insight)
Workaway Video - What it's all about.
I had followed Anna on social media and creepily tracked her fascinating journey this year.
I wanted to set the scene first and ask Anna a few basic background questions first...
Anna , (26) had been a Medical writer for six months and had finished her PhD in September 2016. Her partner Craig (26) was a software consultant. Prior to takeoff they had discussed the idea of travelling for about a year beforehand, and once her hard work on her PhD had finished it was a case of making the journey happen. They decided to set off on the road in March, 2017.
So lets see what Anna had to say...
What made you decide to choose Workaway for your adventures?
We just wanted to get away for 6-12 months and possibly find part time jobs along the way. However, this comes with the complications of finding some sort of long-term accommodation in another country.
We stumbled across the Workaway website and knew it was the way we wanted to travel. It would allow us to travel around as much or as little as we wanted without worrying about arranging details like where to stay.
What kind of jobs did you undertake during your travels?
Anything and everything! I got to try so many things I never thought I'd do.
I planted vegetables, sheared sheep, worked on vintage cars, cooked dinners, taught English, mixed and laid cement and cleaned out horses.
Not all jobs were manual labour, our hosts in Poland considered taking their daughters out for ice-cream work, because they could practice their English with us.
We did one week in the High Tatras mountains in Slovakia, helping people improve their English through conversation. We had all our food, a swimming pool, spa and bowling alley in a 4* hotel.
On average how many hours a day did you work?
Four or five hours a day, five days a week. We found that most of our hosts were quite flexible with this and were happy for us to choose when we worked. Typically we would have afternoons and weekends off to go exploring.
Workaway didn't feel like the main focus of our trip. We enjoyed the work and you can chat to your hosts and in Germany we cracked open a few beers whilst building a horse stables. I definitely don't feel like I've been slaving away at a job for 6 months!
What was some of your best experiences and highlights whilst travelling?
This is such a difficult question - the whole trip was so much fun.
I think it was amazing how generous our hosts were, it's a nice reminder that there are amazing people in the world.
In Italy our hosts took us out for the day on their sail boat on Lake Garda. We had swim stops and a picnic on the boat of Italian breads and meats. In Montenegro our hosts insured us on their car and we went exploring when we could. One weekend we went off on a road trip and camped out for the night.
Did you have a negative experience at your Workaway destinations?
We had one experience where things were not quite as we expected when we arrived. The host left a few details off their profile such as: there was no bathroom and the double bed was actually a broken sofa in a room where they dried pork meat.
However, the hosts were really lovely people who put a lot of effort into introducing us to their friends.
If you do happen to be anywhere truly awful, remember that you are volunteering and have no contract so you are free to leave whenever you want!
Did you budget for your entire trip or did you splurge occasionally?
We budgeted most of the time. When we were staying with hosts we had very little to spend money on. We could get to the end of the week and have spent €20 between us on ice-cream and beer.
Workaway turned out not to be limiting in terms of what you can see or do, but actually enabled us to travel longer, without worrying about the costs.
We earned a small amount of money teaching English for 2 weeks at an Italian summer camp. So we splurged out on a a week visiting Cinque Terre, Florence, Bologna and Venice. This was by far our biggest expense and accounted for a fifth of our entire budget!
How much did your round trip cost?
We spent £1500 each, which works out at £9.00 per day.
(Bear in mind that Anna and Craig managed to visit 12 countries along the way. They were France, Germany, Italy, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Montenegro, Austria, Czech Republic, Spain, Croatia and the Netherlands. )
Did your expectations prior to the trip match what actually happened?
I think our trip turned out better than we could have hoped! We were a little apprehensive at first as to whether Workaway would work for us. We were surprised at how easy it was to arrange staying with hosts. Once we arrived with one host we would start looking into where to go next. Most of the hosts are easy going and would have been happy to extend our stay.
Advice to anyone thinking about, or planning a Workaway trip?
Go for it! We couldn't possibly have imagined all the experience we had!
Choose hosts you think you will get on with well, send a few messages back and forth before you go. You can tell a lot about what a host is like by how they respond to questions.
Don't take advantage of your host, act like part of the family. - Cook, clean and help out with little jobs.
Also look into travel insurance carefully, working on a farm and with animals can make it difficult to find cover. We ended up with Holidaysafe. (Link below)
As you can tell from Anna's experience it seems to be a great way to travel and have cultural exchanges. If you are interested by Workaway I'll stick relevant links down below.
Also, in the good spirit of the blogging community you can go over to Anna's blog at: http://wheretwogotravel.blogspot.co.uk
She also has an Instagram account:
Thanks for reading this interview and if you are interested in taking part in my new series just send me a message.
Have a good week guys!
*All photographs used are property of Anna Stanton
Teaching English programme
Travel transport website and app