When I first considered using a work exchange website, I scoured the internet looking for other bloggers who had used them. I wanted to know what to expect and whether or not the sites were worth the money. The 3 main work exchange websites I know of are Work Away, WWOOF International (farm work) and Help X.
I’d met so many Germans in Canada who were travelling super cheap by working on farms in exchange for food and accommodation. Whilst it sounded like a good concept, I didn’t really see myself feeding baby goats or cleaning up horse poop for fun. So that ruled WWOOFing out. I opted to sign up for Help X as it was slightly cheaper and had more hosts in the countries I wanted to visit. My Help X membership was £18 for a full year.
I was interested in helping in homes rather than farms and I particularly wanted to work with children as that’s what I have experience with. Whilst the Help X website is pretty outdated, I was easily able to select which area I wanted to work in and see what type of work was available there. A lot of the hosts on the site are looking for help on their farms but there are many who just want basic household help. There are also opportunities to work in hostels, on boats and more.
I got chatting to a French-Canadian family and decided I wanted to work for them. I was concerned about safety and whether or not it was legit but the family had some reviews on site from previous helpers so I didn’t worry too much. You can read about my experience at their home here.
The work they asked of me was very easy- all I had to do was clean, cook and help put the children to bed, which only took a couple of hours each day. I felt my work was very appreciated and they let me work on my own schedule- as long as the work got done. I was allowed to eat whatever and whenever I wanted from their kitchen. I know that I got a very relaxed host family and I’m thankful for that. Make sure you arrange what you’ll be doing and how many hours you’ll be working before you go. I heard some awful stories from other travellers about having to pick up sticks for 5 hours a day (?) or being treated like slaves. I’m glad I got it super easy.
I didn’t spend a single penny whilst there which was my aim and I was pretty pleased with that. At the same time though, I didn’t really do very much either other than hang around by the house. I spent a lot of my days alone as the parents were working and the kids at daycare.
Often the help is needed in very remote areas where there’s not much to do. It was great for saving money and getting to know a new culture but honestly, I wouldn’t be in a rush to do it again. I felt I was just passing time there rather than “travelling” or living life to the fullest. If I was to do it again, I’d go for one in or near a city/busier area so I could go exploring when I wasn’t working.
If you’re looking to learn new skills or save some money I’d definitely recommend using Help X. There are lots of different types of work options available and in my experience it was very safe, straight-forward and reliable. It definitely makes for an interesting travel experience and is a great way to get to know people around the world.