Touristing around can feel extremely lonely and useless waste of climate. You barely scratch the surface and tend to end up in obvious places. Alternatives? Plenty, and I'll tell you my favorite ones in two parts. This post is all about exchanging your time and skills to a temporary home with meals. If you're looking for a real authentic experience, go volunteer. Forget about the volunteering organizations that ask you to pay for your help. Much help is needed elsewhere.
It started with Wwoofing, helping out at organic farms around the world. Soon alternatives appeared, such as HelpX and Workaway, exchange networks online. Hosts looking for help and helpers looking to explore a new culture/environment.
I'm in love with any ideas that add value to all without the need to exchange money. This is it.
This is how it works:
You register as a helper. Registering for two years via HelpX costs 20 euros and that gives you access to the whole world. With Wwoofing you choose a destination first and pay per country, which is unfortunately limiting.
You can browse through hosts from organic farms and bnb's to sailing ships and ambitious projects by private people.
Everything is based on reviews that helpers write about hosts and the other way round. This way you don't end up at a murder farm. For thrill-seekers there are also new hosts appearing daily, and someone needs to be the first.
Your profile hopefully gets reviews as you go. This is how potential hosts know you are not a sadist. Of course, everyone needs their first review and this requires hard work, some luck and immense trust.
Everything is based on mutual agreements and trust. With your host you can agree to work from three to six hours a day and for that usually all meals and accommodation are covered. But that's not the best part.
Why is this the best way to travel?
The concept allows you to actually connect with the new place. By spending time with the locals and participating their daily life you get to dive deep into the foreign culture.
In the best case you make life-long friendships and find yourself families around the world.
You learn new skills and get to develop the ones you already have. Plus there is zero money involved, and maximum benefit for both parties is guaranteed.
Of course, everything doesn't always go as planned, but the ones who tend to make the most of this way of travel, do not let one horror experience define the concept.
Coming up: Top 3 volunteering experiences