How to survive your first work away experience

workaway

Those of you who follow my Facebook page will know I experienced my very first workaway this month and it didn’t go exactly as I expected.

What is workaway?

Workaway.info is a website that gives people who wish to travel the opportunity to find free accommodation around the world. Much like Air BnB, people with a spare bed, room or sofa can offer these up to travellers and instead of asking for payment in money, in return they ask that you work a few hours a day on their house or business.

For someone travelling on a budget, this is an amazing opportunity to see different parts of the world at the price of a plane ticket. Food is also supposed to be included with the room so you can keep costs extremely low.

There are opportunities to work in all kinds of areas, from housework and domestic chores to gardening, DIY and childcare. There are also lots of people looking for help with their business, especially web design, graphic design and marketing.

A great opportunity

Being a Social Media Freelancer I saw this as a great opportunity to work on something I enjoyed whilst travelling. I applied to help a number of people with their social media and content in Spain and Italy. I guess I was just desperate for some sunshine and saw this as a great opportunity to get away from bills and stress.

After sending out tonnes of messages I received a few replies. I think the fact I had a child made it slightly more difficult for people to accept me as it would essentially mean accepting to feed and house two people. I applied with mainly other families so that Nyneave would have other kids around and eventually came to an arrangement with a lady in Deia in Mallorca.

The match sounded perfect, she had 2 kids aged 10 and 12 and needed help with her website and social media. We arranged a date for me to arrive, I booked my flights and it was all settled. She did let me know that the first few days she had an event on and so would be out of the house a lot. She asked that I could just be around for the kids and cook them dinner etc.

She also informed me that she was “mostly vegetarian” but would occasionally eat meat. I was fine with that as I have been interested in seeing the benefits of a vegan diet now that it’s all the rage and everyone swears by it.

Our first work away

When we arrived we were totally overwhelmed by the beauty of the place. Deia itself is stunning. Its set in the mountains just above the sea on the North-western coast of Mallorca. I was quite wet when we arrived and everything was lush and green and beautiful.

Our host and her family were lovely. However, once we arrived at the house I started to realise the arrangement wasn’t exactly what I had expected. The sleeping arrangements weren’t great, Nyneave and I were in seperate rooms, each with one of the children, the house was extremely cluttered and dusty and for some reason, she seemed to expect me to clean it.

For the first few days, I cooked, did the washing and washing up, cleaned the kitchen and spent a lot of time with the kids as was arranged. However, after the first week, I expected to be working on her business, not her house. She then continued to drop hints about cleaning the house. She asked if I could be quiet the next day whilst I cleaned the whole house so she could rest.

I was really confused by this as out arrangement had been for me to work on her business not her house, so I asked if we could have a chat. She proceeded to indicate that I should be cleaning the house as part of the arrangement. I agreed I was happy to contribute towards the housework but I wasn’t a live in cleaner.

Another issue was the food. Although I was happy to try and live as a vegan whilst in her house I couldn’t deal with her strickt rules about food in general. Spice and garlic weren’t allowed, I could cook it for myself but that means cooking twice. She wanted us to eat steamed vegtables and plain boiled rice every day.

Due to multiple reasons, I just felt the situation was to difficult for us to stay. There were too many issues I didnt feel comfortable with and I really didn’t want to remain in a house with someone who seemed acted as though I was lazy.

It was a very eye-opening experience and I learned a lot. I certainly don’t regret doing it and am looking forward to starting another workaway this week in Madrid. However, I am now a lot more cautious when planning an arrangement and here are my top tips.

Top tips to surviving workaway

  1. Always confirm the sleeping arrangements clearly before you attend any work away.
  2. Get photos of the house and room you will be sleeping in
  3. Confirm very clearly what work is expected of you.
  4. Don’t be afraid to say if you feel uncomfortable or as though you are being asked to do things that you didn’t sign up for.
  5. Use written confirmations to back up what you are saying.
  6. If you feel there are too many issues to resolve do not be afraid to leave.
  7. Trust your gut instincts about any situation.

If you are interested in taking a look at workaway you can do so here. You can view possible matches before you sign up and it’s on £30 for a years membership.

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