Honest Workaway Review & How To Get Started


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Are you considering taking the plunge and signing up to Workaway? Below is my Workaway review, including my personal experience and whether it’s worth the membership fee. I’ll cover everything you need to know to make the most of this work exchange program!

There are many reasons to sign up for Workaway. Perhaps you’re looking for free accommodation on the road, to meet locals on your travels, or simply to do good in the world. 

As a Workaway volunteer, you’ll benefit from all of these perks and, best of all, have an experience you’ll never forget.

Workaway review
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Workaway review & overview

Cost for solo travellers
$49/year; get 3 months free with my sign-up link
Cost for two people
$59/year; get 3 months free with my sign-up link
Number of opportunities
Number of countries
Years active
Since 2002

Who is Workaway best for?

Anyone can sign up for Workaway and have a blast but – having used Workaway myself and met other volunteers – Workaway is worth it if you’re in one of the following groups:

  • Budget travellers looking to save money on travel while helping a local community 
  • Experienced volunteers who want NGO opportunities, without the stress of long application forms
  • Those interested in a cultural exchange and practising a new language
  • Travellers concerned with the ethics of voluntourism who want to give back compassionately on the road
  • People who want options on where to volunteer over a long period of travelling – there are more than 50,000 worldwide opportunities on Workaway!

How does Workaway work? 

Workaway is a work exchange programme that connects volunteers (like me, and hopefully you!) to hosts worldwide. 

The primary goal of the program is cultural exchange; it allows us to live closely with locals, learn new skills including languages and be part of an international household for the duration of our stay.

Volunteering on an animal sanctuary
Let’s get stuck into my Workaway review

In this Workaway review, I think it’s worth mentioning that the programme is ideal for those who prefer authentic travel and getting a genuine view of daily life within other cultures.

Similarly, hosts benefit by meeting travellers from all over the world and getting assistance with household jobs or volunteer projects.

It offers the unique experience of spending time with people from different countries and working together towards a common goal.

How to secure your first Workaway experience

First of all, signing up for Workaway is super easy. I found it simple to complete my profile and start looking for jobs. As I wanted to volunteer with animals, I filtered the opportunities via location and the type of opportunity I wanted to do (animal care).

You can also filter hosts by location, availability and review rating. 

I always read descriptions carefully to find out what sort of room I’ll be staying in (I prefer a private room), what sort of work I’ll be doing and how I can expect to spend my downtime.

Some Workaway volunteers have expressed frustration on being rejected from potential opportunities. Having spoken to hosts, this usually happens when volunteers send a generic message that doesn’t make it clear they’ve read the description clearly, or haven’t filled out their Workaway profile properly.

Of course, sometimes they simply don’t have any more availability – popular positions can be competitive!)

Goat volunteering workaway review

Honestly, the main thing is to show the host you’re serious and genuinely want to help… and that you’re not just in it for the free room. You won’t be able to do future placements with a bad Workaway review on your profile, so take it seriously!

In your application, show hosts you’re responsible by sharing your relevant skills or work experience. What makes you the best volunteer for their needs?

Maybe you’re an experienced petsitter who wants to work in an animal sanctuary or a DIY wizard who wants to help with construction. Or maybe you’re just hardworking and want to make the world a better place while learning new skills.

Tell the host about what makes you the best volunteer and why they should trust you. They’re sure to be impressed.

Join Workaway here.

How I use Workaway reviews to check hosts are safe and legit

Although I trust the Workaway process, that doesn’t stop me from being a cautious solo traveller. If you can relate, spend time researching your Workaway hosts before applying. 

Read through all the reviews to get a feeling about your potential host. Check the Workaway reviews they’ve left about other volunteers. Are they generous and grateful, or do they complain about silly little things a volunteer does?

It’s also worth noting that active members can contact past volunteers who have left reviews to clarify any issues.


Some hosts are also on other platforms so you can find more reviews there. On the placement I did, they also had a website and Instagram page so there was no doubt in my mind that this Workaway was legit!

None of this is to say that you shouldn’t take a chance on a new host without reviews on Workaway. After all, we all start somewhere.

However, in this case, I would highly recommend having a phone call – or ideally a video call – with the hosts before arriving. This way you can get a feel for what they’re like to talk to.

Helpful questions to ask Workaway hosts include:

  • Their address – you can look it up on Google Maps beforehand to get a feel for their location
  • Where you’ll be sleeping and how many other Workawayers stay at one time – as I stayed on a site with multiple volunteers, I needed to check that I’d have my own room and that it would be quiet at night, as that’s important to me. 
  • Transport options – this is especially important if you don’t have a car as you’ll need to know how to get there. As a solo traveller, I like to know what my ‘getaway car’ option is just in case I arrive somewhere and don’t feel comfortable.
  • What the daily routine is like – personally, I really want to know what time I’d have to wake up!
  • If you have dietary requirements, make sure to mention this before arriving. As a vegan, I usually offer to make my own food when staying with locals. However, my Workaway was at an animal sanctuary so we could all cook vegan food for each other. Perfect!

My personal Workaway review – is it worth it?

My Workaway experience changed my life and I’m not just saying that. Anyone can see my face light up when I talk about the five months I spent at an animal sanctuary in New Zealand!

I’m not going to pretend it was easy; the work was hard and my physical abilities were pushed to the limits. 

But having a purpose and knowing I was doing some good meant everything to me. 

Rabbits is workaway worth it
Some of the furry friends I made while volunteering

Ethical volunteer work with children or animals usually requires a minimum of one-month commitment to create stability for those more vulnerable than us. It also takes time to train new volunteers. However, I never expected to stay at the remote countryside sanctuary for five months!

Whether I was chasing after escapee pigs, being stalked by a cockatoo or playing with headbutting goats, every day was different. And I know that wherever I go and whatever I do next, the 200 animals will have a special place in my heart. 

Yes, Workaway saves you money and can be seen as a ‘travel hack’ to spend longer in a new country, but really it’s the people (and animals) that make Workaway worth it, in my opinion.

What I gained from my Workaway experience

Although I went into my Workaway experience full of anxiety about the weeks to come, I ended up extending my stay for almost five months. If that’s not a positive Workaway review, I don’t know what is!

  • Lifelong memories. My face still lights up whenever I talk about my time at the animal sanctuary, and I’m not sure any travel experience will ever beat it. 
  • I learned valuable new skills. Volunteering is often about developing practical, handy skills you’d never get from an office job! In my case, I learned a lot about animal welfare, too. I loved that my placement was passionate about allowing women to learn practical skills usually consigned to men. 
  • Getting fit. Although it wasn’t my intention, I was the most physically fit I’ve ever been at the animal sanctuary! From carrying heavy loads to being on my feet all day, I’ve never felt more self-sufficient in my body. I never used to be able to carry my heavy backpack without wincing… now it’s a breeze!
  • Making friends. Sure, most of the friends I made were pigs, goats and a stalker cockatoo. But that’s still pretty neat.
  • Confidence. Best of all, I’ve gone from an animal lover who was secretly a bit scared of them, to someone who’s confident around all sorts of species and knows what to do in a crisis. 
  • It helped me learn what’s important to me. I’ve learned that I feel most fulfilled when I’m a) helping others and b) around animals. While I haven’t worked out how to continue doing good in the world, I’ve fit animals into my life as a solo traveller by becoming a petsitter (see my Trusted Housesitter review for more details). 
Animal sanctuary

An average day at my Workaway!

My Workaway experience was very full on as they were short on volunteers while the borders were closed in New Zealand. We worked forty hours a week with two days off to rest.

In comparison, it’s unlikely your Workaway hosts will require more than 4-5 hours per day (or 25 hours per week).

So you can get a balanced Workaway review and idea of what your days might entail, this was my daily schedule…


7.15-7.45 am: Time to wake up! One volunteer would handle morning food prep, while the rest would start work at 8am. 

8am: Morning feeds. We’d rotate which animals we’d feed each day. One morning I’d have to walk down the hill to the sheep and cow paddocks, past the ponies. On another, I’d brace myself for the chaos of feeding 14 hungry goats! The gentlest feed involved giving food to the pigs, bunnies and ducks.

9.30am: Morning meeting to discuss animal wellbeing and daily tasks. Plus coffee.

10.00am: Rotated morning tasks. Newer volunteers would help with simple tasks such as cleaning paddocks. Longer-term volunteers (like me) would help with animal caretaking tasks such as giving animals medication, cleaning simple wounds and providing animal enrichment (which involved playing with bunny rabbits or cutting brambles for the goats)


1pm: Lunch break!

12pm: Afternoon tasks could include anything from trimming hooves, picking up roosters to give them medication, herding sheep into new paddocks (it’s harder than it looks!) or going through bins donated by supermarkets to prep food for the pigs and goats.

5pm: Evening feeds. Depending on how many volunteers were working each day, sometimes you’d only have to do one feed per day and get to finish work early or start late.

6pm: Human feeds! We’d all take turns to cook dinner for the volunteers. 

After dinner, Gilly, the resident black cat, would be waiting at my bedroom door. So we’d spend the evening curled up in bed, watching YouTube to the beat of his gentle headbutts. And deep in the countryside, everything would be dark and quiet – the perfect conditions for a good night’s sleep. 

Workaway review FAQ: your questions answered!

By now, I think you know that I think Workaway is worth the money you pay as a membership fee! But here are a few FAQs to set your mind at rest…

Is Workaway legit? 

Yes, Workaway is legit. Hundreds of volunteers and hosts successfully partner up thanks to Workaway every year – including me!

Vietnam workaway review
Getting off-grid and learning about local livelihood is a pro of Workaway!

Is Workaway safe? 

Yes. Workaway is safe, even for solo travellers.

To ensure the safety of its users, Workaway requires ID verification for all hosts and volunteers. The Workaway review system also allows previous volunteers to share their experiences. 

Inexperienced travellers feeling anxious might feel comfortable choosing their first Workaway experience in a city or larger town, rather than a remote location. You can also select a host of the same gender to feel more comfortable. 

If you’re worried about discrimination, look through previous reviews and read the host description carefully. Do they have positive ratings from a wide range of people, or are there any red flags? 

My host clearly stated within their description that racism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia or discrimination of any kind would not be tolerated on their site, which was a key reason why I applied there. 

Safety is a feeling and it’s totally OK to express your boundaries to check any given Workaway is the right fit for you!

How much does Workaway cost?

An annual Workaway membership costs US $49 for an individual account or US $59 for a couple account. 

You get 3 months free with my Workaway sign-up link (meaning you get 15 months for the price of 12).

On one occasion, I got to live and volunteer in the Philippines thanks to Workaway

Is the cost of Workaway worth it? 

Yes, the cost of Workaway is worth it. Even if you only do one Workaway in the entire annual membership, you’d still earn the cost of accommodation in just one or a week in a cheap country, or a few days in a pricey country.

If you’re really concerned about your budget, check what opportunities are available in the country you’re visiting before signing. Check if these postings are still active by seeing if they have any recent updates or Workaway reviews, and ideally have two or three options in mind before signing up. 

Even (or perhaps especially) for budget travellers, Workaway is worth the cost.

How many hours a day are you expected to work on Workaway? 

Workaway volunteers are usually expected to work about 5 hours a day, 4-5 days a week, in exchange for free accommodation and sometimes food (check the listing to see what they offer). 

Read host descriptions and their reviews clearly to get a good idea of what’s expected of you. You can also chat with the host before securing a position to ensure you’re on the same page.

During my Workaway experience, I actually worked full-time hours (40 hours a week). However, as required by the platform, I was therefore paid minimum wage for 15 of those hours.

Do you get paid with Workaway?

Workaway is NOT a job site, and it’s not recommended to use work exchange programmes to find paid work. Workaway is worth it for many reasons but getting rich isn’t one of them!

That said, if hosts are a registered business and ask volunteers to work more than 25 hours per week, Workaway suggests they offer payment of at least the minimum wage for the host country.

This means that a) volunteers are not taken advantage of, and b) volunteers are not taking jobs away from locals. So it’s a win-win for both locals and volunteers.

Remember: If you find paid work on Workaway, you must have the appropriate work visa for that country. 

New zealand volunteering workaway worth it

Do Workaway hosts pay for travel? 

No, Workaway volunteers cover the cost of their travel to and from Workaway sites, alongside any additional travel costs such as travel insurance, personal expenses, day trips and visa costs.

Ensure you have enough money for your flight home (or to continue to your next destination). I recommend using Skyscanner to compare, browse and book flights.

Can I do Workaway without a visa?

You must check visa requirements and apply for the correct visa before arriving in your chosen country.

Many countries do not require a specialist visa for Workaways as it’s classed as volunteering, meaning you can enter under the regular tourist visa requirements.

However, not every country allows volunteering under their regular tourism visa so it’s important to double check.

If you apply for a paid position on Workaway, then this no longer counts as volunteering and you need the appropriate work visa for that country.

Is Workaway worth it?

Yes, Workaway is worth it! Whether you sign up for a cultural exchange or want to do good in the world while travelling, it offers experiences you’ll remember for a lifetime. With thousands of worldwide opportunities, there’s a great chance of finding a placement that’s exactly what you’re looking for.

Thanks for reading my Workaway review!

I hope this post gives you a good idea of what it’s like to be a volunteer with Workaway, as well as helping you find your first volunteer experience. I’m sure you won’t regret it!

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