I’ve been on the road for almost eight months now and I haven’t spent a lot of money, because I’m working my way around. I know it’s different than just travelling, but I like it. I stay longer at places and really get to know a country. I’ve always combined travelling with working; mostly photography and journalism. This time I added yoga and videography and now I know it’s doable: travelling without spending money. How I do it? Here is my top 5.
It sounds simple, but there is a lot of work and there are a lot of places you can get your stay and your meals in exchange for work. I’ll list a few organisations/sites below, but what works for me best, is just to ask around. I worked for four months at La Mariposa; after having a chat with the owner. I made a little calculation after three months and found out that I had put in almost 15.000 US dollars worth of work. – The price Mariposa would have paid if they had hired me as a freelancer. – Sleeping in the office (that’s where my bed was) and eating there I had cost Mariposa not even a thousand dollars. So it turned out pretty beneficial for them having me.
When I was in Australia a lot of hostels offered backpackers a free stay if they helped out cleaning. At this moment I’m working at Pure Yoga, Health, Adventure in Granada (Nicaragua) in exchange for food and stay. Teaching yoga classes and workshops. Also by just asking.
February next year I’ll be giving a Yoga Teacher Training Course (TTC) in Budapest; a paid job. Pleuni van Hulten – a special friend of mine – gave Yoga Budapest my name when they were looking for yoga instructors who are able to give a TTC.
Workaway.info is a cool organisation. They bring volunteers and businesses together. I always get happy by just looking at their website. There are so many incredible projects, companies and people offering all kinds of jobs: gardening, cooking, building, cleaning, managing hostels, restaurants, teaching English, yoga, giving massages. I already have a big list of all the places I want to go. The general rule is: you work 4 to 5 hours a day and you get your food and stay.
I just finished a project through Workaway.info. This time I was staying in Concepcion San Isidro, just outside of San Jose, Costa Rica. I was teaching a private yoga class, doing some massage therapy and building the website www.meditationgardencostarica.wordpress.com. Every day I worked about 2 to 3 hours and in return I stayed in a beautiful little holiday villa; complete with kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and living room and I could use the office to do yoga and could use the amazing meditation garden every day.
An organisation I’ve used a lot is Wwoof: Willing Workers On Organic Farms. I’ve used it when I was travelling through Australia and a few years later when I travelled around New Zealand. I ended up on an amazing farm in Darwin River, taking care of chickens, pigs and cows and doing some cooking. I ended up with a strange hippie family, where we (I was there with Stefan; a German backpacker) really had to urge the owner to get to work. He would get out of bed, smoke a joint and then wanted to sit down up until lunch. After lunch he would smoke a joint again, play some djembe and then sit down again up until dinner. If it was up to him, we actually didn’t work at all; just smoked and hang around.
In New Zealand Mickey (my former girlfriend) and I worked at Avalon; a beautiful resort in the North of New Zealand. Being both photographers the owners asked us to make a photo series of their property and bungalows and make a slide show out of it, which they could use for promotion.
An organisation a friend of mine is using is Idealist.org. Roughly there are two options: you work as a volunteer in a field you normally are not use to work in or you work in a field you are very experienced in. In the last case it involves paid jobs. The payment is often local wages.
Another friend of mine is using Help Exchange. It works the same as Workaway. She got some good jobs out of it.
Travelling is freedom. Working your way around the world still is work, but for me it feels more free as having a regular job at home. The projects are mostly limited in time. Limited enough not to get bored or irritated. At the same time long enough to really bond with co-workers and the place I’m staying at. I don’t feel I’m rushing through a country. I really get to know a city, place, country, get to know the people and at the same time I’m travelling without spending money, which means I’ll be on the road for a long, long time.
Update: There is a new player on the market: HippoHelp. I haven’t tried it out yet. Maybe you can give it a go. If you do, let me know how it was.