Workaway vs. HelpX: Which do you use when planning a working holiday?

I’m currently planning my first extended stay abroad in Australia! I’m filled with feelings of excitement, nervousness and overall anxiousness. I don’t want this to be a typical vacation for me. I want to step out of my comfort zone and really immerse myself in a different culture.

For that reason, with the help of websites like Workaway and Helpx, I’m able to plan a less traditional vacation to Sydney.  I want to do a combination of couch surfing and volunteer work (in exchange for room and board) to extend my travels.

Both Workaway and Helpx are sites that allow travellers to access a database of hosts by country and region of working holiday opportunities. The idea is that in exchange for 2-5 hours of work a day (usually 5 days a week) at a hostel, farm, eco-project or family home, travellers are rewarded with free room and board. This offers the off-the-beaten path traveller the unique experience to extend their time away while not breaking the bank.

I’ve been using both sites religiously while trying to secure a spot abroad. Below are the pros and cons of each:

Helpx:

- Membership costs $29 USD for 2 years

CONS

  • You can see all of the amazing opportunities that await you by viewing a host’s listing. You won’t, however, be able to access their contact information unless you sign up for a Premier Membership for the above cost. They definitely tease you a bit and lure you in to pay for that exclusive contact information!
  • You cannot upload a photo unless you upgrade to a Premier Membership.

PROS

  • Creating a profile is free.
  • Helpx postings are sorted by which ones have been most recently updated. This way you’ll know that you’re emailing and active host rather than one that let their profile get old, or one that forget they had it all together.
  • You are encouraged to answer back all inquiries, even if you are declining an offer, so that a potential inquiry doesn’t hang in thin air, so to speak. There’s nothing more nerve-racking than waiting to hear back for a confirmation that will never come.
  • What do you say to sell yourself? After all, these people are opening their homes to you out of the kindness of their hearts. Helpx offers a page on what to write to people, suggesting that you stay away from mass-messages and add a personal touch to each note.
  • The companion tab is like a Craigslist for travellers. Here, you will find a constantly updated forum of travellers world-wide looking for company, whether it be someone looking for a museum buddy in Italy or someone to fill the last seat in a caravan for a an east coast Australian road trip. The possibilities for meet-ups are endless.

Workaway:

-Membership costs  $29 USD for 2 years

CONS

  • You can’t tell how recent the hosts’ postings are. You can be emailing a host’s posting from yesterday or last year. There is no way tell the last time a host updated their profile. I’ve received emails from hosts saying their circumstances have changed (sometimes drastically), they have moved across the country, or are generally unavailable and didn’t bother to take down their listing.
  • I have hard time getting a consistent reply from those I emailed. About half of those I’ve messaged have gotten back to me with bad news and the other half have not responded at all. I have one possible host out of many many emails I’ve sent out, nearly exhausting all of my options.

PROS

  • The layout is more comprehensive and aesthetically  pleasing.
  • Their mission is commendable- making travel more affordable AND rewarding
  • Workaway is a great way to facilitate initial contact with possible job opportunities abroad

If you are looking to join either of these websites and only want to sign up for one, which one do you choose?

The winner? Helpx, mainly because the postings are more consistently current and the repsonse rate is high.

Which site do you use to organize your working holiday volunteer opportunities? Have you used Helpx or Workaway? Which do you like better?

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46 thoughts on “Workaway vs. HelpX: Which do you use when planning a working holiday?

    • I have a big problem with Workaway about the conection.
      Sometimes and now ,very often, I don’t receive the emails from workawayers and they don’t receive my replys.
      I am hosting a workawayer woman from Australia and we had fixed the date in June 2014 to help me at my home.
      When she arrived in Italy she sent me 2 e-mails that I didn’t receive. After she send another one and I received it but she didn’t receive my reply so wrote again, at the point I understood that it was something wrong in the conection. Fortunately, in some, emails before she wrote me the name of the hotel where she stayed so I was able to contact her by phone.
      This happens to me with other workawayers . I have wrote to Workaway.support several times but sincerly I am not sure that they have done something for this big problem.
      Workaway is a comunity if the conection doesn’t work what kind of the comunity is.
      Another thing, it is not possible to write another email adress on your profile.
      It seems that the website is not safe.

      Like

  1. I had the exact same problems with workaway.info people don’t respond and don’t update their calendars. It’s somehow sad. I was aware of helpx.net but decided first for workaway.info because it seemed more interesting for me.

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  2. I have had exactly the same experience with workaway.info – I’ve never once heard back from a single host I’ve contacted. I am beginning to think it is a scam. Has anyone out there *actually* gone and stayed with a host from workaway.info?

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  3. Hi there,
    I had the same problem and send a message to Workaway administration team. They answered I had to take better care of my profile to make it attractive! So, they really didn´t care about this big issue with their bussiness as they are not giving service, they get the money and run. But I discovered if you send emails just to “Last Minute” listing, you get a quick answer. Try also http://www.wwoof.org (World wide opportunities on Organic Farms) it works very good specially in Europe, Canada, etc!Try it and good luck!

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  4. It seems that many people had the same problem with the workaway hosts, no response. Maybe after so many complaints we got soms improvements, the host section show the level of activity and replies.

    It seems to me that workaway has a broader variety of work whereas helpx offers mostly homestay and farm work.

    I will sign out with workaway mainly because the have some amazing hosts/projects, I hope I won’t get disappointed.

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  5. I think my membership fee to helpx was well worth the money, I have about an 80% response rate on average. Most hosts do respond, if only to say they are full at the moment. I have met only one workawayer, and his experience was not all that good, the woofers I have met have more positive things to say about their experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. hi there

    we are using workaway to work our way around the world as a family and we have being very lucky, and all the hosts have being really good. we’ve visited to Europe, Central America and Canada, going to Australia and NZ next. so far so good!
    Check our blog in ticket4three.com
    one word of advice if contacting hosts in workaway, include your personal email, we find that is easier and quicker.

    take care x

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  7. As a host for workaway, we have had 6 volunteers so far from USA (3) and Germany (3). They have all enjoyed our service and program. They offered to pay for some of the cost before they arrived when they heard of the programs and what we do. We have had excellent reviews from our volunteers, and some of them wrote on their blogs. eduvision.tumblr.com is our own daily updated blog. We respond within 24 hours, and also have updated calendar. We are, however, looking for women, retired teachers who can help children of ages 1-16, particularly those who love to teach.

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    • Thank you kindly for your post and positive attitude. As a ‘Veteran’ (yes that means I’m ‘aged’) of aid work globally and now about to embark on travels purely for myself I have found your post informative and exhilarating. May our paths cross during my new adventures.

      Like

  8. I have recently heard about a new resource similar to HelpX and Workaway called Harvest Hosts. If anyone is in the RV culture, it’s a great resource to use when trying to find free land to camp on. In exchange, your host asks that you purchase either a good or service from their winery, farm, etc and exchange a few travel stories. In any case, all of these resources are great when trying to arrange for alternative lodging arrangements.

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    • I hadn’t heard of Harvest Hosts previously. thank you for sharing this information. Another terrific option to support communities whilst educating ourselves with alternate cultures. Are you able to provide me with further information regarding this initiative please?

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      • I haven’t personally used harvest hosts, but those who I know of who have highly recommend it. Good luck on your journey. I’m glad my information could be of help to you!

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  9. I am registered as a host on work away and have been trying to get soemone to help me for the last three months. Most of the replies are from people who haven’t read the description of what I am looking for. I need an experienced horse rider. Most of the people have never sat on a horse before. I do reply and point out the need for them to read profiles so they don’t end up with a broken neck.
    But my biggest problem is lack of comunication. The first person I lined up said she could come in a month then changed her mind a few days before. The next said she’d come in two weeks and I never heard from her again. The third said he would come at the weekend. I got a message the following monday to say it would be the following wekend. He never got back to me after that. Frustrating isn’t the word. Several of my friends are hosts and don’t seem to have so much trouble though.

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  10. I think this very problem is true of both hosts and workers. Lack of communication and flakiness are pretty common in the traveler’s circuit. A lot of traveler’s just go places on a whim and never really think twice about contacting someone to let them know plans have changed. I have been on the receiving end of having a hard time solidifying plans with flaky hosts: they are hard to reach, never really give me proper details or peace of mind and just seem to be “playing around.” On the flip side, I have had to cancel on hosts before because of last minute plans changing, but I always make it a point to reach out to whomever I made plans with and confirm that I won’t be arriving. I think the only thing worse than not showing up is saying you will and then don’t.

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  11. This was very helpful in choosing which site to use! I’ve spent the past 5 hours browsing both and was having a difficult time deciding which to choose. Thanks

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  12. Good comparison and analysis of the situation between the two websites. Thanks for sharing a lot many information which would be helpful indeed. Well done and keep sharing!

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  13. I too am beginning to suspect workaway is a scam. if you notice, there is a suspiciously high number of almost defensive posts in these comments from very pro workaway people. Almost no comments from helpx-ers (who i’m assuming don’t feel the need to be defensive because helpx is legit).
    I think that workaway posts fake comments on blogs, etc… to make their business look better.

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      • I volunteered through helpx with a young man in Puerto Rico who found the location we were working at through workaway. So there are hosts who post on either or both. I do understand your feeling about workaway, as they give of some negative vibes. This is exactly the reason why I paid for a membership with helpX and not them. :)

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  14. It is really interesting to read your post and all the comments as well. I’ve heard of workingaway through a friend who was travelling in Spain using it. He seemed happy with the results. But I read more and more negative comments now, so I might consider using HelpX. I have a question however concerning visa. When you travel and work for hosts, do you need a working visa? Or is a holiday visa enough?

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  15. Hi! Thanks for this information, it was really helpful! I looked not only in this blog but many forums and blogs and in all of them people is complaining about workaway, I was about to buy the membership there but something funny happened, my friend and I have been planning this trip in central america for several months now, but we explore other destinies, I read the same description in 3 hosts, from different places, so I thought it was weird, and I started to read reviews, but I don’t need to read anymore it seems that helpx is the best option! :D

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  16. We are hosts- firstly on wwoofer and then we joined workaway and helpx. I like wwoofer even though hosts have to pay the organisation are always there to speak to and help if there are issues or as a new host you have a query. the helpers here like to work outdoors and are quite into green issues and for us as meat eaters tend to lean towards veggies .On the whole I think helpx are the most genuine helpers. Workaway take some sorting through to find someone who is happy to help and capable and not just wanting 5 star treatment as a non paying guest . I ask for one person at a time and then from workaway a couple /2 friends send an enquire -this is just a time waster to me and I always reply with a no but I do reply. We have had good and bad experiences and I guess it works both ways .I feel the best way is to ask lots of questions and be honest if you are asked them back . We had a Spanish boy whose profile looked fine .When he got here his lying caught him out so I had no hesitation but to ask him to leave.

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    • It’s good that you always reply to inquiries. It’s nice for us as prospective helpers to get a definite answer one way or the other. Of course, as with any travel, or anything in life really, you take a risk to trust people. I’m sorry that the boy staying with you didn’t work out, but for every “bad apple” there are plenty of good ones!

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    • Hello Tom. Thank you for your link. If you have the time and/or inclination could you please provide me via my email any further information about this organisation. I wish to volunteer in Southern Italy for 3 months this year. I’m looking at July, August September but I’m flexible. I’m a Registered Nurse, Counsellor-Drug & Alcohol, Caseworker- Youth, Pregnancy and Aged Care Dementia Specific and a Music and Art Therapist

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  17. I have only received one response on workaway and I have sent many inquiries to hosts! wish I would of known about these other websites before I paid for it. :(

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  18. For anyone visiting Nepal to volunteer, you still have to register with Ministry of Labor as non-paying worker. Foreigners cannot work without work permit. And we offer our volunteering opportunity through our own contacts only, do not use workaway anymore. We are campaigning on cleaning the environment and are active in school, colleges and neighborhoods. https://www.facebook.com/efhetauda Anyone interested can directly contact us for detail through facebook or tumblr.eduvision.com

    Thanks.

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  19. An interesting post and also great comments.I note the comments that hosts do not reply to E mails. We find the same thing happens with workaways. What is annoying is when they change their mind and do not have the courtesy to let us know, a quick e mail to say they have changed their minds, allows the host to offer the place to someone else.

    Having said that, we have had 2 wonderful workaways (1 of them came back and stayed with us on her return trip to the USA and will visit us as a friend this summer) and one not so wonderful workaway,

    Pecora Nera

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    • I always say, the traveler is always capricious…sometimes the unexpected pops up on the road and you have to change course. In any case, it’s good to alert those who may house you to your changing traveling plans. It’s not fair to put somebody out like that. I definitely encourage you to remember the good workawayers because they far outweigh the not so good ones!

      Jill

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    • I have just been let down for the next 2 weeks as the girl double booked and I only found out yesterday when I emailed her to ask what bus she would be arriving on Monday. I think we have to take the view – it is their lose. We are better off if they are behaving like that not to have them in those case. Fortunately not all helpers are like this .It is very much luck of the draw I think the more times you have helpers the more you find out which types work for you and which dont. Also I try and get a reference if at all possible and if we are not sure we just say No thank you Anna

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      • I would definitely say don’t let the few “bad apples” ruin it for everyone. There are a lot of people out there who are genuine, awesome good people and Helpers. It’s too amazing of a concept to let fall to the wayside. I definitely recommend like you say checking out their references to make sure they are a good fit for you!

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  20. i’ve registered on workaway and so far no answers despite my numerous requests . I’m planning to visit Canada very soon. I’m now considering registering on Helpx after what I’ve read. It’s a shame really.
    this will be my first trip out of Europe (I’m French) and I’m also wondering if we need a working visa permit since I’m over 35 years old. If anyone can answer to this question I would be very grateful.I’m always wondering if older people can do it. and what do you say at the customs???

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    • You should register for Helpx, but recently I haven’t had that much luck with them either. The most you can do is try your best to line something up before you get there, but be open to changing plans. Perhaps you will be in a hostel and hear about a work-trade scenario you’re interested, or meet people who have leads you didn’t know about. You can try to WWOOF as well. I’m not sure what sort of visa you might need. When I volunteered abroad in Australia, I had to apply to a visitor’s visa, which was good for 3 months. TECHNICALLY you aren’t supposed to work on a visitor’s visa, but I figured I’m volunteering for a private family and worse case if custom’s asked, I would say I’m just staying with family. I’m not sure what the rules are in Canada, but if you are staying only a month or two and planning on Helpxing during your stay, there’s no reason to divulge that information. It’s not like you’ll be making money or getting a tax ID or anything.

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  21. Thanks for your answer. I don’t need a visa from France going to Canada but I know that being a visitor does not allow me to work even as a helper. I was just wondering how the travellers over 35 did then????
    I’m actually planning to stay 2 months and that will be my first trip out of Europe (so little bit worried!).

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    • Don’t be worried! It’s a very easy country to navigate and people are generally friendly. I believe on a tourist visa you are not allowed to volunteer but if you simply don’t mention it to the customs officials you should be alright.

      I also tried workaway with no success but helpx was very good when i was in Spain. Wwoof Canada is a very well organised site and is definitely legitimate.

      Have a great trip!

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      • Helpx certainly has the most older helpx on it and where I have now started to look first .I am up to host on both sites including Wwoofers but take myself off workaway most of the time as people dont read the profile and it can waste such a lot of time . I always reply even if it is just the words no thanks. I am getting on average 3 enquiries a day at this time of year. But sorting “the corn from the chaff” is another matter

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  22. Problem with paid websites is that after paying your membership there is not guarantee you will find a place to work as volunteer.. it happened to me with helpx and workaway :( .. lately I have been using this free alternative, works in the same way except you don’t pay anything to contact hosts http://www.volunteersbase.com

    Like

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