BMT 005: Volunteering Abroad’s Best Kept Secret – Workaway

This episode of The Budget Minded Traveler podcast is all about one of the traveling world’s best-kept secrets: Workaway.

Find out how the program provides volunteer abroad and cultural exchange opportunities for travelers and hosts worldwide. Easy on the wallet, rich in the experience. If you’re interested in budget travel, you must find out about the Workaway opportunity.

Episode 5 Show Notes

You can browse hosts and register to set up your own Workaway opportunity at

Read about our experience in Mexico: Volunteering Abroad in Mexico via Workaway

Read FAQ: Is Workaway Safe?

Read FAQ: Is it hard to become part of Workaway without any references?

Update May 2014: Our final trip expenses have been tallied! Drum roll please… we were hoping to make it 6 weeks in Mexico and only spend around $1,500 total between the two of us, and guess what! Our total comes to $1,440. Yes, plane tickets, food, drinks, fun, everything included. And Workaway made that possible. Booyah.

Photos From My Workaway Experiences

Italy 2009: Managing a yoga retreat in the hills of Lazio for two months.

Pool and lawn that Nate took care of
Dining Table In Sabina
Guest dining table, ready for lunch
Cooking in the kitchen
Cooking in the kitchen!

Workaway in Baja, Mexico.

Guest house
Guest house where we are staying
Pescadero Beach Office
My office.
mexico sunset
Sunset over our front yard

Want more inspirational photos? Follow me on Instagram @travelingjackie.

21 replies on “BMT 005: Volunteering Abroad’s Best Kept Secret – Workaway”

Hi Jackie – I have become addicted to travel podcasts in the past few months and your podcast is one of my favorites! (I also like Zero to Travel and Extra Pack of Peanuts.) This episode spoke to me greatly because Tom and I have spent our lives giving to others and I can’t imagine traveling without giving something back. We are looking for opportunities in our later lives to offer our experience in medicine (me) and music (Tom) as we travel. I’d love to hear you cover medical mission travel. I think you would do the subject justice. Tom can play his guitar anywhere, but if there is a specific market for musicians, that would be great to learn about, too. GREAT work. Keep it coming. – Carla

I would like some more info on this program…Are there any hosts in the Los Barriles area? I have been there 8-10 times…I know the town….First I’ve heard of this program..My email is

Hey Jackie,
Just listened to your podcast, and thought I’d chime in a bit from the perspective of a Workaway host. One thing I would like to stress to all potential volunteers is that they should tell prospective hosts something about themselves and something about their motivations for volunteering. Very often I follow a profile link from an initial email contact from an interested workawayer, only to find that next to no information is available. A lot of emails from volunteers give clear signs that they’ve sent out a very general email to many different hosts. This is fine; I would contact many potential hosts too if I were volunteering. But without any information about the person writing, and without any indication that they’re particularly interested in MY projects, there’s little motivation to put my time into writing a personal reply. A volunteer who sends me and email that shows me they’ve read my profile, that includes a salutation with my name, with some information about themselves, and with at least a general time frame of when they want to volunteer with us – that email gets a prompt and positive response. Even if I have to say we’re booked, I will wish them well, and encourage them to contact us again if other dates will work for them.
Anyway, thanks for spreading the word about Workaway. And good luck on your further travels!

Hi Kate! Thanks so much for your input, it’s great to hear from the perspective of a host. Yes, as much info as possible in your profile is a great tip, for both Workawayers and Workaway hosts to make sure it’ll be a good match. When we send emails to hosts, we always address the host directly, stating exactly why we would like to volunteer with them and even any experience we have had in the past that might help our chances to land that volunteer spot. I agree 100% that being personal is the best way to establish a connection with a host. Thank you for sharing!

Great primer on Workaway. My fiancé and I are doing a Workaway honeymoon later this year so blogs like this are a big help. What I enjoyed about the podcast is your criteria for how you chose a host.
– Proximity to town
– Internet access
– Host reviews
– Comfortable accommodations
Its easy for people to get idealistic and think they need to go full-on Indiana Jones on their trips abroad. That’s all well and good, its just not for everyone. So if this is your 1st Workaway then you really should take this list and the rest of the podcast into consideration.
Acculturation is already challenging enough, you don’t need to make it any harder on yourself.

You are so right about the Indiana Jones thing, sometimes you really need to consider what it will take to make sure you will be comfortable enough! Especially for longer trips. I’m glad to be of help, and best of luck to you on your Workaway honeymoon! I’d love to hear how it goes.

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