I love travelling with the help of volunteer work.
It has never been planned to do volunteer work before we came to Australia but there we were at our Melbourne hostel, not really knowing where to go next, if we could find work or what else there could be. And while looking at cars to become our new home on wheels, we received a brilliant advise: “Have a look at workaway.info!”. And luckily we did! There were so many places everywhere in Australia (and everywhere else in the world), with so many different kinds of work to do that it seemed almost impossible to decide where to go.
But that was how the adventure started and we got to Leeton and lived a month with Sarah and her family, after that we had five great months at Linley’s farm in Canberra, followed by another month at Sarah’s, a week at a Mangrove Creek Yoga Ashram near Newcastle, a week at Heike’s cafe “Spice of Life” at Tambourine Mountain and a week at the “Pinnacles Equestrian Centre” near Townsville.
I know that many backpacker come to Australia mainly to travel all the time, only stay at one place if they run out of money and have to work and spend most of their trip at tourist destinations, having a dive lesson in the morning and a skydive in the afternoon before they return to their hostel and start drinking another bag of goon. And there is nothing wrong with that. But after having the amazing opportunity to really live with Australian people and not being surrounded by other travellers all the time (and yes, there are so many Germans! I woudn’t even have to speak a lot of English here if I wouldn’t want to!) I feel like they might be missing out on something.
And everyone who can’t believe we stayed in Canberra for so long and didn’t die from boredom has obviously not understood that some of the most wonderful travel experiences are in no way related to the amount of tourist attractions but to the people you meet on your journey.
Another good reason to do volunteer work is, of course, money. “But you don’t earn any doing that!” you could say and that is absolutely right but you also don’t spend much. A dorm room, one person, one night can easily cost you $20-$25 and you still haven’t paid for food then. Let’s say you spend about $150 per week on accomondation, $40 on food (which is quite realistic if you cook for yourself, but will be more if you get take away), then let’s add $6 for laundry… Of course, you also have 24h every day to do whatever you like, but it is almost $200 you could save by doing 20-25h volunteer work per week. And don’t forget that your accomondation there will be most likely a nice private room with a big bed and sometimes even your own bathroom or you could be really lucky and get a small apartment just for yourself!
And the work part? Well, there might be a little difference between paid and volunteer work. You heard the stories about fruit picking backpackers that had to carry 80kg banana plants through the hot and humid rainforest all day while trying not to step on one of the many dangerous snakes?
We did fruit picking as well 😉 Two hours of weeding, picking beans and planting a few new plants, then we had 30 minutes break and got some watermelon and tea and then we did another 90 minutes of work before we drove back to the yoga ashram to have lunch. Doesn’t sound so hard, does it?
Other jobs we did were playing with little Sebastian and helping him to tidy up his room, reading stories and painting pictures. Also feeding horses, or even riding and lunging could be your job for the day.
Sure, sometimes you spend hours weeding in the sun, but on other days you can drive around on the sit on mower or the tractor or you deliver feed by quad!
You see, there is a variety of work to do, it is never the same and there is something for everyone. They are all glad to have help and even if you don’t know how some things work, they are happy to teach you what leaves you with a lot of new skills you might also be able to use for paid work later!
As you see, there are a ton of reasons why you should try to volunteer, so why not give it a go?