Which site is best? Reviews of WWOOF, Workaway, Worldpackers, HelpX, HippoHelp, Volunteers Base

Updated 2024

These reviews are for you if you’re thinking about doing a work exchange 1often called wwoofing – either as part of a round-the-world trip or an alternative lifestyle at home.

How much does it cost to Wwoof for a year? It depends on which WWOOF organization is in charge of the place where you want to travel working on farms. This article details both wwoof travel and other work exchange possibilities.
Work exchanges are usually arranged through online platforms.  People needing help and people wanting to help make accounts and connect with each other.

For years I used HelpX and WWOOF when Workaway was still growing and Worldpackers, Hippohelp, Volunteers Base didn’t exist.  At this point, I’ve successfully connected with hosts on the former three platforms and have TRIED to connect with hosts on two of the latter three.

I’m here to give you reviews of all the work exchange sites to help you choose which work exchange platform is best for you!

My credentials:

I’ve done work exchanges in over 23 locations in six countries around the world… and counting!  It’s one of my favorite ways to travel and to live.  I highly recommend it!

For more about work exchanges, see Work Exchange: Budget Travel’s Crown Jewel.

italian alps near wwoof farm where I was a wwoofer - hippo help reviews will reveal similar opportunities and experiences

It’s hard to pick a favorite work exchange spot. This WWOOF placement in the Italian Alps is somewhere near the top!

WWOOF... HelpX… Workaway… & More –
Which do I choose?

I often have a membership to more than one platform.  I also find that hosts (who usually pay nothing to join) will often list themselves on more than one site.  Don’t be fooled by “free” memberships.  In nearly all cases these allow you look, but you can’t contact hosts in any organization without paying.

happy face sad face of person who signs up for free wwoof or helpx membership - but it's only the happy face for hippo help, which you'll probably read about in hippo help reviews

“Free membership! Cool! Wait… free if I don’t actually want the benefits of membership. Oh.” – photo: gratisography

The platform you choose will depend on your travel, or education, or lifestyle goals.  If you have very little interest in farming, WWOOF is probably not the platform for you.  It is the original work-exchange network, however, so let’s start there:

WWOOF Review

Officially World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (but sometimes called Willing Workers On Organic Farms), WWOOF was the original work exchange network.  It’s made up of several chapters around the world, all with their own rules and membership fees.  You don’t have to love farming to be a wwoofer – remember work exchanges are also about cultural exchanging!  However, if getting dirty just isn’t your cup of tea, move on to Workaway or HelpX.


Up to $72 (66€) a year, depending on which WWOOF organization you join.  I usually pay around $40 (36€) for a one-year membership to whichever chapter controls the area I want to WWOOF in.


  • If learning sustainable farming skills is high on your list, WWOOF is the best place to start. With “organic farming” in it’s name, most WWOOF hosts tend to at least be attempting to farm organically.  2Although I’ve stayed with WWOOF hosts in cities usually doing gardening and odd jobs like helping restore a classic yacht.
  • Additionally, thanks to its age, sometimes WWOOF offers opportunities in areas where other work exchange networks are still gaining a foothold.  WWOOF turns 53 in 2024!


  • Since it started before the internet, its infrastructures often aren’t optimized for the modern world.
  • Most crippling are the regional divisions: you could go to Europe but need to pay for one-year memberships in three different WWOOF organizations, all run in different ways with different interfaces and (usually lack of) technologies. 3The reason WWOOF hasn’t magically streamlined with the efficiency of the world wide web: the leaders for each of dozens of organizations would have to gather, agree on a single model, go back home, get all the hosts to agree to stay involved when they change everything, and then find themselves out of a job once all WWOOF organizations were operating on identical systems.
  • When I contacted WWOOF USA to complain about their terrible “free” previews in 2019 (they’ve improved the free host previews since!), they said they’ll give you your money back if you don’t find a host within 30 days.  Worth asking them if that’s still the case if you’re on the fence about a membership.

Workaway Review

Workaway was sort of the kid brother to HelpX for a long while, but they’ve grown up and surpassed HelpX in many ways!


$49 (45€) for 15 months for one person, $59 (54€) for 15 months for a couple, if you use this invite link.  Otherwise prices are for one year.


  • Thanks to a few years of being the only work exchange platform with all the modern bells and whistles and a beautiful user interface, Workaway finally got hosts to sign up in droves. They out-competed HelpX for awhile.
  • They are very focused on fairness and safety.  Workaway is careful about hosts, manually reviewing every application and profile update.
  • Update 2021: I love that Workaway is now requiring business hosts to offer a wage.  I’ve long felt uncomfortable about for-profit businesses using exchange labor. 
  • They offer many organic farming opportunities.  Unlike WWOOF, one website covers the entire world.  
  • The platform has a cool resume-gap feature: you can generate a letter of reference for future job/school applications based on feedback from hosts!
  • They also have good content, including – e.g. – how to talk about travel skills on a resume.


  • I think it’s a bit cheeky that Workaway charges a different price for your profile based on how many people are using it.  It’s becoming industry practice, but I still love that at least HelpX doesn’t do this.
  • They’re also charging industry-practice prices (HelpX is not), but at least have a well-developed community and website to show for it.
  • I guess if you’re primarily seeking organic farming opportunities, then sorting through the confusing WWOOF networks might be preferable to using Workaway.

Worldpackers Review

Worldpackers has changed dramatically in the last four years.  I used to hate their business model  It has completely changed and they are now innovative industry leaders.


$39 with a discount code* for the Solo Trips plan, otherwise $49 USD a year.
(*Use code HALFTHECLOTHES for a $10 discount or click any Worldpackers link.)


  • Their inventory of opportunities has increased enormously in the last few years.
  • The user interface is beautiful.
  • Unlike WWOOF, one membership covers the entire world.
  • There is more support for newbie travelers with this platform than any other.  If you are nervous about traveling, this is the platform to start with.  They’ll connect you with experienced travelers and have lots of logistics advice.
  • They verify hosts, aiming to provide a network of responsive hosts instead of thousands of mostly-inactive listings.  Verification also means increased safety (and fewer horror stories!) for travelers.
  • They spent the first year of COVID updating their host base and added a “greater chance of approval” filter in 2021.
  • They refund you if you get no responses from hosts in the first 30 days your plan is active.  This is great if you’re going somewhere with fewer hosts registered on this platform.
  • They covers $49 of accommodation (more with more expensive plans) if you end up with a bad host situation.  And they help you find a new host!


  • Their user interface & system offers lots of possibilities (a pro!) which makes the whole platform a little bit harder to understand (the con).
  • The proportion of hostels and businesses (vs. homestays and farms) is higher on this platform than on others.  This is a con for me, because I’m personally not a fan of work-exchangers-as-employees model.  When hosts are trying to run a business, I think they can’t help but be more rigid in their expectations.  Rigid expectations easily lead to disappointing experiences for all involved.  That said, you know you best.  If volunteering to do a normally-paid position makes sense to you, go for it!

If you are drawn to any of their academy programs, use the same discount code – HALFTHECLOTHES – to get $10 off them as well.

HelpX Review

HelpX stood as my favorite work exchange website for years.  Instead of WWOOF’s focus on growing the organic farming movement, the HelpX network just focuses on cultural exchange between people needing help and people wanting to help.  To be sure, there are plenty of farming opportunities on HelpX.


$11 (10€) a year, but you can only get a two-year, $21 (20€) subscription. It’s actually a good thing.  Their price for two years is the same or less than most other platforms for one year!


  • It’s one affordable membership good for two years that allows you to access hosts world wide.
  • It’s full of variety:  there are farms, but also a couple in a small town needing help renovating an apartment, farmers in remote mountain valleys who need childcare, and business owners who need staff. 4For the record, I don’t really recommend working for a business via HelpX unless they’ve got tons of amazing reviews.  Work exchanges are fun because they’re about culture and community.  If the business owner is just trying to get out of paying for labor, the experience will generally be mediocre.  And what the owner is doing may actually be illegal in some countries.
  • It used to be the work exchange site with the highest number of users and the most diverse range of experiences, which is why I  kept renewing my membership!


  • It’s the most affordable, though in at least one way you do get what you pay for: I don’t have anything positive to say about interactions I’ve had with their admins over the years.  They range from non-responsive to curt – a sharp contrast with Workaway and Worldpackers fierce dedication to building community.
  • The site doesn’t have modern bells and whistles, so it’s harder to navigate.

HippoHelp Review Hippo Help Review

HippoHelp thought that other platforms felt outdated, unnecessary complicated or too expensive (I don’t disagree!). Why Hippohelp? A combination of branding research and “who doesn’t love hippos?”  The site was free until Google raised their price 14Xs for the maps on which Hippohelp depends.


$14 (13€)


  • The map is the foundation of the platform, which is incredibly helpful.  I can’t tell you how laborious it was to find a geographically suitable farm in Italy using their WWOOF’s archaic documents.  And I hate that when I login to HelpX that I have to click two or three times to find a map view of a region.  With HippoHelp, you can’t not look at a map.
  • If having 9,000 tabs open drives you crazy, this platform has your back. The founder explains, “If you, for example, click on a hostmarker, the information appears on the same screen instead of in a new tab, making it easy and fast browsing through all hosts in an area.”
  • They encourage you to complete your profile before looking around at what’s available, but I was able to click past the prompts so I could have a look around before committing the time it takes to fill out a profile.
  • Another bonus: you can use the app to find fellow travelers to meet up with!


  • There aren’t as many hosts as other platforms.

Volunteers Base Review Hippo Help Review

This is a free site I first heard about via the comments section on this page.


Free. For everyone.


  • It’s free!  Maybe there are more pros, but I haven’t made a profile there yet.


  • When I clicked around looking at listings for the most recent places I’ve traveled, I was disappointed.  Nearly all the listings for Peru were businesses.  Many for the U.S. were as well.
  • There was no map, which in my experience is critical to helping me decide if I’m interested in a location.  There wasn’t even a way to sort by region or state.  But… you get what you pay for?!

Remember, just as with house sitting, the right platform is really whichever one is used by the host with whom you want to work exchange!

Want to avoid becoming one of the few bad work exchange stories? Read about how to pick a host and how to be a good helper!

Have another work exchange website you want to share? Tell us in the comments!

And don’t forget to check your travel insurance policy – especially before you volunteer to pick up chainsaw!

Want to take a break from work exchanging? Check out free accommodation for travellers.


Happy Traveling! ♣

Nervous about a new lifestyle?
Read: Grabbing Life by the Handlebars: Retirement Before 30
Or read 24 Jobs to Do While Traveling the World.

Pinnable to your travel and life hack boards:

IF you want to travel working on farms or live on a farm for free and work, check out wwoof travel and the reviews of these other Work Exchange sites


1 often called wwoofing
2 Although I’ve stayed with WWOOF hosts in cities usually doing gardening and odd jobs like helping restore a classic yacht.
3 The reason WWOOF hasn’t magically streamlined with the efficiency of the world wide web: the leaders for each of dozens of organizations would have to gather, agree on a single model, go back home, get all the hosts to agree to stay involved when they change everything, and then find themselves out of a job once all WWOOF organizations were operating on identical systems.
4 For the record, I don’t really recommend working for a business via HelpX unless they’ve got tons of amazing reviews.  Work exchanges are fun because they’re about culture and community.  If the business owner is just trying to get out of paying for labor, the experience will generally be mediocre.  And what the owner is doing may actually be illegal in some countries.


  • October 28, 2022 at 6:23 am


    Would you be able do a review on Hopperjobs.com ? they are a free “voluteering for accomodation” type of website.


  • October 9, 2022 at 7:49 am

    Hi, I am Barry and had a host listing with Workaway for 10 years. I cancelled my membership because my research into this platform revealed that Workaway is actually a product of the Communist Chinese Government, operating out of Hong Kong, they are linked to the ministry of culture.. They project an image of “let’s all love each other” etc but tell that to the millions held in concentration camps and the democratic movements in Hong Kong crushed by this ruthless regime.
    They pay no taxes and list themselves as a charity. Charities do not exist in China. They are DATA HARVESTING and one look at the details they require volunteers to provide is enough to confirm that!

    • November 19, 2022 at 2:35 pm

      Can you elaborate on this, we have been hosts for 10 years and have noticed some unsavoury changes from the workaway staff and communications

      Do you know when they changed hands as they used to be lovely people to deal with?

    • May 25, 2023 at 5:38 am

      Hey Barry, how much do you know about Chinese Government? How did you get the information? Open your eyes and use your brain! Do not only trust what the media tells you! Come to China and take a look in person! Is it a concentration camp?

      • December 26, 2023 at 4:37 am

        Having had guests from mainland China stay with us on a number of occasiins i must concur with Barry in his assessment. We will no longer accept guests from mainland China.

  • December 12, 2021 at 11:13 pm

    Wow I’m new to knowing about these websites!! I’m completing my tefl and deciding hard about what to do for college because I want leave my home country and work so bad!
    I’m 26, Canada, working part time to save up, living with my parents. No degrees, because I switched programs and now I’ve found truly that I want to work and live in another country. (Also, true passions are visual art and learning languages).
    Studying Spanish, planning for teaching English in Spain. But these work away jobs??
    Can someone do these jobs, live, be healthy, have fun, good experiences and grow like this for the rest of their life?? How long have people stayed in these jobs?!

    I come from people who only value 6-figure bachelor degree careers. But I admire other paths too. So I hope that these jobs are ones you can spend the rest of your life doing or at least grow from!!


    • January 30, 2022 at 9:59 pm

      Hi Sheree – Just seeing your comment – yes, you could theoretically do work exchange jobs indefinitely. I did it about 30-40% of the time for 8+ years, and still do a few times a year!

    • November 4, 2023 at 3:01 pm

      Hi Sheree,

      You can even apply for a paid job if you want. Maybe also doing work as an au pair or housekeeping etc..

      There is a lot of stuf possible.
      Also in the South, Centraal and Caribean Americas.

      But, first get your Spanish up to level!
      And make sure you have some savings and do your research first (visa or permit etc).

  • August 20, 2021 at 4:26 pm

    Hi there,

    I would like to add that after paying for a HelpX account I would’ve hoped that the availability of the hosts would be visible to Helpers. Instead it seems you must message each one individually and wait for a reply. It would be beneficial to include this in your review.

    Thanks and I enjoyed your comparison; it was very informative.

    • September 3, 2021 at 8:14 pm

      Hi AK – Oh how I wish for *any* internet platform (work x, dating, job sites, networking sites…) whose profiles are up to date. We can dream, hey?!

    • April 27, 2022 at 6:04 pm

      I agree, that seems to be a big problem across all of these sites. There is no option to filter out those hosts who have not logged in for a number of days e.g. 30 or 90. For example, searching today on Hovos for opportunities in Spain and 146 are listed, however, of these only 6 (yes six) have logged in within the last 30 days. I am doubtful that any messages sent to any of the 140 who haven’t logged in recently will ever be answered. For Australia there are 285 hosts listed and I couldn’t find any that had logged in within less than 6 months. Yes, I know Australia has had a very strict and long lockdown, but I’m amazed that now it is opening up again that none of the hosts are seeking volunteers later in the year.

      • March 23, 2024 at 12:26 pm

        Hi Peter
        I’ve recently reopened my Helpx account in Victoria and want to say we are still recovering and many of us exhausted so many people and small businesses closed down.
        I’ve temporarily closed HelpX today as I won’t be in my house full time as a family member is facing surgery though I met up with a member and we are going to stay in touch . Slowly slowly down under it seems !

    • February 15, 2023 at 7:52 am

      HELPX IS A SCAM! THIEVES! RUN AWAY! (like they just catapulted a cow at you!)

      12+ years as host! 80+ positive reviews! No negative! Lost it all because I gave feedback to their help desk about how their platform caused all inconvenience as messages weren’t being delivered!

      Cut off without explanation or reason!

      Lost contact with so many good friends I made through their terrible buggy platform.

      Platform was always terrible but it was the cheapest so everyone made do.

      I know of many guests that stayed with me that were later scammed by helpx!

  • September 14, 2020 at 9:19 pm

    Oh dear so many untruths and half truths on here, Helpx have always offered free premier membership for certain hosts. NGOs and other areas that ask for helpers to support themselves due to the nature of their project.
    Worldpackers yeah right, Hosts are verified, really! took me 2 minutes to sign up with a free webserver and claim a free domain, that was what I entered into the box. If you communicate with them as a host you soon discover it is all about the travellers that they can make money from, they claim over 6000 hosts. If all hosts from day 1 are still active, which is almost impossible they then are offering a choice of just under 260 hosts per helper, sounds good right? They claim that they have hosts in 170 countries, just do the maths, statistically as one of just over 1.6 million helpers that gives you a choice of less than 2 hosts.
    Trust me as a hosts of 12 years stick with the tried and trusted.

    • October 16, 2020 at 7:47 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experiences, Rosslyn! The more people who share the pros and cons of their experiences here, the more able would-be work exchangers are to make informed decisions. It sounds like your vote is for HelpX because you believe it’s less competitive for travelers to find hosts? Or because you think Worldpackers hides the fact that finding hosts is an endeavor on any platform (at least in my experience!)?

  • August 24, 2020 at 3:13 pm

    Thanks for the comparison Jemma, my partner and I do workaway and have been loving it. But I think like you mentioned in one of the comments, you have to really know why you are participating in Workaway, what you want out of it, and boundaries!

  • April 22, 2020 at 7:44 am

    Has it occured to anyone that Workaway is selling a fairytale? If you look at the videos and the advertising, Workaway makes false promises and sets expectations that are unrealistic and most travelers will be in for a rude awakening. Yes, you do have to actually work for 5 hours per day. Workaway is dishonest and lies to the travelers. That’s why the profiles are free to hosts, because there’s so little value for the hosts. On top of that they do absolutely zero vetting or zero work to make sure hosts are safe so you as a traveler have no idea where you will land. We heard absolute horror stories from many of the Workawayers that stayed with us. We also had our share of Workawayers who were so far in la-la land that when they realized that there was actual work involved, they left after 3 days. Now that we have moved over to WWoofing USA, we have had fantastic experiences. All the Wwoofers already know what to expect. In the end, we suffered the same fate as many Workaway hosts do, sudden suspension for no reason and no justification provided. Ironically we put an enormous amount of effort into hosting and had good reviews yet the profiles of places that treat their Workawayers like crap are still up. So Workaway can pound sand, it’s bad for travelers and hosts alike because it sets the wrong expectation. Workaway preys on fresh out of school students who don’t know any better to get their moneys. many of them end up going to hostels and other cheap travel routes once they find out the reality of what is expected. Lucky for us that about 6 months ago we ramped up our WWoof USA profile and we’ve been getting top notch people on our farm as a result. The site sets the right expectations so those who come and stay on our farm know what to expect and it works out much, much better. I strongly suggest that folks select the platform that most closely matches what kind of work they are interested in doing. The only valid Workaway type work is being someone’s assistant in someone’s home, that is the closest to what they are selling. For the rest, go elsewhere.

    • March 10, 2021 at 10:34 am

      Hello Axel thanks for your comment. I was thinking exactly the same than you. It is a very strange website and after being there for two years I am not able to find any suitable hots that wnt to answer. They answer me two or three months later and they only say that they are not available. Most of them never answer and I think that they discriminiate on you depending where are you from. Dont ask me why but i think that most of the profiles are fake and they are not really looking for any host. I dont reallyundertand the website, at least in Europe where I live. I dont know in other parts of the world. But I had a very negative experience with the website and I have just disactivated my profile

    • March 25, 2021 at 10:15 pm

      I completely agree! I have had only bad experiences with workawayers -people not showing up, leaving after a day or two… this doesn’t happen with wwoofers. I am also no longer on workaway.

    • November 19, 2022 at 2:43 pm

      We had the same thing happen to us after hosting for 10 years. Luckily we also had a wwoofing site. Workaway must have changed hands. We put a lot into hosting and after 10 years to just suspend our account and not provide any explanation seems excessive

  • December 30, 2019 at 7:36 pm

    As a host I really enjoyed the folks that I got from Workaway then something happened and I was removed. I know I did not get any bad reviews and on the contrary I still have workaway guests that keep asking me why I have not been reinstated so they can write a review. I still get workaway guests that are referred by past guests and and other hosts that know us. Work Away said we are to commercial however most of the hosts in Alaska are much more commercial then us. Work Away does not answer our emails or gives us any indication to “Whats Up” and what do we need to do. HOWEVER, we have been getting plenty of good guests from, as I said, workaway in a round about way as well as Hippo Help and World Packers. Shikat Bay Oysters, Naukati Bay Alaska

    • January 11, 2020 at 4:40 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experiences, Greg!

    • February 7, 2020 at 4:59 pm

      Hi Greg,
      I have also been booted from Workaway. I have been a host on Helpx since 2007 and have hosted scores of helpers and have many great reviews. I had not been getting as many requests there so I decided to try Workaway although I never really liked their platform compared to Helpx. I published my host page and had to change it after it “went for review” three times. I found out you are not allowed to mention any other exchange site and had to remove my references to them and any pictures related as well. I was a bit miffed at the censorship of Workaway. I received tons of requests in a short time and replied to them as fast as I could. I also realized by my status and emails I was receiving from Workaway staff that they were reading all my correspondence between myself and prospective helpers. They kept telling me to change the dates I could accept travelers because I had opted not to host people because they were not capable of the type of help I needed. When I wrote to ask them why, all of sudden my listing was “under review” and when I inquired about that they sent this in a email.
      Unfortunately, after reviewing the information in your profile, we are not able to continue listing your account on the website.
      We wish you the best of luck with all your future projects and thanks for being part of the Workaway community.
      And when I wrote and asked for an explanation, they have ignored me.
      I felt as if I was under some gestapo rule and I can’t believe people actually support this.
      The only reason they passed Helpx is marketing. Not service.

    • March 1, 2020 at 12:25 pm

      I have volunteered both for wwoofing Canada and Help.x.
      One very important thing is not mentioned at all in the conversations. What I found is that most hosts (at least 75%) over worked and over used me as free labour, instead of it being a fair exchange of 3-6 hours per day with 2 days off per week. So it is extremely important that when you go to a host, to have the conversation before you go as if how many hours you are expected to work. Another important thing is to discuss is if your food is included, and so how many meals. I found that if you clear up these things before you go you can avoid being used as free labour, which I found I was regarded as more often then not. Mostly working at least 8 hours per day, with perhaps one day off. I did report these farms to the wwoofing organisation, but often this then would become a witch hunt and they would want to know much more about you, not trusting what you are reporting to be true. It is expensive to travel around the globe hoping that the farm you go to will treat you with dignity and respect as you should treat them as well. Often too, it is important to find out when you go to a farm it’s location, is there a way to go do some sight seeing around, is there public transportation or even cabs. As in Canada often you are so isolated that you are completely dependent on your host family. There should be a fair feedback system where the volunteers can read the reviews of other volunteers on the farms they wish to visit, without it being censored by the website. I have seen a lot of Canada’s west coast which I could not have done without this volunteering. And I am in my fifties. It still is an excellent way to travel, but make sure to investigate the place you want to go to, read their reviews, contact them and ask questions about what work you are expected to do and how many hours, and if food is included. Happy volunteering! Silvia Herchen Canada

    • April 22, 2020 at 7:15 am

      The exact same thing happened to us, we had many great reviews and many travelers were incredibly grateful that we were on the Workaway platform. Then one day they just removed us for no reason at all. Workaway is just awful to hosts and we know that there are many many terrible hosts on Workaway as Workaway does absolutely nothing to vet hosts. At this point we hate Workaway and we will avoid it like the plague, and use Wwoofing USA instead. Just ask yourself if you want to risk traveling on a site that doesn’t do any vetting of the hosts, and then randomly removes hosts that are in good standing and treat their visitors well.

    • July 22, 2021 at 10:43 am

      Thank you Greg. I had a similar experience with Workaway. I was suddenly taken offline after I worked extremely hard to create a fabulous project for volunteers and children and then I was seemingly blocked by workaway. They never concluded their “investigation” after a vexatious mentally unstable volunteer complained about us. The complainer was just 1 miserable old man out of 50 very happy volunteers.

  • December 23, 2019 at 5:19 pm

    HippoHelp is not free! Maybe they were when you wrote this, but I took your article to heart and signed up HippoHelp and created a profile and everything, and then when I went to message hosts they said I had to sign up and pay a fee! So unfortunately, they only mislead travelers to believe it’s a free platform and then charge money after you’re already invested.

  • November 17, 2019 at 10:28 am

    Thanks for this great review and reading the comments as well has been useful. I have been with Helpx and my subscription is up for renewal so I was wondering whether to switch to Workaway. Like you say, they have a much sleeker interface and Helpx is so outdated. My biggest frustration though is with hosts who don’t even bother to reply, even though nowadays I only bother contacting those who have logged in in the past month. It sunds like Workaway has the same issue, or worse, hope offered then no more contact so I’ll renew my Helpx because the price is certainly right!

    • November 22, 2019 at 6:38 pm

      Hi Ana – for me, I make my decision based on which platform has the most hosts (active hosts) in the areas I anticipate traveling to.

      I’m really excited about Worldpackers right now. If they have hosts in the area you’re thinking of traveling to, you can get a code for a discount. There are lots of codes out there. The one they gave me works, too: HALFTHECLOTHES

      Good luck with whichever platform you choose!

  • September 21, 2019 at 7:37 am

    I agree with most of what you write on your page evaluating the various help exchange platforms. The one about Hippohelp is a bit too positive I believe. The website is not working technically and there are many fake volunteers on there. You see it from the perspective of a volunteer, but if you would ask a few hosts if they have ever received a message from an economic refugee you would get many acknowledgements.
    This is also the main problem with really free help exchange websites, it will attract a lot of people who are not the typical help exchanger you wish to have as a host.
    Anyway… my name is Mark Wiersma and I am the founder of http://www.hovos.com, another website which regrettably has not been mentioned in your evaluation. We are the former owners of HomeForEchange.com, sold in 2015 to a competitor and currently our main project is Hovos. The idea came up here in Spain on the island Mallorca where we own a large formerly coal mine estate. I did not like HelpX and WorkAway and WWoof for all the reasons that you mention – WorkAway by the way was a few years back also very bad, they have improved their website very much. WorldPackers had a few years back around 2,500 hosts and a staggering 750,000 volunteers and growing with about 50,000 per month ! They are heavily funded by investors and last year I received a message from them that this was the year of truth; they are struggling for sure. Like Couchsurfing, it’s very hard to get some money out of the pockets of budget travels, they simply do not really have the money and they rather spend it on a beer.
    Ok, next week we will launch our Android app and a few months later the iOS app. We are growing slowly, but eventually we will appear above the scroll when searching on help exchange related subjects.
    If you want to contact me , feel free to do so.

    • October 19, 2019 at 8:52 pm

      Hi Mark – I missed your comment when it originally arrived. Thanks for sharing your industry perspective! I don’t have time to do integration edits this month, but I’m glad to at least have your perspective as part of this page! Cheers 🙂

    • April 21, 2021 at 9:40 pm

      Hi Mark, I have been exploring what your site has to offer.
      Good job!
      There are only a few small things, that would make it even better. Feel free to reach out s.medal90@gmail.com.
      I am Sam been volunteering, and workexchanging for last 7 years.

    • November 8, 2021 at 8:29 pm

      hi Mark
      The website is not found

  • July 5, 2019 at 11:41 pm

    Hi Jema, have you used couchsurfing or do you have any suggestions about it? Your blog is awesome! Thank you for your help!

  • May 20, 2019 at 10:26 pm

    Hi Jema,

    I’m an American looking to volunteer in a hostel overseas. I recently just turned 18 and I wonder what the requirements are? I am completely new to the scene, so excuse my ignorance

    – Bruce

    • May 21, 2019 at 2:50 pm

      Hi Bruce – the requirements are different from country to country, so it all depends on where you hope to go. My FAQs about work exchanges might help you get oriented to the work exchange world, and you can explore options from there!

      Good luck with your travels!

  • May 7, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Hi! I think you need to update your cost on workaway it’s now super expensive and instead of being a travelers budget site to use it seems some people are really taking advantage of this which is really sad . Two years ago when I use the site for the first time it was 20 usd per year now is 42 usd 🙁

    • October 9, 2020 at 6:40 pm

      I agree, so darn expensive!! In 2016 it was only 15 Euro, now it is 39 Euro for just 3 months (and 3 months extra bc of the pandemic probably they don’t have a lot of users)!

      • October 16, 2020 at 8:10 pm

        Hi Farida – Can you say more about what country you’re in when looking at Workaway pricing? From the U.S. it still shows $44/$56 year for single/couple, which is about 38/48 euro, again for a year. I’m really surprised to hear that you see a different price and that it’s just for three months. I’ve heard of work exchange platforms extending current memberships for free because of the pandemic, but not decreasing the membership length and charging more. Please update with more details if you can! Thanks, Farida!

  • April 29, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Hi jema,
    Estoy buscando un intercambio para washington D.C en USA
    Que página me recomendarias para unas 8 semanas??

    • May 1, 2019 at 11:25 pm

      Hola Luciana – todas las páginas ofrecen intercambios acerca de ocho semanas. Depende en el host. Buena suerte!

  • February 26, 2019 at 2:01 pm

    Hi Hanna,

    I’m interesed in finding an exchange of housing and work in hospitality in the UK in July or August.
    As it is the first time, that I’m trying this websites. Which one would you recommend for hospitality in the UK? and do you know something about Volunteers Base ?

    Thank you very much,

    • March 4, 2019 at 5:31 am

      Hi Elena – I haven’t ever done hospitality-based work exchange or visited the UK, so I’m not sure. I haven’t heard much about Volunteers Base. I know workamper is popular in the U.S. – not sure if they also have placements in the UK? Good luck!

  • February 24, 2019 at 4:46 am

    Thanks for the great write up. I want to be a host but not on a farm. My elderly mother lives with us,so I want someone to be around, cook and clean. Can you recommend a site for this kind if work? Please

    • February 24, 2019 at 11:17 pm

      Hi Cathie – there are lots of hosts who don’t have farms… or even gardens! HelpX, Workaway, Hippo Help are all great sites for this. If you have room for an RV to park at your house, Workamper is worth looking at. In other countries, there are hosts on WWOOF that do not have organic farms or even farms at all. I’m not sure how common this is in the U.S. I’ve only WWOOFed in the U.S. in Hawaii.

      Hope that helps!

  • January 31, 2019 at 2:41 am

    Hello Jema,
    I have read your useful post and just about all of the comments.
    Not knowing anything about being a host, I was told to try HelpX.
    My question is this: can we get people, probably only two, to stay in on our property and mind it while we are away in Europe for six weeks? It would be more like house-minding, also looking after some animals as we are on 55 acres, two of which is a vineyard. July is middle of winter in Central Tablelands, Australia. Food would not be included but eg electricity would, and there would be small tasks to be done like wood chopping for heating, general maintenance of the place. Is HelpX the appropriate site for this? Basically, we are looking for someone good just to look after your place while we are away.
    Thanks for the advise in advance,
    kind regards,
    Hana and Tony (re-wirees)

    • January 31, 2019 at 5:03 am

      Hi Hana,

      It’s definitely possible to get people to look after your property like this via a work-exchange site. A good friend of mine in Australia (who I met via HelpXing with her!) has done this. If I were in your position, I would probably choose a volunteer housesitter via any number of websites.

      I personally like Aussie House Sitters (did a ton of sits in OZ through that site), but there are several where you can post up what you’re looking for. The majority of sites don’t charge home owners to list their homes. The only one I don’t recommend is Trusted House Sitters. Especially for a house sit in Australia, there are so many other, better sites.

      The benefit to a house sitting site is that it’s still an exchange, but there you get to list specific dates and check people’s other house sitting references. Most sitters are expecting to go through a serious interview process, whereas HelpXers are more accustomed to just turning up.

      Just be prepared for a flood of interest!

      Hope that helps! Have a lovely holiday 🙂

  • January 6, 2019 at 9:03 pm

    Thank you so much for this amazing information .
    I have one question please .
    I want to know if the flights is included
    Because this is my probleme
    I hope to volunteer and travel in the same time but i dont know if i can get a plane tickit for free
    And please if you know something can help me in this situation please tell me
    I’m so sorry for my long comment
    Thank you again for this wonderful article . Thank you
    Have a wonderful days

    • January 9, 2019 at 10:18 pm

      Hi Soufiane – I haven’t heard of any volunteer organizations that pay for your flight unless you’re making a very long commitment (from one to two years). If volunteering for a long time in one place with the same organization appeals to you, you could search “one year volunteer opportunities” or “volunteer one year commitment.” Most volunteer opportunities actually require payment… like they charge you several hundred to a few thousand dollars to volunteer, because more than labor (which can be provided by locals who often have better-suited skills and important local connections) these programs need resources. Good luck to you!

      Oh – not sure where you’re from, but if you google “travel hacking” + your country, you can look into opportunities to collect points toward free flights. Happy travels!

  • December 27, 2018 at 7:16 pm

    Thanks for writing this amazing post. I found hippohelp really good so far in terms of web interface, and that it is completely free. hope i find some amazing hosts 🙂

    • December 27, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      So glad you found it useful, Vikrant. Happy work exchanging! It’s the linchpin of my life – I really love it!

  • October 19, 2018 at 10:25 pm

    Thanks for your informative write-up! So far I only used workaway platformto seek volunteering opportunities. I had ups and downs with hosts so far. After one year of extensive use I still find it very difficult to see behind a project prior to arrival. Reviews are mostly rather kind than honest, negative ones are never displayed. The website may look more up to date than others but functionality is still not great. Imagine you write to a host the first time but can not even address someone personally, making your mail look super random. The only ways to get a name is either a reference mentioning one or once you wrote to them, then you see it in your mailbox. Finally, the biggest burden is their commercial exploitation scheme. A mere platform of exchange does not make up for their asking price, let alone the fact that you are only allowed to use it absolutely as a single person. But wait! They have to meet extra cost! They actually employ someone to scan your messages, so that if you enquire for another person too, they block your account and ask you to pay for a couple account! I tried it by even just mentioning someone else (unspecifically) who may be interested, and again they threaten to block your account. That’s really too much for, not to mention this major privacy violation that they read along. It just makes communication a nuisance if I like to ask for a travel accuaintance as well. But luckily most hosts agree to continue communicating via email. Perhaps it’s clear already, my two cents of advice are: Look elsewhere for volunteering, and only as a last resort get back to this one. And don’t forget to mention the alternatives to hosts as well!

    • October 20, 2018 at 4:48 am

      Hi Max! I agree, the Workaway charging more for a couple irks me on principle as well. I’ve also been frustrated by having to dig for the host’s name in comments, etc. Good luck with your work exchanging!

  • October 13, 2018 at 5:15 pm

    Thank you for an interesting article and your many kind, thoughtful responses.

    As a retired (we prefer to say rewired) couple we have successfully wwoofed for three months in Australia and recently joined helpx.net so as not to limit ourselves to farmstays in our next destination, New Zealand.
    Our Australian hosts, by and large, honored – and often exceeded – their side of the trade – however typically a farmer’s life is not a 9 to 5 job and often times we’d get sucked into doing more than we bargained for.
    The issue for us, moreso perhaps in light of us not being spring chickens anymore, is/was a loss of control. particularly with regard to food quality and the honoring of our sacred time.
    That is why we’re considering doing an end run around helpx.net, or any other agency, and applying directly to medium sized owners in the accomodation industry. We’re prepared to forgo the all in brokered package deal for a more specific proposal that we feel would benefit hosts also, by removing the “be fed and entertained by the host family” requirement from the equation.
    Undoubtedly it would cost us more (factoring in food and transportation costs) and it might also limit the possibility to develop social friendships but frankly we would have greater peace of mind at the end of the day.

    • October 14, 2018 at 12:10 am

      Re-wired – I like it! I’ve found across my dozens and dozens of work exchanges that what’s offered varies widely. It’s been possible for me to read between the lines and to avoid what my friend calls “farm martyrs.” I’m also pretty choosy about the food situation, and tend to pick out hosts who have the same food values as I do. I’ve also often seen offers where food is cut out of the equation – so it’s just two hours a day in exchange for a room with the expectation that you’ll provide all your own food. I hope you’ll check back in and report on how your experiment goes! I’d love to hear the ins and outs of what you find as you work on a new model!

      • October 14, 2018 at 5:03 pm

        “Farm martyrs”….love it, yes we’ve bumped into them as well!

        At the very least we’ve established our boundaries. For starters. I’ll go back into my helpx.net account and redefine our parameters. I’m quite sure there’s plenty of potential hosts out there who’d prefer a less complicated arrangement.

        Still trying to directly contact potential hosts, unsuccesfully thus far. Seems like there’s a market out there for a more flexible platform.

  • October 2, 2018 at 11:41 am

    which site gave more hosts in germany?

    • October 2, 2018 at 5:38 pm

      Hi Amro – I recommend going to the sites themselves to make your comparisons for the areas/countries you are thinking of visiting. That’s what I do when I want to work exchange in a new place. You don’t have to have a paid profile to look at hosts, usually. Happy travels!

  • September 11, 2018 at 9:38 am

    it is a free site:


    • September 12, 2018 at 5:34 am

      Hi Wayra,

      Thanks – I’ve messaged them to learn more about it and potentially update this page. Cheers!

  • August 3, 2018 at 12:07 pm

    Hi !
    I am a french student and I would like to do work exchange in United States of America.
    I would like to know if this kind of work is considered as a paying job ? Is the Tourist Visa enough ?
    Thank you !

    • August 4, 2018 at 7:03 am

      Hi Ana,

      I’m not educated on the specifics of visas for French citizens in the U.S. and technicalities about work exchanging. Maybe try the Lonely Planet Thorntree forums? I have work exchanged in countries where it technically required a working visa. And sometimes I technically had a working visa. And other times… well… I can’t advise anyone to break the law!

  • June 23, 2018 at 4:42 am

    Interesting article Jema,

    As a host on workaway I’m finding it pretty useless, the last eight requests I’ve said “Sure turn up asap” as we are going to get busy pretty soon, never to hear from them again.
    I’ve changed our vacancy to a First in first serve system since we can’t rely on anyone actually arriving at a particular time or date. Another host is having similar issues & I’m wondering if these are false profiles / requests, although that doesn’t make sense either. Might have to check out Helpx again

    • June 23, 2018 at 9:05 pm

      Thanks for letting us know! It sounds like I need to write an article for hosts! I don’t often hear complaints, but when I do hear them from hosts they are usually about Workaway and WWOOF. Hosts seem to LOVE HelpX.

      I do see a wide range of personal accountability among all the travel platforms I use. It’s common on all of them for a pretty large percentage of people to have fairly low integrity, in my experience. This goes both ways – hosts and helpers/guests. I usually count on about 1 in 10 folks to be responsible and responsive. It’s a shame, but those seem to be the numbers. I just try to let it go! 🙂

      Good luck to you!

      • January 4, 2019 at 11:37 am

        Thanks Jema, & Happy 2019 to you 🙂
        I decided to revisit your blog to update our latest position on workaway / helpx.
        Pretty much ditched Workaway, like you say it’s a much nicer interface then Helpx & probably more user activity, but their latest policy changes have made it unworkable.
        The policy in particular; That we HAVE TO PAY minimum wages to the volunteers!! Such irony!

        This is because we are a commercial business & I understand new employment regulations in other countries like New Zealand & Australia probably forced them into this decision. We are not allowed to offset their accommodation / food /laundry against their hours of work. So the result is for us is that if the “volunteer” works 4 hrs per day as we usually require, the pay they get for this wouldn’t cover the cost of their accommodation, which makes the whole exchange pointless. Weirdly when I first hosted on Workaway three years back I offered to pay the standard wage (which is more than the minimum wage) if the volunteer worked the odd night shift, as we were looking for new permanent staff at the time. Workaway told us we weren’t allowed to pay anything… So they’ve swung from one extreme to the other.
        So with the combination of inflexible policy & very unreliable volunteers making it difficult to plan effectively, I’m regrettably passing up on Workaway.

        Also I’m wondering if you know of any good forums where volunteer / host issues can be discussed? I’d be happy to continue here but it’s probably not the most practical thing to do.

        • January 5, 2019 at 5:58 pm

          I’m so sorry to hear Workaway’s changes haven’t been positive for you as a host. I dream of a world with more integrity – where helpers don’t flake and cause problems for hosts and hosts don’t do… whatever it is they have done to lead to Workaway’s decision. As a host who seems to have lots of integrity, I’m sure this is just maddening for you. I don’t know of any forums. The closest would be travel forums. Lonely Planet has a good one. You’d be welcome to start a FB group (or maybe see if there already is one?) and I’d add a link to this page for you!

          • January 8, 2019 at 11:12 am

            Thanks for the offer / link.
            I’m more mildly irritated (with unreliable volunteers) to be honest & workaway has to do what it has to do in terms of policy.
            I did wonder if there was a deposit system that the volunteer paid forward into a trust account when they “booked a position” which would be paid back when they arrived, if this would make the service more reliable for everyone. Would deal to the spam requests for a start!

            I’ve scoured the web looking for a discussion forum, maybe I’m not looking in the right places?? (didn’t look in facebook cause I don’t use it 😀 ) but possibly there is an opportunity for the right person to start such a thing as there seems to be a growing number of volunteer sites around these days.

            For now it’s helpx that we are using. It’s soooo 90’s!! It’s a bit of a put off, but actually the great part is you can write what you want in your profile & not have to wait for a moderator to approve it. They just don’t seem so “big brother” about stuff, although I admit this can have it’s downsides too. Also because they don’t have all the “bells & whistles” they can charge a lot less for their service.
            So I got an offer of help fairly quickly as well & I’ll try & update here on how that plays out (If I’m not careful this could end up a mini blog in your blog, hope you don’t mind).

    • April 22, 2020 at 7:27 am

      We had horrible experiences with Workaway, we ended up implementing a strict interview process but even with that people were pretty flaky and would often not show up. None of it matters now, even though we put a lot of effort into it and got excellent reviews, one day, like with many, many other hosts, Workaway just put our account in review, then told us they are disabling our profile. Avoid this service like the plague, it’s not worth the fee for travelers and since Workaway advertises a fairytale so they can get people to sign up and pay, us hosts end up dealing with people who have wrong expectations. It’s a bad site that is now run for profit, best to avoid it.

  • May 14, 2018 at 7:08 pm

    I was checking the hosts at Workaway yesterday and I noticed that the volunteers are usually pretty young people, most often in their early twenties. During your trips have you ever met some older volunteers, for example people in their late thirties or early forties or maybe such volunteers are a rarity?

    • May 14, 2018 at 7:35 pm

      Hey Luke – yes definitely have met folks of all ages. Certainly the middle of the bell curve are younger individuals without a lot of responsibilities. However, I’ve met many folks in my travels who are retired work exchangers or just not-twenty-somethings. Families, too. For many hosts, it’s a relief to have a not-fresh-from-the-nest person apply. Younger work exchangers are less likely to have managed their own households and therefore are statistically less aware of how to contribute cooperatively to a house hold. Not all of them, certainly, but it does come up for some hosts.

      Happy adventuring, Luke! 🙂

  • April 30, 2018 at 11:26 pm


    I am considering setting up an account with Workaway but would like to know if I have to include a photo of myself with my profile?

    • May 1, 2018 at 7:30 am

      Hi Paul – certainly photos are encouraged, but I can’t recall it being “required.” I don’t think they’ll force you to add a photo of yourself. However if you are planning on hosting, people feel more comfortable and interested in staying when they can see a face. Same goes for if you’re planning on helping. I, personally, wouldn’t invite someone to my home without seeing them first – via skype or in a photo. Hope that helps!

      • May 9, 2018 at 6:10 am

        Yes and no. I did ask Workaway but received an automated response. I’ll be a helper so probably won’t bother – it’s not a dating site. One final question, what do you invest in to help fund your travels?

        • May 9, 2018 at 9:16 am

          Hi Paul – I’d be curious to see how you go with no photo. If you’re successful in connecting with hosts and it’s easy without a photo, I’d love to know.

          If you start here, you can go do a money rabbit hole:

          • May 14, 2018 at 3:06 am

            I like the way you deftly circumnavigated my question about investing. No doubt you circle the globe with just as much ability. Goodbye.

            • May 14, 2018 at 6:54 pm

              Ha ha – sorry Paul. I don’t mention investing in this post. I didn’t realize until a few days later when grabbing reference links for another project that one of my articles specifically mentions investment and that you may have been asking specifically about things I’ve written elsewhere.

              I invest in mutual funds with a variety of risk tolerances, peer-to-peer lending, low-return ethics-based projects (community investment), and cryptocurrency. I’m planning to diversify into a few more avenues. Probably REITs but looking at a few others things. I don’t think the “what” of investing is near as important as the “now” part of investing. Good luck in your adventures!

  • April 10, 2018 at 12:10 am

    Fairly new to these travel/work sites. Hate to break the ice but the first thing that comes to my mind is safety, it’s first in our world. Well, the world can be a weird place as we all know, couldn’t help but think about human trafficking, missing people, getting lost, theft, racism, cultural bias and the likes. I clicked on a profile on Hippohelp and went “nope” and now I’m here researching haha. What are some of the crazy experiences that you have all came across as either host or guest? And what safety steps to take to avoid walking into a trap house. It’s a real world after all these things happen around us, can’t ignore such.

    • April 10, 2018 at 4:19 am

      Safety is absolutely a concern, but my experience in eight years working in dozens (hundreds?!) of homes around the world is that people are good.

      I am very careful about whom I choose to work exchange with. I don’t have any nightmare stories. The few I’ve heard were generally because people backed themselves into a corner (“We didn’t want to pay for a hostel and no other hosts had written us back“) or didn’t know their own personal boundaries as a helper.

      For example, my personal boundaries include:
      – I won’t work at a property asking for more than four hours of my time (because I know I’ll give more anyway).
      – I won’t work at a property where the helpers don’t have meals with the hosts (I’m there for an exchange).
      – I won’t work at a property where the host’s listing clearly indicates they’ve have some bad experiences with helpers (e.g. You MUST _______. NO _____ ALLLOWED. Etc. etc. I find this is generally an issue of the hosts not having good boundaries and clear communication. Or they are a victim of the slippery slope mentality discussed here.)

      I can get a good feel for whether or not the people are someone I’d like to spend time with just by reading their profile. I don’t compromise my standards. I’m there to learn and be a part of a greater whole. I’m not there to get free accommodation. When I stick to my principles, I have good experiences. I recommend the same for any would-be work exchangers!

      Lastly, remember that hosts and helpers have equal power. Yes, you are going into someone’s home and they could do something terrible to you if they really wanted to. Hosts are taking the same risk inviting a stranger into their home. There is a lot of trust and faith in humanity required to benefit from this situation (that has produced some of the best experiences, education, and friendships of my life!)

      You seem like you’ve got a good filter already (“I clicked on a profile on Hippohelp and went ‘nope'”). Hope that helps, and good luck!

  • April 4, 2018 at 3:29 pm

    Hi! Have you heared or do you have any references of Help Stay webside?

    • April 6, 2018 at 7:51 am

      No, I haven’t. Doesn’t look like a good place for work exchangers to me. My search screen had a sliding scale for how much I was willing to pay for accommodation! None of the major U.S. cities I searched had any listings. Even if this site eventually populates with listings, I think it ruins the platform to host both paid and unpaid stays. Work exchanging is about trading so much more than cash. Bringing money into the equation in any way throws the whole thing off balance. Help Stay seems like a poorly thought-out platform (I couldn’t even see where hosts were located besides “USA”… which is a very big place). On top of all that, they seem to essentially be pushing travel insurance in as many places as possible as a way to fund their platform. Felt very spammy to me. I wouldn’t recommend this help stay website!

  • March 4, 2018 at 5:27 pm

    Hi. I understand that when you stay at the host’s place you don’t need to spend your money?

    • March 6, 2018 at 4:44 am

      Hi Luke, That is mostly true. If you want special items for yourself, special foods, toiletries (soap, deodorant, toothpaste), your host does not provide these generally. They provide a place to sleep and food. Costs for me when I work exchange have been:
      1) transport – riding a bus or metro to get where I am going
      2) special food or meals out – sometimes I buy treats to share or go out for dinner
      3) supplies (new clothes, deodorant, etc.)
      4) phone costs
      That’s all I can think of at the moment. Happy travels!

  • March 3, 2018 at 9:32 pm

    Hi. In which country did you find the people to be the most friendly, easy-going and helpful?

    • March 6, 2018 at 4:41 am

      Hi Luke – I find friendly, easy-going, helpful people all over the world! Sorry I can’t narrow it down to countries… great humans abound 🙂

  • February 16, 2018 at 3:17 am

    I’m a host ONLY – 180 guests, the vast majority wonderful people. As a host, I am closing my workaway account, PERMANANTLY it is dictatorial and lacks transparency.
    HelpX on the other hand, whilst it does have a “dated” look is FAR MORE transparent, from a host point of view. 80% of (our) scams, come from workaway. In our 180 people that actually stayed with us only three were problematic. One stole from us (Fortunately they did not come from workaway or we would never have had our “review” published – workaway do not permit truthful reviews). The other two, knowing their policy, we did not review – they would have censored it anyway) 177 GREAT people – means (For us) that the experience was generally OK. I suspect Workaway would be better for “workawayers” than hosts – which will delight Workaway – as those are the people that pay them the thing they worship most – MONEY!!

    Helpx on the other hand has “spam” protocols for the host – a FANTASTIC feature, which saves us hosts a lot of heartache.

    Whatever those reading this do – PLEASE try to offer a fair exchange, there are quite a number that, once they get in the home, try to weedle out of any jobs – despite their email offering help in those areas.

    • February 16, 2018 at 6:56 am

      Gosh, Lam -it sounds like you’ve had some really tough experiences. Thanks for sharing them! Can you tell me more about the host side of Workaway? I haven’t heard that before about the reviews, but that’s really disappointing. (You can use the contact form if you don’t want to post here). Can you speak to the “spam” piece a bit more, too? What is “spam” – you mean some joker making an account and trying to swindle you somehow? I hear about this on certain house sitting platforms. What does HelpX do to prevent it? (I’m about to write a “How to Be a Work Exchange Host” article, because I’m constantly answering this question. I’d love to be able to share your experience and warnings with people.)

      Thanks for your time!

      • February 19, 2018 at 12:41 am

        Hi Jema, I will reply publicly or privately – Sadly in these days of “one liners” it is difficult to reply comprehensively with few words. Plus I am willing to defend my opinion with those who choose civil discord and NOT choose to insult behind anonymity. If this board can accept a longer answer??, then perhaps it is good that we all chip in with our “side” of things. Whilst I put in my post HOST ONLY, we did not begin this way Some 10 years ago, my first & second experience was couchsurfing where my wife & I stayed as a guest. We still write a couple of times a year to both these people, but never surfed a couch again. One was a young (23 Girl), she has since married, had two children and whilst we have never “physically” met again, it is wonderful to be a small part of their lives half a world away, the photo’s of those children growing and their lives unfolding is heartwarming. Anyhow I will write soon – warmest regards and thank you for facilitating our “voice” on this complex social phenomena. Lam

        • February 19, 2018 at 1:33 am

          Hi Lam – I look forward to hearing more from you here about your host experiences on different platforms. Thank you from me personally and from all the future hosts who will benefit from your perspective. Take as many words as you want. Cheers!

          • February 21, 2018 at 3:44 am

            We are hosts on Couchsurfing, Helpx, Workaway and Warmshowers, we tried “Hippo Help” but the site was too convoluted to make sense of, in one year, we received two “enquiries” both turned out to be people without profiles, attempting to harvest our details. We supplied no details!

            We function as hosts in two countries, Australia and Thailand. COLLECTIVELY, we have now hosted more than 190 people (Latest Count). Our longest stayer(s) was SIX months – two Chinese girls. Australia and New Zealand, are the only countries that allow working holiday visas to the beautiful Chinese people. Our shortest are generally “cyclists” who usually only stay 1-3 nights.

            Of course we cannot be in two places at once, so the “stats” bellow only apply the months (up to 18 months) we spend there.

            Thailand gets the most requests, on average 3 per day. We offer a rather unique opportunity in Thailand. We leave Thailand in a few days – our current “guests” Workaway & Warmshowers, will leave two days before we fly. Both are a (considerable) cost to us.

            Australia averages around 2-5 “requests” per week. Between all sites. Upon our return, we are booked out for the following three weeks. (This will be the LAST time we bear these HUGE costs).

            THE FUTURE
            We have arrived at a turning point in our lives, where we will evaluate whether we continue on or close it all down and move to something like Airbnb. OUR discussions with many many hosts, have also come to similar conclusions. Why should we continue to pay the INCREASING costs of social networking? Particularly when we are getting increasing number of “spam” requests – SPAM in this context is:- sending multiple generic requests to many hosts. See Bellow, for why it matters.

            During the last few weeks we have COMPLETELY analysed our costs – they were frightening and completely unsustainable.

            The ideals of both Helpx & Workaway are commendable. We get skilled people to work up to 25 hours per week in return for food and board.

            The realities are that we have (Over the years) NEVER secured a skilled trades-person NOT ONCE – repeat NEVER, in ANY of the many fields we have asked (Building Trades, electrician carpentry, etc..) Most are young people with few skills, in our case more than 75% are young female, with “traditional” female skill-sets. Note: the gender is largely irrelevant, however the skill-base is quite different. We have had accolades for the way our “profiles” have been presented and we HAVE responded by “changing” wording, to better attract those we need. Despite all the “expert” help we have NEVER attracted a trades-person.

            Both these sites work well in the case of structured businesses, like hotels, guest houses, farms, etc.., Some years ago we used Helpx-ers to work in the HOTEL we managed – it WAS very cost effective. In most “homes” – at least with those we have communicated with – it is costly. We are a private home.

            MY Kitchen, it is a vegan kitchen, we NEVER cook dead animals in our kitchen, or use their bodily fluids. Everything we eat is plant based. Do we have the right to ask that our “guest” also not cook animals in our home? – If not, why not?

            IF we give “carte blanch”, and let people cook plant based food, when they wish, in our kitchen, who pays? We have, in the past done this and it is very expensive. Gas, electricity, oil, salt, pepper, spices, on and on.. We live in a country, with one of the worlds highest energy prices, comparative to our incomes.

            We accept there is a price to pay, letting people stay in our home. They need to shower, sleep on a clean bed, use Internet, power, washing machine, etcetera. You may say, let them use their sleeping bag (If they have one – MOST do not). But when was that last washed? – do we leave people on our floor to cater to their wish not to use their money?. OR do we continue to pay? Why should we pay?

            (Social Networking) It WILL evolve and it is up to everyone to see that it becomes “better” whatever that means to us all.

            Some years ago “Couchsurfing” became a commercial entity. Both Workaway and Helpx are money making entities – with Workaway being utterly obnoxious to deal with – one of your commenter’s (Landers) expresses similar feelings to me. As a host, I have actually CHOSEN to pay HELPX to become a “premier host” – generally hosts do not need to pay.

            Smart-phones (Or dumb-phones if you prefer) are one of the things causing us to re-think this evolving phenomena. With some, the addiction is so pervasive, we cannot enjoy a meal together, we have seen people stabbing their face with a fork, so totally absorbed with their phone – at the table!

            Amongst the hosts we talk with, we have coined the phrase “cave dweller” This person comes to our home and only emerges from their room, to eat (Couchsurfer) or to eat/work – (workawayer – helpx-er). It is frustrating, we are aware people need some space, but it would be nice to spend a little time listening to their stories about “their world”. It is one of the things that makes this worthwhile – when we NEVER see them, we feel “used”.

            WHO DO WE NOT TAKE and WHY?
            We NEVER take generic requests, it usually indicates that they are sending to multiple hosts. Workaway says, they use a spam filter to intercept multiple emails of similar size. Our experience suggests this is not working. Please note you may see many hosts with a specific question(s) “somewhere” in their profile. (as we do) this shows a person is either unwilling to answer, or has not really read the entire profile.

            This is where Helpx excels for hosts – it shows how many emails have been sent and the number of “bytes” (WE CANNOT READ THE EMAILS). I have seen 28 emails with the same number of bytes, sent minutes apart. This “transparency” by Helpx is a game changer for hosts.

            Why does it matter?
            One recent example I can give is in our village in Thailand. We were offering FREE English conversation to the local children. Anyone wanting to help out in this area could take part – we had an application within 24hrs of asking, by a girl with TEFL skills. She sent the best “request” we have ever seen. Further, when we checked helpx, we were the only host to have been contacted.

            Great we thought, we will arrange the children to be ready, when she arrives. We got an email delaying the arrival, thought nothing of it, then a second delay. I went back to her profile and saw she was also corresponding with two other hosts. She dumped us with “I have a better offer” and dumped one of the other hosts – As we are premier hosts, we were able to talk with them. Some may see that “playing” hosts to get a better offer is in the best interests of the volunteer?.

            Our kids were terribly disappointed, so much so, when, within 5 days or so, we secured another girl with teaching experience. The parents & children no longer trusted us – and refused to participate. That may seem trivial to you – the reader – but then you are not familiar with the cultural dynamic within a traditional society. Our neighbours are “Yong” people, some are ethnic Thai and there is a sprinkling of other tribes. The 7 major hill tribes within Thailand are the Akha, Lahu, Karen, Hmong/Miao, Mien/Yao, Lisu, Palaung each with a distinct language and culture. IT DOES MATTER TO THEM.

            I will pause for now as many have been accustomed to reading short messages and this ones length may indeed defeat the purpose.

            I will respond to all and any comments.


            • February 27, 2018 at 7:09 am

              Hi Lam,
              It’s really interesting to read about your experience. I can remember feeling similarly when I hosted a large number of folks in my home.
              Can you share specifics about the large costs you feel you incur as a result of having helpers?

              • March 2, 2018 at 12:33 am

                “ Can you share specifics about the large costs YOU FEEL you incur”

                I “feel” you were trying to belittle me here, I may never know? It is certainly a strange choice of words – if it was NOT meant to inflame.

                But let me say this. I keep meticulous records, accurate costings and I KNOW with TOTAL certainty, what these costs are. I don’t “feel” I incur anything, I know I do.

                What I have posted so far does not seem to resonate with anyone. (No Response) Hence let me thank you for the opportunity and move on. This will be my last post – good luck with your website and have a great life. Lam

              • March 2, 2018 at 4:48 am

                Hey there, Lam – certainly didn’t mean to belittle! I guess when I wrote that I was thinking of the wide range of hosts, some of whom feel there is no major impact on their lives. But I would be very interested in costs and examples. I wonder if your experience is similar to my friends who started boarding dogs. After the honeymoon period, they really began to see this service they were providing was barely worth the money they earned when they accounted for all the new costs it brought into their lives.

                As far as other commenters, since this is just an article (vs. a forum) there’s not much action on a daily or weekly basis. But plenty of people are reading!


              • January 5, 2019 at 1:48 pm


              • February 5, 2019 at 6:43 pm

                I read posts and never reply, (and I am sure I’m not the only one who does the same) but I felt so strongly about this one I had to reply. Lam – I hope you see this, even if you don’t reply. I am currently wanting to volunteer and have this cultural exchange, and I really emphasis the cultural exchange bit as for me, that’s the second most important thing apart from actually helping the host and going above and beyond for them. I have been toying with Workaway and although there are lots of things on there, the different tabs things is cumbersome, and for some reason I’ve not been pulled to any of the options enough to sign up. The money they charge increased this year too, and then are people using the site really to help, or to get the most out of the money they’ve just paid? Who knows?

                But I digress. My main point here is I do think Jema – no shade, but you’ve not really empathised with Lam here on the costs. I can see how the words ‘you feel’ can come across like an ‘eye roll yeah right you incurred costs…tut’. You may not have meant it that way, but it reads that way. Lam said they incurred the costs. That should be taken as fact, and not be given a ‘how you feel’ response. They’ve hosted 180 people, in two countries, and mentioned costs of flying to both places to be there for the helpers, that alone tells me there are costs. 180 people are also a lot of extra mouths to feed and accommodate over time! If you’re a 4 person household for example, and double in size throughout the year, you will automatically have to buy a lot more things – food, condiments, etc. Upkeep of bedding they use, extra washing, showers, electricity, did I mention food? Now you have to cook extra to make sure they don’t go hungry and complain. If you don’t have a farm it’s not like the vegetables would be free either! Your bills will also go up, naturally, and your personal time costs of managing these people also will be a cost you cannot even add a monetary value to. When the host then has these ‘less than able or cave-dwelling’ workers, it is disheartening. I can imagine the helpers also don’t think to buy anything now and again for the home, and if they want to go to town and the hosts drive them there, petrol costs…I am sure there are so many more costs I can’t even think of. But as a host who wants that exchange, you don’t count it, because a great exchange is worth the effort.

                Lam – I think as a Host you have the right not to want dead animals in your home, it is your home and your space. I would respect a home that had this requirement even though I eat meat, as I can just do so outside (there are always cafes/restaurants and the like, and going to such places even once a week or so I think is also part of getting involved with the cultural experience with the locals).

                I am happy you added your full experience here. If it helps even one helper pause before saying yes to a host knowing they’re hedging their bets, it will make a difference, a BIG difference. I totally understand the disdain for the phone users who just get obsessed with it at all times of the day, I have seen people crossing the road with their heads in their phone, not watching the roads. I get on public transport and EVERYONE are on their phones.
                If someone is open and kind enough to open their homes to strangers, even if they’re asking for mere 5hours work a day, and also want to integrate the person into their home and lives, the least the worker can do is really immerse themselves, and exchange cultures, and ways of life, with both sides learning something from each other.

                Your post has given me pause for thought, and I know I will be checking out HelpX, and keeping this in mind when I find the right place for me, to be even more conscientious of the Host and what they require. Thank you, I hope you finally made a decision on what you wanted to do as you said you guys were thinking whether to continue hosting or not.

                Sorry this turned into a long ramble!


              • February 5, 2019 at 8:42 pm

                Thanks for all the insight and perspective, J-Chica!

              • July 22, 2021 at 11:18 am

                It resonated with me. Thanks Lam for sharing your experience

    • May 6, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      As a person who has hosts on both helpx and workaway for 5 years, i would like to highlight some experiences we had in the two sites.
      Workaway definitely has more new users than helpx in the recent years but we find volunteers on helpx are much better. in quality. It is also very easy to talk to the admins of helpx as they are very friendly while it is extremely frustrating to communicate with workaway team. The fact that hosts dont have to pay for membership, workaway is too over protective with workawayers ( their main source of money). In particular, workawayers are always win in any conflicts with hosts which make it not transparents for other hosts when it comes to further recruiting .

      • May 7, 2018 at 4:45 am

        Hi Trang – I really appreciate you joining the conversation. It’s helpful to know how hosts are experiencing workaway, especially as I talk to lots of potential hosts about work exchanging. Thanks for leaving your experience here for other hosts to consider as well. I’m glad you had a good experience with Help X admin. I didn’t experience them being friendly in my limited communications (where I was writing to tell them how INCREDIBLE a host was and asking if I could nominate her for an aware), but I’m glad you did!

      • July 22, 2021 at 11:19 am

        Very interesting. Thank you for your perspective. Totally in line with my experience as a Host.

  • May 29, 2017 at 4:05 am

    Thanks so much for the 2017 update.

    I’ve been looking at both WWOOF, HelpX and Workaway for a year-round trip my partner and I will be doing from Portugal to Turkey.

    We landed on signing up for Workaway simply because the website gave a lot more detail and sense of personality over HelpX. We are also planning on signing up for WWOOF in all the countries we plan on visiting despite the ridiculous reginal exclusivity. :(((

    I’ve seen a number of opportunities claim you need specific skills- is this a common thing??

    • May 29, 2017 at 6:19 pm

      Hi Jason,

      You’re welcome. Your trip sounds awesome! Would love to hear from you after you’ve WWOOF’d in the various countries. I HelpX’d in Portugal and WWOOF’d in Italy and loved both.

      If you can tell me more about these specific skills, I can probably answer your question a bit better. I have two guesses:
      1) some hosts really are just out for a free plumber or carpenter and they only want to host someone who can save them a bunch of money.
      2) almost every host has had at least one bad experience with unskilled people showing up and not being willing to actually join in their lives, but happy to mooch off them. Specific skill requests may be an effort to avoid this negative experience.

      (Many helpers come to work exchange platforms without having read #12 here (and #2, #3, #4, and #7). The farm a friend of mine HelpX’d at in Spain said he was the first helper ever who hadn’t shown up expecting to be waited on hand-and-foot for doing very little. They were just about to quit hosting when he came along and renewed their faith in what work exchanging can be. At that Portugal farm I mentioned above, they told me I accomplished more in a morning on a certain project than one of their previous helpers had managed in his entire stay.)

      Hope that helps! Happy work exchanging!

  • December 30, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    Thanks! I’m about to start this journey and I’m excited but cautious. I’ll start with Help X.

    • December 31, 2016 at 5:51 am

      Hi Sasha – I think they’re all great sites, but it’s best to start with whichever one has more hosts in the area you’ll hope to visit. E.g. I just looked at Austin Texas, and the hosts there on HelpX weren’t a good fit, while Workaway was full of hosts I couldn’t wait to meet.

      Hope that helps clarify. Have a fantastic trip!

      • February 24, 2017 at 3:04 am

        Looks like workaway has way more than helpx since this article was written.

        Comparing both their Facebook shows workaway is way more popular.

        Plus workaway’s layout is more modern and you can search terms.

        • March 2, 2017 at 3:30 pm

          You’re right! I switched to Workaway from HelpX in January 2017 and was slow to update here. (Sorry! This website’s task list is insane!) Thanks for the nudge. I’ve now made the info here current. Again, I really appreciate you chiming in, Olga, and the motivation to get this updated. 🙂

          Cheers, and happy travels!

  • November 16, 2016 at 3:51 pm

    Helpx is the best. I’ve tried both workaway and helpx and helpx is much better, better quality of hosts, the website is better, workaway is tough to navigate, the people (admin) team of workaway are also difficult to talk to, as my friend was charged twice on her credit card, also helpx since is less expensive, more hosts and overall a better quality experience.

    • November 16, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      I think so, too! I’m glad you’ve had great HelpX experiences. Workaway obviously has some degree of business/corporate focus, which I hope doesn’t lead to them outpacing HelpX in our business/corporate loving world.

  • October 4, 2016 at 12:25 am

    Thanks a lot

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