Work Away This Summer

Extremely fed-up with holding out for yet another miserable, cloud- roofed British summer? Want a more sun-kissed, golden-beached getaway?

Workaway gives the opportunity to visit pretty much any country of choice.  Whether it’s in Asia, Europe, North America, South America, Africa or Oceania that you’ve always wanted to explore, the possibilities are endless.

Once you’ve chosen a destination you decide what form of volunteering you’d like to do, be it babysitting in Greece, helping build a house in Australia, art work in Hong Kong or farming and animal care in Zambia!  

Another bonus is eBay-style registration for preferences and unlimited applications.  Wait for hosts to reply to your emails (on the website) and go from there.  They will request hours and the type of role over whichever month you choose to go away for (usually a month minimum to make work beneficial).   Most work on a ‘free food/lodging’ basis (or both if you’re lucky) and all you have to dig into your pocket for are flights and those souvenirs that you just can’t possibly fly home without.  Yes, we all have a Hawaiian floral neck ring and that ceramic elephant statue hidden in the corner of our rooms.

A  spanish getaway

After finishing my ‘gap yah’ travels around Asia, I returned home with some spare funds (Asia is, surprisingly, even cheaper than the cheapness you expected from it).   After being home to see family and friends who were generally enduring the solemn times of 1st year summer exams, my best friend arrived home from her ski season in France and invited me to get the hell out of England again. 

Using Workaway, we found one opportunity in the prettiest Spanish port village in Mallorca.  Since this was the kind of area we wanted to go for a two-week package holiday, it seemed perfect. We heard back from the owners of the small hotel ‘Citric Hotels’ we were on our way to work as waitresses in the small town of Soller, with all of our essentials (100 bikinis and summer dresses to last a month, and of course the saviour mozzy spray)!

The hotel was more of a backpackers’ lodge for middle aged workers filled with the funniest (and possibly creepiest) group of builders working in the area, alongside some younger Spanish and Portuguese village folk.  The lack of English speakers made this experience very amusing; to my surprise most thought we were German or French and we were handed out the old ‘bonjour’. We settled in day by day, learning Spanish pretty fast from the cleaners, receptionists and ‘papa-like’ chef who was just fabulous!

Alongside one other volunteer French girl the shifts were handed out evenly and my friend and I decided to share shift work i.e. one dishwasher, one waitress for breakfast/evening shifts.  Often we only worked five hours a day…until we were the only volunteers and this doubled.  But the faster we worked, the longer we had to eat paella, sip (or gulp) sangria and top-up those non-existent English tans!

It was such a great area for walking and most of the guests were serious walkers.  The walks were rated on difficulty with the easier walks to the town of Soller around two hours long.  The coastal walks were also fabulous. We visited many a little hidden village on our experimental wanderings, alongside almost being attacked by a hill goat (watch out for those).

Working breakfasts by morning and bar by evening we really got into entertaining guests and really didn’t want to leave.  It was all very laid back and through the day we could pretty much do what we wanted with our time between shifts.  After bar work we hit many a fiesta.  It helped that the Spaniards don’t start partying until midnight and finish around 6am – not quite the same as our 2pm St Andrews curfew.  

Frequent trips to Magaluf and Palma (1hr drive) became a bit of a favourite with Spanish friends who worked in the hotel with us, despite a little bit of a language barrier.  Although ‘maga’ was seemingly my idea of a nightmare, this has to be experienced at some point… the tackiness is brilliant!

Having not booked our return flight, after one month with free accommodation and beautiful (and extremely healthy) meals we decided to extend out trip for another two weeks.  Who would want to return to dismal England with not a lot going for it, especially weather wise, when there were beaches, alcohol and fiestas galore? It was well worth the extension and we found ourselves desperately wanting to look and speak as Spanish goddesses before we left!

For a fun-filled laid back get away this summer, opt for something a little more on a student budget… basically a cheaper and more experimental holiday.

Get searching for your summer volunteer getaway on Workaway!


Title image courtesy of Jade Hewitt, all others Rachel Flinn. Compiled by Lucy Thomas.