How To Travel The World And Not Pay For Food And Housing

Because Josh and I have worked with a nonprofit in the past many people have asked if we are traveling with a program. The answer is no. I am doing all the planning for our journey overseas. I am booking flights and trains, communicating with contacts, solidifying places to stay, and creating a schedule.

I want to share with you many of my secrets but in this post I’m going to focus on how to travel the world and not pay for food and housing.

If you start thinking about what food and housing would cost while traveling a year in Europe, you may get overwhelmed, conclude the idea is unrealistic, and give up right then and there.

There is a way to travel the world with the promise of food and housing if you’ll give just a bit of your time and effort. Its not a closely guarded secret but I have found that many people have never even heard of the concept that I’m about to share with you even though it makes complete sense.

As we travel around Europe, Josh and I will be doing “work stays” for 3 weeks at a time in whatever country we are in. We’ll work for 5 days a week, 5 hours a day in exchange for 3 meals a day and a roof over our head.

Vineyard - The Way Away - Image By Viña Caliterra, CC 2.0

Vineyard – The Way Away – Image By Viña Caliterra, CC 2.0

I am using 2 websites to plan our work stays.  While there are other options I will focus on the two that I have found to be the best. and

Here is a quick break down on the differences between WorkAway and Help Exchange.


What is WorkAway? is a site set up to promote fair exchange between budget travelers, language learners or culture seekers who can stay with families, individuals or organizations that are looking for help with a range of varied and interesting activities. holds a database of families, individuals or organizations in an extensive range of different countries who are looking for volunteer help in a huge range of different fields. From painting to planting, building to babysitting and shopping to shearing, aims to introduce working travelers and language learners to like minded hosts, without having to pay expensive agency fees.

What is HelpX? is an online listing of host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats who invite volunteer helpers to stay with them short-term in exchange for food and accommodation. is provided primarily as a cultural exchange for working holiday makers who would like the opportunity during their travels abroad to stay with local people and gain practical experience. In the typical arrangement, the helper works an average of 4 hours per day and receives free accommodation and meals for their efforts.

WorkAway Profile Cost:

$29 for single $38 for couple for 2 years of access to the workaway data base.

Josh And Ashley's WorkAway Profile

Josh And Ashley’s WorkAway Profile

  • Upload up to 15 photos and a  video
  • Feed-back to and from hosts
  • Private Messaging

Profile Questions:

  • Age
  • Country(s) your visiting
  • Dates your available
  • Type of help your interested in
  • Description of yourself
  • Language(s) spoken
  • A what else section (any other info)

HelpX Profile Cost:

20 Euro(USD dependent on currency exchange rate) single and couple for 2 year membership

Josh and Ashley's HelpX profile

Josh and Ashley’s HelpX profile

  • Upload up to 2 photos
  • Feedback from hosts

Profile Questions:

  • Age
  • Dates you are available
  • Skills
  • Currant Location
  • References
  • Travel Companion requests
  • Feedback

A few tips if you want to use these sites. When planing for work stays, keep in mind that hosts post when they have a need for helpers. They will indicate how many people they are able to accommodate and for how long.

Hosts may have time restrictions as to how long you can stay or if they require you to stay for a longer period. When writing a request, always be sure to make it personal. Hosts don’t like when you copy and paste requests. They want to get to know you a bit so put your personalty in it. Sell yourself to your host.

Also, always read host reviews (and write them when you stay with a host). When reading or writing reviews both the good and bad its very important. Other than messaging your host, this is how you can get an idea of what your stay may be like and the balancing both yours and the host’s expectations. Leaving an honest review is also a great way to help others decide on a host.

Josh and I have already set up two work stays for the first leg of our journey. Our first will be on a vineyard in southern Spain and our second will be at a bed and breakfast villa in Italy. We are so excited to update you all on the work we do and the people we encounter during this amazing culture exchange experience.

And to all you wanderlust explorers out there, your travel dreams are possible, you just have to think out of the box and be a little bit crazy.