Workaway.info is a site that matches business owners with travelers willing to do simple tasks in exchange for free room and board. Joining Workaway as a traveler (aka “Workawayer”) costs about $65/year and gives you access to Workaway Hosts all over the globe.
WHAT’S A WORKAWAY HOST?
Any business entity can be a Workaway Host and many of them are hostels, farmers, resort owners, etc., who want to provide housing and some meals to individuals who can help them with cleaning, landscaping, painting, organizing, all sorts of tasks. Usually you will work five hours per day, five days per week, with weekends free, and you receive a private room (which you may have to share with other Workawayers), and at least one meal per day, some provide more, some none at all, but most hosts provide at least a meal a day.
Workawaying your way around the world means you only have to pay for your transportation and some meals as you explore the world, and since I’m traveling the world on an incredibly tight budget, free room and board was really attractive, so I signed up as a Workawayer. I knew I wanted to explore Jamaica so I looked at all of the Workaway Hosts on the lsland, wanting to find a good match of my skills and their needs and situation. There were two black, female Hosts and I prefer to support black women I have the choice, so I reached out to both of them. One responded, one didn’t. The one who responded posted that she was involved in youth empowerment, counseling and other activities that I also love doing. She also stated that she picked up and dropped off people at the airport, and led tours. She accepted my offer to come there for one month and help her organize this project. I planned to come November 2023, but family issues had me postpone it, so I arrived in Jamaica on Dec 3rd.
THE WORKAWAY FROM HELL
There were so many things with this Workaway, but the hardest thing about it is that my Host, GG, is SUCH a nice woman. i hate to say anything negative about her, but she misrepresented the project, had me sleeping in the living room, along with her (separate beds), and she was so broke I bought dinner for all of us (she has two daughters) several times, and had to replace the toilet paper twice during the two weeks I was there. I had no privacy, but even worse was the unreliable Wi-Fi, which went down no fewer than a dozen times per day. I was trying to build her a Web site but the network was down more than it was up.
I finally decided I had to get out of there, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings — she is such a nice lady — so I lied to her and told her there were some longstanding legal issues regarding my father’s estate that I had to get back for. A friend sent me a return ticket, and five days later, I left Jamaica and returned to the San Francisco Bay Area to spend the rest of the year with my kids, while I figured out my next move.
MISTAKES I MADE WITH THIS WORKAWAY
It was my first Workaway and I had no idea what to expect. I thought that Workaway.info had vetted the Hosts, so why I asked my Host to send me a photo of my sleeping arrangements, when she repeatedly failed to send this, I should have put on the brakes. But I’d already bought my plane ticket, and I was committed to the project. Once there, and I realized what she really wanted me to do, I should have told her that I wasn’t qualified to build a tour business for her, from scratch. But she and her daughters were just so kind, and I wanted to help them as much as I could.
I’d planned to spend 30 days in each of three Workaway, figuring out my next move during the current location, but because the living environment in this Workaway were so bad that I wasn’t sleeping well, and found it hard to concentrate on the task at hand. There was no table, no workspace. I had to sit on my king sized bed (in the living room), and place my iPad on my Host’s king sized bed (which was bout 10” taller), and work from there. It was incredibly uncomfortable. And the thought of spending a whole month there filled me with dread.
Had i yanked the deal the moment I arrived and saw where I’d be sleeping, I don’t know how that would have worked out. I had little money, and no place else to go. I could have called Workaway, and they might have been able to find me another Workaway in Jamaica where I could go, but that’s not a guarantee. For my next Workaway, I’ll do a FaceTime and have them walk around and let me see where I’ll be sleeping. And I’ll also make sure I have enough cash on hand to spend a few nights, if needed.
I also gave Workaway honest feedback without giving GG a negative review. I hate to ruin her reputation, but at the same time, I don’t want anyone else to make the mistake I made by accepting her offer. I WILL do Workaway again, once I figure out where my next move will be.