Workaway Review: Lessons Learned and Why I Quit?

by | Last updated Nov 10, 2022

Many people are trying to get away from their own countries and travel abroad to experience new cultures and cities. This may seem very exciting as you embark on this new adventure but comes with many risks. You need to make sure you have enough cash saved to be able to experience this type of travel. If you do not have the money for your travel, then maybe you are thinking of potentially getting a job while you are abroad.

Hosts which usually provide you with accommodation when working for them, are mainly farmers, hotels, and hostels. They are always busy and constantly need staff. Are they exploiting their temporary staff? Should they be paying more? Should they be giving less work to these people?

Workaway Review: Lessons Learned and Why I Quit?

As with the benefits, there are also disadvantages to these types of programs. Not everything will be as perfect as you imagine. Not all hosts are honest in the amount of work you will be doing either. My honest review will expose Workaway’s dark side, the lessons I’ve learned, and why it is not worth it for budget travelers. Let’s stop modern slavery.

1. No Personal Space

No space to yourself. You are living with your hosts and you are constantly together. You are moving in with people you do not know. For most, this can be quite uncomfortable. They will see everything you do, same as you are seeing all that they do day in and day out.

You are spending countless hours with the same people which can be quite uncomfortable, especially if their English is not the best. There is little space for yourself so that you can be comfortable on your own. It is not a hotel room that you are staying in. You cannot get away for some peace and quiet, as this is your home now.

2. Limited Freedom

They say that working for accommodation is great because you will have so much freedom after doing whatever work you have to do. This is not the case! Most hosts do not realize that there is a 20 to 25 hours work limit. They expect you to do more work for them.

This is quite hard to say no to because you are living in their house. If you are childminding during the day and make plans to go out during the evening, your hosts could spring last-minute plans they made and ask you to look after the kids. It is hard to say no in these situations because they are providing you with accommodation.

Is Workaway worth it

You feel like you have to say yes and do it because you may get kicked out. Some of the hosts require quite intense manual labor which may leave you completely burned out at the end of the day and wanting nothing else but sleep.

This is not a holiday, you do not have that much freedom to do whatever you want. You are there to carry out a job in return for accommodation. You may get lucky and get a really nice host, but not in all cases. Some places specifically look for people doing this so that they do not have to pay them and use them for as many hours as they need. This can get too much for any human being.

3. No Real Culture Exchange

When you go on a holiday you actually enjoy learning about the culture of the country. On a work exchange, you have little time to get used to the drastic culture change as you are pretty much just thrown into it on day one.

You are living with people who have lived in the country since birth. Getting used to their culture and manners can be overwhelming. It can be too much for some to handle and they end up becoming depressed during their stay as they do not know how to deal with all this.

4. No Pay

This is the toughest part. Some feel that they are working and traveling for free, but this is not the case when you are not getting paid and have no money to do anything. You are stuck in the house then with no freedom to travel because you are not getting paid.

If you are planning on saving during your travels, this is not possible. You are a volunteer, you do not get paid a wage. The only thing that is covered is your room and possibly some food from time to time. But again, because you are living in someone’s house and they feed you, you feel like you must repay them, and so when they ask you to work more hours, you feel like you can’t say no. I advise you to start a business online so you can make enough money while you are traveling the world. Personally, I recommend you watch this webinar about the dropshipping business model from Shopify Academy.

You need to have other savings which you can use for traveling and exploring because you will not be getting this from your host. This is crucial to keep in mind because there is nothing worse than going abroad thinking you are going to be living your best life, when in reality you will be stuck in a foreign house, working all the time, and never being able to leave… Stop believing the fake facts about Workoway from paid advertisers and influencers ( He become a business model for his owners, not a volunteering platform )

5. Low-Quality Food

Some hosts offer meals as well as accommodation. This is not the case for all. They may only offer 1 meal a day, and the rest you will have to source yourself. This is not good for you if you are not getting paid for your work. How exactly can you pay for your own food without any money?

This means you need to have savings in place before traveling, otherwise, you will be severely underfed and will lose a significant amount of weight. Along with working a full day, this can lead to all kinds of mental and health problems. Don’t trust the host’s friendly calls and chatting because you are just a permanent worker on a low budget, not a true friend, so please focus more on your studies & job rather than being exploited by others.

6. Less Friends

Because most of the hosts are in very rural areas, such as villages that are hours away from the city, there is very little chance of you making new friends. This type of work will mean that you are only communicating with your hosts on a daily basis.

The house can be located miles away from a neighbor leaving you extremely secluded and far away from civilization. This can be quite hard on some people that are not used to being alone. If you are expecting on making a ton of friends with this experience, then forget it. Your only friends will be your hosts or work teammates. Online websites are the best ways to make friends in your new home stay, so use it wisely and meet good people.

With the hours you will be working and the distance you will have to travel, there is practically no time or desire to travel that far out into the city to meet new people. You will be out of energy and the fact that you will not be getting paid does not help things.

7. Personal Safety

How safe do you actually feel with traveling to a different country, to a place you have never been, and living with people you have never met. The internet is a scary place where anyone can be on the other side of the screen.

You really do not know what you are getting into when going abroad to work for accommodation. Is it safe being in the middle of nowhere? Not when you are on a budget and don’t have the money to make a quick escape. Apart from this, you are also sharing a house with these people. That can be daunting in itself.

8. Exploitation

Putting it simply, apart from accommodation and the odd meal, nothing else is included. You have to look after your own transport at all times. Nobody is going to pay you extra to go out at night or go out for dinner. That is entirely on you.

You will not be getting an actual wage, which is what a lot of people have an issue with. You could be doing a very stressful, complicated job most of the time, but only have your accommodation looked after and not receive any type of wage afterward. This can be tough on a lot of people, as you start feeling like you are being used to a certain degree. It does not seem worth it at times.

Why Working for Accommodation Equal a Modern Slavery?

From all the above you can see that working for accommodation is a bit like slavery. When you arrive, you feel grateful for the opportunity but soon realize it is not all it seems to be. You will be made to work long hours, sometimes with hard manual labor, and you will not be getting paid or have as much freedom as you thought you would.

It is hard to say no to your employer when they are providing you with accommodation. It is as if they have that over your head. If you do not do the work, they ask you to do then you could be asked to leave.

This type of work uses foreigners who think they are going on a holiday with a bit of labor on the side. They exploit them to get what they want with very little in return. Most people fall for this and say that they will never do something like that again. Mainly this is because they feel used and mentally drained.

Why Workaway is modern slavery

You are not getting paid and could be stuck with the hardest work which makes it slavery. Working for accommodation is modern-day slavery because it targets people who want to go traveling on a budget and still explore. They know these people do not have as much money, so they offer them free accommodation for only a few hours of work a week.

Once you arrive you could easily be working 40 hours a week or 12-hour days. You can’t say anything because you feel like you owe them. It is the worst type of slavery as you feel trapped and cannot leave until your time with them is up.

This type of program is not for easy-going, quiet people. It is for the types that can stand up for themselves and say no! These hosts will do everything they can to get as much out of you as they can.

Not paying people is slavery. Great that they are giving you accommodation, but if you are working for them more than the required amount, you should be getting paid as this was not included in the description when you agreed on it originally.


This is why working for accommodation is modern slavery. People are not being paid for the number of hours or the work they do. They are being used and exploited for the benefit of the host. They can’t leave because they are in agreement and their return flights are booked for a few weeks or months ahead. They feel pressured into doing more because they feel that they owe the host something. You are a slave in a foreign country to a host that is a complete stranger, and exploring the city seems impossible.

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