Katya Lukina explores a cheap and efficient way to holiday
Last summer I was stuck for ideas as to what to do. I didn’t have an internship or job lined up, nor did I know whether I was going to be living in London or at home. My friend was in a similar position, so we set out on a quest to find something cheap and unconventional.
What I found was a website called Workaway, which boasted about being a cheap as well as a genuinely eco-friendly holiday. Being a poor student and advocate for a healthier planet, this was an attractive option for me.
Workaway presents itself as an organisation in which four to five hours of work a day are exchanged for food and accommodation. The work ranges from gardening to renovation, from teaching to babysitting. The process of applying is simple – you sign up on the Workaway website and pay the membership charge, create an exciting and trustworthy profile and away you go.
Once that is done your journey can begin. I personally had a positive experience with Workaway, but some people aren’t as lucky so it’s a good idea to be cautious when choosing your hosts. The concept is primarily built on trust between the users, and there are reviews of both hosts and workers which help legitimise their authenticity.
I messaged around 20 hosts before getting a response from Valérie, who lived with her family in a chateau in central France. They were looking for gardeners and general helpers, so we signed up!
Travel cost us around £170 altogether, but once you’re there you’re fed and watered and you have the option to explore the surroundings on your days off if you have means of transport.
One eco-friendly element of the holiday consisted in how we got there. We chose the Eurostar over the airplane due to its luggage allowance and stress-free journey, and then took a few more trains to finally arrive at our secluded destination.
Luckily for us, our hosts were very laid-back and work wasn’t too laborious. We did lots of gardening, which is an eco-friendly activity in itself, and one which you wouldn’t normally do on holiday, but it was fun considering we were doing some of the tasks for our very first time. For example, once we had to hammer in 2m stakes into the ground in a straight line and tie tomato plants to them. This is surprisingly hard if you’re small and have no arm strength.
One of the best things about the trip was our time off. Not because the work particularly hard, but having the opportunity to frolic in the sun in the countryside are what summers are for. The chateau was very secluded with limited internet access so we looked elsewhere for entertainment. I felt like a kid again reading books outside and generally doing nothing. If you’re looking for a way to recharge, this is certainly an effective one.
My trip to the chateau was definitely the cheapest 2-week holiday I’ve ever embarked on, and it was certainly one of the most relaxing. Trying new things, meeting new people and enjoying the hot weather for very little money was an ideal start to my summer, and I would probably do it again should I have the opportunity. Though it’s not for everyone, I would recommend it to anyone on a budget looking to travel and try something new. There are plenty of opportunities for alternative tourism out there and Workaway is only scratching the surface.