Delve into different cultures and see the world in a whole new way. By Sharifah Nursyafiqah
Looking for a new way to see the world? A working holiday might be just what you need – and you can have one on a budget too. There are many programs available that connect you with people and organisations all over the world, willing to provide accommodation and even food in exchange for your work.
Before you get started, you should research on the work visa you need on the job. Even if you are joining a volunteer program and will not be earning wages, a regular tourist visa might not suffice. For instance, if you are a foreigner arriving in USA under the Visa Waiver Program (VWP) through the online ESTA system or on B-2 visitors visa, you are legally not allowed to work or volunteer, or exchange your time and labour for anything, while in the country.
Of course, there are many that work under the radar without a valid visa. To err on the side of caution though, get a working holiday visa. Countries like New Zealand, Australia, and the UK offer these, and you can stay in the country for longer because you can earn your keep while you are there. For information on where Singaporeans can go, this is a good start. Here’s a good guide with more information to get going.
Ready to immerse yourself in a world of new cultures and opportunities? Check out these 5 organisations that let you do just that!
Workaway is a platform for free work exchange, with a database of people and organisations in over 130 countries that are looking for volunteers to help them with a range of tasks. You can choose to volunteer with a family on a farm, help manage a hostel, build homes, or even help with babysitting duties. The basic arrangement is volunteering for a few hours a day, for five days a week, in exchange for food and accommodation. To get started, you have to pay an initial membership fee to register on the Workaway platform (S$42 for a two-year membership). Once registered, you can set-up your profile listing your skills, and look for a host that matches your interests!
2. Working Traveller
On Working Traveller, hosts from all over the world post up their work requirements on their profile (often looking for skills that are not available locally), and travellers can search for jobs that match their skills. Once you find a suitable match, you make an official “handshake agreement” with the host online, confirming the work you will be doing, how much you will get paid, or if you are working on volunteer basis. When you have finished the work experience, the host leaves a reference for you on your profile and vice versa, thus building up both your profiles. This platform is free to sign up, but for S$15, you can upgrade your profile to display your references. Alternatively, you can help out with editing the ‘Work In’ wiki section on the site, and keep using all the site’s services for free.
Hosts on HelpX invite volunteers helpers into their home, where volunteers work for an average of four hours a day in exchange for food and accommodation. With HelpX, all users join as Free members, and can be contacted by the hosts on the site. If you want to reach out to the hosts directly, you have to upgrade to a premium membership (S$30 for a two-year membership). Similar to Workaway, you can choose from a range of activities to help with, and stay in place like hostels, homestays, ranches, and even sailing boats.
4. Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (WWOOF)
If you are looking for something more niche, WWOOF offers a unique experience where you can live and learn in organic farms around the world. They connect volunteers with organic farms and smallholdings that are looking for volunteer help. Especially for those who want to learn about sustainable practices and organic lifestyles, WWOOF hosts will give you free accommodations and food in exchange for the volunteer help. It is important to note that each WWOOF is organised locally, so you have to do your research and know where you want to go, before signing up for a membership under the WWOOF organisation in your destination country.
5. Help Stay
Want to help with a start-up in Indonesia, or volunteer in an animal sanctuary in Australia? Help Stay is a platform connecting hosts and helpers, with a database including art retreat centres, eco-villages, vineyards, and even monasteries. Sign up for a membership (S$30 for one-year membership) and you can get in touch with hosts who need a few hours of honest help, offering accommodation and food in exchange. How this is different from other services is that these places are verified, as the team at Help Stay have themselves have travelled to the individual homes – so you can trust that your hosts are as described online.
05 Dec 2016