Why we do Helpx
This post follows on from a previous post about Helpx and how it’s already saved us over $5,250 during our time in Australia. Since writing that post we have done 29 more days of Helpx bringing the total amount saved to $6,700. We don’t have that amount of money in our travel budget at the moment so our adventure would be over if it weren’t for Helpx, either that or we would have had to stop exploring Australia and found a job to recharge our bank accounts.
While saving money is our primary motivation for doing Helpx there are also many other perks to doing work exchange while travelling long term. Aside from saving money I think the five main perks of Helpx are as follows.
1. You get a better understanding of local life
Ok so you might argue that Australians aren’t all that different from Brits but living with them would suggest otherwise. Living with Aussie people in their homes has given us a better understanding of Aussie life and subtle nuances of the culture that we’d have missed otherwise. You can Helpx almost anywhere in the world; from outer Mongolia to subsaharan Africa. What better way to visit a country than to live like a local?
2. The chance to relax and settle for a little while
For most people travelling isn’t a non stop party. I know at times I feel home sick and long to settle and not live out my backpack. Well Helpx lets you do that. When we arrived in Oz from Asia we’d grown tired of curry and longed to unpack for longer than a few days. Our First Helpx with Ang and Terry (host profile) in Ballarat gave us the chance to unpack and eat some familiar food.
At this Helpx we had a caravan all to ourselves and ample room to unpack. Being able to lay out my clothes made finding things so much easier and gave me a sense of being settled. Being able to find a pair of knickers in the morning without rummaging through my backpack was heavenly. So was having a washing machine and access to a fridge full of food.
Settling at a Helpx can also be psychologically relaxing. Arriving somewhere you’ve planned to stay for a few weeks takes the pressure off planning your next move. Swap sky scanner for a good book and feel the zen rush in.
3. The opportunity to learn new skills
The basic idea of Helpx is an exchange between host and helper. The helper usually works 3-6 hours a day in exchange for accommodation and food. This work can be anything and that’s where the learning comes in. We’ve done a whole variety of jobs including; creating a veggie patch, caring for chooks (chickens), collecting wood, assisting a chef in a Mexican restaurant, preparing hotel rooms for guests, assisting a host with dementia, building a solar water heater, creating a video for online sales, building a 6ft chain link fence, caring for horses and preparing a house to be painted. And that’s just jobs we’ve never done before. We’ve also had the opportunity to build on existing skills like cooking, babysitting, cleaning and web design.
I truly love to learn so Helpx keeps me occupied and lets me increase my skills. I think without it we would have been bored. The skills learnt in Australia will also be coming home with me to the UK. I’m definitely having a veggie patch and hopefully chooks when I have a big enough garden. I might even build another fence to enclose the chooks! …maybe not.
4. You get to borrow things belonging to the host
If you’re lucky and pick your host carefully you might secure a host who is willing to offer more than just a straight exchange of work for accommodation. They might also let you borrow their things like bikes, surf gear, books or even their car. We’ve been very lucky and two of our hosts have let us use their car. This saved us renting a car and gave us freedom to see more of the area. We’ve found most people who do Helpx are incredibly generous and if they can they will happily share their belongings with you.
5. You get a local tour guide
If you’re super lucky you might find a host who is happy to give you a room, food, access to their belongings and their time! The family we stayed with on Tamborine Mountain (host profile) were the most generous people, not only in taking care of us, but also giving up their time to make sure we saw the local area. In 10 days they took us horse riding, bush walking, to the botanical gardens, surfing and to see glow worms. While these guys were extraordinarily generous all the hosts we’ve stayed with have taken time get to know us and enrich our visit. One taught us mediation while another took us on a kangaroo safari to see our first roos. We only just missed out on a free flight to Fraser Island at our last Helpx because their plane was in for maintenance. Now that would have been incredible!
We hadn’t even heard of Helpx when we left the UK in August 2014 but now half way through our trip I can’t imagine what it would have been like without Helpx. We’ve met some awesome people, learnt how to do lots of things and we sure have some random stories to tell once we get home!
Take care and travel safe,
Have you ever done Helpx or Work exchange? What was your experience like? We’d love to hear your stories.