For many potential digital nomads, two of the main concerns can be food and shelter. Fortunately, help exchange can be a great way to alleviate these worries. These programs provide you with the chance to see countries at an incredibly low cost whilst still giving you time to explore the surrounding area, plan how to make money online or write your best selling eBook.
The basic idea of help exchange is that you are willing to give up a few hours of your day to undertake work of your hosts choice in exchange for your bed and board! What could be better than that? The work offered through help exchange programs is extremely varied and can include working on farms, house renovations, international hostels, bed and breakfasts and even sailing boats! Providing you are not afraid of some hard work, help exchange can become very rewarding as you learn new skills and languages whilst seeing the world. Many listings only require 5 hours of work a day meaning that you have plenty of free time to explore, work or just relax and enjoy the weather.
Many sites offering help exchange work have listings all around the world from Korea to Uganda so finding the right location for you shouldn’t be a problem! Australia and New Zealand are very popular with help exchangers and this shows in the amount of positions listed over the sites. On one site alone I found over 4000 listings for Australia! Basically, whether you fancy looking after Alpacas in Southern England or picking olives in Italy I’m sure you will find something for you.
As with all trips abroad there are some things you need to ponder before embarking on a help exchange program:
- Spend time looking for a project that you can really commit to, it’s unfair and ultimately pointless offering to help then not turning up, or showing up and slacking off.
- Make sure you read the listings carefully, a place listed as just outside London could be 25 miles to the north and end up costing you a fortune just to get to Buckingham Palace (if you’re that way inclined!).
- Look for listings with reviews, just as you would with hotels or restaurants, you don’t want to end up working 12 hours a day shovelling manure for a bowl of porridge and a space on the floor!
I myself have just participated in a help exchange in the Algarve region of Portugal, personally I thought it was great! In exchange for 5 hours a day work, mainly painting but including gardening, we were given a great double room with en-suite shower room in a beautiful guest house. Our hosts were fantastic and were very happy to answer any questions we had about the area. We met several new friends during our stay and it’s something I would definitely recommend to others.
I understand that help exchange will not be for everyone but I am convinced that if you are looking to embark on a digital (or not so digital) nomad lifestyle on a shoe string budget that it is absolutely something you should look into!
To help you decide and get a closer look at the listings available to you there are some links to interesting and informative sites listed below.