Is Worldpackers worth it? Here are my thoughts on work exchanges with Worldpackers based on personal experience!
Worldpackers is one of the most well-established websites for finding work exchanges.
Workaway, WOOFing, and even traditional job search websites like Indeed are other common places to find work exchanges online.
But Worldpackers is growing in popularity. And it’s definitely one of the most comprehensive and reputable places to find a work exchange.
For those who are considering signing up and trying a work exchange with Worldpackers, I’m going to answer some questions you may have!
I’ve used Worldpackers a few times myself. I’ve also been writing for their blog for a few years and have a great relationship with this amazing company.
So if you’re unsure about how the website works or how work exchanges in general work, hopefully I’ll convince you to give it a try.
Is Worldpackers Worth It? All Your Work Exchange Questions Answered
Worldpackers is absolutely worth it if you’re looking for a unique and affordable cultural experience abroad. Work exchanges allow you to save money, meet people, and learn new skills while traveling.
These are all reasons why I love work exchanges, and why Worldpackers is worth trying.
To help you better understand how Worldpackers works, here are a few more common questions people ask.
Check out my ultimate guide to work exchange for more information.
What is a work exchange?
Simply put, a work exchange is when you work in exchange for free accommodation.
You usually work around 20 hours per week, and you often get some free meals in addition to a free place to stay. Every work exchange is different, but that’s how most of them work.
There are various types of work environments and tasks you can do for a work exchange. Here are a few of the most common options:
- Hostels (common tasks include reception, housekeeping, bartending, night shift, surf coach, yoga teacher)
- NGOs (common tasks include childcare, language practice, animal care, digital marketing)
- Local families (common tasks include childcare, animal care, language practice, gardening, housekeeping)
- Local businesses (common tasks include photography, social media, digital marketing, hospitality, web development)
- Farms and eco-retreats (common tasks include gardening, farming, animal care, permaculture)
How does Worldpackers work?
Worldpackers connects these types of international hosts with travelers. You can browse through the website and read about all the different hosts and work opportunities all over the world.
Once you sign up as a member, you have access to the hosts themselves. That means you can send them messages to enquire about volunteering with them.
It’s a super easy and stress-free way to find work exchanges. Not every host is guaranteed to respond or have the right availability, but being a Worldpackers member allows you to contact them.
Once you do contact a host, the two of you can organise the work exchange directly. This is where you can discuss dates and the inclusions of the work exchange with your host.
Worldpackers simply acts as the platform that connects travelers with the hosts.
Is Worldpackers Free?
It’s free to browse through the different host options on Worldpackers. But to actually contact them and set up your work exchange, you have to pay the yearly fee and become a member.
It’s also free to read through the Worldpackers blog and gain some insights about traveling and work exchanges from other travelers.
Read next: How To Save Money For Travel
How much does Worldpackers usually cost?
A one year Worldpackers membership for a solo traveler costs $49 USD (But you can save $10 on your membership with my promo code GABBY).
Once you are a member, you can contact unlimited hosts and do as many work exchanges as you want within that year.
Given the amount of money you’ll save on accommodation while doing a work exchange, the yearly fee is 100% worth it.
There are a few other memberships you can purchase that have extra inclusions.
Worldpackers Membership Options
The standard plan for solo travelers or couples includes up to $49 USD of emergency accommodation insurance in case your work exchange doesn’t work out. It also includes support and community interactions, plus a refund guarantee if no hosts respond to you within the first 30 days.
The pack plan includes up to $199 USD of emergency accommodation insurance. Plus you get discounts on various travel apps and sites, such as Wise (for money transfers), Babbel (for language learning), Yesim (for sim cards), and more.
The pack plan plus includes all of the same perks as the previous two plans. But your emegency insurance extends up to $399 USD.
Here is a breakdown of what these plans cost:
- Solo plan: $49
- Solo pack plan: $99
- Solo pack plus: $129
- Couples/Friend plan for 2 people: $59
- Couples/Friend pack plan: $119
- Couples/Friend pack plan plus: $149
How does Worldpackers insurance work?
The insurance included in these plans is unique to Worldpackers itself. So it’s not exactly the same as standard travel insurance.
Worldpackers insurance comes with your membership and is made to support you if a work exchange doesn’t work out. So if you show up to volunteer and it’s not going as planned, Worldpackers will help you find temporary accommodation while you find a new host or plan some other travels.
The amounts listed in the plans above represent how much Worldpackers will cover for accommodation while you get organised.
This doesn’t cover other travel emergencies such as medical issues, flight issues, lost baggage, theft, etc. For those things, you’ll need standard travel insurance which you can get through an outside provider.
Squaremouth Insurance is my go-to website for finding travel insurance. They compare lots of different plans so you can find the perfect one for you!
What else do I have to pay for when volunteering with Worldpackers?
Once you’ve paid for your membership, you’ll have to read the inclusions for each individual work exchange. Every host is different. Some places include all meals, laundry, transport, and free tours and activities. Some places may charge a small fee to cover these expenses.
Just read the hosts’s page in depth and communicate with them so you know exactly what is included. You may have to pay for some of your own food and activities while you’re there. But again, the amount of money you save on accommodation makes it all worth it!
Most work exchanges require you to organize your own flights, visas, and travel insurance.
Always make sure you research visas ahead of time. Most countries don’t require a visa for work exchanges if you’re staying under 90 days. But some countries, like Australia or the USA, require every visitor to have a visa.
How far ahead can you book Worldpackers?
In my experience, the sweet spot for booking a host on Worldpackers is about 1 month ahead of time.
Applying for a work exchange on Worldpackers is very unpredictable. Some hosts may respond instantly, some may never respond. You really can’t know.
You can apply for a position months in advance. But most hosts don’t know their exact plans that far ahead.
I would recommend applying about 1 month in advance when hosts have a better idea of their plans for the near future. I also recommend applying to as many hosts as possible. You might not get responses for all of them, so it’s good to have lots of backup plans.
But you really have to just go for it! I usually like to organize hosts in advance, but I’ve applied to some just a few days before and it’s worked out. Just keep your expectations low and really put yourself out there.
Which one is better, Worldpackers or Workaway?
I think Worldpackers is better than Workaway for first time-travelers, as they have an engaging and informative travel community and extra perks like insurance.
Both websites are amazing though. I’ve used both and had super positive experiences with both.
I even wrote a detailed article answering this exact question: Worldpackers Vs Workaway: Which Is Best For Work Exchanges? Check this out if you want a more in-depth answer.
But the short version is, both websites are great. Workaway has been around longer and has a wider variety of hosts in more remote destinations. But Worldpackers is perfect for those who are new to work exchange and want a bit more support.
What are the benefits of Worldpackers?
The benefits of traveling with Worldpackers include saving money, meeting cool people, gaining work experience, and having a unique, immersive cultural experience.
These benefits are the main reason why I strongly answer YES to the question, “Is Worldpackers worth it?”.
I’ll briefly touch on each of these, because I’m honestly such a huge fan of work exchange and how they help enrich your life!
As an avid budget traveler, I was initially drawn to Worldpackers because of the money-saving aspect. Who doesn’t want free accommodation while traveling?
Accommodation is often your biggest expense while traveling. Even if you stay in budget hostels, the nightly rates can add up.
Working in exchange for free accommodation saves you so much money abroad. Plus, you often get free meals, transport, tours, activities, laundry, and more.
You can even use the money you save on accommodation to pay for more fun tours and activities that will make your experience more exciting!
Find more money-saving tips with my list of 50 Budget Travel Tips!
Make new friends
Work exchanges give you the chance to make some really special friends. You can always make friends while traveling, especially if you’re in a social environment like a hostel or a group tour.
But work exchanges allow you to spend more time with your hosts and the other volunteers. You are living and working together for weeks or even months. This creates strong bonds that may last a lifetime.
I met my boyfriend while doing a work exchange in Costa Rica in 2017 and we’re still together 6 years later!
Gain work experience
Though work exchanges usually don’t offer paid work, it still counts as work experience. Worldpackers is a great way to try new things and gain new skills without any sort of long-term commitment.
You can even put your Worldpackers work experience on your resume! Whether you want to gain more experience in a skill you already have, or you want to try something completely different, work exchanges are the perfect way to broaden your horizons. Some of them don’t even require prior experience, as long as you let them know you’re willing to learn.
Want to work on a farm and learn about permaculture? Want to teach yoga on the beach? Maybe you want to enhance your digital marketing or hospitality skills.
My first real bartending gig was through Worldpackers. I bartended at a hostel in Peru for 1 month, which gave me skills that allowed me to bartend professionally for 6 years after that!
Have an immersive cultural experience
Though money-saving initially drew me to Worldpackers, this is the benefit that has made me such a huge fan of work exchanges.
A work exchange gives you an immersive cultural experience that you just don’t get from a standard vacation.
You get to live in a foreign land, surrounded by locals and other travelers. You can practice the language every day, eat the local food every day, and explore beyond the usual tourist trail.
Living and working with locals is such a rewarding way to travel. You’ll leave with such a deep appreciation for the land, the culture, and the people. And it’s great to feel like you actually participated in the community and did something productive with your time there.
What are the disadvantages of Worldpackers?
Now that I’ve praised Worldpackers for countless paragraphs, I do have to mention the limitations.
I believe that work exchanges are only for certain types of people. You have to be open-minded, flexible, and a bit brave.
Going to live and work somewhere completely new, with people you’ve only communicated with online, is scary. I was terrified before my first work exchange in Ecuador in 2016. So you have to be willing to jump into the unknown and just see how it goes. It does get easier the more you do it!
You also have to be prepared for culture shock, and you have to be prepared to actually work. A work exchange is not a holiday – it’s a chance to engage with the community, learn from the locals, and contribute. You have to commit to a certain number of working hours for a certain time period, whether it be a week or a month or more.
The main disadvantage of Worldpackers is that you have to give up control of your holiday and actually commit to the agreed working hours. If you’d rather just relax, have fun, and enjoy freedom and flexibility while traveling, a work exchange may not be for you. And that’s perfectly fine!
So is Worldpackers worth it?
Yes! Volunteering abroad with Worldpackers is 100% worth it due to the affordability and the fun, immersive experiences you get to have.
Based on everything I’ve covered, I hope I’ve convinced you to give Worldpackers a try!
Some of my favorite travel memories are from work exchanges. If you’re adventurous, curious, open-minded, and willing to try something new, I highly recommend trying a work exchange with Worldpackers.
Thanks for reading my comprehensive guide answering: “Is Worldpackers worth it?”.
Feel free to comment on this post if you have any further questions. I’m always happy to talk about work exchanges with other travelers!
Also check out these posts for more travel tips and advice:
This post may contain affiliate links. Read more about this in my About Me page!