Worldpackers vs Workaway? Here is my detailed comparison of the two work exchange platforms, as I have used both multiple times!
Work exchanges are my absolute favorite way to travel.
They are great for budget travelers looking to save money. And more importantly, they are the easiest way to have interesting experiences abroad.
I’ve already written a detailed article about how work exchanges work, and why I love them so much.
But in this article, I’ll be comparing the two most popular online platforms for finding work exchanges: Worldpackers vs Workaway.
I have done multiple work exchanges with each company, and I’m honestly a huge fan of both.
But for those who are looking for an in-depth analysis of which work exchange platform to choose, read on!
Check out my ultimate guide to work exchange here!
What is a work exchange?
For those who are new to work exchanges, I’ll start off with a brief description of what a work exchange actually is.
Work exchange = working in exchange for accommodation.
You normally work part-time, around 20 hours per week, and you don’t get paid. But in exchange for your efforts, you get a free stay and sometimes free meals and other perks like laundry or activities.
Common work exchanges include:
- Reception, housekeeping, bartending, or cooking in a hostel
- Childcare, animal care, cooking, or cleaning for a local family
- Gardening, cooking, or other types of manual labor for a farm or eco-village
- Volunteering with an NGO
- Helping any local business with photography, social media, blogging, or digital marketing
- Helping locals practice language skills
- Working as a tour guide or party promoter, usually for a hostel
These are just a few examples, but there are thousands of work exchanges available all over the world.
If you want an immersive travel experience, where you can meet people, learn new languages, and become a part of the local culture, a work exchange is one of the easiest and most fun ways to do so.
You can do work exchanges anywhere in the world, including in your home country.
Worldpackers and Workaway are two of the best websites for finding and setting up work exchanges around the world.
Worldpackers Vs Workaway: How Do They Work?
Both online platforms essentially function the same way. These websites have a long list of international hosts that accept volunteers for a work exchange.
You can browse work exchanges, message hosts, and set up your work exchange online.
A general step-by-step process of finding work exchanges on Worldpackers or Workaway may look like this:
- Browse work exchanges by location, type of work, type of living situation, or keyword (you can do this for free without signing up)
- Become a verified member and pay the annual fee to sign up (you need to do this to send messages to hosts)
- Message the hosts for the work exchanges you are interested in
- Discuss with your hosts whether you would be a good fit, and discuss travel plans and dates
- Once you have agreed on your plans, you’re all done! All the actual trip planning like flights and travel insurance is up to you.
Both Worldpackers and Workaway make it extremely easy to set up work exchanges abroad. All hosts listed on their websites are verified, meaning their backgrounds are checked to ensure they are legitimate.
But these websites exist simply as the go-between for you and your international host.
Work exchanges are about connecting with different people from around the world. These websites make it easier than ever to explore the world, try new things, and meet people. Having respect, a good work ethic, and a positive attitude is up to you!
Worldpackers vs Workaway Breakdown
Now that you understand the basics of work exchanges, and how these websites work, let’s get into the specifics of Worldpackers vs Workaway.
I’ll discuss a few different topics that are important for planning a work exchange, and explain whether Worldpackers or Workaway is better in each category.
Hopefully these will help you decide whether to choose Worldpackers vs Workaway for your next work exchange!
As a budget traveler, cost is usually the first factor I consider for anything.
You can visit both Worldpackers and Workaway’s websites and browse through all the hosts for free. But once you’re ready to message a host and set up a work exchange, you have to pay the annual fee.
Once the fee is paid, you can set up as many work exchanges as you want for the year!
I have been signed up for both websites for years, but I only pay the annual fee when I am actually traveling.
Here are the website membership fees, in USD.
- Worldpackers Annual Fee for Solo Travelers: $49
- Worldpackers Annual Fee for Couples: $59
- Workaway Annual Fee for Solo Travelers: $49
- Workaway Annual Fee for Couples: $59
So that was a long way of saying, the cost is the same.
However, there are some other factors to consider.
Worldpackers offers discount codes!
Because I’m a writer for the Worldpackers blog and an affiliate program member, my discount code GABBY gets anyone $10 off their membership.
So with the discount code GABBY, Worldpackers is only $39 per year.
Worldpackers also offers a pack plan for travelers. Whether you’re a solo traveler or a couple, you can pay extra to get the following in addition to your annual membership:
- 7 days of emergency insurance, where Worldpackers covers your accommodation expenses if you have to leave your host for some reason
- Access to exclusive video lessons from other Worldpackers volunteers
- 10% off travel insurance with World Nomads
- 30% off Babbel’s language learning subscription
- 5 Euro credit for the international sim card app, Yesim
- 15% off your first purchase at Stasher Luggage Storage
- Worldpackers Annual Fee for Solo Travelers Pack Plan: $99
- Worldpackers Annual Fee for Couples Pack Plan: $119
So overall, Worldpackers has a lot more options in terms of cost. You can pay extra for more discounts and perks, or you can use a discount code to get a cheaper membership.
Overall Winner for Cost: Worldpackers
Another huge thing to consider when deciding between Worldpackers or Workaway is the host list.
If you’re going to be living abroad in a foreign environment, surrounded by new people, and working in a new job, you want to pick the best possible situation for you.
There are lots of things to consider when picking a work exchange, such as:
- Country – pick a country you’ve always wanted to visit!
- Specific location – city, small village, beach, mountains, rural area, etc.
- Living situation – do you want to live in a shared dorm room with other travelers? Or in a tent in the wilderness? Or in your own room in a local’s home?
- Type of environment – party hostel, quiet guesthouse, family home, farm, yoga retreat, eco village, NGO, etc.
- Type of work – reception, bartending, childcare, animal care, gardening, painting, music, writing, photography, videography, language teaching, etc.
- Types of perks – free meals, free tours, free surfing or yoga lessons, free language lessons, free laundry, etc.
- Social aspects – do you want to stay in a hostel surrounded by people? Or do you want to do a homestay and become part of a local family?
- Length of stay – when do you want to stay, and for how long? Some hosts require certain time frames from volunteers
So all of these things can affect the types of hosts you may want to apply for.
Each host should list all the details of their work exchange on their profile, so make sure you read it in depth before applying. You can also find out more details with your host through messaging.
Both Worldpackers and Workaway have a wide range of hosts, and you can find all the things I listed above on both websites.
But here is a more specific idea about the hosts available on each website:
- Worldpackers: 5,000+ work exchange opportunities in 140 countries
- Workaway: 50,000+ work exchange opportunities in 180 countries
So when it comes to the variety of hosts available, Workaway has a lot more options available.
Workaway was founded in 2002, whereas Worldpackers was founded in 2013. So Workaway has been around for much longer and has gathered a much larger collection of hosts.
Worldpackers has a large number of hosts in Latin America and Europe. But if you’re looking to volunteer in more remote regions of the world, Workaway simply has more options in more countries.
Overall winner for host options: Workaway
The next thing I’ll talk about when comparing Worldpackers vs Workaway is the online user experience.
Because the two websites offer similar things, you may be more drawn to whichever website is easier to use.
I personally think both websites are straightforward and easy to use.
Here are some of the perks that both Worldpackers and Workaway offer:
- Easy to use search page to find hosts (With filters and keyword options)
- Reviews from past travelers on host’s profiles
- Informative blog articles about volunteering basics and stories from past travelers
In terms of how the website actually looks, Worldpackers is much more interactive and modern. Maybe because Workaway is an older company, the website is pretty simple.
I actually prefer the simplicity of Workaway’s website, so I stuck with that company for a while.
But I think that if you’re new to volunteering, Worldpackers has more info available and is more dynamic to use.
Overall winner for user experience: Tie (Worldpackers is more modern and exciting, Workaway is more simple)
Both Worldpackers and Workaway have informative videos available. There is a slight difference, however:
Worldpackers: Offers informative videos about using Worldpackers as part of the “Worldpackers Academy”. You have to be a verified member (have paid the annual fee) to see them.
Workaway: Offers informative videos as well as first-person perspective story videos from travelers about their experiences. Anyone can watch these videos for free.
Overall winner for videos: Workaway
On both websites, there are certain measures in place that allow you to join a traveler community and connect with others.
Here is where the websites differ:
Worldpackers: Allows you to directly message other travelers to ask them about their experiences. You can also join the Worldpackers community by blogging, making videos, or becoming a travel expert to answer other travelers’ questions.
Workaway: Does not allow you to message other travelers directly. But there is a page where you can find other travelers to meet up with. You can also become a Workaway ambassador and contribute blogs or videos.
So both websites create a community in different ways.
I love the fact that Worldpackers allows you to message other travelers. If you’re planning a work exchange, it is super helpful to reach out to someone else who has already been there.
I haven’t used Workaway’s traveler meet up page, but that sounds like a cool idea if you’re traveling alone and looking to meet people.
But overall, I just find Worldpackers to be a much more engaging community. They take their website experience very seriously and are always offering help and advice to travelers.
Overall winner for community: Worldpackers
Travel insurance is a confusing topic, but I always recommend getting it for a trip. Read my in-depth guide to travel insurance here.
Travel insurance is especially helpful when you’re doing a work exchange, especially if you’re visiting rural areas or taking part in sports or adventures.
I usually go with Squaremouth Insurance for all my travel insurance needs.
However, Worldpackers does offer its own insurance. It’s not as broad as normal travel insurance, but it applies specifically to work exchanges.
Worldpackers insurance can help you out if something goes wrong with your work exchange. If you have to find a new host or stay elsewhere while you figure out what to do, Worldpackers will cover your accommodation expenses.
Workaway doesn’t offer any type of insurance, so that’s an extra perk of Worldpackers.
Overall winner for insurance: Worldpackers
Worldpackers vs Workaway Conclusion: Worldpackers is Better
Taking everything into consideration, both websites are amazing.
I started out my work exchange journey using Worldpackers, and they are a really great website for beginners. They explain everything well, have a user-friendly website, and have lots of resources available.
Worldpackers is also the cheapest if you use discount code GABBY for $10 off your membership.
But once I had done a few work exchanges with Worldpackers, I heard a lot about Workaway from other travelers and wanted to try it out.
Workaway is a bit less user-friendly in my opinion, but they have so many more work exchange opportunities available. Workaway has been around much longer than Worldpackers, so they have lots more options and variety in terms of their host list.
I’ve now done 3 work exchanges with Worldpackers and 6 with Workaway.
My conclusion is that overall I’d recommend Worldpackers. Especially for first-time volunteers, they have more resources and more dedication to their community.
But if you’re a seasoned traveler looking for more unique work exchanges in more remote corners of the globe, Workaway has more options.
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Thanks for reading!
If you’re interested in reading about any of my volunteering experiences, check out these articles:
Worldpackers Volunteer Experiences
Work Exchange in Peru: How I Lived In Cusco For Free
Volunteering in Ecuador: My First Volunteer Experience
Mindo, Ecuador: My Volunteering Experience
Workaway Volunteer Experiences
Volunteering in the Wild Coast of South Africa
Volunteering on a Chicken Farm in East London, South Africa
Learning Permaculture in the South African Forest
6 Reasons To Volunteer at Dreamsea Surf Camp, Costa Rica
How I Lived in Portugal for One Month and Only Spent 200 Euros
This post may contain affiliate links. Read more about this in my About Me page!