The Most Important Questions To Ask Your Workaway Host Before You Arrive

Dream Workaway host? Check. Dates line up? Check. Bags packed? Stop! Before you hop on a plane, it’s time to figure out the details. This guide covers the most important questions to ask your Workaway host before you arrive. This will ensure you’re both on the same page, your goals align, and you’ll make the most of the experience.

When I first told my parents I’d quit my job to travel thousands of miles to stay with a stranger in Switzerland through Workaway, they immediately replied…

“Are you joking?”

That was the first of THOUSANDS of questions, such as “what will you eat,” “where will you sleep?” “how long will you stay there for?” “what type of work will you be doing”

woman gardening in the swiss alps

Thankfully, I put their worries to ease as I knew the answer to every, single, question. I’d set up a Skype call with my host the week before to cover the details and any last-minute questions.

Once you’ve scrolled through the 50,000+ opportunities on Workaway to find your dream host you may feel like the hard work is over. However, finding a host is just the start of the fun. It’s now time for the nitty-gritty details to make sure you’re not hopping on a plane to live in a yurt with alpacas, when you thought you’d be staying in a surf camp on the beach.

Strong communication is vital for a smooth Workaway experience, and that begins before you even leave home. These are the best questions to ask your Workaway host before you arrive. And not only are these the questions that you should ask, but your host (and family!) want you to ask. 

New around here? Before you begin quizzing your host, I’d recommend asking yourself these five questions before your first Workaway. Also, check out the most common questions from Workaway newbies, as they’ll bring clarity and confidence for using the platform before your search begins.
indian woman and child on the computer

What You Need to Know Before You Arrive at your Workaway

Getting There

While Workaway can save you money in many ways, we can’t, unfortunately, provide transport. This means finding out the exact location of your host before you arrive is vital. As we champion experiences that are off the beaten track, some of our hosts are off-grid or require unique transport such as a boat or bike, to reach them. Figuring out how to get there (and the cost of this) before you hop off the plane at 1am in a foreign country will save you (and your host) a whole lot of stress.

Questions to Ask:

  • What is your address?
  • Is it near public transport?
  • What is the best day and time to arrive? (certain seasons/holidays/peak times or rush hours may prove busier or more expensive)
  • What is the best way to get around once arrived?
workawayers hitchhiking on back of a van

What does a typical day look like?

Safety is paramount here at Workaway. That’s why we manually review every host profile and Workawayer profile before they are live on the site. This ensures everyone has a safe and fun experience and the work expectations are fair. While your host’s profile will share the majority of details, it is always a good idea to ask for further information regarding the type of tasks they’d like support with and skills they’d like you to share.

We suggest five hours of volunteering a day for five days out of seven. Usually, this is in exchange for food and a place to sleep but each host is different. For example, for one of my Workaway experiences in Crete, we volunteered on an olive farm. During our one-month stay, there were only two weeks where the conditions were suitable to do the farming. This meant that on some of the days, we had a lot more free time, while on others, we volunteered for around 8 hours per day.

As well as the times and tasks expected of you, ask for suggestions on what to do in your free time. For example, my hosts in Switzerland and Hawaii let us use their cars during our free time so we could explore, whereas our host in Crete took us to a yoga and meditation class as well as on local hikes. 

Questions to ask:

  • What would my schedule look like on a typical day?
  • What type of tasks will I be doing?
  • Are there any particular skills or knowledge that would be helpful for these tasks?
  • Any suggestions for things to do or see in my free time?
workawayer volunteering in a farm with pigs

Sleeping and Eating

Again, this is usually explained in the host profile but it is always important to verify with your host what the sleeping and eating arrangements are. From tree houses to tents, city apartments to seaside villages, all my hosts have offered very different types of accommodation. Some offer shared accommodation with other Workawayers or family members, some may offer your own room or want support with house sitting – so you have the entire home to yourself!

When it comes to food, dietary restrictions don’t need to hold you back. Let your host know if you have allergies or special requirements. Some hosts like to prepare traditional dishes, while others will ask you to prepare food from your country to learn about your culture. They may provide three meals a day, other times, it’s just the evening meal or you’ll contribute to groceries if less hours of volunteer help are asked from you.

Workaway is an excellent way to try different diets and dishes from around the world. I’ve stayed with hosts who are vegan as well as a host following a keto diet. Both diets were completely new to me. With my host in Switzerland, they offered wine with our evening meal as this is part of the culture there, while other hosts have a no-alcohol rule. If this is important to you, ask your host before you arrive.

Questions to ask:

  • What are the sleeping arrangements?
  • Are all meals provided and what are typical meal times?
  • Are there any special dietary requirements or rules I should be aware of?
workawayers having a cultural breakfast

What to Bring

Once you find out where your host is and your daily schedule, it’s important to find out what to bring. We always recommend to pack light, but pack smart. No one wants to be dragging a suitcase if your host lives up 9 flights of stairs, or equally if you’re on a Workaway solo it’s unsafe to overpack unnecessary items. At the end of the day, you’re the only one responsible for carrying it all. Less to carry means less items at risk of being lost or stolen.

We recommend you pack these 10 essentials for your Workaway, but also check with your host if you need to bring specific items. This may include insect repellent, sunscreen or waterproof clothing, hiking boots, a head torch, a new sim card, or malaria medication. 

Questions to ask:

  • Do I need to wear any PPE (personal protective equipment), and is it provided? For example, gloves, overalls, safety glasses or face masks.
  • What is the weather typically like so I can pack appropriate clothing?
  • Is there anything, in particular, you recommend I bring, or do not bring and leave at home?
woman backpacking in autumn with dog

Culture and Communication

Workaway is a cultural exchange, which means it is built on trust. It’s important to understand and respect the cultural norms of your host country and that they respect yours. These should always be made clear before your arrival to avoid any unnecessary conflict or confusion.

This could include details such as language, dress codes or religion. It may also be a good idea to familiarise yourself with the local customs for greetings such as handshakes, bowing etc. Certain countries have different expectations and etiquette around dining, too, which your host will likely let you know but it could be worth asking if they don’t mention it.

Questions to ask:

  • Are there any specific rules or cultural norms I should be aware of and respect?
  • What is the primary language spoken? Do you speak any other languages in your home?
  • How would you usually resolve conflicts or misunderstandings?
workawayer wearing traditional clothing

Final Thoughts

Finally, it’s important to triple check any lifestyle habits you’d want each other to know about. They might have a pet cat and you have extreme allergies. Perhaps you want to know if they live somewhere that is LGBTIQ friendly? You might be planning to work on your side hustle in the evenings so check they’re cool with digital nomads (side note: we have a filter for this on the host search.)

For communicating with friends and family back home, we also recommend you ask your host about WiFi/ phone signal, especially if you’re giving off grid living a chance. That way you can coordinate different means of communication or budget for internet cafes etc.

It’s also important to note, you can join Workaway as a solo traveller, as a couple, or as a family. It’s even possible to Workaway with your pets! So again, check with your host how many Workawayers (or furry friends) are accepted at one time.

Questions to ask:

  • Is there anything else you’d like me to know?
  • Will I have access to WiFi or how is it best to communicate with home?
  • Any advice you’d share with a first time Workawayer visiting your home?

digital nomad working outside

Immersing yourself in a new culture while contributing and connecting with locals will prove to be an epic experience (even if your parents think you’re crazy!) To make the most of this opportunity, asking the right questions before you arrive may be time consuming, but it will most definitely be worth it.

From understanding their daily routine and expectations to clarifying meal arrangements and cultural norms, these questions pave the way for a smoother and more enjoyable journey. Don't hesitate to dive in, strike up a conversation, and build a foundation of mutual understanding with your Workaway host family. It’s an exchange after all, so they’ll welcome any questions with open arms.

By doing so, you'll set the stage for an unforgettable adventure filled with learning, growth, and meaningful connections. Bon voyage!
group of workawayers eating at host family

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About Lauren

Growing up in a small coastal village in Scotland inspired Lauren to seek adventure and challenge the norm. Armed with just her backpack and trusty travel companion Darren, she quit her day job to liv... show more...

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