From Office to Wilderness: Quitting My Job to Live Off-Grid in Alaska

Here at Workaway, we have heard so many different stories about people taking huge leaps to discover a different way of life abroad, but one of the most unique stories we discovered is from Workawayer Florian from Bavaria, Germany, who quit his job to volunteer and travel Alaska! 

We found Flo’s video on his Workaway adventures in Alaska so inspiring that we couldn't pass down the opportunity to know more about him and his story!

Choosing Alaska Over 9-5

Before making the sudden decision to quit his job to embark on an adventure in Alaska, Florian was working as an online marketing manager for a luxury 5* hotel, creating content and doing photography for their socials and website for 2 years before he made the decision to quit his job and move to Alaska for 6 weeks. 

Florian found  Jerry’s off-grid Alaska experience in the island of Prince of Wales, located in Southeast Alaska  3 years before actually doing his Workaway there. 

"I found the exact Workaway 3 or 4 years before I went there. I just Googled Alaska remote work and Jerry’s place came up, and it was in the back of my mind since then so I always wanted to do it. I had this job just to find out if having a job, having a flat with my girlfriend, routine life is the life for me. I always thought it wouldn’t be but I just wanted to make sure that was the case, and after 2 years I was like ‘let’s try something different!’”
Alaska host Jerry smiling and sitting on a boat sailing

“I was really good friends with my work mates there and I didn’t want to hurt their feelings so I just told them I wanted to catch a salmon so that's why I quit my job. My boss told all the people at the hotel!”

Life's too short to feel stuck in a job that no longer serves you purpose. If you’re itching for adventure but also want to learn new skills, then maybe take a page out of Flo’s book - take that well deserved career break and go out there and do Workaway ;) If you’re still hesitant to embrace that risk, continue reading to hear all about Florian’s adventure to inspire you! 
Workawayer Florian posing in front of lake holding two salmon fish captured

Stepping into the Unknown: Quest for Alaskan Freedom

Most people might not have Alaska at the top of their travel list due to its dramatic wilderness, even though it has amazing and breathtaking scenery. That’s why Flo’s story was one that stood out so much to us! When asked what made him choose Alaska, he spoke about his upbringing in the mountains and fishing that led him to want to experience more off-grid living.

“I always grew up fishing and in the mountains so I always had a relation to that kind of lifestyle and for outdoorsy people and experiencing an alternative lifestyle, I think Alaska is heaven for this. So it was always on my mind. Checking things off the list was not that important- to see this mountain, or see the Eiffel tower... for me travelling is more about the experience and to live a different lifestyle to what I am accustomed to.”

Workawayers and host standing around truck in the middle of the forest going fishing
Flo stumbled upon Jerry’s host profile on Workaway while researching opportunities for volunteering abroad in Alaska. Jerry’s shining reviews from other Workawayers and captivating images of the off-grid project left a lasting impression and was at the back of Flo’s mind before he decided to take the leap of faith and go. 

Making the Most of the Last Frontier

Florian's journey to Jerry’s place on the Prince of Wales Island was an adventurous journey right from the start, as it encompassed a daunting 40-hour expedition from his hometown in Germany.

During his Alaskan adventure, Flo dedicated a total of 6 weeks to volunteering. He fondly reflects on this period as the “perfect way to really feel what it’s like to live there and experience things, and not just as a visitor”. 

Florian stayed in a small 15 square metre cabin alongside three other Workawayers from the UK, Australia and Switzerland. Resources were quite scarce, as the cabin suffered as a result of a storm which then led to limited access to electricity, running water, and a supermarket that was a 30-minute journey away.
Cabin in the woods

Globe Trotting Gains: Skills and Wisdom Acquired Volunteering

The limited resources and the damages occurred during the storm meant that Florian and other Workawayers had a lot to get their hands dirty to. It was the true off-grid experience Flo was looking for when he set off on his escapade to Alaska. They went straight into the deep end and engrossed themselves in the skill learning. Starting a fire, flaying a fish, using a chainsaw, carpentry, are just some of the skills that were learnt during Flo’s time in Alaska… and of course, his main goal to quit his job, which was to catch salmon, was achieved after a few weeks in. After his time, Florian’s love for fishing grew in Alaska as he developed his knowledge and skills during his volunteer project and is now confident that he could now run an oyster farm without going bankrupt if need be.
Fresh sea food fished from the sea by Workawayers and Host for Oyster farm

One of the things that stood out the most to Flo was the community vibe, as he observed that people tend to help each other out more than they do back home in Germany. “It was pretty cool to see that people gave their fish away to elderly people or poorer people…they were the most generous people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.” The locals also gifted the Workawayers with bread, eggs, cookies, apples, canned salmon, mushrooms, countless beers, and stories.

One of Flo’s highlights of the trip was meeting one of the locals Julie, who Flo described as a wonderful lady with an indigenous background. She gave the Workawayers meat from a black bear she shot herself in her own backyard. This was then turned into Black-Bear-Bolognese back in the Workawayer cabin.

When asked what it was like to live like a local in Alaska, Florian responded with the following: “on a realistic note: It’s rough, work is hard and dirty, and it rains a lot…but the lifestyle brings a certain degree of freedom, that I guess is hard to find anywhere else in the world”

Workawayers and Host standing by fishing boat in the forest
Another takeaway Florian learned was that you do not need a lot to survive. The very basic experience living in the wilderness was an eye opener for this. Although it was hard work and quite dirty, in return he got amazing experiences which made it worthwhile. 
A motto Florian now lives by and has applied to his day-to-day life is: “never waste hot flames'”, which his host Jeremy would frequently say. Philosophically speaking, seize the day and take opportunities and/or moments as they come and take advantage of that moment to develop and grow. Living in the wild is unpredictable and you need to take advantage of possibilities as they come.

Workawayers posing in front of lake and sunset by the camp fire

Saving Big, Exploring Bigger

Think your budget is limiting your travel experiences? Think again! Flo explains how the area he was in Alaska is a very exclusive area where people pay thousands per week to stay at, whereas he only spent a total of $150USD for whisky and short lifts (excluding flights) in the 6 weeks he was staying there. “We got to stay there for free and pretty much for the same experience but we learn more and get to know the real people there. That was pretty cool and you can only really do that with Workaway”. Not paying for accommodation and food allows more financial freedom to travel for cheap and on a budget.
Workawayer enjoying the wilderness around a campfire grilling captured shrimp

When asked if he would recommend off-grid living, Flo was quick to say yes.

“I would 100% recommend to anyone in the world that people should experience once in their lifetime. Everyone looked a lot better by the end of the 6 weeks…It makes you appreciate a lot of things, and also makes you question a lot of things on how our society is. Like, how can it be that so many people have mental health stuff, is it really the perfect society for people to live in? I think there are a lot of answers in off-grid living as well”.

If Workaway appeals to you, but you’re not sure if you’re ready to jump into off-grid living quite yet, then there are a vast array of projects to choose from, catered to different types of Workawayers!

Workawayers and Host posing next to fishes caught

Elevating Your CV Beyond Borders

Flo is currently running his own online marketing agency, when asked if Workaway helped enhance his CV, he completely agreed. His volunteer experience with Workaway helped to push him to make the big choice to become self-employed and start his own business. Flo’s immersion in the local community not only provided a significant confidence boost but also facilitated the development of his English language skills as he immersed himself into the local Alaskan community. This experience presented a valuable opportunity for language learning, and he has since incorporated the 'never waste hot flames' motto into his business.

By actively participating in Workaway projects, you can accumulate a diverse set of skills and experiences that can be added to your CV. These experiences can demonstrate adaptability, teamwork, problem-solving, and a willingness to take on new challenges, which are all highly valued to future employers!
Workawayers chilling in backyard and cutting hair

Workawayers can generate a reference letter with feedback they have received from hosts for future career opportunities after they are all travelled out. These reference letters can be valuable additions to your CV, as they provide concrete evidence of a traveller's work ethic, reliability, and the skills acquired during their time with the host. 

Workawayers smiling in front of their cabin in the woods
If you're contemplating leaving your job to embark on a journey, make sure your journeys not only enhance your skills and cultural experiences but also demonstrate financial wisdom. Travelling doesn’t have to be expensive with Workaway as demonstrated by Flo! We list over 50,000 opportunities in 170 different countries, from paid working holidays, to house sitting and language exchanges. Have a browse on our host list to search for your perfect project 😉 

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About Stephanie

Stephanie was born on an island and raised in a British/Portuguese multicultural background. From a young age, she learned how to embrace different languages, traditions and cultures. This upbringing ... show more...

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