I often talk about Worldpackers and how much it has helped me achieve my dreams of traveling the world. Since I left Australia I have visited 3 countries and used Worldpackers in two of them, but quite frequently. I think Worldpackers is great because it allows me to travel the world whilst making the small amount of money I do each month as a freelancer.
A lot of people ask me about Worldpackers and how they are able to use it in the same way that I do to achieve their travel goals. Here I will give the answers to the most common questions I get about using Worldpackers to travel and how it can help you too.
Table of contents
How do you pick where to volunteer
What questions you ask the host
What questions the host asks you
Any places you have regretted going
Have you gone back to the same volunteer program twice
How do you get a visa
How many people are roughly on each program you have attended
What made you choose India to start
What countries I have you been to
What countries I have on my radar
How do you pick where to volunteer?
There are a range of different things I look at when I choose the places I would like to volunteer. Firstly I look at the country and region in which I want to travel. From there I look at what is available in the area. I always first look for positions that are looking for artists and what kind of environment the host has. Ideally I am looking for a place that I can create art with no brief so that it can be my own true creations. If there are no art projects available, I will look for an eco-project.
Anyone that knows me knows that I am quite an activist when it comes to the environment as well as animal and female rights, which generally fits in well with eco projects other than those that hold animals onsite to use for their own purposes. I avoid those as it goes strongly against my beliefs that animals were not made to serve humans.
If there are no projects that suit the above, I might consider working in reception, cleaning or bartending as I think bartending would be a valuable skill to learn whilst I am travelling. As a nomad its great to start collecting as many skills as possible so that you can survive in any situation when money gets low.
In addition to the type of projects, I also look at what they are offering. If I am looking to volunteer in a country that is quite expensive, it’s really handy if they offer at least two meals a day. That means I am saving on accommodation and most of my meals so I have money to explore. As a nomad you are constantly on a tight budget so these aspects are quite important.
How do you contact the hosts?
I always contact the hosts through Worldpackers. When you apply for a position, some have questions built into the application process that you have to answer. Others don’t, which is why I just outline why I am perfect for the position, what I can contribute and my experience with the assistance they are looking for.
I have only been painting murals since I moved to India, so I don’t have a lot of experience, but I do have an Instagram page which has a mash of different styles of murals on it. As most hosts have something in their head for a mural, I just do what it is they want and put my own twist on it, so none of it is my own real creativity. I let the hosts know this so that they understand I am able to work to their brief as well as create my own complete creations.
What questions do you ask the host?
Generally I ask the host what their expectations are and if they have set hours. The set hours is really important for me as I also need to do my other work to make money. Having set shifts for anything other than painting is ideal for me so that I can structure my days and make sure I am making enough money to travel to my next destination.
What questions do the hosts ask you?
The hosts through Worldpackers generally ask what experience I have and what I can bring to the table. For me this generally means sending through my Instagram link for Restless.Nomad.Art, advising of my passion for the health of our environment as well as the 6 years I worked in hospitality.
If I am going for a position that is to assist in management I give them a brief explanation of what working as an owners corporation manager was like and how I was able to effectively manage numerous multimillion dollar businesses at the same time. That generally is enough to impress their pants off and ask for me to join their team.
Are there any places you have regretted going?
There has been two places that I have cancelled before making my trip, both of these in India. The first one I was asked to volunteer as a bartender but I had a bad feeling about it so went to check the place our anonymously beforehand. I went to the place and asked if they had a bar or served alcohol, posing as someone looking for a drink. They responded no and then the following day I cancelled my application to volunteer there.
The other was an art project where the host asked me for my WhatsApp number and to talk there. I obliged not thinking much of it but he proceeded to ask questions about my personal life and wanting to do things outside of Worldpackers. This made me feel uncomfortable and I advised him my plans had changed and I was no longer able to volunteer at his guest house.
Other than that there was one place I regretted going which was in Sri Lanka. I was in a hostel completely alone for 3 weeks as the hostel owner had no idea how to run a hostel or get guests in despite me and other volunteers telling him numerous times. I was there on an art project where I completed the peter pan room on my Instagram. It was fun, but he was expecting paintings to look like digital prints. This helped to refine my skills and my paintings definitely improved from this, but it was not a fun and creative environment where I was able to enjoy myself.
Have you gone back to the same volunteer program twice?
I am just about to go back to Rishikesh where I will be going back to the first place I volunteered through Worldpackers as an artist. It is not the place I did my first mural in India, but the first position I had with Worldpackers. I created such a great relationship with the owner and many other people there and that place truly feels like home for me now.
They let me leave my insanely big suitcase there for the last 5 months while I have been travelling which is exceptionally nice of them and I will be returning again in two weeks’ time to start another art project which will be able to be seen from the whole of Rishikesh. Saying that I am excited to return would be the understatement of the century!
How do you get a visa?
Getting a visa is so different for each country. I have come across countries where you can get a visa on arrival, countries you don’t require a visa for, ones where you can get an evisa online and others where you have to go into a consulate or send your physical passport somewhere.
I won’t send my passport in the mail or go into a consulate, so at this point in time those requirements will rule out a country for me. I may reconsider this at a later date for countries I really want to go to like Jordan, but at the moment that country has fallen off my list due to their visa requirements.
How many people are roughly on each program you have attended?
This is super varied dependent on the location, time of year, positions they are looking to fill etc. Each of them typically has at least two volunteers and the school I volunteered at had at least 5 others at all times. It makes it a really great way to meet people from all over the world who have common interests to yours.
What made you choose India to start?
I don’t really know what made me choose India to start, I think that it was just something completely different where I would be pushed out of my comfort zone. I also had the range of health issues that were causing me a lot of stress when I was told I wouldn’t be able to do things like run or dance again and that I would have to adjust to my body as it was, which often meant not being able to walk.
I really wanted to get some intensive knowledge on yoga in the hopes that it could help me stay mobile, and what better place to learn about yoga than India, the birthplace of it! Since then I have obviously fallen in love with India and I expect to spend a fair amount of time there.
What other countries have you been to and have on your radar?
So far I have been to Thailand twice, Spain, USA, Japan, Fiji, India and Sri Lanka. I am planning to start making my way through the middle east this year starting with Pakistan, Oman, UAE, Lebanon, Cyprus and Israel. I think that is enough planning for the time being and it will likely change because I am overly spontaneous, but that it the rough plan for now.
I hope this has helped everyone looking to travel and I can’t express how much Worldpackers has helped me afford traveling. Membership is currently $49 USD, but I have been speaking with them and hopefully shortly I will be able to give a 20% discount to my friends. I will keep you posted when this happens!!