Work exchange is an excellent way to travel the world on a frugal budget. I’ve had numerous positive interactions with hosts and many successful stays around the U.S. One of the keys to an enjoyable stay is preparation.
Here are some factors that are crucial to consider before committing to a work exchange:
Scheduling is numero uno. Most hosts expect 20-25 hours of work a week. In my opinion anything over that is taking advantage of a traveler. If you’re staying at a place with more than one person ask if there are different shifts and make sure the start and end times work for you. Don’t try to force yourself into becoming a morning person if you’re a night owl, chances are both you and you’re host will become flustered.
This guide was written after my time spent in Thailand & Cambodia but is generally useful for most of South-East Asia. This one is more for the ladies as men don’t have much to worry about but I have included some notes for men.
What to wear?
One of my friends who frequents Thailand annually had advised me not to pack anything at all and to purchase all of my clothing and luggage when I arrived. Being a tall and curvy North American chick I panicked at the thought of not being able to find any clothing that fit. I was also on a strict budget and clothing was not something I planned to spend on. In hindsight I wish I had followed that advice. I ended up having to ditch a lot of my stuff in favor of thinner and in some cases more respectable clothing.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was absolute insanity. This year I got to spend an ample amount of time in New Orleans. I was absolutely psyched to finally be spending some time in one of my bucket list cities. I hadn’t specifically planned to be in NOLA for Carnivale Season and was ecstatic about my good timing.
Things started out rocky. I made a verbal agreement over the phone to work 20-25 hours a week in exchange for room/board and breakfast at Madame Isabelle’s Hostel.
Though I now think the owner is a great guy and have a lot of love for this hostel I almost left as soon as I arrived. To say the owner did not have the best conversational skills would have been understatement. He improved a lot during my stay but when I first started he kept panicking because he thought I wasn’t going to show up or stay. When I arrived he left to go shopping instead of showing me to my sleeping quarters and the co-worker on duty hadn’t been informed where I should go. My co-worker was also super baked and kept telling me there were cockroaches everywhere. There weren’t, well at least not at the hostel. But where some of the guys had to live there was a small infestation. I was one of the lucky/unlucky ones who lived on site. Within minutes I was laughing in the kitchen because the same guy had just overloaded dish detergent in the dishwasher. And there I met another co-worker who was shaking her head but appeared amused. The manager didn’t think it was that funny when he arrived. I should have taken that as an indicator that we weren’t going to get along. That same manager ending up robbing the cash drawer, stealing the business credit card, renting a porsche, and bouncing. I think it was all the cocaine. But that’s another story.
Somerville, Massachusetts. A city with an entire day devoted to Marshmallow Fluff. Population 81,322. Hipster Population? Too goddamn many. Every block in Somerville has its own name so you better start getting acquainted with all of them. Somerville is a city with major quirks. Guerilla Art is nestled into even the tiniest of cracks, there’s a mural on every corner, and yetti’s can be found roaming the streets. Davis Square being the second to last stop on the Red Line tends to have the most action but there’s a lot more to Somerville than a T stop. By the way, it’s the T. Not the subway, the T.
I was researching the availability of vape juice in Thailand when I came across a number of articles stating that not only would I not be able to find any there but that it was illegal to bring mine with me.
1. Electronic Cigarettes and Vapes
Where: Thailand, India, Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Lebanon, Jordan, Oman, Turkey, Thailand, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Tajikistan, Brunei, Belgium, Austria, Argentina, Brasil, Venezuela, Colombia, Uruguay, Mexico, Panama