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Free accommodation for a little bit of help
By Kelly Henderson (follow Kelly on Twitter @kellythekiwi) – Sponsored Post
When I was working in a backpackers’ hostel, we used to get a lot of calls from people wanting to know if they could work in exchange for accommodation. I could just imagine them sitting online with a list of hostels in front of them and calling each one till they struck it lucky. HelpStay makes volunteering work a lot more accessible.
What is helpStay? How do I become a helpStayer?
HelpStay is an online platform that connects hosts with helpers all over the world; it’s a huge database of hosts who are offering free accommodation for a little bit of a helping hand. All you need to do is sign up, browse the available projects and apply – make sure to be honest about your skills and reasons for volunteering.
HelpStay is perfect for travellers who only want to help out for a short time or those who are in it for the long haul. Most of the stays are between 1 and 2 months long but there are some that are as short as 5 days.
It costs €26 for an individual and €49 for a couple (or two friends/family) to sign up for helpStay but they are currently running a special offer. Generally accommodation and food will be included (although you may be asked to pay a small fee) but you will need to pay for your own flights, visas and spending money.
What kind of help will I be giving?
Browse the projects and you will see that each stay is different – the current projects on offer include a school placement in Tanzania, volunteering in a hostel in Russia and making craft beer in Ecuador. Most projects will only require you to work 3-6 hours per day so make sure you do the best job you can.
The accommodation varies depending on the project but there are lots of details on the website. If you are helping out at a hostel then you can probably presume you will be sleeping in one of the rooms; other accommodation may be in a caravan, tent or shared house.
Booking a flight to the other side of the world is pretty risky; is helpStay safe?
It is important that the stay is enjoyable for both the helper and the host so helpStay get to know hosts either over the phone or face-to-face before their listing is featured on the website. Before you leave you can video chat with the host too – this way you can ask them any questions you have, voice any concerns and make sure that you both have the same expectations.
You are strongly advised to get travel insurance before you go; helpStay have joint together with World Nomads to offer you a volunteer travel insurance package that is perfect for travellers who are combining travel with volunteer work.
HelpStay isn’t just about getting free accommodation. You’ll also get to experience life in another culture, sharpen those language skills and learn a new trick or two… and don’t forget that warm fuzzy feeling you’ll get when you’ve helped someone who genuinely needed it.