Are Workaway Reviews Legit? Read My Personal Workaway Review…

Can you trust Workaway reviews?  While I talk a lot about work exchanges and love sharing what could be considered the best-kept secret in travel, not everything is as it first appears.  Workaway is the biggest work exchange website and I want to share my personal Workaway experiences, what I think about Workaway reviews, and ultimately why I no longer think it is the best work exchange platform.  So, read on for all of the juicy details in my full Workaway review!

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What is Workaway?, usually just known as Workaway, is the largest and best-known work exchange site and has been running for 20 years.  If you’re not sure what a work exchange is, a work exchange is where volunteers offer their time and skills in exchange for free accommodation and other benefits.

A work exchange site like Workaway offers volunteer placements all over the world with hosts who advertise work exchange positions in hostels, on farms, in private homes, with NGOs – pretty much everywhere you can imagine. They even have pet and house-sitting opportunities, so if you are looking to travel and work as you go, work exchanges are a great way to get free accommodation in exchange for work away from home. offers volunteer positions in 170 countries worldwide including in the USA, Europe, the UK, Canada, South America, Asia, Africa and more, so using Workaway or other work exchange sites allows you more freedom to travel and volunteer abroad for free.

Orchard with baskets of red apples - You Could do a Workaway on a Farm Picking Fruit
You Could do a Workaway on a Farm Picking Fruit

Side note: Workaway International ( is a different kind of work and travel website which involves working in country clubs in the United States for a set period, requiring a H-2B visa.  That kind of work abroad program could be good for you if you want to stay in one place for your entire stay and are eligible for the visa, but in this post, I’m focusing on

How Does Workaway Work?

Hosts looking for volunteers to help them with their business or project advertise placements on Workaway, then you can search for all the available placements where you want to go, or in the area you want to work in.

While it is free to browse volunteer opportunities on Workaway, you’ll have to join Workaway and become a verified member to contact hosts and arrange to volunteer with them.  Once you have paid the Workaway fees and are a verified member you can log in to the platform and contact as many hosts as you like.

Over half of the 50,000 hosts on Workaway are in Europe, so if you plan to do a work exchange in Europe, this is a good place to start and, due to the sheer size of the site, Workaway will have placements almost anywhere you want to travel and volunteer.

Woman standing at a viewpoint with arms outstretched embracing the view - Enjoy Freedom as you Work and Travel the World
Enjoy Freedom as you Work and Travel the World

That said, despite being the biggest work exchange site, it might not be the best for you – read on to learn more before signing up.

Workaway Fees

To join Workaway costs $49 USD per year for a solo membership, or $59 USD for a couple/joint membership. If you use this link to sign up you’ll also get three months extra free on your membership.

If you are travelling as a family, you can now add children under 18 to your membership (either to a solo membership or a joint membership), and search for placements as a family.  This will give you fewer options, as many hosts won’t have suitable accommodation for kids, but could be a useful way to save money while travelling as a family.

Is Workaway Legit?

Oh yes, Workaway is legitimate.  Over the past 20 years, Workaway has built a community of over 50,000 hosts all over the world.  I can’t find an accurate figure for how many volunteers have signed up but it must be in the millions. 

I have personally used Workaway myself to volunteer in several countries around the world and have managed a hostel where we hosted volunteers through Workaway.

However, I have had issues getting responses from hosts who can get overwhelmed with requests from volunteers. 

In addition, Workaway never publishes negative reviews with just one star – they show that someone left a 1 star review but don’t give any details about what it was or why that happened, so you never get the full story.  I’ll talk more about this below.

Is Workaway Safe?

As with anything in life, nothing is 100% risk-free, but yes, Workaway is safe. 

Workaway has recently improved its safety protocols, and the team manually verifies every new workawayer and host profile before they are listed on the site, as well as reviewing every updated host listing and renewing workawayer.

However, as with any peer-to-peer experience, sometimes you can have issues with individual hosts, although that is rare.

Should you need assistance they have 24/7 customer service on hand to help, and the Workaway reviews for hosts can help to reassure you if you have any concerns.  There have also recently introduced Workaway Emergency Help, where if something goes wrong with your placement you may be able to get monetary assistance up to the amount of your subscription fee to help towards unplanned accommodation costs.

The terms and conditions of the Emergency Help are only available if you are a new member who signed up after December 2022, and are applicable only in cases where the host has been negligent and holds full responsibility.  There are various other criteria you’ll need to fulfil before applying for Emergency Help.

Worldpackers – A Safer Alternative?

If you are a first-time traveller or a solo female traveller, you may prefer to use a different work exchange website like Worldpackers which has even more robust safety procedures and offers 24/7 support in 3 languages from their customer service team. 

I know this is a Workaway review, but these Worldpackers features really stand out as being better than Workaway in this case.

Worldpackers work hard to maintain a safe environment for volunteers and guests, and they have a dedicated page to safety on their website.  All hosts go through a verification process, and all Worldpackers members are asked to write an honest review after they have completed an experience with a host.

In addition to that, Worldpackers offer Worldpackers Insurance which means that should you have to leave a placement because the host has not fulfilled their part of the agreement, Worldpackers will reimburse you for a stay at a nearby hostel while their support team helps to get you set up with another Worldpacker placement as soon as possible.

The length of stay they will pay for varies depending on the type of plan you have:

  • Standard Insurance: 3 nights accommodation in a shared room or up to USD $49 (included in the Trips plan).
  • Extended Insurance: For members who purchased the WP Pack plan on or after April 1, 2022, and WP Trips members who purchased the Extended Insurance separately, Worldpackers reimburses up to 7 nights of accommodation, or up to USD $199.
  • Prime Insurance: For members of the WP Pack Plus plan, Worldpackers refunds up to 14 nights of accommodation or up to USD $399.

There are various terms and conditions you need to abide by, but primarily as long as you have organised everything through the platform, contacted support in the first instant to try and solve the problem, and have an experience of less than 12 weeks you should be good to go – just remember to keep the receipts as proof of purchase!

Workaway Review

I have personally used Workaway to volunteer in several countries around the world, and have also worked in a hostel where we hosted Workaway volunteers.  I think that overall Workaway is a great way to find work exchanges, but there are definitely things that could be improved.  

I used to use Workaway regularly, but now I prefer Worldpackers over Workaway and always go to Worldpackers first when looking for work exchange opportunities abroad and in my own country.  There are a few reasons for this, but mainly because of the lack of transparency with Workaway reviews, issues getting responses from Workaway hosts, and the level of support that Workaway provides (or lack of it!).

I am also concerned about Workway potentially taking paid jobs away from local people, an ethical question that all travellers need to think about very carefully.  

The Problem with Workaway Reviews

There is one major downside to Workaway which is their Workaway review system.  Workaway makes a big deal about how many positive reviews they have from both Workawayers and hosts, and that over 95% of reviews are positive. 

While most Workaway experiences are positive, the issue for me is that Workaway allows you to leave a review for a host at any time, whether that is during your stay, months after you have stayed, or if you haven’t even stayed with them at all.  The same applies to the host leaving a review for you as a volunteer.  

It seems an odd way of doing it to me, as surely this leaves the review system open to abuse as anyone can write a review for anyone at any time.  That said, a big part of the work exchange system is trust, so I hope that people don’t actually abuse the system.

Even if we assume that all the reviews are genuine, if hosts can read what you wrote before they write a review of you, there is a chance of “revenge” reviews where hosts could leave you a deliberately bad review if you left them a negative review, whether justified or not. 

In my not-so-pleasant experiences, I’m sad to say I didn’t leave any reviews at all as I didn’t want the host to give me a negative review in return.  

This could be why you don’t often see negative reviews on Workaway.  And even when there are negative reviews, Workaway hides the details of any 1* review so no one can’t actually read what it says.  

In their feedback policy they say that “We won’t allow abusive words, insulting text or feedback containing overly personal criticism.” which I understand if it is abusive, but perhaps it would be better to show what was said then Workawayers can decide for themselves if they think the host or the volunteer was at fault.

I’ve heard a few Workaway horror stories from other travellers, and without being able to see the reviews it is hard to know the full picture and make your own judgement.  There are two sides to every story, but Workaway seems to want to remove the story altogether.

Example of a Negative Workaway Review
Negative Workaway Review (I’ve hidden the name and profile photo for privacy)

Workaway Hosts

As with any work exchange site or peer-to-peer network, there will always be people who abuse the system – and Workaway is no different. 

That goes for volunteers who don’t do the work that was agreed, and for hosts who don’t provide the environment or support that they agreed.  It is also impossible that everyone will get on with everyone else and have fabulous experiences every time, it’s just not realistic for any work exchange website.

One thing I have noticed when contacting hosts on Workaway specifically is that in some cases they don’t respond at all, even when I have sent a detailed, personalised application for a placement that I have a wealth of experience in.  Not wishing to blow my own trumpet, but I genuinely expected (at least hoped) to have a positive response, so getting no response at all was definitely disappointing.  

Sometimes (but not always) there is a rating on the host profile showing the percentage of messages the host replies to, with a note from Workaway saying that “some hosts only reply if they are interested in your profile”, so if you send generic copy & paste requests or don’t have a strong or relevant profile then don’t necessarily expect a response.  

However, for a strong application, it would be nice to have a quick “no thank you” at the very least, as there is nothing more frustrating than paying for a service where hosts don’t respond.  I think it might be because of the sheer size of the network, as hosts in popular destinations can get bombarded with requests for exchanges and so they may be less likely to respond.  

In my personal experience, Worldpackers hosts have always been very quick to respond so it seems easier to guarantee a placement with Worldpackers. 

In addition, Worldpackers now have a host response guarantee which means that if you submit five or more applications to hosts but don’t receive any responses within the initial 30 days of their plan, they will give you a full refund.  

However, if there aren’t any listings on Worldpackers for the destination you want, then you may have better luck with Workaway.   

Map of the world with a jar of money - Should you Take a Paid Workaway?
Should You Do a Paid Workaway?

Workaway Paid Jobs

One ethical question that is often raised when talking about work exchanges is whether volunteers take work away from local people who would normally be paid for doing that job.  

This isn’t usually a problem with volunteering to help families or community projects, as they wouldn’t be able to afford to pay anyone locally to do the work anyway, but now Workaway says that:

“Hosts who are businesses or asking for help with a business activity should be offering accommodation plus at least minimum wage for each hour worked”.

This is a difficult one, as if a business can afford to pay someone, surely they should be paying a local person and providing valuable work for them – especially in developing countries or destinations with high unemployment.  As much as I love to earn money while I’m travelling, I don’t want to do it at the expense of someone who is trying to feed their family and not just travel the world.

The small businesses I have volunteered for in the past haven’t had the money to pay anyone to do the job, so in that sense, I feel like I am still contributing to the community by helping them in exchange for accommodation.  It isn’t taking paid work away from someone else who needs it.

As a responsible traveller please think very carefully before taking on a paid Workaway job.

If you do want to earn money while doing work exchanges, check out Worldpackers Programs, where Worldpackers will pay you to create blog and social media content for them while you are travelling.  it’s a win-win for everyone, as you can earn money knowing you are doing it ethically.  

Workaway Support

Workaway states that paid members have access to 24/7 support through their website which is great if it actually happens.  However, I’ve heard that people have had trouble getting to speak to their support team if something went wrong. 

I haven’t had to reach out to Workaway myself during a placement, but when I looked into it for this post I found that The Help Desk is a detailed FAQ which you have to read before sending an enquiry form, so it isn’t really a help desk with a quick response.

I have also messaged the help desk with a question and have waited over a week for a response, which certainly doesn’t build confidence.

On your account page there is also a chat box where in theory you can chat with someone but mine is always offline and sends me to the Helpdesk by default.  

This is still relatively good support compared to other Workaway alternatives like HippoHelp or Helpx, but take a look at Worldpackers.  They offer the same kind of support as Workaway (in 3 languages) and also offer special Worldpackers Insurance which means that if you have to leave a placement because the host didn’t abide by what was agreed, Worldpackers will pay for you to stay in a nearby hostel while they help you to find a new placement.

One of My Workaway Experiences - Sharing a Meal with the Hostel Staff and Guests
One of My Workaway Experiences – Sharing a Meal with the Hostel Staff and Guests

My Workaway Experiences

As I said, I’ve personally used Workaway to volunteer in several countries around the world. My first Workaway experience was as a content writer for a tour company in Peru.  It was fun, but intense as there was only a small team and we lived and worked in a shared apartment.

I’ve also volunteered to help build a website for a hostel but after trying this I realised I prefer to do something that isn’t like my usual day-to-day work and gets me away from the computer.

After that, I mainly chose to volunteer at hostels as it is a fun and sociable environment and in quiet periods on reception I could do a bit of my own work on the blog too.

I mostly enjoyed the Workaway placements, but it always depends on who you are volunteering for and with.  You can’t get on with everybody and sometimes people won’t get on with you, so that definitely affects your enjoyment of the experience.  

One host I had was rude and ungrateful to volunteers, accusing us of not doing the work she’d asked (without checking that we actually had done it) and complaining we were taking up valuable beds in the hostel.  I regret not leaving a review for that host, but as I said earlier, I was afraid of getting a negative review in return and so decided not to say anything.

Other volunteer placements I’ve had haven’t always worked out the way I’d hoped, but I’ve also had some amazing experiences, like when I was volunteering in a hostel in Mexico City and had a wonderful time with a fabulous team of volunteers.  

Pros & Cons of Workaway

You can read more about the advantages and disadvantages of doing work exchanges here, but for Workaway specifically here’s a quick list of the pros & cons:

+ lots of different hosts and placements to choose from

+ variety of experiences available

+ well-known site


– lots of competition from other volunteers

– hard to get a response from hosts

– reviews are misleading and hidden

– not great support

– better chance to earn money ethically with Worldpackers

Overall, Workaway can be a good option for you, especially if you have done work exchanges before and are confident about choosing placements and adapting to whatever is required.  However, I prefer Worldpackers for the reasons above.  

I feel like with Worldpackers I have a better chance of securing a placement thanks to quick responses from hosts, (and the host response guarantee for new members), and am confident that if I need any help while I’m volunteering the Worldpackers support team has my back – not to mention being able to earn money ethically as I travel through Worldpackers programs.

If you still have questions about Workaway, take a look at the FAQ below, or pop your question in the comments and I’ll do my best to help!

Workaway FAQ

Can I Trust Workaway?

Workaway is a legitimate website and I have used Workaway myself to volunteer in several countries around the world and have managed a hostel where we hosted volunteers through Workaway so in most cases, yes you can trust Workaway.

However, I don’t like the way Workaway hides the detail in negative reviews, so you can’t read any Workaway reviews with just one star, and you don’t know the full story behind what happened.

I have also had issues getting responses from hosts who can get overwhelmed with requests from volunteers, so while Workaway is a good site, I prefer to use Worldpackers as they have a better response level, and even have a host response guarantee for new members.

Is Workaway Worth it?

Absolutely, yes, using work exchange websites like Workaway or Worldpackers is definitely worth it, especially if you use my affiliate links to get 3 months extra free with Workaway, and $10 off with Worldpackers.  For less than $50 you can get a whole year of free accommodation by doing cultural and work exchanges so that is a total bargain!

Not only that, but Worldpackers also gives you the chance to earn money while you travel by helping other travellers and creating blog and video content through Worldpackers Programs.  So not only can you save money while travelling, but you can come out of the experience having more cash!

Is Workaway a Good Idea?

Work exchanges like Workaway are a great way to travel the world, enjoying a cultural exchange through unique and immersive experiences, and without spending much money.  Workaway could be a good idea for you, but alternatives like Worldpackers could be even better.

Is Workaway Free to Use?

Workaway is free to browse and see what kind of placements are available, but to contact hosts and arrange placements you need to become a verified member and pay the registration fee (which is $49 USD).  If you sign up using my affiliate link you will also get 3 months extra free on your membership

How Much is the Workaway Fee?

A year’s verified Workaway membership for one person costs $49 USD.  Using this link to sign up will add an extra 3 months to your membership.

If you are travelling with a friend or partner, you can sign up together for a joint membership for just $59 USD for the year (so $29.50 each), and with that, you can apply for work exchange placements together.  Again, using this link will add 3 months to your membership.

If you’re travelling with kids, you can now add kids under 18 to your profile, either as a single parent with a solo membership, or as a couple with a joint membership.

Do you Have a Workaway Discount Code?

Workaway doesn’t have special offer discount codes or coupons for discounts or free membership.  However, if you sign up using my affiliate link you will get 3 extra months added to your membership for free.

Do you Get Paid Doing Workaway?

Not usually.  The arrangement between hosts and volunteers can vary, but generally, you will work part-time in exchange for accommodation and other benefits like meals.

The exception to this is when you are doing a Workaway placement with a business, in which case hosts are supposed to pay you the equivalent of the minimum wage in that country as well as accommodation.  This in itself brings in other questions about whether the business can afford to pay someone a wage, and if they can, then they really should employ a local person and not a volunteer.

This has led to many of the hostel jobs on Workaway cancelling and moving to Worldpackers, which doesn’t have rules like this.

Can I Get a Free Workaway Account?

Workaway is free to browse but to contact hosts and arrange placements you need to become a verified member and pay the £42 registration fee (approximately $49 USD).  If you sign up using my affiliate link you will also get 3 months extra free on your membership.

I haven’t seen any way of getting a totally free Workaway account (unless someone gives it to you as a gift) but there are ways to extend your membership for free once you have an account.

You can apply to become a Workaway ambassador which gives you a free extension on your membership, and you can refer a friend to extend your Workaway membership for free once they have signed up.

How Much Money Do I Need for Workaway?

The great thing about Workaway and other work exchange programs like Worldpackers is that you get to travel almost for free!  The only money you need to spend for Workaway is the $49 USD membership fee for the year (get 3 months extra free with this link), if you find a placement that offers accommodation and meals in exchange for your work.

However, Workaway doesn’t pay for flights, visas, travel insurance or anything else you might need on your trip, but once you are at your placement you can live basically for free.

Do I need a Visa for Workaway?

If you don’t need a visa to actually travel to the country where you want to go, you shouldn’t need a work visa to do a work exchange, as really it is a cultural exchange and you won’t be getting paid for your work.

If you want to volunteer with a business and get paid then you should have a working visa.

Some countries also require a specific visa for volunteering, so check the host listing to see if they mention needing specific paperwork, and check iVisa to see if you do need a travel visa.  Remember, it is your responsibility to make sure you have all of the required paperwork to travel.  

Is there a Workaway App?

Yes, as well as their website, Workaway also has an app where you can browse opportunities, contact hosts and learn more about work exchanges.  Search for the app on iStore or Google Play, but, remember to sign up online with this link in order to get your 3 months extra free.

Are there other Sites Like Workaway?

Yes!  There are several work exchange sites like Workaway which might be better for you.

For me, Worldpackers is the best Workaway alternative, thanks to the high level of support and the chance to earn money with Worldpackers Programs.

Other platforms include WWOOF – Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which is primarily for farm work, and Trusted Housesitters which is for house and pet sitting.

What is better than Workaway?

There are several Workaway alternatives that could be better than Workaway for your next work exchange.  Worldpackers is my personal favourite, and in my opinion, is the best work exchange website for volunteering abroad.  Save $10 on your membership with this link.

Is There a Free Workaway?

Workaway itself isn’t free (you can get 3 months extra free with this link) but HippoHelp is a similar site to Workaway which doesn’t charge a fee at all.  However, lack of support means free work exchange sites like HippoHelp are best for experienced backpackers who have already done previous work exchanges, and I wouldn’t recommend them for solo female travellers.  Personally, I prefer to pay a small fee for better peace of mind.

How Can You Become a Workaway Host?

If you’d like to become a host on Workaway, you can apply on the Workaway website here.

10 thoughts on “Are Workaway Reviews Legit? Read My Personal Workaway Review…

  1. Claire says:

    Hi Kathy, I’m sorry you had such a poor experience with Workaway, it is disappointing that their complaints process is apparently non-existent. I recently contacted the help desk about an issue and waited a month for a response so that doesn’t give me any more confidence in the service – and no better than you received either. Sorry I can’t help! I hope it hasn’t put you off volunteering altogether, I still believe it can be a great experience although perhaps not with Workaway! Best wishes, Claire

  2. Kathy Kramer says:

    Hi Claire,
    My daughter and I signed up to WorkAway at the Botanic Garden in Nevis in June of 2023. It was a bad experience, for many reasons, and we left after three days. I filed a complaint with WorkAway, and they did nothing, so far as I could tell.

    Six months later I was contacted by another WorkAway volunteer who had just had the same bad experiences at the Botanic Garden at Nevis. She also left early. This was expensive, and disappointing, to both of us.

    WorkAway’s lack of response to our complaints has been frustrating. We get platitudes from “John” on the WorkAway help desk, but nothing more. I have asked to be contacted by a supervisor, and have had no response. WorkAway doesn’t publish a phone number, so there appears to be no way to reach anyone with any more authority, or competence, than “John”.

    Do you know how I can reach anyone higher up in WorkAway than the Help Desk, as they have proved to be not at all helpful?

    I would never WorkAway again, due to the misrepresentation of the experience at the Botanic Garden on Nevis, the lack of interest in the complaint that I and another WorkAwayer filed, the inability to contact anyone at WorkAway who has any interest in following up on our separate, but similar complaints, and more.

    The high rate of positive reviews for what was really an awful work experience is a giant red flag for WorkAway.

  3. Claire says:

    Hi Alda! Sometimes it is just luck and/or instinct, but I always read the description carefully and the reviews too. Make sure you know exactly what is expected of you, and what you will get in return – and that you are happy it is a fair exchange. This free ebook has some more tips about what to look for, and how to land your dream work exchange: Good luck!

  4. Alda says:

    Hi Claire, do you have any hints of host opportunities where you can say “yes, this looks reliable” and “no, this doesn’t”? I am sure you can do this better then I do 🙂

  5. Mariam says:

    Hi! Yes, you right. I been a host for over 10 years and I have received over 200 volunteers, obviously all the experiences haven’t been good, but on the website you can’t post a bad or neutral reviews, it gets deleted due to their policies. They live at “lala land” where everyone is perfect! … am not longer part of their community.

  6. Glenda Speciale says:

    I wouldn’t get involved w/ work away , when I looked at the map area of the hosts, it added Middle East when it’s not a continent . Isn’t middle east in Asia? The person who design this page needs to go back to school & take geography.

  7. Claire says:

    Hi Patricia! I think it’s a great idea, as long as you choose a placement that suits you and what you’d like to do. Working in a party hostel probably wouldn’t be appropriate but if there are no age limits on the job description and you’re able to do the work I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time.

  8. Patricia Fortuna says:

    Hi Claire I am 63 yr old retired female and was thinking about doing this I am in excellent health would appreciate your opinion

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