Workaway vs WWOOF vs Helpx vs the rest…

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Any one of the long term readers of this blog could tell you that I’m a massive fan of doing a little volunteering where ever I go. It’s a great way to save money, meet new people and help someone out in the process.  

But how to find the best volunteer opportunity? There are so many different providers all promising the best experience. So which one should you choose to sign up with?

Here I’m going to break it down and pit Workaway vs WWOOF vs Helpx vs the rest. This way, I’ll scrape all of the neccasary information together so you don’t have to.

Then you can decide which platform suits you the best.

So far I have volunteered in India, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand and England.

What you get from Workaway

Workaway home page

Cost

The cost for a 12 month Workaway membership is 36 euro for a single membership or 48 euro for a couples membership.

There is even the facility to buy a membership as a gift. A great gift for anyone about to embark on a stint of long term travel.

Thinking of just paying for a single membership but you at a couple!? Don’t bother, as I found out it doesn’t work. I set off travelling alone, hence only buying a single membership.

 It wasn’t long into my trip that I met Agne and we decided to look into doing some Workaway together. Within sending a few messages to host my account was frozen!!

Apparently they have algorithms that scan messages for signs of a more than one person using an account. The only way to un-freeze my account was to pay the extra 12 euro to make it a couples account.

Fair enough really…. 

How many opportunities

Although not the cheapest, Workaway does offer the most in terms of hosts. 38490 to be exact (time of writing).

These hosts are spread out across the world in more than 180 countries. The one off payment gets you access to every host in the Workaway network.

What kind of opportunities

Workaway is not focused on any particular niche within the work exchange world. Instead of focusing on one particular niche it caters for absolutely anything.

It could be working on an organic farm in Australia, house sitting in Norway or being an au pair in India. You could even be tasked with the job of being a deckhand on a private yacht destined for a round the world trip.

The possibilities are endless.

User friendliness

The Workaway website itself is well thought out, easy to navigate, bright and full of useful information.

Workaway plaform search

 There are a multitude of different ways you can search for your perfect host. You can search by country, region or even what type of experience you are looking for.

As part of the membership fee you also get access to the Workaway “meet up” platform. Its a part of the website designed to help you meet local workawayers or find travel buddies.

Just type in your location and search the interactive map for local, like minded people. It’s a nice touch.

What you can do on workaway

There’s even a page where you can save and print off all your feedback from hosts to show potential employers all the good work you’ve been doing.

Pros

  • One price for everything – no annoying upsells.
  • Find fellow Workawayers platform.
  • Print host feedback platform.
  • The most hosts in the most countries.
  • Quality, user friendly website. 
  • Easy to navigate.
  • Wide variety of experiences on offer.
  • Some hosts even offer payment.
  • You can see all of the host before you sign up.

Cons

  • Not the cheapest here.

Without a doubt, Workaway is my “go to” platform when it comes to volunteering. In my opinion, the user interface is the best.

What you get from WWOOF

WWOOF homescreen

Cost

There is absolutely no way to put a number on it as there are so many different branches of WWOOF and you have to pay for them all separately.

It seems, from the main page of wwoof.net you use the interactive map to pick a country you’d like to volunteer in and that takes you to a WWOOF website for that branch. It’s sort of like a franchise.

Stupid and annoying if you ask me.

For example if you want to sign up for wwoof Australia then it will set you back $70AUD and then if you decide to Explore New Zealand it will cost you an extra $40 NZD.

Seen as I’ve just volunteered in 5 different countries on my last trip to Asia you can see if I was using WWOOF it could get pretty expensive.

How many opportunities

WWOOF has “franchises” in over 130 countries dotted around the world. Some have thousands of hosts and some only have a few.

For example: Australia has 4311 WWOOF hosts while Cambodia only has 6.

To get you the complete number of hosts in the WWOOF network I would have to visit each individual branch of WWOOF and tot all of the numbers up.

As much as I love to supply useful and accurate information, I’m affraid that’s just 10 steps too far….

What kind of opportunities

Seen as WWOOF now stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms then you would be right in thinking that the opportunities on the WWOOF platform would revolve around organic farming.

Although, experiences on WWOOF are limited to organic farms, If you have skills or want to learn skills to do with permaculture, natural farming and traditional house building then maybe the WWOOF platform is for you.

User friendliness

WWOOF interactive map

In all fairness the main WWOOF website is a good one and it’s interactive world map makes it easy to navigate. For me the problems start when you select a country on the interactive map.

As mentioned earlier, selecting a country on the map takes you to a different website. Believe it or not they are not all the same. Australia’s WWOOF website is completely different to the rest.

WWOOF australia homepage

I like continuity and WWOOF does not deliver.

As well as the multiple sign up, franchise BS, there is no volunteer feedback for the hosts like with Workaway. So how do you know what it is really like to volunteer for a host before you arrive.

Simply put, you don’t!

Pros

  • Best opportunities for sustainable/permaculture farming.

Cons

  • Stupid multiple signup.
  • Limited to organic farming.
  • Potentially very costly.
  • No volunteer feedback.

What you get from Helpx

helpx homescreen
The website is just terrible…

Cost

Helpx is hands down the cheapest on this list of volunteer placement platforms. It can even be free!!

You can sign up on Helpx for a FREE membership. With a free membership you are free to roam around the platform looking at volunteer opportunities but you can’t contact any of the hosts.

Only the hosts can contact you if you’re on a free member ship.

Luckily the paid and full membership is only 20 euros for a full two years. What’s more is the full membership is the same price whether you are a single or couple account.

Cheap as chips…

How many opportunities

Helpx is the second biggest platform in the way of available hosts. With 30269 host spread across 124 countries it is second only to Workaway.

Seems like a good deal for 5 euro per person per year….

What kind of opportunities

Just like Workaway, Helpx covers every possible opportunity you can imagine right across the board.

If you are up for doing anything, not just farming and Workaway is a little too expensive then maybe Helpx is for you.

User friendliness

Unfortunately, this is where Helpx falls well and truly flat on its face! The website is utterly terrible!!

I don’t know why but every time I look on the Helpx website it just reminds me of being at secondary school when you would be in class and your teacher would announce that you’re going to watch a “video”.

In rolls the brown 28″ big back TV complete with VCR locked away underneath.

The website is truly 1997. 

Now, I’m certainly a budget traveller but sometimes things are just worth paying a little extra for. Surely building the 30+ thousand hosts is the hard part.

Surely double the subscription from 5 euro to 10 per person per year and invest that money into a decent user interface. Its got to be the answer!!

Pros

  • 30+ thousand hosts.
  • Diverse range of opportunities.
  • Its CHEEAAAPPP!!

Cons

  • Just click on the website, its terrible!!!

Worldpackers

worldpackers platform

Cost

At $49USD per person per year, Worldpackers is by far the most expensive platform in this comparison.

But is it worth it? 

How many opportunities

With less than 5000 hosts (4777 to be exact) spread over 126 countries, worldpackers is certainly struggling to compete with the likes of Workaway, Helpx  and WWOOF.

I guess with Worldpackers being relatively new on the scene of volunteering that’s to be expected.

What kind of opportunities

As with Workaway and Helpx, Worldpackers isn’t really focused on any sort of niche. More like anything and everything.

With that said, it seems to have many placements in the looking after kids and teaching English sector. Although, you can still find some farming and handyman gigs. 

User friendliness

The Worldpackers website is as good as any of the others. Nice, clean and easy to navigate.

Once again you can navigate by which country you’d like to volunteer in, host type and even what skills you have can play a part in finding your ideal placement.

Unlike WWOOF and Helpx, worldpackers has the facility to leave reviews of the host that you have stayed with. Handy if you want to understand more about a host before you travel there.

World packers review

Pros

  • Smooth website with easy navigation.
  • Host review platform
  • Good placement diversity

Cons

  • Less than 5000 hosts
  • Expensive

What about these “paid placements”?

Are you really helping!?

NO, JUST NO!!

This was one of my first thoughts before I knew anything about volunteering/work exchange.

Having a little free time and following my love for travel I wanted to do a little volunteering. Where in the world, it did not matter, just as long as I was in a different country and helping someone who needed it.

A couple of google searches later and I was looking at a placement helping to look after elephants in Thailand. Sounds quite nice. After all I do quite like animals.

Only problem was it would cost just over £300 pounds a week!!!

On the next page was a placement helping to rebuild a school in Nepal. Seems a good cause. £500 per week to help children in need. Its terrible.

At the end of the day, people who need help don’t care if you’ve paid £500 pounds for the week or used one of the above platforms and just paid £5 for a bus ticket to get there. The fact is they just need your help!!

It truly sickens me that these unscrupulous organisations are profiting as the middle men between you and people that need your help.

Instead of paying £1000 for a 2 weeks placement, pay £30 to Workaway, £10 on a bus ticket and use the remaining £960 to buy building materials for said school, fund travels to many other placements or just blow it on a week in the Maldives.

What ever you do with the money, I don’t care but please don’t fund these companies that are making huge profits off the backs of people who just need a helping hand.

Verdict of Workaway vs WWOOF vs Helpx vs the rest

If you’ve read all of that then surely you’ll understand why Workaway is my platform of choice. Its middle of the road on price, it has great opportunities, the website is class leading with the most features and Workaway has the most hosts.

 In all truth, you should check out all of the platforms for your ideal host before signing up and parting with any cash.

Fair enough, I’ve kind of slated WWOOF in this post but if I was to look on their website find the most amazing host that I would stay 3 months with. Does $70 really matter.

As with everything in life, it’s all relative!

So there you go, that’s my Workaway, vs WWOOF vs Helpx vs the rest comparison. If you can’t make your mind up after reading all that, I recommend Workaway!!

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