Help Exchange – A New and Rewarding Way To Travel

“On mountaintop. Great view. On a small Caribbean island. Pineapple and wax apple farm. Building in construction. I live with my 3 kids. 3 German Shepherds 1 Dobermann, in the unfinished building. This is a child friendly environment. St.Vincent is a lovely island, non touristic. I can offer food and lodging for your help. I appreciate your assistance. Please come and help out with farming, construction, creating greenhouse, landscaping, plumbing, carpentry, organic planting, house stay, restoring antiques, handyman, domestic work, kids homework, kids activities, decoration, home reorganization….We speak Flemish, English, French, Dutch, but all nationalities are welcome to apply.”

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The family farm in St. Vincent. Photo courtesy of HelpX.com

The above is just one of hundreds of listings found on HelpX.net (short for Help Exchange), a website that connects host organic farms, non-organic farms, farmstays, homestays, ranches, lodges, B&Bs, backpackers hostels and even sailing boats with volunteers who exchange short-term work for food and accommodations. This particular listing is for a property located on the island of St. Vincent in the Caribbean, and the family has already hosted numerous volunteers, some of whom have posted reviews of their experience. Kurt wrote:

“I loved the saltfish and bread fruit. Accommodation is very nice, your own room and bathroom. There is plenty of work, maintenance of the pineapple fields and landscaping around the house and odd jobs. Trips to town are often and you will get to mingle with the locals. When taking the local bus…hold on 🙂 it is a ride.”

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Home in St. Vincent where volunteers stay. Photo courtesy of HelpX.com.

HelpX is a refreshing departure in a world where “Volunteer Travel” has become big business. Google the term and more than 25 million results will be returned. One offering on the GoAbroad.com website advertises: “Volunteer and Travel Abroad Experience Starting as Low as USD $499.” But the offerings at HelpX are volunteer opportunities in the purest tradition – in most cases the volunteers pay nothing. In the rare instances where money exchanges hands it is usually a small fee to help pay for food in the poorest countries.

In order to view complete listings at HelpX potential volunteers must sign up for one of two levels of membership, Free or Premier. Although the site states that Premier membership costs 20 Euros for two years and allows the helper to contact all hosts and read all host reviews, I was able to read complete reviews and access host emails with only a free membership. Hosts in Europe, South America, Canada, Mexico, SE Asia, Australia, and New Zealand sought helpers for tasks ranging from farm work in New Zealand, to teaching English to children in remote villages in Thailand, to working in resorts, and in a few instances were even searching for volunteers who could design websites for their budding businesses.

HelpX is not the only such organization. If you’re seriously considering this option for travel, you may also want to check out this article that compares Worldpackers and Workaway, two other organizations that facilitate volunteering abroad in exchange for free accommodation and, in some cases, meals. Since learning about HelpX and other similar services, my mind has been working overtime. Maybe I could just travel full time, going from place to place, volunteering my time in return for places to stay and food for my belly. It would certainly be a great way to see the world without spending a wad of money and this type of travel would be authentic, allowing me to really get to know a place, rather than just rolling through as a tourist.

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77 thoughts on “Help Exchange – A New and Rewarding Way To Travel”

  1. Hello! My name is Alec i am 21 years old and I was so excited reading this. I would love to help and be a part of this and others like it. I am able to do many chores and jobs without accommodation for long hours. I’m friendly and honest and looking for a sense of community through work. I hope someone sees this. Thank you
    [email protected]
    918-370-8576

    Reply
  2. Are you familiar with WWOOF and Workaway? These are similar. We have been able to pick grapes on a winery in Piedmont through WWOOF and work in Gin bar in a thatched roof cottage in the New Forest, among other things. We were well fed, had very comfortable accommodations and met the most interesting people! We’ve had a blast and it’s an amazing way to travel! I think we have very similar travel styles in common. Thanks so much for your insights. You have obviously generated lots of conversation!

    Reply
  3. If you are in bossier city i love the country me an my soon to be husband would love to help out we are stranded an have no where to go an need somewhere to go i grew up helping my father out building houses i cleaned up. an he lt me use some of his tools im hadycap but love to work an so does he you can reach me at [email protected]

    Reply
  4. Hi I am an artist that would like to exchange art/murals for board and lodging. I painted lots of beautiful murals at Stone Circle in South Africa for Michael Tellinger’s Ubuntu project. Hopefully this December from the 18th to the 5th of January??

    Reply
    • Hi Jane: I have nothing to do with the Help Exchange company. I simply wrote an article about it. You’ll have to contact them directly with your request.

      Reply
  5. My name is AJ, I’m looking for a room and board work situation in the USA, I have many skills and a quick learner. I am hoping for a ranch or farm hand, trucker assistant, etc.

    Reply
    • Hello Alex. Are you looking for a driver for your cross country move? If so, my availability to do this for you is immediate or at your convenience. Great references will be provided; I have a perfect driving record; professional and extremely reliable. Reach out to me if you’re interested.

      Thank you.

      Roman

      Reply
  6. Hi my name is Patrick and I’m looking for a work exchange anywhere from Europe to south east Asia if anyone knows of any please contact my email address on [email protected]
    I’m in Cambodia at present I have a British passport

    Reply
    • Hi Patrick: I have no association with Help Exchange. I just wrote a story about them. You’ll have to go to their website to check out opportunities.

      Reply
  7. I am looking for a place to stay away from our Canadian winters I have been a mechanic for more than forty years also have experience in house building and maintenance as well as alot more skilss

    Reply
  8. I Looking for work in exchange for housing in the Dallas, TX area. About two months or so. My business partner is buying me out of my construction company. While my interest is design and building, I have many skills in the areas of telecommunications (20 years), automotive and computer applications and design. I’m a U.S. Veteran age 61 and handy.

    Reply
  9. would love to come and live and work for you in trade for room and board am French Canadian and 58 ready to come please reply or call 303-547-7821

    Reply
  10. I am writing to let you know about another new low cost volunteer exchange service – HelpStay.com.

    Trust and safety is their top priority. They get to know each of their hosts over the phone or in person before they are featured on the site.

    Reply
    • Dear families,

      My name is Iva Miloshevikj. I am 17 and i live in Paris.
      I am looking for a free accommodation (room)in exchange for a babysitting in a nice family. Anywhere in England would be fine.
      I have a school vacation starting from 17th of octomber-3rd of november and i want to spend my time productively to improve my English and to help around your kids and household chores.

      Please,feel free to contact me or pass on my message to some of your friends..It will mean a lot to me ! 🙂

      Cheers,

      Iva

      [email protected]

      Reply
  11. Good web site you have got here. It’s hard to find good quality writing like yours nowadays. I honestly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

    Reply
  12. Hey there! This is my first comment here so I just wanted to give a quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading your posts. Can you recommend any other blogs/websites/forums that go over the same subjects? Thanks for your time!

    Reply
  13. It’s perfect time to make some plans foor the future and it
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    want to suggest you few interestiung things or suggestions.
    Maybe you could write nexdt articles referring tto this article.
    I want to read more thins avout it!

    Reply
  14. Do you mind if I quote a couple of your articles as long as I provide credit and sources back to your weblog?
    My blog site is in the very same niche as yours and
    my users would truly benefit from some of the information you present here.
    Please let me know if this ok with you. Cheers!

    Reply
    • Hi Banana: Quotes and short excerpts from posts are perfectly fine, as long as you attribute them to me and provide a linkback to the full article. Reproduction of the entire article is not allowed.

      Reply
  15. I’m not that much of a internet reader to be honest but your sites really nice, keep it up!
    I’ll go ahead and bookmark your site to come back down the road.

    All the best

    Reply
  16. This post and some of its comments just make me smile. Thank you so much for sharing Barbara. I went back to my little abandoned blog and happen to find the post where we ‘first met’. 🙂 You simply posted a comment. I wish you much happiness throughout your travels. Thank you for connecting so that I may ‘tag along’.

    Reply
  17. realmente se ve muy interesante y quisiera saber un poco mas al respecto…seria muy lindo que me manden mas informacion sobre el voluntariado a mi mail..muchas gracias y felices fiestas de corazón para todos!!!!

    Reply
  18. Hello my name is Carlos, I’m looking for a place to live… I have a great deal of experience in maintenance and some with computer software such as: ms office.. I offer an intelligent person with experience in many fields for a place to live and a nominal fee. my email is: [email protected].

    Reply
  19. Hi my name is CG Bostwick i am 23 years old and am interested in going back on the road but this time i would like to do it in a moe productive way not just for money . i would like to help somebody in need and possibly learn a new way of life. im a hard worker who is dedicated and willing to work long hours please contact as soon a availability is open [email protected] looking forward to learning and working

    Reply
  20. Hi my name is Jason. I have an Associates degree and am 34 years old. I am looking to relocate to the San Diego area. I have an injured knee but am still able to do physical labor such as work on a farm etc. if you can find a job for me.

    I would not mind teaching others to read or something to that extent. While in California I plan on finishing my Bachelor’s online in Bio environmental engineering.

    Reply
    • Jason: This blog has no association with Help Exchange, I simply wrote a story about them. To apply you must go to their website – just follow the link in my article.

      Reply
  21. What a wonderful idea!  I would love to explore this more and will be posting information on this site on my blog for other travelers who might be interested.  Now if I could only get my husband interested…………

    Reply
  22. Barbara, my husband and I are planning on Helpx-ing our way around the US next year…for a year or longer. My mind, like yours, went crazy when I figured out that I could travel for an unlimited amount of time for practically nothing. So we’re going to do it! I’ve signed up for helpx, paid the tiny fee, and have spent hours adding homestays in the US to our “favorites” list. We’ll stay with friends and family around the US in between homestays. 8 months and counting – we’re so excited! 

    Reply
    • Zoe! So excited for you. Please report back how your trip goes and specifically how your experience with HelpX went. Best of luck, and have a wonderful time.

      Reply
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  24. Hi, we are offering a free room and food in exchange with the cleaning around the house. Its a beautiful single family home in Virginia. We would like to get someone who wants a home to live into and wants to become a member of this family. If youre interested email me at ([email protected]) .

    Reply
    •  I am a 21yr old American from SW FLA. I come from a broken family and I have nowhere to go. My granny loves me but my paapaw resents feeding me. I am a good guy and I will work hard, you can talk to my granny at 239-415-1861 — ask for Barb.  My name is Roy Wayne H.  Plz call if you need some help — I am willing to do any work.   Thank You.  8-5-2011 

      Reply
  25. Barbara – did you ever end up trying this? I’ve heard of similar sites and also have had similar ideas of simply working for room and board in order to stay traveling! I’m sort of doing that through GeoVisions this winter in the Middle East – but it is more of an official volunteer program actually. Thanks for the info – would love any follow up if you did it yourself.

    Reply
    • Lamell: If you want to connect with a farm owner, you must do so through Help Exchange – I am a travel writer who featured the program, but have no connection with them.

      Reply
  26. Hi’good day
    Hi’ i’m lui my education english teacher and pass time tour guide in phuket Thailand ,may some one know me when few year i work in the speed boat go to phiphi island,met many people, in my trips , now i want to more to new zeland or australia few month to stay in the fram and work , and want to contact with any people to made business for home stay, if any people like to have some please contact direst to me, i very appreciate to have afriends , and exchang,
    thk alot for NY PEOPLE HELP
    LOVE BESTREGARD
    LUI

    Reply
  27. early child education?this sounds great…looking for such a person to help take care of boys/girls from village in mauritius as well as working as handy man restauration to house and garden in exchange for free borad and lodging…travel costs on your side…

    Reply
  28. You know, I have to tell you, I truly savour this site and the great insight. I find it to be energizing and very clarifying. I wish there were more blogs like it. Anyhow, I felt it was about time I posted a comment on Help Exchange Hosts Provide Free Room and Board for Volunteers | Hole In The Donut Travels – I just wanted to say that you did a great job on this. Cheers dude!

    Reply
  29. hi’ any people
    i mr.lui thai chiness,born in THailand now 53 year graduate english teacher tour guide in Phuket Thailand i would like to move to newzeland few month to stay in the fram and met some one, i can work in the fram vegetable, dri a truck car motobi,if you widows all singer,and need some one let’s i know,
    bestregrad
    palit

    Reply
  30. Hey, very nice website. I actually came across this on Ask Jeeves, and I am happy I did. I will definately be returning here more often. Wish I could add to the post and bring a bit more to the table, but am just absorbing as much info as I can at the moment.

    Thank You

    Reply
  31. Italian mature professional looking for free accommodation for short period of time in exchange for babysitting/housework/italian teaching.

    That will help me starting off a working experience in England volunteering while searching for a job and accommodation. Area requested: Greater London/Southern England.

    [email protected]

    Reply
  32. There are various completely different towns for one fine holiday worldwide. I don’t recognize exactly why, nevertheless i’m sure i find nice largely these asian region for a travels, as a result of i do believe the folks one can find and so advantageous and great

    Reply
  33. Hello,
    I am looking for any work in South America in exchange for bed and board. I can not afford the flight and bed and board. I have taught English in Africa, China and England but would be happy to do any job required of me.

    Thank you

    Reply
  34. My name is Daniel Fenton Jr, I have been going to a local community college and working full time at a meat market as a supervisor. I feel like i want to see the world and the people in it, and help someone or some cause. I am not sure how this works or who will read this, but if you can e-mail me @ [email protected] with more information on volunteering i would really appreciate this.

    Reply

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