For many (maybe most) people, travelling in their motorhome is a vacation from their “real lives”- ie.. their jobs, busy social calendars and the general daily grind that many long to escape for at least a period of time.
They may take off for a weekend here or there, a week or two in the summer or maybe even do a several month tour before returning to their normal routine and community, refreshed and revitalized (hopefully!).
We, on the other hand have chosen to make our camping-car our home and therefore our “real life,” at least for a year or two. And while we love the freedom, spontaneity and adventures that our camping-car life provides, we are keenly aware of what this nomadic lifestyle lacks – COMMUNITY! So we’ve often found ourselves in the somewhat bizarre position of craving an escape from our “daily grind”, which, to be fair, looks suspiciously similar to vacation from the outside person looking in 🤷! So, how do you escape “vacation”?? You find work!
Now, if you haven’t heard of Workaway or Wwoof, I STRONGLY recommend you check ‘em out. The basic tenet is a trade of “work” for “room and board.” But rather than being simply an exchange of goods (from the host) for services (from the workawayer or woofer as they are called), these platforms provide an opportunity for cultural exchange, language learning, new skill development and drumroll please……community!
Over the last 9 months we’ve signed up for 3 such work stay experiences. Since Ash and I both love being outdoors and working with our hands we’ve sought out these kinds of work stays. Each has been enriching, fun and soul-filling in its own way. We’ve helped cut and lay tile in a barn to boulangerie renovation in Bretagne, shoveled a years worth of sheep sh*t to give the sheep a fresh and clean pen on a farm in Croatia, and helped complete the construction of a large wire-framed mammoth in the Mid-Pyrenees (and these are just a few of the many, varied projects we’ve participated in at each stay!)
With our hosts and other workawayers/woofers, we’ve shared traditional meals of galette de sarrasin, enjoyed home-brewed apple cider made from the local harvest and helped to make and drink the “vodka” of Croatia, Rakija, from fermented prunes.
As a bonus, at each work stay our dogs have been lucky enough to have a pup friend! And while we’ve introduced Lefty and Midnight to a variety of farm animals -sheep, goats, peacocks, rabbits- sadly, we have yet to achieve any interspecies friendships (but don’t worry, I haven’t given up on this goal!).
It feels impossible to distil these experiences into a paragraph or a page, and even harder to emphasize how impactful they have been. We are so grateful for the insights we’ve gained into different lifestyles and cultures, and the strong bonds we’ve developed with both hosts and fellow workers alike.
So I say to YOU, whatever your “real life” may look like, if you ever need a break, please, give one of these work stays a go- you won’t regret it! (and no, I am not sponsored by either organization…..but maybe I should be?!? 😉)