I love to travel (clearly) but the thing is, it costs money.
I know money is pretty funny in a rich man’s world, but unfortunately I’m just a regular girl, so its not very ‘hilarious‘ to me.
In fact, not so long ago whilst travelling, I found myself in a bit of a pickle, when I realised I didn’t have as much money as I thought had, and definitely not enough to get through the three more weeks I had up my sleeve, before my new job in Madrid began.
So, having no huge desire to live off my credit card, I decided to try some cheap travel with Workaway in Spain, after being recommended it by travel buddy of mine.
In their own words,
‘Workaway promotes fair exchange between budget travellers, language learners or culture seekers with individuals or organisations who are looking for help with a range of varied and interesting activities.’
(ie. You work a few hours for someone and they’ll provide free accommodation and possibly a few other perks too for you).
At this time I had just finished two weeks of leisurely travel across northern Spain with a friend of mine. She was heading back to her hometown, London, and I was left all on my lonesome in Santiago de Compostela – a Galician town in the north of Spain, famous as the finishing point for the popular Camino de Santiago.
It’s a beautiful town – but of course is better when you have a little cash to enjoy it with.
Not wanting to spend what little money I had left on accommodation, the Workaway concept seemed like a great idea. I quickly found a sweet job at a local hostel, Meiga Backpackers, and they were keen for me to start right away – problem solved.
I was one of about six workawayers (give or take – new people came and others went), all young travellers, most were in Spain to practice their Spanish and have a bit of a holiday at the same time. We slept in the basement of the hostel on mattresses or a camper bed if you were lucky.
It wasn’t exactly 5-star, but it was comfortable enough and obviously cheap as chips.
Breakfasts were included and all the workaway volunteers tended to share the costs of lunch and dinner, so they only ever cost me a euro or two. It was ideal and for the cheap travel I needed, and the hostel-made dinners, baked treats and shared lunches really made it feel quite homely.
The work was pretty easy too. They only required 4 hours a day, 5 days a week which was usually made up of either reception work, washing or promoting the hostel in the main town square.
The rest of the day was your own to do as you pleased and the 2 days off per week were often turned into trips to visit nearby towns like La Coruna, Muros and Ourense.
I even got to go to the San Roque, Festa da Auga in Vilagarcia (an incredible water festival) on one of my days off which was ridiculously amazing.
[Imagine a bunch of streets full of people carrying waterguns, water bottles and water bombs. Add in a bunch fire trucks keen to empty their loads, and some local house owners standing at their apartment windows with their hoses on. Now mix it all together and add in live music, DJs and a whole lot of alcohol… yup, seriously the Spanish know how to party. Thank you Sant Roch.]
Working at Meiga was very social, and we often had events and dinners for guests, which were another great cheap way, to spend the night. (Not to mention the ample amount of sangria and liquor café [a galician specialty] that was always being shared around)
It was a great experience, and I met some really awesome people during my time there. I would highly recommend Workaway in Spain – especially with Meiga if you’re in Santiago de Compostela.
I also got the best advice I think I’ve ever received, as I was leaving the hostel from one of the (actually paid) employees, which I turned into my final contribution to Meiga with a bit of paint (a common occurrence in the workawayer room).