ByGabriel Killian

Sep 12, 2014

Humans have many needs and wants competing for their attention. Work, recreation, and relationships are manageable, but what about our need for travel and experiences? Here’s how WorkAway is making travel easy, inexpensive, and sustainable.

Maintaining a healthy work/ life equilibrium can be tough. To compensate we often compartmentalize in order to maximize efficiency. When at work we keep our noses to the grindstone, and when we punch the clock at the end of the day we try and leave work at the door.  Cultivating relationships and enjoying our favorite pastimes are two ‘compartments’ we manage to handle as well, but how often are you able to get away and invest in yourself?  All too often fulfilling our need for travel and personal growth gets squeezed out of our itineraries.  Francis Bacon once said, “Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.”

Looking at the unique online travel business founded by David Milward, I contend that he has created the ideal way for pairing seekers and travelers of all ages with a world of education and experience. makes choosing travel as easy as the lunch order you made online at work today.  Interested in doing yoga in Spain? How about learning permaculture in Costa Rica or Brazil? Does organic farming in Germany tickle your fancy? Would you like to add NGO work in Kenya, or art and music festival organization in France to your life’s resume? WorkAway provides these experiences and more for all of the travel lovers, cultural connoisseurs, and disciples of foreign dialects.

How does somebody even get an idea like this?  Extending his stay in Hawaii in the early 90s by volunteering at a hostel gave David the early inspiration to blend his love for travel and creative faculties into what is now

How is WorkAway making adventure and experience tangible and affordable? Through stewardship. Receiving by  giving is the philosophy that has made WorkAway a massive success. Milward aims to help visitors to his site  design whatever adventure and experience they crave – be it in Bangkok, Brooklyn, Portugal or Paris – by  providing an opportunity for them to lend a helping hand to the communities they visit. In return, hosts immerse  WorkAwayers in local hospitality, providing boarding and authentic cuisine free of charge.

A second, but equally important aim of WorkAway is to promote global sustainability by joining together individuals  with organizations that share that value. One example is Rancho Margot, an eco-lodge located in the mountains of  la Fortuna, Costa Rica. Rancho Margot’s vision and mission is “to create an ‘intentional community’ dedicated to  sustainable production and community education.” (Take the time to read about the incredible things Rancho  Margot is doing in chemical free agriculture and carbon neutrality all in the name of being earth-friendly and self-  sufficient.)


There are tens of thousands of registered WorkAwayers, but of course not all of the WorkAwayers registered are  traveling simultaneously. The US and Great Britain are home to roughly 40% of WorkAwayers currently registered  with the site, and it’s gaining the attention of travelers in other European countries at a rapid pace. Currently, WorkAway has approximately 7500 active hosts worldwide. In the last 6 months alone, WorkAway has registered hosts from France, Spain, the US, the UK, Italy, Canada, Australia, Portugal, Ireland, Mexico, and Costa Rica. Here’s a short list of the opportunities you might find in one or a few of these countries.

1. Families and individuals needing help with start-ups
2. Families looking for au pairs
3. Families and individuals interested in learning a foreign language
4. Assisting with sustainable permaculture and organic farming
5. Working in olive vineyards or on coffee plantations
6. Working in hostels, hotels, bed & breakfasts, restaurants, and bars
7. Working with NGOs (Non Governmental Organizations)
8. Assisting Educators in schools
9. Working at Yoga centers
10. Working at Surf schools
11. Working at Diving operations
12. Helping with music festivals and art projects
13. Helping with animal care and conservation

Giovanna Gonzalez, a former WorkAwayer-turned-employee, discovered WorkAway during her gap year from her degree in International Law.  Traveling for her is, “the real university of life, and our experience while traveling can enrich our souls, making us better people.” Gio now helps WorkAway develop their website for the Spanish speaking in Central and South America as well as Europe. She encourages us all to travel. For Gio, it’s more than tourism – it’s “getting to know people who teach you a different way of life, a new philosophy, a new perspective.”  I would add that you will also discover a new you.

So log on to right now, and here’s why:

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

By Gabriel Killian

Gabriel Killian, Merchant Manager at Earth911’s YouChange marketplace, is passionate about supporting social-connection, environmental responsibility, and economic vitality through social entrepreneurship and sustainable business development. He is committed to promoting real change in lifestyle and consumption behavior, regularly working with social entrepreneurs in his spare time. His professional knowledge and expertise spans both the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Killian also holds a Masters degree in International Sustainable Tourism.