Tuesday, 22 November 2016

What is HelpX?

You've seen a description of my travels, maybe on Twitter or Facebook, where I said something like 'hitchhiking, helpxing and couchsurfing across the globe' and now you're wondering what on earth is helpxing? How is it even pronounced - help-zing or help-x-ing? Perhaps it's a typo?

Well, is isn't a typo but it is a made up word. HelpX is short for 'help exchange' and refers to a website used to facilitate voluntary work exchange between hosts and helpers . The idea is that people from all over the world (hosts) who need help on their farms, in their homes, in hostels, in B&Bs, in lodges, with building projects, or some other kind of help can be matched up with people that are willing to work on a short term basis for a few hours a day (helpers).

Perhaps the most important aspect of this exchange is that is done entirely without money. It is ideal for people taking a gap year, backpacking around the world or simply looking for an alternative holiday. The helpers give up their time (typically around 25 hours per week with one or two days off) and the hosts provide meals and accommodation. However there is also a lot more to be gained from the exchange for both parties involved.

For the helpers
  • Opportunity to stay with local people and truly experience the culture
  • 'Free' food and accommodation - you work for it instead of paying money
  • Safe places to stay while travelling
  • Gain practical experience on farms and in accommodation businesses
  • Learn new skills such as building, gardening, cleaning and cooking
  • Meet other helpers who you will often go sightseeing with
  • Improve your foreign language skills
  • Time to explore the local area or further beyond on your days of
For the hosts
  • Help to complete all sort of tasks both inside and outside
  • Meet people from all over the world without leaving home
  • Have people cook new and interesting meals for you and your family
  • Improve your foreign language skills
  • Membership for hosts is completely free
It is free to sign up to HelpX but for helpers some features, such as seeing reviews and contacting hosts, are restricted. However, premier membership for helpers lasts for 2 years and only costs 20 euros (price of one night in a hostel). Membership for hosts is completely free.

I have found that helpx.net is one of the best and easiest to use sites for work exchange but there are other websites that offer a similar thing, wwoof.net or workaway.info for example.

Listed above are just a few of the potential benefits. Can you think of anything to add? Have you been a host or a helper? I'd love to hear about your experiences. Please let me know in the comments below. 

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