How I made £5k in 6 months to go travelling

How I made £5k in 6 months to go travelling

‘How do you fund your travels?’

This is the golden question everyone wants an answer to! 

Anthea and I have a few different fingers in various metaphorical pies that allow us to continue to earn as we travel, including ESL teaching and digital marketing.

For me personally though, it’s no exaggeration to say that Matched Betting changed my life. Like many people I had a serious case of wanderlust but no savings to make my dream a reality. Once I discovered Matched Betting I was able to save enough money to start my travels and I haven’t look back since.

It’s always a bit awkward to try and explain what Matched Betting is in just a few short sentences, especially as when people hear the word ‘betting’ they immediately assume I’m just gambling – which couldn’t be further from the truth.

If you’re wanting to skip ahead to the ‘how and why’ of Matched Betting itself, go to my website www.mastermatchedbetting.co.uk to get more information on how to get started and find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions. I also run a free ‘Matched Betting Support’ Facebook closed group that you can join for added help in making extra money each month.

(Please note, you need to be resident in the UK to do Matched Betting)

So how did I get started with Matched Betting?

I returned to the UK from a Working Holiday year in Canada in late 2015 and I was broke. Not the kind of broke people claim when they are spending all their money on Starbucks, takeaway food and alcohol each month, but the actual broke in which I had less than £20 to my name when I touched down back on English soil.

I was moving back in with family and searching for a job at the age of 27, coming up to a Christmas knowing that I couldn’t afford to buy any presents for loved ones. I did what I had to do and found a Christmas temp job in a call centre, and after a couple of weeks there a friend mentioned Matched Betting to me. I was as dubious as most at the start, and couldn’t afford to lose money taking a risk, but during the next couple of days I spent some time researching about it on my lunch breaks at work and when at home in the evenings.

Once I got my first pay packet, I figured it was worth a try. I signed up for the free trial with Profit Accumulator and spent hours watching the training videos, studying the guides, and reading on the forum to see what other people were saying and recommending. I wanted to make sure I completely understood what I was doing before I started, as I didn’t know anyone else who was Matched Betting that I could ask for advice.

 

 

How much did I start with?

I started with about £40 to do my first sign up offer, but as the money came in from my Christmas temp job, I began investing more money into the offers. Within a couple of weeks, I was making more money sat in a café on my hour-long lunch break Matched Betting than I was making from 8 hours that day working on the phones in a customer service job. My problem at the time was that I was spending the money I made Matched Betting, so I never really managed to build my balance up! However, after a few months, I’d saved enough to go travelling again. 

Fast forward to mid 2017 and I’d been Matched Betting on and off since starting, whenever I needed a cash injection, whilst doing online English teaching at the same time.  Then when Anthea and I decided we were going to go travelling to Mexico in early 2018 I started again in earnest. I wanted to save a minimum of 5k before we left, so that I had that money there when we landed in Mexico.

I decided to really focus on the Matched Betting, as there were plenty of offers each day that I wasn’t taking advantage of, which was just potential profit going to waste. I cut down my online teaching hours so that my earnings from that covered my bills and essentials, and then put all my time and effort into Matched Betting. I learnt how to do the offers I hadn’t attempted yet, and I scheduled my days around the frequent, higher earning offers. In short, I treated it like a job and it paid me back in kind. I hit my target of £5k in just under 6 months.

So what is Matched Betting?

At its most simple, Matched Betting is a system using bookmaker incentives to bet on both outcomes of a wager. It’s a betting technique that enables you to guarantee a profit from the free bets and incentives that bookies offer when you sign up. It requires no previous knowledge of sports, or betting, and is essentially just matching numbers – using the tools and calculators provided once you have signed up. I use a company called Profit Accumulator, who for a small monthly subscription,  provide the following assistance;

  • Full training modules, with both written and video instructions explaining each concept of Matched Betting.
  • Regularly updated offers page, with the offers broken down into specific categories such as ‘Sports book Sign-Ups’ and ‘Reloads’
  • A large ‘Offers Team’ – members of staff dedicated to finding potential profit opportunities and teaching users how to do them.
  • Step-by-step written, and occasional video, instructions on exactly how to complete each offer
  • A large, very active forum where every offer is discussed and there is always support on hand when required.
  • Multiple advanced calculators (including usage guides) and tools such as Odds-matcher and Acca-Catcher included in the subscription.
  • Full Customer Support, 7 days a week, via phone, email, forum, and Facebook Messenger

Whenever I’ve had a problem with anything, Profit Accumulator (PA) have been excellent at getting me up and running again. There are other companies out there, but PA are definitely one of the most comprehensive and well-run in my experience.

No doubt you still have more questions! There are a few questions that come up time and time again, and I’ve answered the most frequently asked ones on my website, www.mastermatchedbetting.co.uk, but I’ll cover some of the top questions here too:

 

What is Matched Betting?

Matched Betting is a system using bookmaker incentives to bet on both outcomes of a wager. It is a betting technique that enables individuals to guarantee a profit from the free bets and incentives on offer. It requires no previous knowledge of sports, or betting, and is essentially just matching numbers – using the tools and calculators provided once you have signed up.

 

Is Matched Betting just gambling?

No.

Due to the word ‘betting’ being in the title, people are often immediately put off. Matched Betting is basically just Maths, and at its most simple, we are covering every outcome on an event so that we are guaranteed profit using the money that bookmakers give us (the free bets). We aren’t interested in whether ‘Team A’ wins or loses, because whatever the outcome we can, and usually will, profit.

 

Is it really risk-free?

Yes, but this is not accounting for human error. The golden rule is not to rush. Always double check your work and ensure you’re typing in the correct numbers and clicking the correct boxes. Slow down, double check your numbers (just like at school), and then Matched Betting is as close to risk free as possible. If you’re not sure about something then ask! This is why I set up my Facebook group, to give people a safe place to learn and ask questions.

 

Are Matched Betting profits taxable?

Gambling in the UK is currently tax-free and because matched betting is classed as gambling winnings, there is no need to declare any extra income you make from matched betting. There are no annual self-assessments to complete and no tax to pay.

“The fact that a taxpayer has a system by which they place their bets, or that they are sufficiently successful to earn a living by gambling does not make their activities a trade.”

For more information, you can read here what HMRC themselves have to say about it all.

 

Is Matched Betting legal?

Yes, although I appreciate it does sound too good to be true! Matched Betting is rapidly growing, and has featured in major news outlets, such as the Telegraph; in the Telegraph article there is even a quote demonstrating how the bookies themselves are aware it’s happening. A spokesperson from William Hill, says the industry does not have a problem with matched betting. “There’s no illegal element,” he says. “It’s a free bet and you can do what you like.”

 

How do I start Matched Betting?

To get started you don’t need to know anything about betting, or sport for that matter! Anyone can learn how to do Matched Betting and make some money. If you’d like to give it a go, use this link to sign up to Profit Accumulator and receive FREE access to the first two offers – worth around £35. You’ll then have access to a wealth of information including training videos, detailed offer write-ups, and an active forum all designed to help you increase your profit.

Last of all, check out my website, www.matchedbetting.co.uk and you can also join my private Facebook group in which I provide advice, offer guides, and answer questions from members as well as making members aware of the best offers to take advantage of.

Whether you’re looking to make some extra money to be able to travel, like me, or just fancy a little side income, Matched Betting is a great way to generate cash. I hope I’ve inspired you to give it a go and if you have any questions just leave a comment below. 

 

This post contains affiliate links which just means if you click the link, we receive a small commission.  It doesn’t  change how much you pay and it means we can afford to keep this blog running and buy the occasional cup of coffee for Steve.

 

Singapore: Our (jet lagged) first impressions

Singapore: Our (jet lagged) first impressions

Having never been to Asia before, I honestly had no idea what I’d be walking into when planning our travels.

Our previous few months in Mexico got us comfortable getting around in Spanish and personally I was a bit nervous about being in a place where I didn’t know any of the local language.  Unsure of how I would feel in a completely different culture to anything I’ve experienced before, Singapore was planned as ‘soft’ introduction for us; having experienced it now first hand, I would say that Singapore feels different to anything else I’ve seen before, or after.

I didn’t really know anything about Singapore before visiting, and a brief glance in to the history makes for astonishing reading. It is renowned for transitioning from a third world country to a first world country in one generation, and various sources have deemed it the ‘Switzerland of Asia’ – due to its neutrality on international and regional issues. As well as this, it also topped the list in the Law and Order Index. Research firm Gallup says 94% of adults here feel safe walking alone at night, compared with the global average of 68%. The list goes on, but what should you expect if you are arriving for the first time in this city of 63 islands?

Steve eating ice cream in Singapore

Food in Singapore:

I’m going to start with one of my favourite aspects of Singapore, which is the food (obviously)! The variety of cultures within Singapore brings along with it an abundance of foods that I have no idea how to pronounce or what they include. Food and drink can be expensive, but if you take the time to do some research and a little exploring, then you can cut your food bill considerably.

Hawker centres filled with small food stalls are legion in the city and we went to one of the most famous, the Maxwell Centre in Chinatown, to try out the renowned chicken rice stall Tian Tian. The stall has been in business for over 30 years, and was even awarded a Bib Gourmand in the inaugural Michelin Guide Singapore in 2016. Celebrities such as Anthony Bourdain have visited and raved about the chicken rice here, and the result is often long queues as people flock to see what the fuss is all about.

queuing at Tian Tian Chicken rice stall in Singapore

We got lucky, and only had to wait behind one other person before managing to order our food which cost S$3.50 (just under £2) for one medium sized portion of, you guessed it, chicken and rice. It might sound (and look) simple but it was cooked to perfection and tasted incredible. Don’t ignore the other stalls in the centre though as there are a plethora of asian food options available. If you want to visit, be aware that the stores start closing around 5-6pm, as they mainly cater to the local workers instead of the late evening tourists.

As you’d expect, there are some flavours and foods that we just don’t get back in the UK. I must admit that ‘salted egg yolk’ gelato and chilli-crab cookies just don’t quite appeal to me when jet lagged and tired, so for snacks I stuck with what was familiar. If you’re wanting to experience other local delicacies and dishes, there is no shortage of new and exciting foods available to those who’ve never experienced much Asian foods, such as myself.

Street view of China Town, Singapore

 

Singapore Culture: 

As evidenced by the number of languages spoken within this tiny landscape, Singapore has an extremely rich and diverse culture, with numerous influences from the west and the east. Singapore was inspiring to us in many ways, and one of these was that it really focused on promoting the education of ‘what makes different’, and learning to be tolerant of other beliefs and ideas.

Cultural awareness sign in Singapore

One interesting caveat to this is that the locals can sometimes come across as a little bit ‘cold’. I’m unsure whether this was more noticeable having recently come from a country with a warm, embracing culture such as Mexico, but customer service can seem very abrupt.

Countless times I would be waiting to speak to a staff member and they would be playing on their phone, look up without a smile, answer the question, and then immediately go back to their phone. Sometimes they wouldn’t even have taken their eyes off the screen! I was a bit taken aback at first as most workers in the UK aren’t even allowed to keep their phone in their pocket. It’s not them being rude (as far as I know), it’s just one of those cultural differences that you don’t think about until you arrive. 

 

Singapore Language:

If you’re able to read this blog post then you’ll have no problems in the ‘lion-city’ of Singapore. The interesting thing for us was that at times we almost forgot we were out of England, as all the announcements are in British English and they drive on the left too. Obviously, as a previous colony of Britain this shouldn’t be a surprise, but it feels very comfortable when every single sign is in English primarily.

Fun fact: Singapore has FOUR recognised languages – English, Chinese, Malay (also spoken in Brunei, Indonesia and Malaysia), and Tamil (also spoken in India and Sri Lanka). In 2009, there were over 20 languages identified as being spoken in Singapore! There is also a version of English, known as Singlish. As you might guess from the name, this is predominantly English with a Singapore twist to it; speakers of Singlish will usually end their sentence with a distinctive exclamation, and the three most common are ah, lah, ley and what – this can admittedly cause a little bit of confusion when listening to it spoken.

View across the river of Clarke Quay Singapore

 

Getting Around in Singapore:

The MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) underground train in Singapore is a delight to ride, and makes it so easy to get around the city. If you’re planning on doing a few trips on the MRT, it’s worth buying an EZ travel card from a 7-11 or similar style store, as it reduces the cost of transport by half, compared to single tickets. There are also tourist day passes available but since we were staying for four days it worked out cheapest to get the travel card.

The city is well covered by the MRT and there are further expansions planned for routes that will join up a couple of lines to make it even easier once they merge, but you can get everywhere with ease. There’s a line that connects the city to the airport too, although we didn’t use this when we arrived. After a 13 hour budget flight from London with Norwegian Air, we could barely even speak when we landed, much less navigate an unfamiliar city and so opted for a taxi to take us straight to our hostel (S$30 or roughly £17). On the way back we did use the MRT and with the travel card it only cost us S$2.50 to get from China Town to the world renowned Changi airport.

As of 2018, Grab bought out Uber in Asia, but it works the same. Just download the app before you arrive and you’re good to go. The MRT really is the best and cheapest way to get around though, and the routes are easy to navigate.

Gardens by the Bay Singapore

Accommodation in Singapore:

Where should you stay in Singapore? Or maybe this section should be called where not to stay! Let’s get one thing clear, Singapore is expensive. Like, you really don’t get much for your money and as budget travellers, this makes things a bit of an adventure. For the first time since we started our travels, we weren’t happy with where we were staying. Ouch.

On a bit of a whim, Anthea had booked us into the trendy looking Hotel Galaxy Pods in China Town. With it’s great location and decent reviews, at £85 a night for a plastic double ‘pod’ we were already way over our preferred accommodation budget.

Pod hotel in Singapore

What we hadn’t factored in was just how rubbish we’d be feeling after the long flight and the jet lag, and how much living in a tiny box with no privacy and a shared bathroom would challenge us. We’d paid for the previous night so we could check in at 8am after our early flight arrival. Once we’d slept for a few hours and tried the tiny shower/loo cubicles in the shared bathroom (what is it with Asian showers being over the toilets?) I decided that we couldn’t stay here for the entire four days and we booked into a hotel down the road, with a proper bed and our own bathroom.

Luxury! Or at least it felt like it until the bar opposite the hotel started playing loud music. Every night. Until 2am. Luckily because of our jet lag we were wide awake till 5am anyway, so the music didn’t bother us that much. Other than that the Butternut Tree Hotel was lovely and we enjoyed staying there.

There are numerous accommodation options in Singapore at various budget levels. We definitely can recommend staying in Chinatown due to it’s proximity to many of the main attractions.

We use Booking.com when searching for hotels. You can save 10% using our link 🙂

 

Steve outside the Buddha Tooth temple in Singapore

What to See in Singapore:

We can’t exactly give too much info on what you should and shouldn’t miss, as we really struggled with our jet lag and so didn’t get to do everything that we had planned.

We did spend a day exploring the incredible Gardens by the Bay, including the Cloud Forest which holds the world’s largest indoor waterfall, at 35 metres. Take the time to visit the area, and you can get a great view of the coastal area, including the Gardens, from the top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel. There is an observation deck you can pay to go in, but instead spend a couple of extra dollars to visit the rooftop restaurant, buy a cocktail, then admire the view and you can even watch the light show that happens at 19:45 and 20:45. 

Marina Bay Sands hotel view from the Super Tree Grove, Singapore

There’s plenty to see in China Town too, as I already mentioned, with food stands and shops which come alive at night and the impressive ‘Buddha Tooth Temple.’ 

Head over to Little India and check out the Mustafa Mall which stays open 24 hours and is jam packed with merchandise and food, or the Arab section with it’s Mosque and adjoining streets packs with boutiques and street art. Perfect for Insta lovers!

Street art in Singapore

If there’s one religion that reigns supreme in Singapore it’s shopping. Malls are everywhere and the air conditioning offers a welcome respite from the oppressive humidity outside.

There are plenty of other things to keep you busy in this fantastic city, including a night safari, botanical gardens and Universal Studios.  You can see more of what Singapore has to offer at Singapore-guide.com

Although we were only in Singapore for four days, and admittedly not at 100% for those days, the city made a big impression on us and we are looking forward to revisiting it again with a bit more energy!

Workaway – A ‘How to’ Guide

Workaway – A ‘How to’ Guide

First off, If you’re unsure what Workaway is, start here first and then come back… I’ll wait.

 

 

 

Ready? Ok, great!

 

 

 

In my prior post I spoke about what workaway is and how it works, but there are obviously many variables as to what accounts for a ‘good’ workaway placement. We are currently in La Cruz de Huanacaxtle, Mexico at a guesthouse workaway placement and feel like we have really struck gold. We work up to 3 hours in the morning, Monday to Friday, in exchange for accommodation and use of all the facilities. Our days are often working 9-12 before I go for a swim in the pool and read my kindle while floating on a rubber ring. We then have time to our own work online in the afternoon before having dinner and relaxing/going out for food in the evening. When done right, workaway can be a truly fulfilling experience, and we are meeting some amazing people along the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our work is quite basic and easy, usually just cleaning the rooms or areas we share such as the kitchen, and sometimes there are other projects that our host asks us to help with. Come 12pm, and often earlier, we are finished and have free reign to seize the day as we wish, as mentioned above.

 

So, what makes a good workaway host, and how can you be a good ‘workawayer’? These are some of the basic principles which, although they seem simple, can often be overlooked or forgotten.

 

 

 

Choosing the right Workaway for both you and your host

 

Now, this should be obvious, but bear with me. When looking for a workaway placement, in my mind you should be looking for three things;

 

  1. Where do you want to do a workaway placement?

If you don’t like cold temperatures, then maybe don’t go to Finland in the winter. Once you’ve chosen your location, make sure it’s somewhere you can get to. Don’t arrange a trip in Japan, but then realise you can’t afford the flight prices, or you can’t get a visa to enter a country such as the USA. Do your research on the country first, and make sure that, most importantly, you can get there, and secondly, that you will have things to do in your free time.

 

2. What type of work are you willing to do?

 

This is important, as you don’t want to be waking up depressed every morning, knowing you have to do work that you hate! If you don’t like children, don’t apply for a workaway with children, even if it’s in a location you really like. The host will always put on their listing the type of work they are requiring help with. It will help no one if you’re evidently hating the work you’re doing, or alternatively, if you’re not physically able to do the work requested. I couldn’t do a job that required someone with knowledge of horses and the ability to ride. If you’re being asked to clean rooms, expect to clean toilets, and if you’re not ok with that then you could either contact the host for more information (see point 2) or don’t apply and look for something else that suits your requirements. It’s good to be picky about what you’re going to do as you want something you can enjoy and put your full energy into!

 

3. How long can you workaway for?

 

Often you will see workaway hosts requesting that people stay for a minimum amount of time, whether it be two weeks or six months. Respect this. If you can’t commit to the minimum time then don’t apply, even if you really like the look of the placement. It’s not fair on the host, who then has to train someone new to continue the job you’ve now left. On the flip side, maybe they would be happy if you went for a pre-agreed shorter time frame with the possibility to extend if both parties agree. 

 

workaway wall

Our current hosts have had over 100 workawayers stay with them! We’re not sure what we’ll contribute to the wall yet…

 

So, these are three quite important aspects to take in to consideration before you even contact a potential host. They may seem obvious, but nonetheless, I feel they are three important unwritten rules that are worth sticking to.

Communication is key

 

So, you’ve found your dream workaway placement and they are showing that they have available space on their profile. This next point is not just important at the start when arranging a placement, but throughout the whole arrangement. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your host if you are ever unsure about anything or have any concerns. This is meant to be an enjoyable and beneficial agreement for both parties. Where possible, I would recommend that you try to arrange a rough working schedule, obviously with some flexibility when necessary, before starting. This can avoid any confusion about working times between you both, and in turn avoid any underlying tension or potential disagreements further down the line.

Another important point to remember about communication – don’t forget that the language that you are using might not be the native tongue for your host; yet even if it is, sometimes there can be communication errors. For example, Anthea and I were asked by our friends at the guesthouse if we wanted to have dinner with them there that night – great! We arranged to eat at ‘half six’, and then thought nothing further of it for the afternoon. At 17:40, we were told our dinner was going cold and to hurry up downstairs. Our initial confusion was rectified when we realised our error – in England, we refer to 6:30 as ‘half six’, whereas our Turkish friend thought that ‘half six’ meant ‘half to six’ – i.e. 5:30!

An innocent and fairly innocuous misunderstanding, but you can see how the ramifications could be worse if this meant that you missed a train, a collection time, or were late to start work on the first day!

Having a clear and open communication with your host can save many problems further down the road. Even if you might feel a bit uncomfortable to speak about your concern at the start, it will only get worse, and potentially turn to resentment, if you sit and say nothing. Anthea and I both stated to our currents hosts that we are quite open and honest, and asked that they be the same with us. If they have any problems with anything to just tell us how to change and improve, rather than say nothing or, maybe worse, just try to make subtle hints; one half of this travelling relationship (*cough* not me *cough*) doesn’t pick up subtle hints very well at all! Thankfully, our current hosts are two very laid back, open and direct Germans who we work amazingly well with (we think…)!

 

Read the reviews on the Workaway website

 

They’re there for a reason folks, so make use of them. Reading the reviews of other workawayers can give you a good sense of the work type and schedule that you would be expected to complete, as well as giving you a sense of the personality of the host themselves. Maybe they prefer to keep themselves to themselves after the work time is finished, or maybe they like to take you out and about to show you the local attractions.

 

Workaway Host Review

Our hosts have excellent feedback and reviews, which is why we changed our plans to go and work there!

 

The reviews can give you a good scope of what potentially lays ahead, and you might read things that you want to ask the host about – ‘Is the hot water fixed? Are there still noisy neighbours? Do they have any pets?’ Etc.

 

Stay safe, be prepared, and be respectful

 

Finally, and maybe the most important of all, is that you must always feel safe and secure. Don’t use workaway as a last gasp attempt to keep travelling because you can’t afford even one night anywhere else. You should always keep some money aside so that if there’s any problems such as not being able to contact the host or find the hosts location, or worst-case scenario, you just don’t feel safe alone with another workawayer or the host, you can always go and get a room somewhere last minute at a hostel, hotel or Airbnb.

Give someone the address and contact number of where you are staying, and vice versa give an emergency contact number to your host, so if there are any accidents or emergencies, someone else knows how to contact you or someone for you. Similarly, make sure you note the address and number of local services, such as a doctor’s surgery and hospital.

Last of all, this person is inviting you into their home and/or place of work. Respect it as such and treat it as you would your own – unless you live like a stereotype student, obviously! Helping with small tasks, even outside of your agreed ‘work hours’ can make a huge difference. Emptying a bin, refilling water, washing up or vacuuming a room for example, are all small tasks that will mean a lot to the host, and really help establish a rapport and relationship. Go that extra mile for them, and you’ll get it back in return, I promise.

Hopefully this has answered some questions you may have had, or maybe even some you didn’t realise you were going to ask. Above all, remember that workaway offers a fantastic opportunity that will more likely than not result in you creating fantastic memories and building friendships for life, so enjoy it!

Steve's 30th birthday, with hosts and cake

Celebrating my 30th birthday with a surprise cake from our hosts!

 

Have you ever done a Workaway? Would you consider doing one? Tell us in the comments below….

 

What is ‘Workaway’?

What is ‘Workaway’?

Workaway: What it is & Other FAQ:

 

  • First things first, this isn’t an affiliated post, and the thoughts and opinions you read here are all my own, uninfluenced by anyone except maybe Anthea!

People often ask Anthea and I about our current plans, and how we manage to travel  as we do. We’ve spoken previously about working online for income as we go, but we often get blank looks whenever we mention our use of the website, www.workaway.info.

We sometimes get people who’ve vaguely heard of the concept, but often they’ve not, and replies range among the following:

‘What on earth is workaway?’

‘What are the benefits of it? Isn’t it just free labour for nothing?’

‘Oh, I’ve heard bad things about that. Is it safe? It sounds dangerous to stay with a stranger.’

So, to help those who are interested and are considering using the website themselves in the future, let me answer a few frequently asked questions.

What is it?

To start at the beginning, workaway is a cultural exchange program in which workers (workawayers) work an agreed amount of time each day/week in exchange for accommodation and sometimes food as well. The great thing about workaway is that there is such a variety of possibilities. This isn’t just working on a farm like WWOOF programs, and the chances are that whatever your skillset, there is somebody somewhere in the world who would benefit from them.

What can I do?

Almost literally whatever you want to do, and many places accept couples or friends together too.

Good with kids? There’s plenty of au-pair/babysitting possibilities in every city around the world.

Good at DIY? Help people design and build their dream homes in exotic jungles or help to build a school or housing for those in less wealthy countries.

Native English Speaker? Any country that isn’t native English speaking has people desperate to either teach them and family members, or to teach at a local school. From Buenos Aires to Madrid, choose your dream location and away you go.

Proficient at designing websites? Good with animals? Wanting a party lifestyle in a hostel? The next Monty Don* in the garden? Happy to get down and dirty doing laundry and cleaning rooms?

You get the idea; Whatever you want to do, there’s likely to be someone, somewhere that needs your help. We’ve both used it to good effect now, and estimate that by the end of May, we’ll have saved ourselves at least between £1700 to £2,000 in accommodation costs going by average Airbnb costs we usually look for (£15-£30), and what’s available in the areas we’ve been (often upwards of £50 a night in Sayulita for example).

*Anthea’s informed me that Alan Titchmarsh isn’t the relevant modern-day gardening guru anymore. Sad times indeed.

How many hours a week? What’s the accommodation like?

The requested hours for working are usually 3-5 hours a day, 5 days a week. This can obviously vary quite a lot, but personally I don’t think you should ever do more than 25 hours a week. Accommodation can vary from a private room or studio, to shared hostel dorms or even a tree house or tents! Information on accommodation will always be made clear on the listing when you are messaging to contact the host.

 

We’re currently staying in a great ‘tent’ at a guesthouse for our workaway placement

Are you not just free labour?

Ideally no, although undoubtedly there are some postings on the site which are aiming to secure just that. Workaway is meant to be a cultural and skills exchange; it’s not just about securing a free place to sleep, it’s meant to give you the opportunity to experience places that you wouldn’t otherwise have the chance to explore, with a local showing you around and teaching you about the culture and the language where required. The work that you do is intended to ‘give back’ to the host in exchange for them giving up a room for free.

Why not just get an Airbnb?

As I mentioned above, there is so much to learn from doing a good workaway placement. You get to see an area at ground level as a local, you get to meet those locals and develop relationships which in turn can lead to other advice and opportunities. Sure, it can be great to have an apartment to ourselves, but by doing this current workaway in Mexico, we’ve met so many incredible people with inspiring stories to tell – as well as being able to get advice from people who’ve already travelled to places we are planning to go to! It can be difficult to meet new people if you are in an area for a short amount of time and renting a whole apartment, whereas workaway placements can often have the opposite problem of so many people passing through.

Is it safe?

It’s easy to forget that the trust has to extend both ways; people are inviting you into their home or place of work and hoping that you don’t destroy or steal anything. There will always be the odd horror story in any walk of life, but I’ve found that the hosts are often people who’ve been travelling themselves and have a very similar outlook on life. As I said though, read the reviews and don’t forget that if you don’t feel safe or comfortable, you can always leave.

Obviously, the same social sensibilities apply; don’t go leaving your laptop alone in a hostel lounge for 30 minutes, wonder why it’s been taken and then blame the workaway placement!

How do I make sure I can get a good workaway placement?

Well, it’s funny you should ask that, as I have another post to answer just that question…

A good workaway can be a peaceful paradise away from home

Adventures in Vallarta! Part 2 – Paradise Found at Las Caletas

Adventures in Vallarta! Part 2 – Paradise Found at Las Caletas

After our whale-watching and outdoor adventure days, plus a weekend jungle hike to see some beaches on the coast, it was time for the third trip we had booked with Vallarta Adventures, and our final relaxation day before a few days of hard work ahead.

I know, what a tough life.

#3 – Las Caletas

Our third of three tours booked with Vallarta Adventures took us to a private, secluded beach, just north of Yelapa. ‘Las Caletas’ was once the home of Hollywood director John Huston who apparently fell in love with the area after visiting in the 1960’s while filming ‘The Night of the Iguana’.  The story goes that although he loved Puerto Vallarta, he wanted a place even more isolated and away from the daily toil. Las Caletas was his choice for a home so he leased it in the 1970’s from the Chacala Indians and lived there for almost two decades, until his health forced him back to the USA. His daughter, the famous Oscar-winning actress, Anjelica Huston, said:

“He found great happiness there in his last years … in the jungle, beside the sea, lit by the stars.”

Since Vallarta Adventures has exclusive access to Las Caletas, we figured it’d be nice way to spend a day and to get some time on a beach without too many people, or too many ‘hawkers’ offering jewellery, ceramics, snacks, cigars, kitchen sinks etc.

paradise found at las caletas

Another early morning, and once more we arrived about an hour earlier than we needed to – the woman we booked with appears to have got all her timings earlier than they actually were. After some much-needed caffeine, we got onto a boat with around 80 other people and headed on over. The boat we went on this time was bigger than the ones we’d been on previously, and we were given some breakfast – the catch being we had to put up with the loud music and dancing from the staff…

Once we arrived, the masses piled off and went over to the restaurants for breakfast, whilst we stayed behind on a small beach area with hammocks and just sunbathed for about half hour in peace. Once the crowds had dissipated, we got some hot drinks and stumbled across some parrots! There were military macaws, cockatoos and some of the smaller orange fronted parakeets, ubiquitous to this part of Mexico. These little ones were my personal favourite. After the parrots we saw some flamingos under the little bridge area and got some more photos before we searched for a place to soak up the rays for a while, whilst everyone jumped on all the kayaks, snorkels and paddle boards.

Once these areas got a bit less crowded, we decided we wanted to try paddle boarding for the first time; it’s harder than it looks! Anthea was first to manage to stand up, whereas on my first try I didn’t even get off my knees before falling into the water. My second attempt was more successful, and I successfully stood for a whole 5 seconds, before falling off and losing my sunglasses into the water. I asked a nearby snorkeler, who had a magnificent moustache, if he was able to see them, and he very kindly dived down and retrieved them. What a guy, and what a moustache! We both finally were able to successfully stand and navigate around with a reasonable degree of efficiency, and although there weren’t many fish in the area (it was netted off around 150 yards out to sea) we did see some incredibly colourful fish shooting around.

After our reasonably successful exertion into the world of paddle-boarding, it was time to take advantage of the open bar. I started speaking Spanish with one of the waiters who I’d asked about getting some food, and before I knew it, he’d put three different types of alcoholic drinks into my hand and sent me on my way. Side note: Kahlua with cold milk and ice is incredible. Anyway, we stopped for some pictures with a random tiny parrot that was hanging around the clay sculpting stand, and on our way to find a place for lunch, I saw the flamingos out from their enclosure and being fed! I squealed a little (a lot) and hurriedly called Anthea over, who made a similar noise in reaction. We got to hand feed the flamingos, get pictures, and Anthea even got given a souvenir feather that was being shed by one of the birds.

paradise beach las caletas is a bird lovers heaven

Some more parrot play ensued, including my arm being ‘attacked’ by my two little friends; one of them got to trust me and started to happily clamber on and off me, until we got asked not to put them on my shoulder by one of the handlers that turned up. I think she thought we were picking them up and putting them on our shoulders, but I was just holding my arm a little distance away and after a while he was just jumping on – he was loving it!

We had some lunch (and more kahlua crema), then got to hold a spider monkey for a photo before being signalled back on to the boat to head back to shore. Overall, a good day, but although we were at the beach for around 4-5 hours, it didn’t seem long enough to relax on the beach after eating and trying the activities. The definite highlights were the birds and the paddle boarding. A good day all around!

 

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