I had just finished two brutal weeks of exams, so the last thing I wanted to do was any more work. I had a week off from uni, and my original intention was to spend that entire week horizontal, buried in duvets, watching Seinfeld and numbing my brain from the mental pounding it just withstood. That did not happen.
Instead, I found myself catching two coaches, a plane, a bus, and a metro (in a hungover state, I should add) to arrive at a hostel at 11PM in a city in a country I’d never been before, to do a job I found on Worldpackers. And it was probably the best thing I’ve ever done.
After hours of searching through the Worldpackers website, I decided to use my week off to try something new, somewhere new. Prague: capital of Bohemia, host to bachelor parties from all over, and home to the world’s best beer (trust me, gal did her research). For my week off, I was exchanging not making my own bed, to make other people’s at Post Hostel Prague.
What is Worldpackers?
For those of you who don’t know, Worldpackers is a site that allows you to find any kind of work you could hope for, from all over the world, in exchange for a place to stay. I chose hostel work in Prague, but I could’ve been working nights at a hostel in Uruguay, taking videos on a cat farm in Montpellier, or harvesting crops in the Italian countryside.
All those times you’ve asked Damon, Jo or Nasir just HOW they manage to travel all the time without running out of money, this is one of the answers you were looking for. If you’re looking for an excuse to fly solo, Worldpackers might just be the perfect way to get into it – think all the excitement of travelling alone, with the security of verified hosts and a 24/7 Worldpackers support network.
In my case, for the sake of just 2 hours work per day(!), I got a free bed and breakfast for a week. Once I’d finished clearing the breakfast service and making the beds, the rest of the day was mine, and being able to get to know all my fellow travellers while I was working was an added bonus. If you’re daunted by the thought of trying new work in a foreign country for the first time, like I was, don’t be! Having a reason to wake up in the morning meant I actually got up in time for breakfast, and this is where I met all of my friends that week: Worldpackers, staff, and travellers. Not only that, but (and I’m sure my ladies out there will relate), the idea of being a gal travelling solo makes it feel even BIGGER – but 65% of Worldpackers are actually female solo travellers (like yours truly).
Most of the time I was done by midday – meaning I could use my remaining hours scouring the streets of Prague for as many trdelniks as I could physically stomach, flying solo at the Andej Warhola exhibition (arguably Czech’s most high-profile export? Discuss), or enjoying some frosty pilsners with my new-found Prague pals. As I was in Prague for a week, I took it easy, and managed to fit in all three.
My Worldpackers tea…
This was my first ever solo trip. So, not only was I alone in a new city, I was alone AND working in something totally different for the first time. Naturally, I was semi-freaked out to begin with – I could go more into how to overcome this kind of anxiety, but I think that deserves a post of its own.
However, overcome it I did. Being alone forced me out of my comfort zone, and made me throw myself into everything I could while I was there. Not only that, but I’m due to go on a year abroad in France next year, so this was perfect practice, on a much smaller scale, for that huge milestone.
Obviously, you’ve got to be prepared to roll with the punches. It’s hostel-living; it’s spontaneous; the friends you make the first day may well be moving on to another stage of their tour on the next. However, that’s never really a problem – there’s always something going on, always somebody new coming along and, most importantly, you’ve got an entire city to explore while you’re there.
There’s a lot to be said for the solo element of the solo travel that comes with a Worldpackers experience, or any solo trip: you’re untethered by other people so, especially in a hostel, it’s easy to meet other solo travellers (solo solo solo). Hit up the landmarks together, try the local food together, and get super hammered (responsibly ! !) on the hostel organised bar crawls, together, in your new hostel-hopping, backpack-lugging supergroup.
However, there is also the beauty of being truly solo at times: wandering the streets and waiting for your city to entice you in with something new and unknown; exploring those super-niche art galleries and dusty bookshops that you couldn’t convince anyone else to visit with you; treating yourself to a coffee in a decadent looking café while you rest your feet and kick back with your bestseller/foreign novella/podcast of choice.
After all, whether you’re working there for months, like some Worldpackers I know, or just a week, like me, I think it’s fair to say that you’re not a mere tourist, you’re living.
If you want to get a $20 discount on your Worldpackers membership, you can use the code SHUTUPANDGO19 to reduce that bad-boy to $29 from $49
Leave your dream Worldpackers experience in the comments!