Country #6 Iceland, Get Paid to Travel the World, How to Live in 10 Countries

Little Known Ways To Score Free Bed and Board Across the Globe

If you had all that set up for free and 2 thirds of the day left to do exactly as you please, perhaps even free transport at your destination, how long could you afford to keep travelling? Free bed and board are essentials for any traveller.

What’s your greatest expense travelling?

Somewhere to chuck your head down and meals in your belly!

I spent a blissful 2 seasons- the warmer ones that feature actual sunlight- breezing around Iceland. I had my own room in a makeshift dorm, access to all facilities and enough food to sink a battleship in exchange for a few hours a day taking care of a 5 year old. My kind hosts were amazing!

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There were times when I felt bored and isolated but I pushed myself to explore as much as I could and network with travel companions through the HelpX site.

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The summer brought whalewatching, hitchhiking, midnight sun, the Northern Lights over Reykjavik and a road trip around the entire island sleeping in our car. Between my sweet living arrangements and some online writing I had enough spare to hire a car with friends and explore the wildly-uninhabited-and-untouched-even-by-local-standards West Fjords. There was also a week in a cold tent that cost less than 5 euros a night to park. A word of advice, splash out on a tent that knows the meaning of the word ‘waterproof’.

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The Need to Know

HelpX and Workaway are your gateway to hosts across the world who will be willing to strike a bargain. The details may vary but the most common arrangement is just 4 hours per day light work in exchange for all your meals  plus accommodation. I am living proof that you can get this! The sites are free except for a small starter fee- less than the cost of  a lunch.

The Pros:        

  • Many hosts are flexible and don’t require formal or paid experience
  • Experience life with a local family and immerse into the culture
  • Hosts will often throw in extras such as use of a car or bike to get around on top of the free bed and board
  • An immensely cheap way to travel long term
  • Unlike Couchsurfing, it’s easy to get a place and stick around as long as needed
  • Check with immigration, but in many cases a working visa may not be required for voluntary work

The Cons:

  • Always read the host’s reviews and ask to contact previous helpers that have stayed with them- there be dragons
  • No wages, naturally.
  • The flexible relaxed nature of these communities means you need to be adaptable- my host moved from the capital to a tiny village on the other side of the island and I rolled with the punches
  • Ensure you agree fair work hours and time off to travel- this isn’t a 9-5 so you’re really being paid in your experience and the free bed and board, naturally.

How you can travel the incredible beauty of Iceland on a tiny budget using websites that all you to access free food and accommodation in exchange for light work

8 Comments

  1. Toni

    August 20, 2016 at 12:46 pm

    How interesting! Some really great points on how to battle the accommodation struggle. These are really good options though and one day I may look into using them. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Sara Essop

    August 20, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    This is fascinating. I didn’t know about HelpX and Workaway . Good to know.

  3. Michelle

    August 20, 2016 at 6:27 pm

    Interesting, first time I’ve heard about these websites. Thanks for sharing! I think I might try that in the future.

  4. Sally from Passport & Plates

    March 14, 2017 at 1:26 am

    I’ve heard of both of these but I’d never thought about using them in a place like Iceland (no idea why!). I’ll have to test them out next time I’m on the road.

  5. Stephanie

    March 14, 2017 at 2:46 am

    This is an interesting approach to travel. I just read about teaching abroad in Fiji, and got all excited until I saw it was Volunteer, AKA you PAY to go and make no money. Haha In Australia a lot of people would work in the hostels for free rooms. I think I would be better suited for this type of arrangement. I do want to go to Iceland so hopefully it works out. I also dream of having a home in NYC where I can host visitors and hopefully visit them in my future travels.

  6. Cori

    March 14, 2017 at 4:51 am

    WOOFing is really popular, too. Lots of my friends have used various sites to travel long term. It’s a great way to stretch your savings, although like anything the experiences can vary wildly.

    If you have a place of your own, home exchanges are great. I’ll usually CouchSurf if I’m traveling alone and do home swaps if I’m traveling with someone else. Home swaps don’t tend to get you the life long friends that CouchSurfing brings, but you still get the chance to meet locals, learn their favorite spots, and stay in a comfortable home.

  7. Candy

    March 14, 2017 at 3:58 pm

    This was such an interesting read because I’ve never heard of HelpX or Workaway. This is definitely a great way to travel if you are flexible and open minded.

  8. Jo

    March 15, 2017 at 1:07 am

    I have just started using workaway and i am booked for 2 solid weeks in the jungles of Borneo – I love it 🙂 Its fun and easy work which I would love… I am looking forward to it. What sort of work did you do in Iceland and did you still find time to explore?

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