One day, after reading article upon article about Hawaii, I decided that I needed to hop on the earliest plane and get myself to the tiny group of islands. I was desperate for warm water, pristine beaches, and endless waterfalls. There was only one glitch: how do I make the trip affordable? I didn’t want to go for just one week and stay at a resort sipping pina coladas all day, I wanted to get out and immerse myself in the culture. Plus, I was a poor college student with minimal savings, so I knew a month long vacation was out of the question. That’s when I found a life changing website, http://www.helpx.net.
Helpx is short for “help exchange,” and it means exactly what it sounds like. You set up an account to be a “helper” and are able to skim through thousands of hosts all over the world that need some basic help in exchange for room and board. So yes, that means you do not get paid, but you don’t have any accommodation or food expenses. And on top of that, you get to live with a local, find out all the hidden spots, and get a first hand look into the culture. I call that a win.
Since discovering it in early 2014, I have used Helpx twice in Hawaii and five times in New Zealand. I have met the most amazing people and am still in contact with a lot of them today. The general set up is four hours of work per day, but every host is different and has their own unique way of doing things. For instance, I worked at a fruit stand in Maui thirty hours a week with two days off and slept in a tent as my accomodation for six weeks.
(Huelo Lookout Fruitstand Maui, Hawaii)
Another time I slept in this rad caravan parked outside and helped with some cleaning and painting of the house a few hours a day.
(Tauranga, New Zealand)
Every place is different and the jobs can vary but as long as you’re respectable and willing to lend a hand, then you’ll have a great time. From my experience, most hosts are very appreciative of your help and you can feel good about the work you’re putting in.
All in all, if you have the travel bug and want an affordable way to explore new areas, I’d strongly recommend making an account on helpx. It cost a small fee ($20-$30) for a two year membership, but it’s totally worth it because so many countries use it. And the best part is, in most cases your hosts WANT you to go out and explore. They want to show off their home country (or town) and encourage you to do things.
Oh, and Hawaii ended up being as awesome as I’d imagined.
(Black Sand Beach Maui, Hawaii)
(Haleakala Volcano Maui, Hawaii)
(Diamond Head Crater Oahu, Hawaii)