Travel Guide

My first Workaway experience (How I volunteered in Croatia for free) Last Updated: April 17, 2022

Me on an island in Croatia
Lived my best life on this island in Croatia

If you have been following me on Instagram and reading my blogs, you know I took a 3-month sabbatical and went on a solo adventure across Europe.

One of the ways I managed to spend such a long time in Europe was through volunteering in different countries.

If reading long articles isn’t your thing, you can also watch my video on my first volunteering experience here. 

While there are several websites to volunteer abroad, I used Workaway the most.

In the past few months, I have received many questions about my volunteering experience. 

The easiest way to look for volunteering opportunities abroad is simply on Google. When you type ‘Volunteer abroad for free, you will find all the options you want, including Workaway.

A lot of these websites talk about free volunteering but in the end, it is paid and the fees are pretty high.

But, with Workaway it is a different concept. You pay a small membership fee to join the Workaway community and get access to a pool of volunteering opportunities around the world. 

The membership fee is very affordable and worth the investment, especially if you want to travel for longer! 

You can sign up as an individual or with a friend/partner. 

Cost of signing up as an*

Individual: $49 / year

With a friend/ partner: $59 / year

*costs are subjected to change but these are the prices as of today

In total, I volunteered at three different places in Croatia, Greece and Kosovo for 10 days each but I want to dedicate this article to my very first volunteering experience because it was OUT OF THE WORLD. 

I spent 10 days on an island in Croatia called Hvar. 

My 3-month solo trip across Europe was planned to keep in mind my birthday which I wanted to celebrate in Madrid (my favourite city). 

Instead of receiving random gifts, I gave a list of things to my family that I wanted and needed for my birthday, one of them was a Workaway membership

And that is exactly what I got from one of my cousins. I was very new to the Workaway community but I learned soon enough how to go about looking for volunteering opportunities on the platform. Their website explains it well. 

Since I was travelling spontaneously in Europe, it was hard to plan my trip weeks in advance. I started applying for volunteer opportunities about 3-5 days prior to going to a particular destination. 

In Croatia, I applied to a few where I could contribute my skills – one of them was an opportunity on an island in Croatia called Hvar.

Room views in Hvar, Croatia
Room views for 10 days

I wasn’t hoping for a prompt response from the host but he replied! He agreed to host me for a week in exchange for some help selling his land digitally on social media and otherwise. 

I was ecstatic! It was my first ever volunteering experience abroad. 

It had been about a week already since I was in Croatia. I took a ferry from Split to this town called Jelsa on Hvar island.

Jelsa port city
Jelsa (port town on Hvar Island)

A guy came up to me on the ferry and asked me if I was Aahuti. I was a bit surprised he knew my name. He turned out to be a volunteer too! The host had informed him about him and told him to accompany me since I was alone. (very sweet of him!)

We got off the ferry in Jelsa which is a port town in Hvar. The host and one of his team members came to pick us up from there.

It was sunset by then. As a solo traveller, I should have been worried about my safety since I was travelling with 3 unknown men in their jeep but I felt completely safe and trusted my gut. 

So, here I was. With 2 young Slovakian boys and the host who is also Slovakian but living on the island for many years. 
From Jelsa, we drove to a small town called Sveta Nedelja. We stopped over at a local winery to see how they make wine.

Speed boat in Hvar
Speed boat to the island house

And from there we took a speed boat to go to the place of volunteering. Since it was dark I couldn’t see much on the first day but the boat ride was magical. I was stargazing while the boys were taking care of the logistics. 

I was volunteering at an island house built on a rock surrounded by the ocean on all three sides and other rock structures on the fourth side. 

The only way to get there was by speed boat or a hike. 

Fellow volunteers from Switzerland and Germany greeted me when I arrived. 

We settled into our individual rooms and sat for dinner together with other volunteers. It was a nice ice breaker session. 

It hit me that I was officially living the island life when I realised there will be no air conditioning and only basic amenities including wifi, it hit me that I was officially living the island life.

Sunrise views
Got to witness this view for 10 days straight

The next day morning I woke up to what I call paradise. I could see the ocean and hear the waves from the window of my room. 

I couldn’t believe my eyes. It took me a while to accept the fact that I was going to be living here for a week, to begin with. Unbelievable.

I felt so grateful every morning when I woke on the island because it was nothing short of a dream.

For someone like me who is a big coastal person, I didn’t see myself in a better place than that island.

Work views while volunteering
My work station

As a volunteer, I helped the host with digital marketing for 4-5 hours daily, 5 days a week and I got  2 days off. The remaining time in the day was for me. 

I would go snorkelling with other volunteers or just a regular swim in the ocean which was only a few steps down from the house. 

And one of the coolest parts of the house was the underground wine cellar.

The host had quite a few sources of income: his property had rocks that climbers could use on a paid basis, he made his own wine in his house winery and sold it locally, and he also hosted travellers to stay at the island house and host retreats if needed.

Another source of income was the Ferrata (which I didn’t get to experience unfortunately but maybe someday soon!).

A Ferrata is a wooden bridge made between two rock formations overlooking the ocean and is the only one available in Croatia. This is sold as an activity.

Breakfast table while volunteering in Croatia
Table set up for breakfast every day ft Mefisto, the cat

All the volunteers cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner together. We ate together and exchanged cultural conversations. What was amazing was that most of us were vegetarians so our meals were shared! 

One of the days we were all sitting at dinner till midnight and made an impromptu decision to go night snorkelling. I was scared but looking at others being so confident gave me a boost and I just went for it. It was beautiful as we got to witness bioluminescence!

Movie night on the island while volunteering there
Movie night on the island

We also did a movie night on a projector. It was a no brainer to watch an aquatic movie on an island. Such a wonderful experience!

Besides the above, I also enjoyed the following:

-Tried cliff diving with other volunteers on one of our free days

-Had a super fun group dinner at the ONLY open restaurant on the island which was a short hike or a speed boat ride away near the port

-Spotted Octopus underwater

-Played with the house cat every single day

-Interacted with guests you were on a retreat at the property 

-Partied in the underground wine cellar of the house

-Got to be a part of the winemaking process!! Helped in pressing grapes with two others. Such an incredible experience !!

Winemaking in Croatia while volunteering there
Winemaking experience on the island

I loved my stay so much that I asked the host if I could stay for a few more days and he happily agreed. I ended up staying for 10 days instead of a week. 

During my 10 days, I also went on a social media detox which was a big deal considering how active I am on Instagram, especially. 

The host invited me to attend a dinner party at the only restaurant on the island where a popular Croatian Band was playing. It was the perfect farewell that I could think of.

No words can do justice to the surreal experience I had during those 10 days. Forever grateful to Workaway for this.

Sunsets on the island in Croatia
Sunset for days
Use my invite link to join the Workaway community.*

*You will get 1 FREE month of membership and I will get 3 extra months on my membership.

Someday you can extend this invitation to your friends too and earn 3 free months 🙂

Got any further questions? Feel free to email me or comment below!

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Meet Aahuti

Hi, I am Aahuti Sejpal. You will probably see me on Instagram posting about travel and vegetarian food or in restaurants trying new (and sometimes weird) food items or simply ...

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