Our First Workaway

A dreamy walled old town with orange rooftops, a sweet little chicken named Kiwi, and an exciting new adventure!

After Split, we headed to Dubrovnik. We met the family we would be staying with for the next 4+ weeks, settled into our new routine, and explored the city! We are staying with a family outside of Dubrovnik through Workaway, a volunteer arrangement.

What is Workaway?

If you don’t know, Workaway is an organization that matches hosts with volunteers for almost anything all over the world. The tasks can range from teaching English, to working on a farm or even running a hostel. The travelers volunteer in exchange for accommodation, and most of the time food. Most hosts ask you to volunteer about 5 hours a day with a few days off per week.

Through this exchange, you not only get to save money (since accommodation and food can be covered) but you also get to meet locals and immerse yourself in a different life. This was what we were most excited about, meeting people from all over and truly learning what life is like outside of our home.

Why a Workaway?

To our surprise, we have had some not-so-positive reactions to our wanting to do a workaway. Some have wondered why we would want to provide free labor for someone else while traveling. There are many reasons why we want to volunteer through different workaways and we figured we’d share them with you. Here is our why:

1. Meet people from different places in the world.

Through workaway we can build friendships/relationships with the hosts and the community they live in!

2. Learn new skills.

There’s always something to learn. We would love to learn skills related to being more eco-friendly and sustainbility, but also anything else the world has to offer! Some opportunities include building homes in traditional ways or language exchanges. Wouldn’t that be neat to know?

3. Immerse ourselves in a new setting.

Although, while traveling we are constantly seeing new places, it’s hard to truly get to know them as a tourist. Through workaways, we can learn more about the region, the culture, and how things are done all around the world.

4. And of coure: Save money.

We aren’t luxory travelers and do are best to stick to a budget. Working in exchange for accommodation and food means we can travel longer!

To us, doing workaways while traveling not only benefits our travel budget but the main reason is to experience everything we can and learn new things. By staying with a family or organization, we get to experience more than others who visit the area, as well as, learn things that can benefit us in the future.

Peering through the city walls

How We Ended Up Here

We had been hoping to find a workaway in the region from Croatia to Greece, related to plants/gardening, animals, or eco-friendly practices. But, after a while of not finding one that worked for us, we were open to anything.

We actually started sending messages before we even left the US (because Sam is a planner), but most were either too far in advance for the hosts or they didn’t need help at the time we would get there.

We had pretty much given up trying to find one until after Christmas and were bummed about it. While in Zadar one day, we were talking about how we wished we could have found a workaway because we had really been looking forward to the opportunity. Then, a few hours later we received an email.

A Happy Surprise

A host reached out to us, seeing on our profile that we were in Croatia, and asked if we were available to come to Dubrovnik after her current workawayers were leaving. This date just HAPPENED to be the same exact date as the bus we had already booked to Dubrovnik!

Was this meant to be? We’d like to think so! Overjoyed, we responded as soon as we could. The host’s profile was super detailed and involved:

  1. gardening (check)
  2. chickens (check)
  3. and the host’s business of eco-friendly/homemade goods (triple check).

It seemed too good to be true!

Our First Week in Our New Home

Our lovely host picked us up from the bus station and took us home. We were welcomed with a delicious homemade pesto pasta dinner and got to meet other members of the family and the two workawayers that were leaving later that night.

Our host family includes an Australian woman (who’s lived in Croatia for over 20 years), her two sons that are just a few years younger than us, and her Croatian husband who we haven’t met yet because he works on a cruise ship.

At our workaway, the family has 35 chickens, 50 lemon trees, and a large garden full of different vegetables and herbs.

The mom of the family hosts cooking classes during the summer season and runs a business with homemade seasonings, beeswax wraps, and other products.

For our accommodation, we have our own studio apartment connected to their house with a private entrance. This includes a full kitchen too!

Getting Work Done

During our first week, we did a bunch of different tasks. We learned how to take care of the chickens and a few of their names including Kiwi, Freckles, and the Kardashians.Each morning we take care of their water, food, and coop.

Some of the chickens like the one pictured, and another named Kiwi, follow us around while we work. They are always interested in everything we’re doing.

We harvested lemons in the most fashionable outfits. Did you know lemon trees have thorns? Us either. But they do, and to make sure we aren’t scratched we wear extra sleeves, like the jean ones Ty has on in this picture.

Learning something new

We learned how to use a sewing machine and made cloth bags for some of the products sold in the family business too. Sam had learned before in a college class but it has been a while so she needed the refresher.

Exploring Dubrovnik

Since our workaway is just 15 minutes from the beautiful city of Dubrovnik, we got to explore it on our first day off, which was actually only our second day in town. Our host was so nice to give us the day off because it was the only fully sunny day all week.

Dubrovnik is a beautiful city and a popular tourist destination. It’s also widely known because a lot of Game of Thrones was filmed here. We have never watched it but if we ever do we can say we’ve been to many of the places in the show!

The City Walls

The first thing we did was walk around the city walls. Scroll back to the first picture to see how powerful they look! As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, Dubrovnik’s old town is a walled fortress. You can buy a ticket and walk around the walls of the entire old town.

The views from above were beautiful and since it is off-season, we had most of them to ourselves! This is rare because, in the summer, they would be packed with people. Walking the walls of the old town took us a couple of hours because we stopped for so many pictures.

After the walls, we got lunch at a delicious vegan restaurant, Nishta.

Afternoon in the Old Town

For the rest of the afternoon, we planned to visit some of the museums included in our ticket from the walls. However, apparently, all of them are closed on Wednesdays, and guess what day it was…Wednesday. So instead, we ventured around the old town, visited Fort Lovrijenac, and pet all the stray cats.

PS: Dubrovnik is FULL of stairs. To get anywhere, we swear you have to go up or down at least 50.

Failed Sunset

Later that week, our host drove us up to the top of Mount Srd in hopes of viewing the sunset. However, we didn’t get to see it. A storm came and the clouds covered the sky so much that we could not see the sun go down at all. We did, however, get to see a storm move over the city. Ty was very excited about the lightning and the view of the city was still beautiful.

Dubrovnik in the evening

Settled In For a Bit

Right away, we felt at home in this new place. The family and their friends have been so welcoming and we really enjoy Dubrovnik. Since we will be staying here for a bit, we will get to see a lot of the surrounding area. We are hoping to take some day trips to the nearby bordering countries and explore more of Dubrovnik. But for today, that’s all!

Until next time,

Sam and Ty