I’ve had a few people write to me lately, asking about ways to bring the costs of traveling in Canada down by volunteering. I also noticed that my Volunteer section was looking pretty flimsy. So let’s fix both those problems. If you’re on a gap year, or just doing some extended in travel within Canada, or North America, consider checking out HelpX. Their online community allows helpers / volunteers to match up with Hosts in a wide variety of areas. Hosts includes farms, hostels, hotels, homestays, orchards, ranches, and more. You can expect to work about 4 hours per day, which usually covers your accomodations and a meal.
Users have the ability to sing up for a free or premier account. Premier members at HelpX cost 20 euros (~$27.00 CAD), which allows you to be registered within their worldwide volunteer network for 2 years. Premier users have a few more options, as they’ll be provided with more detailed descriptions of hosts, as well as reviews of the hosts. This allows you to weed out hosts with a poor reputation. HelpX also features a Companion section, allowing long-term travellers to meet people online with similar interests, keen on volunteering and/or travelling together.
HelpX is limited to people 18 years and older. While under 18’s can join, they’ll need to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Hosts also have the ability to vet helpers based on skill level, personality, and work ethic.
What to expect when Volunteering with a HelpX Host
HelpX is a bit like the Couchsurfing of Volunteering. There’s countless perks to volunteering with a reputable host. Many hosts provide not only some extraordinary conversations, but they will happily show you around their part of Canada. I’ve also heard of some that allow you to use their Quads, Boats, Canoes, etc, as they know you’ll likely want to experience what their province is all about while helping them out. Some will ask you to work longer hours, some won’t ask you to work much at all. It really just depends on the type of host you end up settling on. Read reviews on the host, and don’t be afraid to ask them questions. As with couchsurfing, just ensure that somebody you trust knows where you are at all times. But in my opinion, you don’t have much to worry about with HelpX. It’s mostly a lot of easy-going salt of the earth types of people that want to help travellers and get a bit of a hand with the day to day operations of whatever it is they run, be it ranch, farm, orchard, or hostel.