What qualities are essential for a great HelpX experience?

I’ve done three HelpX placements now and I`ve enjoyed all three of them. Looking back in reflection, I am thinking about what makes a great HelpX experience, and what qualities both the helper and the host need to not only have but to show in order to have a good time. HelpX should not be a one way thing, both parties need to give in order to receive, the receiving being of course the experience as a whole.

HelpX logo

When considering HelpX`ing either as a helper or a host it`s important to understand that everyone is different and that what may seem normal to you may seem unnormal to others, this type of thinking commonly leads people on to the question of what is normal? The answer is simply routine. Everyone loves routine, with a routine you know what you`re doing and more importantly you feel safe. HelpX is about breaking this routine, escaping normality and plunging yourself into a world full of questions and uncertainties. Although scary at first you soon start to embrace the unknown and learn to accept it for what it is rather than reject it for what it isn`t. This summarises nicely one of the first qualities – having an open mind.
Open your mind
Having a sense of humour is another essential quality, a bit of humour goes a long way, and certainly breaks down any tension which usually forms around giving/receiving instructions, and correcting/being corrected. It also creates a fun experience, and that`s what it`s all about. Always remember, HelpX is not a job, you`re exchanging help for an experience so enjoy it and have fun because you will be no sooner moving on to your next HelpX experience.

Sense of humour

Postive thinking and actions are also essential qualities to a great experience, you will always make mistakes and there will be times when you will have problems with helpers/hosts. It`s very important to tackle these things positively and promptly so they don`t escalate into something bigger. Everyone appreciates honesty and it`s the first step in finding a solution to a problem.

Positive

If you`re considering HelpX`ing or currently doing it, please discuss further in the comments section, and add any other qualities you think are essential for a great HelpX experience.

Until next time, happy HelpX`ing, peace and love, Jonathan x

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25 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    Good advice. Are you planning any more HelpXing?

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Chris,

      Sure, I am making my way to the east coast of France on Monday to a place called Collioure, there I begin a new HelpX, expect an update soon, hope all is good for you and thanks for stopping by.

  2. SAM says:

    Wise words indeed. I have been helpXing for more than four years, have changed my approach to and outlook on life more that I ever imagined, learned loads of new skills, met some amazing people and would encourage almost anyone to give it a go.

    It was great to catch up with you at Pierlo and Sandrine’s and see how happy you are. Great shelves by the way!

    Enjoy your journey Jonathan and keep writing.

    • Jonathan says:

      Great meeting you too dude, your a cool person and a good friend. Thanks for the comments on the shelves! Soon I will be a veteran HelpX’er like yourself 😉 hope to meet up in the future!

  3. sylvaine says:

    Hello Jonathan,
    I just heard of helpx last night …And today I read your posts and your blog
    Amazing things are coming to me because I want them!!!
    I am a bit curious about this community
    Can you tell me more about it?
    I am planning to make it real in my life
    I have been too much dispaointed by the way of the life I am living
    I need to live simple things and to meet people who are in the same search : sharing , living and loving
    hope you will answer , TAKE CARE ***

    • Jonathan says:

      Hello Sylvaine,

      The community is simple, you pay for your two year membership. Decide which country you want to visit, then search for voluntary opportunities which best suit what type of work you want to do, or what type of people you want to be around. I had a lot of great experiences as you can see from the blog, so just go for it! I wish you the best of luck on your travels.

      Kind regards,
      Jonathan

  4. sylvaine says:

    Hello Jonathan,
    Thanks for answering so fast and for your energy, I can feel it and that is what I am looking for to re give mine through meeting new people and discover the world !!!
    Thank you so much .
    I also hope you THE BEST and keep sharing 🙂
    Take care
    Sylvaine***

  5. Chris says:

    Heya Jonathan,

    Myself and my wife are 25 and have recently been looking into these sort of opportunities, workaway, helpX and wooff. In an ideal world, our dream would be to take a year out with some savings and literally travel the world going from placement to placement, working for our accommodation (and food where possible), meeting cool people, experiencing as much as we can and using our savings for the extra things like going out or activities we want to experience.
    My question is basically do you think this is feesable?
    I thought it was but then heard people saying it was difficult to get placements and if this is the case we wouldn’t be able to move from placement to placement as we had hoped.
    Only other question is if this was possible, have you any idea of what sort of savings you think we would need, i.e. how much you would budget whilst on say a month placement with a host?
    Thanks for taking your time to read this, and thanks for your blog – its really helpful!
    Cheers
    Chris

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Chris, thanks for stopping by. Your plan is definitely feasible. There are tons of opportunities all over Europe. I spent 8 months doing HelpX and had some amazing experiences, making lots of new friends along the way. You can read about them all in my archive which can be accessed via the drop down menu on the right hand side of the page. Your primary costs will be travel which will include buses, trains, and planes. It’s advisable to book them in advance, maybe a week in advance depending on the season as the tickets will be cheaper. I usually stayed at a placement for minimum three weeks. After the first week, it’s advisable to start looking for another placement. I usually sent about ten personal requests out, and usually I would get two or three that would accept me. The more references you have the easier it became. Even though you have no references starting out, if you make the effort to do a good profile then someone will give you a chance I’m sure. Regarding finances, it’s sort of like “how long is a piece of string” Just save all the money you can and take it. I spent about 2000 pound in a year, and that included 3 months backpacking in Morocco. I stayed at one placement for 3 months and spent next to nothing. There really is no point budgeting. Just spend wisely, travel slowly, and don’t plan too much in advance, as quite often your plans will change leaving you wishing you hadn’t booked that tour 1 month in advance… Good luck on your travels, or as they would say in Thai, Chock Dee.

  6. Chris says:

    Sa-bai-Dee! Thanks very much – the inspiration we need! We spent our honeymoon last summer traveling around Thailand and Laos, it was awesome hope you have a great time – I will be reading to see!

    • Jonathan says:

      Thanks Chris, looking forward to seeing your comments, maybe you could tell me about your times in any of the places I visited, lengthy comments welcome! 🙂

  7. Ahmed says:

    Hey Jonathan ,
    amazing article , you really encouraged me to go for helpX , i started to build my profile on helpX , but do you have any advice how to improve it, since i think I will find it hard at first to find a host because I dont have any references !!
    Thank you 🙂

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Ahmed. For your profile on HelpX, just be honest and only contact hosts you are genuinely interested in. Safe travels. Jonathan

  8. Ahmed says:

    Thanks for the advice 🙂
    Ahmed

  9. Ahmed says:

    jonathan , that is great mate 🙂 really helpful , If u wanna come to Egypt and you need any help tell me 🙂

  10. Joe says:

    Is helpx any good for finding party spots?clubs/pubs, woman? Haha
    I have been thinking of working at some hostels since those would seem to be in populated areas. What do you think/recommend?

    • Jonathan says:

      I think you are a bit confused about what HelpX is all about. If you want to get drunk and meet women, just go and stay in a hostel where everyone wants to party. HelpX is not for you.

  11. Joe says:

    You misinterpreted what I meant. I don’t drink. I just wanted ideas of where the most people are. That’s the biggest thing I want to do in travel is meet new people. I figure bars/clubs would have people my age.

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Joe, HelpX will bring you more meaningful relationships. If you are looking for casual relationships then I suggest you hangout in the hostels which will have people of your age who are constantly on the move.

  12. Verity Painter says:

    Hi Jonathan,

    Just found your blog – so much interesting and useful information!

    My boyfriend and I have been saving for the past year to go travelling around Europe (we live in the UK) and definitely want to base most of our travelling around Helpx, as it seems the ideal way to travel slowly, meet loads of interesting people and make the most out of our time off!

    Just wondering if you have any advice on how to start out as neither of us has travelled before; how many visits should we have booked before we leave? And, is it possible to book visits as you go? We’re just not sure how far ahead to plan!?

    Thanks,
    Verity

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Verity!

      When I did my HelpX the only placement I booked in advance was the very first one. I arranged the next placement whilst there. It was a great way to keep it fresh and to give you that flexibility to stay longer/leave earlier or scrap HelpX altogether for a spontaneous adventure. I did HelpX in France, Spain and Italy. I had some great times, stayed in some incredible places, and learnt many cool things. Some hosts were great, some not so great. It’s an interesting life experience. Enjoy your trip! 🙂

  13. Maggie says:

    Hi Jonathan 🙂
    I have been interesting in Helpx for a while and trying to convince my parents to let me do it with my brother (since I’m underage I have to bring someone over 18). I have a couple questions about it below and if you could answer them, that would be amazing!

    1. How much would it cost to travel with helpx? Is it cheaper than travelling in general?
    2. What would be a good first helpx gig? Like a hostel, farm, homestay?
    3. Do you think it would be ok for me (a 16 year old) to travel with my brother? We’re very close, but my parents are also worried about bad stuff happening to me… even when I’m a black belt in taekwondo.

    Thank you for your time!
    Maggie

    • Jonathan says:

      Hi Maggie,

      Welcome to the site! To answer some of your questions as best as I can…

      1) As always this all depends on how many places you travel to. Your main expenses will be paying for flights/bus fares between your HelpX placements. I spent a year doing HelpX in France and Spain and spent very little money because the whole point in HelpX is that you work for basic commodities like food and shelter.

      2) For your first HelpX stay I would recommend doing a homestay/farmstay for a non-profit business; someone with a lot of positive reviews, and somewhere that excites you 🙂

      3) Although it’s not common for people of your age to go travelling, if you are doing it with your older brother then why not?! I wouldn’t worry about bad stuff happening to you, just be smart and if something doesn’t feel right, don’t do it!

      I really hope you enjoy your travels.

      Good luck,
      Jonathan

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