To be a Worldpacker somewhere, you have to get through the application process, which isn’t much more than picking a place and sending a message to the host. It seems simple, but there are a lot of people who make mistakes in that first contact and end up wasting incredible opportunities.
What NOT to do:
1. Leave your profile incomplete
In the application, the host has access to both your message and your complete profile. Therefore, the more information you put into it, the more the host will clearly see if you are the right one to help them.
2. Write a very short or simple application message
Put yourself in the host’s place for a minute and read these two applications:
Application from John
“I want to travel to learn new things and make new friends.”
Application from Mary
“Hello Host! My name is Mary, I’m from the interior of Brazil and I am thrilled to explore other places, other cultures, and make new friends. I really like your place, I think I’d be a great fit and believe I can help you in reception, administration and gardening. I am a sociable person that adapts well to different scenarios. I really enjoy cooking too, so if you need me, I’ll be at your disposal! I hope that you accept me as a Worldpacker and if you have any questions, just ask! Cheers!”
You only have one spot open. Who would you choose?
You can be sure that hosts would prefer Mary, because in few words, they get to know her better than John. So take the time to write a cool application that shows who you are, your likes and how you can help your host.
3. Copy and paste the same application for all the hosts
This is a classic mistake that honestly sucks. Imagine that you are a host in Porto, Portugal and receive an application like this:
“Hello! I really like your hostel. It’s been a dream of mine to spend time in Lisboa and I want to help with…”
It’s over. The host knows that this traveler is applying to 1000 positions and didn’t even take the time to read the description of his place or what he needs. It’s just asking to be ignored!
Each place is different, so the hosts like when they see an application of someone who actually took the time to read the description and write a more personalized message.
4. Apply to too few places
Hosts don’t always need volunteers. It may be because of the low season (no need for help), or the high season (no beds for the volunteers to sleep), because of a renovation, temporary closure, etc...there are many reasons why a host might turn down or not respond to a volunteer, so it’s ideal for a traveler to apply to at least 8 places.
The host’s Worldpackers profile has the “response rate” information, that is, if the rate is very low, the chances of being answered are minimal. Don’t bet all your chips on these hosts because they don’t need as many volunteers!
5. Expect to confirm the trip too far in advance
At Worldpackers, travelers can confirm a trip up to six months in advance at the most. That’s because most hosts cannot plan that far in advance. It’s recommended to apply between 2 to 8 weeks before the start of the experience.
6. Pay no attention to the activities to be performed
A common thing that ends up ruining some experiences is when the traveler didn’t pay attention to or didn’t ask what tasks and activities would be required as part of the exchange. In some places, the activities could call for physical strength, specific expertise or, more frequently, the cleaning of common areas like bathrooms, kitchens and bedrooms.
It’s important to remember that everything is an exchange: you help in some way, and receive the benefits described in the location’s profile, but it is essential to be open to what is proposed.
Can’t stand the thought of having to clean a bathroom? Don’t agree to travel to a place where this is asked of you. It would be a bad experience for you as well as the host who won’t get the help that they need.
7. Fail to comply with the dates you agreed upon
“- Hello (host name), I was supposed to arrive on the 5th, but now I’m coming on the 8th, is that okay?”
No. In the vast majority of cases this is not okay. For the traveler, three days may seem small but put yourself in the host’s place one more time.
He took his own time to talk with you, confirm the trip, give you important information and reserve a bed for you from this day to that day. There are two big problems here now:
The host was hoping for a volunteer to come help on the 5th. Now that he is only coming on the 8th, the host will be working for three more days because the traveler did not comply with the dates they agreed to.
In hostels, the bed that the host reserves for the volunteer stays blocked in the system, that is - it is not sold. The host will lose the sale of that bed for 3 nights because the traveler did not abide by the dates they agreed on.
Because of these things, only change the dates of a confirmed trip when it’s absolutely necessary. If there’s no way, talk with your host as soon as possible.
8. Run away if things get difficult
Is there anything that didn’t go as planned? Any agreement that is not being met by the host? Was there a misunderstanding with someone on the team?
The first thing to do is talk to the host. Communication is the foundation of a good experience and can help you avoid many unpleasant situations.
The host has no way to read the traveler’s mind and vice-versa, meaning that a frank conversation is vital in solving whatever it may be.
Important: the volunteer can help improve their own experience and that of the next worldpackers when they give constructive critiques. Many hosts are beginners and need help to organize their volunteer program. Be that help!
If that doesn’t work, the Worldpackers support team is always willing to help.