Volunteering with HelpX on a Working Holiday Visa

Chapter 4: Terms of membership spotlight (and useful Helper rules)

Published: 02-10-2019



Terms of membership spotlight (and useful Helper rules)

Who actually reads terms and conditions?
… Us. And seriously, these are useful because they are a good introduction to HelpX and your role as a helper.
These are the “Helper Rules” you agree to when you register as a member, free or paid.

1. You must make prior arrangement with hosts before any stay. Hosts accept visitors at their discretion. We advise that you ask many questions in order to establish expectations from both parties. Hosts often have their own guidelines and you may wish to ask what those are.

Before committing to a host, make sure to get info about the area. For instance, farms can be in very remote locations and you may not realize how big countries like Australia, Canada or Argentina are. Don’t hesitate to explore the area on Google Maps to see where is the nearest town, bus station or backup plan. Read host reviews, Google the company (hostel, B&B, lodge, etc.) and the owners. Basically, gather all the info you can before arranging your stay.

2. If you cannot make an arranged stay then you MUST let the host know. It is very unfair on hosts to prepare for a helper’s arrival who then fails to turn up. You may also be preventing another helper from staying in your absence.

Don’t ghost your host. Even though this is a volunteer role, just act as you’d do in a professional environment. You were hired for a job, show up (or explain why you can’t show up).

3. You will generally be helping on average between 3 and 6 hours per day depending on hosts needs. Be prepared to work hard.

This is the tricky part.
As a helper, you’re expected to work 3-6 hours per day for room and board. Fulfill your part of the bargain. Don’t be lazy, flaky, picky, difficult, etc.
Now keep in mind that you’re not supposed to become your host’s slave. Discuss expectations—tasks, number of work hours, days off, meal details, etc. Get it in writing if you can. You’re a helper, not a free full-time employee. Make sure the deal is fair to you. You should get something out of your stay, beyond room and board—learning new skills, get a new cultural perspective, etc.
It’s also wise to understand local work culture. For instance, Japanese workers are known to be workaholics and you will likely work longer hours than in most countries.

4. You are expected to fill out the host’s guest book on arrival and show your passport or other suitable ID that is acceptable by host.

Apparently, the request is uncommon, yet you should be prepared for it.

5. We recommend that you bring along your own sleeping bag or bedding. If not, you are expected to let the host know in advance.

Get as much info as you can on living arrangements—shared areas, amenities, etc. Ask your host if you’re expected to bring any essential items (like bedsheets, towel, etc.).

6. If helping in a foreign country, you must obtain your own appropriate visas. Help Exchange or any of its listed hosts cannot assist with your visa applications or contribute towards your travel expenses.

As explained earlier, many countries don’t allow visitors to take up volunteering. It is your responsibility to get a work permit, if applicable. If you’re not familiar yet with the Working Holiday Visa program, we have all the info you need on this wonderful, flexible option—here’s a quick intro.
Don’t play with fire. If you entered the country as a tourist and if you’re caught volunteering, you can face serious legal issues—deportation, jail time and a hefty fine.

7. We highly recommend that you have some kind of personal/travel insurance prior to staying with a host. You may wish to check your insurance policy to see what kind of cover they provide for working on a host property. Some hosts may insist that you have insurance. Why not give your host peace of mind by providing them with photocopies of your passport and insurance policy on arrival as well as showing them the originals? This would be a great way to show that you are trustworthy.

Most WHV destinations make it mandatory to buy health insurance before the trip (e.g. Canada) and those who don’t strongly recommend it. It’s common sense—don’t leave home without insurance coverage! Not are only temporary residents usually ineligible for health care coverage through the local insurance system but your home country won’t cover your health expenses abroad—you’re on your own.
Make sure volunteer activities are covered before you leave! Read your insurance policy or just ask directly.

8. Finally, no experience is required, just enthusiasm and a positive attitude.

The “no experience” part is worth highlighting—this is your chance to learn new skills for free!

Chapter 4 of 5


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