One of the most important things for backpackers and digital nomads is experience language and culture authentically when travelling. For this type of travellers find a good accommodation that promotes local interaction is a major issue, but now they have an easier task with Hippohelp.
Hippohelp is a new platform connecting hosts with travellers all around the globe. Travellers provide a few hours of honest work per day, and hosts provide free food and accommodation in return.
Using Hippohelp you'll save a lot when you travel, but the biggest benefits of working and travelling are all the opportunities you'll get to participate in cultural exchange and language practice.
Today we will share a few tips on how you can use Hippohelp to experience language and culture authentically when travelling.
Understand why your host is looking for volunteers
Hippohelping is so much more than just working in exchange for food and accommodation. It's a means of cultural exchange, and your host is most likely interested in spending some time to bond with you.
Take time to get to know your host, and don't be shy. Your current host can become a friend for a lifetime, and have people all around the world willing to host you on future travels can be of great value.
While the purpose of Hippohelp is connecting people interested in language and cultural exchange, there is always a risk that the host is looking for free workers and nothing more, so make sure that you and the host have equal expectations from the start to avoid any problems because of misunderstandings.
Also, don't expect a free ride. Hippohelping also requires a lot of hard work, and many hosts live in rural areas and are expecting 5 hours of work to be done, 5 days a week.
Value the language practice aspect
Hippohelping is a great way to practise and learn new languages, both for you and the host. So make sure that both of you have improved your language skills at least a bit before leaving.
A good way of doing the practising in a natural fashion is simply speaking it as much as possible, and correct your host when he/she makes a mistake. It can be as simple as chatting about the local environment while chopping up firewood, or learning a new song in a foreign tongue.
Your future language partners might be closer than you think
One great thing about Hippohelp is that you can see both where travellers and hosts are located by looking for their markers on a worldwide map.
This opens up some great opportunities for language learners to find language partners in local areas. If you find a traveller in your area you could invite him/her over for a coffee and some language exchange, or maybe even explore the local surroundings while chatting in a foreign language.
All members on Hippohelp need to enter what languages they speak, making it easy to find a partner speaking the language you want to learn.
Don't give up!
Since many hosts are people living without electricity they don't always have easy access to a computer. What this means is that when they finally have time off to get to a computer they may become overwhelmed by helping requests, making them unable to reply to them all.
So, don't be upset if you only get a few replies to all of your messages. Just keep reaching out and you'll eventually find a good match.
Also, when reaching out to multiple hosts at once, make it clear that you are only checking for availability, not making a booking, otherwise you risk being booked at two or more hosts at the same time.
Do your research and plan in advance
What makes cultural exchange exciting is exposing yourself to new perspectives of life, but living with people from foreign cultures can also cause a fair share of trouble.
Before booking a stay, make sure that you've researched important cultural codes in the hosts country, such as what to say and what to wear, in order to not offend the host unintentionally.
You should also read reviews from other members about the host, and if no reviews can be found on Hippohelp then ask the host if reviews can be found anywhere else on the internet.
Also, if you cannot find all the information that you're looking for then make sure to ask the host before booking a stay. A few things worth knowing in advance is how many people will be living with the host, how many people the host has hosted before, whether you're allowed to use the kitchen or not, and if there are any safety precautions that you should take before arriving at the location.
Lastly, make sure to always have a backup plan ready in case things don't work out as expected or if the host suddenly changes arrangements. You should also let your close ones know your travel route and where you'll be staying.
Make sure to always have a backup plan ready in case things don't work out as expected or if the host suddenly changes arrangements. You should also let your close ones know your travel route and where you'll be staying.
Guest post by Leopold Huber from Hippohelp.com