After turning 30 last year, I decided it was time to leave the sunny beaches of Australia behind and give my 2-year working visa for the UK a whirl before it was too late (it’s no longer valid once you turn 31). I’m not one to dilly-dally on a decision for long, so after about 6 weeks, my flight was booked, my bags were packed and I’d sold everything I owned (literally).

Before settling down in London, I wanted to take advantage of not being tied to a job and squeeze in as much travelling as possible. It was the first time in my life since I was 14 that I didn’t have a job. Scary, but exciting at the same time. I managed to delay starting my new life in London by exploring the coast of Turkey and the entire island of Ireland. I felt as free as a bird, but I was soon running out of money. I headed back to London to start the inevitable search for jobs before I dipped into too much of my savings.

It dawned on me that even though I wasn’t doing much back in London, it was still so expensive to afford a daily coffee, the tube etc, AND it was getting colder by the minute. I thought to myself, “where can I go that is cheap and sunny, and won’t cost me an arm and a leg?” My sister suggested I check out Workaway, a programme which lets you work in countries all around the world in exchange for meals & accommodation.

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Not long after I trawled the website, I found myself a beautiful seaside villa in Cyprus (yes really!). They needed someone to help them with marketing and in exchange they offered accommodation in an ensuite master bedroom and 3 meals a day. Not to forget that Cyprus was averaging 25 degrees year round. After a few emails back and forth with the owner and a short skype session, I was on the first flight out the next morning.

I had no idea what to expect, as I had never done anything like this before. The owners Andy and Nikki greeted me at the airport with friendly smiles and we shared a bit about our life stories on the way back to their home. Villa Carpe Diem  is a 5 bedroom accessible villa situated in the coastal town of Maroni. Once back at the villa they showed me to my bedroom, which had 180 degree views of the sea and overlooked the pool and garden.

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The arrangement was as follows: I worked 9am – 1pm Monday to Friday, and the rest of time I was free to do what I wanted including the entire weekend. Pretty good deal, if you ask me. Breakfast and lunch were served in the patio each day and I set up my “office” right next to the pool to capitalise on the sunshine and vitamin D. I spent most mornings before breakfast exercising with either a run down to the beach or some poolside yoga. I was able to job hunt online in the afternoon and set up skype interviews whilst still blogging and exploring the local towns.

During my time at the Villa, there were 3 other workawayers: a skipper from Sweden, a writer from Spain and a vegan permaculturist from Finland. Everyone offered different skills and the daily conversations at meal time were so intriguing, learning about everyone’s stories and life journeys.

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I had booked a one-way ticket and in my head I really hadn’t planned on how long I would stay. A week? 10 days? 3 beautiful weeks later, I had read 3 books, reviewed the Londa hotel in Limmassol, built the villa a brand new website and even had the chance to get up close and personal with a few hundred pink flamingoes. I’d also had 3 Skype interviews for potential jobs and had set up a second interview for when I returned.

Other than the flights to Cyprus I had barely spent 30 Euro – in 3 weeks!! Can you imagine? I was the most relaxed version of myself I had been in a years.  Andy and Nikki were the kindest hosts and I really enjoyed getting to know them during the stay. We cooked, ate, shopped, watched movies together and shared copious amounts of life stories.

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If you’re looking for a cheap way to travel, meet interesting people or just have an extended career break, I would really recommend Workaway. There are literally hundreds of hosts offering stays in the jungle of Costa Rica to schools in Bali. I know I will definitely be doing a work away holiday in the near future.

This is a guest post by Phoebe Greenacre who shares her travel stories on her blog.