Brisbane · Miscellaneous

HelpX Experiment

We’ve done quite a few repairs on our house this year: new gutters, roof repairs, getting the outside painted and, of course, the possum proofing.  It’s been the proverbial money pit. Even still there are things that you put up with, like the windows that don’t close properly and the old paint job.  Once you realise that you have to put the house on the rental market then it’s time to do something about those little things that you’ve been neglecting.

Since HelpX enabled us to find a helper position with hosts in Vienna, it made us a bit more interested in the hosting possibilities here in Brisbane.  What if we got someone in to help with the painting and, at the same time, improve our foreign language skills?  After all, we have a spare bedroom that rarely gets slept in (though it has been host to extensive Lego battles and Minecraft duels).  So last Friday I created a HelpX Host profile and waited to see what would happen.  We got a few enquiries, mainly from French, Italian and German travellers, and this evening our first helper arrives.  She’s German so we’ll be able to practice before heading off to Austria.

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Our spare room decorated in what I like to call “Creeper Playroom” style.

However, it hasn’t been as easy to get someone as I thought.  It seems like a lot of travelers just send out generic emails without bothering to address (perhaps even read) your profile.  Also, they seem to shop around: just because they email you doesn’t mean they are going to follow through.  I’ve replied to 3 or 4 helpers and then not heard back from them.  I think we’re getting gazumped by HelpX hosts with swimming pools.

But beyond the benefits of an extra set of hands around the house I’m curious to see why so many people are doing this.  Why do people welcome strangers into their homes?  When you think about it it’s a risky thing to do.  They could steal, but then you would give them a bad review and they would be unable to find another position, so I imagine that stealing is quite rare. Or they could simply be lazy, or a twat, and you’d be stuck with them for a week. Despite all that I’d like to be more welcoming.  It’s when you take risks that you have the most wonderful experiences.  Plus, I like the idea of helping people travel.  I know we’d never have the opportunity to spend a month in Vienna if a HelpX family didn’t host us and I like to think I’m helping someone else live their travel dreams.  After all, “philoxenia” is a Greek word.

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