Interested in a working holiday? Find out what to expect on your holiday with us.

Selecting a working holiday

We want you to choose a holiday that you’re going to enjoy, so we’ve put tips below on how to select the best one for you.

Appropriate work and activities 

You should consider your fitness levels as some locations are remote or subject to harsh conditions so it’s better to be realistic when choosing where to go. Some Working Holidays require a long walk to the work site before the work has even started and this can sometimes be over mountainous terrain in poor weather conditions. You can check the physicality rating and the holiday description on each individual holiday page.

Consecutive working holidays

You can book as many working holidays as you like but we’d recommend that you leave a few days’ gap between them as some of them can be quite strenuous. We’d like you to enjoy your next holiday without being too tired.

Commitment

We’d like you to be able to commit to whole holiday as it’s important for the whole team to work together to complete the task.

Duke of Edinburgh

If you’re taking part in one of our working holidays for your Duke of Edinburgh award, you’ll have to book a minimum six-night holiday to meet the qualification requirements.

What's included in the cost of your holiday

  • Accommodation in a bunkhouse or specified accommodation.
  • Food – breakfast, packed lunch and dinner (except the evening meal on your day off, if applicable)
  • Local transfer from and to the nearest bus/rail pick up point. If you want to make your own way to the accommodation, you are welcome to do so – just let the leader know when they get in touch a couple of weeks prior to the holiday.
  • Where applicable, travel between the bunkhouse and worksite


What's not included

Travel to and from the holiday – some locations such as Lundy Island and Northern Ireland may involve additional costs for ferries or helicopters. You will receive more information specific to these venues with your joining instructions.

What you’ll need to pack

  • A sleeping bag or sheet, duvet and pillow. At some locations bedding is provided but this will be clarified in your holiday joining instructions
  • Strong footwear – steel toe capped work boots are essential for construction, dry stone walling and stone-pitching and recommended for other holidays. Trainers are not suitable for work outdoors. Strong sturdy footwear with a thick sole is necessary
  • Wash kit, towel, flip flops
  • Torch
  • Sandwich box, water bottle/flask
  • Tea towel
  • Set of waterproofs
  • Dressing gown (useful if wc/shower is in a separate building)
  • Tough, old work clothes – (please do not bring anything which you mind getting damaged, high quality clothing can be ruined by thorns and sparks from bonfires)
  • Warm, casual clothes for the evening
  • Work gloves – strong gardening gloves are suitable
  • Small rucksack
  • Insect repellent and insect bite remedy
  • Sunscreen and sunhat
  • Swimwear
  • Personal first aid kit
  • Any medication you might need, including aspirin, etc
  • Enough money for the day off, if applicable, and evening leisure activities

Your accommodation

You will usually stay in a National Trust Bunkhouse, a farmhouse, cottage or stable block which has been converted for volunteer use. Most have fairly basic facilities but usually include a well-equipped kitchen, hot showers and bunk beds in small dormitories. Expect basic, communal living conditions and you won’t be disappointed. Some of our holidays are housed in alternative bases such as holiday cottages, isolated mountain huts or youth hostels. You’ll most likely have to share a room with another participant unless otherwise specified.

Arrivals and departures

Your Working Holiday commences at approximately 6pm on the first day, allowing you time during the day for travel, and will end at approximately 10am on the last day. Short Breaks end at approximately 4pm. When booking your transport home, please allow time to travel from your accommodation to the station. Designated pick-up points will be given on your joining instructions and your holiday leader will contact you prior to your holiday to discuss your plans.

Meals

All meals are included (except an evening meal on your day off). Under the guidance of the leader, you’ll will help prepare and serve meals in a social, communal way with everyone mucking in. They’ll be home-cooked; so hearty, tasty and plentiful. If you’re vegetarian, vegan or follow a special diet, you need to let us know at time of booking or so the holiday leader knows what to buy. Our leaders are usually capable of catering for most diets, however your help in preparing meals which are suitable for you would be welcomed. If you have special ingredients which you think might be difficult to obtain, it would be a good idea to take some on holiday with you.

Free time

Your holiday leader will have suggestions for group activities in the evenings and, if applicable, on the day off during your holiday (short breaks and some Active holidays do not have a day off). The activities may include visiting nearby towns or Trust properties, or you might choose to go bowling, swimming or visit a pub or other attractions. You will need to bring enough money to cover the cost. We’re not responsible for these activities (unless otherwise specified) as they’re usually a joint decision made once you’re on the holiday. You can choose to do your own thing if you want to. We’d recommend your travel insurance covers these activities as well as the rest of your holiday.

Working Holidays groups and leaders

On your Working Holiday you will be working alongside up to twelve participants of all ages who want to contribute their time towards the preservation of our places. Your holiday leader is a volunteer. They are trained to help you have a rewarding and enjoyable holiday and work with Trust staff to ensure its smooth running. The leaders help with the day-to-day running of the work site and organise the domestic and social arrangements of the holiday. We could not deliver our programme without our skilled and enthusiastic team of leaders.

Health and safety

The National Trust is committed to ensuring that all the necessary precautions are in place to protect you from dangers or hazards whilst on a Working Holiday. Our staff will explain safety on site, including the safe use of tools, safe methods of carrying out the work involved and emergency procedures. You must follow any instructions given to ensure that you and others are safe on the work site. With the exception of steel toe capped boots, we will provide any other protective equipment including hard hats and goggles where necessary. It is your responsibility to make sure that you are protected by an anti-tetanus injection before attending the holiday.

Admission Card to National Trust properties

At our discretion, an Admission Card may be offered to participants who have completed a Working Holiday. This non-transferable card, valid for one year for participants of week-long holidays and six months for short break participants, from the start of your working holiday, will allow the volunteer free admission to properties owned and managed by the National Trust and the National Trust for Scotland.

Further information

Working holidays terms and conditions 

Download our terms and conditions for working holidays.