On a small island on the incredible Helgeland coast lies three idyllic cabins with an amazing ocean view. These incredible small cabins offer a chance to escape everyday life, and experience the breathtaking coastal scenery of northern Norway without a worry in the world.
You are likely under the impression that such a stay will be a costly affair, but a new campaign to promote local voluntourism allows you to spend the weekend at the incredible House by the Sea completely for free if you partake in a beach cleaning!
The deal is actually pretty simple; anyone who’s interested in staying two nights for free at one of the three cabins at the House of the Sea complex can apply.
You offer your service for manual labor in exchange to helping out locals to make sure that the area is pristine and suitable for tourism.
Anyone is free to apply, but there’s only a total of 16 spots this year.
Voluntourism to help locals upkeep the destination
The reason behind the project is that Træna’s islands are become increasingly popular tourist attractions, and this takes a toll on the surrounding area and nature.
Beaches needs to be cleaned, trails need to be upkept and public services need to have maintenance, but who’s responsibility is this really?
It’s traditionally been locals who’s been taking care of these things (often completely for free), while the tourists have been enjoying the fruits of the labor. And that’s exactly what this project hopes to change.
The voluntourism project will bring in a total of 16 tourists who are going to be working alongside locals to clean and maintain this beautiful area, and give the volunteers a unique chance to experience both local culture as well as the amazing nature of Træna at the same time.
Træna is one of Norway’s most beautiful island groups
Træna is a small municipality of the coast of northern Norway, and consists of many different island. There are only a few of them that are inhabited, and most people live at either Husøy (roughly 400 people) or Selvær (around 55 people).
This island group has traditionally been an important area for fishing, but it has recently seen a surge of tourism – and that’s not so strange. This pristine island group is insanely beautiful, and can rival Lofoten in many ways.
Many tourists visit the biggest island in the group, Sanna. Despite being the biggest, only 2 or 3 people actually live at the island itself, so it’s a mostly pristine and unused island except for tourists.
The most inhabited island, Husøy, houses the municipality’s public buildings, as well as a convienence store, a café, a small hotel. It also hosts the famous Træna festival (Trænafestivalen) where artists hold concerts at an archeological site where there have been human settlements as early as 9,000 years ago.
House by the Sea, the three cabins where participants of the project will be housed, is also located on the main island Husøya.
Funfact: Træna municipality includes over 400 islands, which is almost one island per inhabitant!
Foreigners are free to apply!
I reached out to the company behind this campaign, and they assured me that international tourists and foreigners are free to apply for the project. So this is a unique opportunity to experience one of Norway’s most beautiful places, while also partaking in a truly special project to make the area even better.
That said, it’s only the stay itself that is free, so you will need to pay for flights and transportation to get to Norway and Træna yourself. So it’s still going to be pretty expensive if you’re living far away in a place like the United States.
How to apply for a free stay in Træna
If you want to apply to the project, then head over to House by the Sea’s website. There is no form to fill out, and applications are done over e-mail.
So just shoot them an e-mail with some information about yourself and why you want to participate.
The project manager told me that they have had over 100 applications already, so you better make sure that your application stands out if you want to increase your chances of being accepted.
Details of the deal
Have we peaked your interest? Awesome! Let’s take a closer look at what exactly this voluntourism project entails for the participants.
The project itself will run at two dates; from June 2 to June 4, and from September 8 to September 10. Each of these two dates will have 8 different people participating, and there’s no option to participate at any other date.
As a volunteer, you get two free nights at these beautiful House by the Sea cabins. There are three cabins, where two of them houses two guests each, and the final one houses 4 houses. So you can apply with a group or partner, or by yourself if you are comfortable sharing the cabin with strangers.
During the weekend, you are expected to work between 10 and 15 hours, where you will be doing manual labor. Some of the expected projects will be to be cleaning the beaches in Træna, make and fix foot trails, and general maintenance for public areas.
From what I understand, much of the work will be done on the island Sanna, which is a very popular tourist destination.
There will be a free dinner party on the Friday night when everyone arrives, and you will get lunch on Saturday and Sunday. Other than that, you’ve got to cover your own food.
You will also need to pay to get to the site yourself, because travel costs are not included in the project itself.
You can read more about the project here, but it’s Norwegian only, so you might want to give it a spin in Google Translate. The project manager stresses that this is the first time this voluntourism project is attempted, so he urges applicants to be flexible and motivated.
Nicklas is the owner and editor of The Norway Guide, and is responsible for most of the content on the website.
He lives in Skien, Norway with his wife and two children. Nicklas is specialized in Norwegian ecology (including Norway’s geology, wildlife and flora) from his degree in Ecology And Nature Management at University of South-Eastern Norway, but has a particular interest in tourism and content creation.
His biggest hobbies are fishkeeping, going on hikes with his dog, and rooting for the local football team.