WWOOF aka World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is a really fantastic way to travel, meet new people and learn a little about farming in the process! Workaway, and HelpX are other programs that offer similar opportunities where guests volunteer their time in exchange for room and/or board. All are fantastic options for traveling the world while on a budget. Save money on the cost of sleeping accommodations and food while getting to socialize and learn, what’s not to like there?!
I have experience in a number of places including Canada, California, Hawaii. In addition I’ve researched farms in Thailand and Costa Rica and talked to many other WWOOFers about their time as a vagabond worker 😉
I encourage anyone to try it, no matter your age. If you are able-bodied and open minded, we can find something for you! Friends, food and fun, what’s not to like?
Firstly, a few things about how to navigate the website. Each area of the world has a different site and membership. You’ll buy a membership which typically lasts for one year. After making your profile (with good photos) you can start browsing farm profiles. You’re able to filter results with your preferences (ie. vegetarian/vegan, smoking/non-smoking etc.) and use key word searches. Most WWOOF sites will also have reviews from previous WWOOFers. You’ll havee access to the host’s contact info, sometimes this includes their address which you can google for their location. E-mail them with a little about yourself, your availability and any questions and you’re all set!
Before getting started a few things you should know: Not all farms are certified organic farms, some are just people with a backyard who need a hand. Also, not every exchange is for full room and board, some you have to pay additional or supplement your own food. Lastly, know that there are no consistent standards. All farms are maintained individually and things like safety and cleanliness are up to the discretion of the owner. Some farms will be paradise and others pigpens.
Ask yourself, what are my intentions? Keep in mind what you’re priorities are and it will help you in finding the right fit. Are you interested in learning, making friends, and/or travelling?
In researching farm profiles be sure to find out your length of stay/commitment; exact work hours & type; what food is provided; how many WWOOFers on the property at a time; what are your sleeping accommodations; what is transportation like around the area?
If their descriptions are a little light, you might want to contact them and ask: How much experience is required on your behalf; What is the kitchen type (ie. veg only); What do they grow & can you eat it; Their location relative to town?
As for general tips… Be sure to pack light, be a minimalist! Don’t forget to make all your arrangements (ie. how will you get from the airport to the farm?). If you feel uncomfortable about committing to such an unknown, try and get a farm on recommendation, read reviews from past WWOOFers, ask to Skype your host beforehand. Always keep in mind that, if you don’t know something (like which plant is a weed or where to put your tool), just ask! Take advantage of your hosts as a resource for learning the inside scoop on the area. Be ready to work – take it seriously. Often this is people’s homes, plus, you’ll get more out of it! Arrange in advance. I started preparing 6 months prior. Farms have to plan their sessions and so there might be a wait list. Know your options – if after giving it a chance, if it’s not going well for either or both parties, you can leave. I’d say be respectful as much as you can, try and have a conversation about it and provide some constructive feedback. You can also review them fairly on the site. Acknowledge any of your participation in this as well. Lastly, stay open! It’s going to be a lot of new, but give it a chance =)
More Travel Tips
Tunes by lakey inspired and valesco