Traveling is no longer such a bug deal like a century ago, and even the most budget conscious traveler can find ways to visit some of the most faraway and wonderful places on the planet. Even traveling on a shoestring can be eco-conscious and sustain local conomies, but there are others ways to discover some of the most beautiful spots in the world without making a dent in your savings. WWOOF-ing, better known as World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, by no means a lazy holiday, but it is the kind of vacation that will allow you to gain insights into your host culture, into the ways of the land, and even teach you a thing or two. Here’s a traveler’s guide to WWOOF-ing, for those who are looking into novels ways of experiencing travel.
WWOOF_ing started out as Willing Workers On Organic Farms, a program initiated in the 70′s in the UK, which sent volunteers to countries all over the world to work on farms for room and board. The name was changed to World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, a network of organizations that link organic farms to volunteers. If you are interested in seeing new places from an insider’s perspective, learning about organic country living and bonding with like minded people, then WWOOF-ing is for you.
The WWOOF-er agrees to work 4-6 hours a day on the farm, doing various tasks, in exchange for free accommodation and home-cooked meals. You might help restore walls, clean animal pens, or digging, so it’s not always easy, but the rewards are genuine: you end up with skills, you discover the local culture with the help of your hosts, and you make a few friends too.
Picking a destination
Unsurprisingly, many farms in the WWOOF network are located in bona fide tourist hotspots. You can look after goats and build biodegradable houses in Portugal, and spend your free time kayaking and surfing. You could work in a vineyard of olive farm in Italy, and travel the lush Tuscan countryside on your time off. The UK, Sweden, Brazil, New Zealand or India are also popular with WWOOF-ers. There are over fifty countries in the WWOOF network, and they all have various types of farms that can offer interesting experiences. Try your hand at beekeeping, cheese making, and growing vegetables, and you get to stay on rustic, picturesque farms with various tourist attractions at your fingertips.
The best way to find a farm that suits your needs and interests is to see if the country that you’d like to visit has a national WWOOF organization, and take it from there. You might be required to pay a small fee that goes to the organization (hosts also need to pay this), but other than that, you get a free holiday in a nice place, with only travel costs to cover.