Yes, you’re abroad. Yes, the food is wonderful. Yes, this novel form of traveling is inspiring and life-altering. Yes, this is still work: WWOOFing is a part-time job on vacation.
WWOOFing allows travelers to get to know a place in ways that are nearly impossible without living there. And, for those who don’t feel like they have the means to travel, this opportunity can be a great option for thrifty traveling. However, the benefits of WWOOFing go well beyond affordability. Although this style of traveling isn’t for everybody, it is a great option for those who want to travel in a new and ulterior way. WWOOFing helps travelers connect with and learn from people while abroad.
WWOOFing is cool because it…
- Provides opportunities for all ages and abilities: anyone can WWOOF
- Offers worldwide opportunities on organic farms
- Gives WWOOFers free housing and food
- Allows travelers to learn about a variety of different farming methods
- Connects you with people around the world
- Affords a way get to know a new place
Tips for any WWOOFer:
- When searching for a place, first decide where you want to go and why. If you want to go to Panama and you want to surf, pick a farm that is near the coast and, preferably, that is located in a surfing town.
- Pick a farm where you will learn something you want to learn. If you love animals, search “animals” in the search bar. You can get more specific with “horses” and so on. The same goes for other types of farming: banana plantations, cacao farms, truffle hunting, foraging, etc.
- Once you have a few potential farms picked out, contact the host with any and all questions. The information that a host puts on the website is often out of date or inaccurate in some way. So, don’t hesitate to reach out to hosts directly. Here are a few important questions to ask: What kind of work will you have me do? What are the room accommodations? Is there hot water? Is there privacy? Can I bring visitors into my room? How many hours will you have me work per day and will I get any days off (average is 4-6 hours on the weekdays, and weekends off)?
- Research the host and see what you can find out about them on both the WWOOF website and social media. If anything about them seems off-kilter to you, red-flag it.
- Travel with a friend. WWOOFing can be dangerous. Usually, you are traveling somewhere remote with limited access to public transportation. You need to take the proper precautions and traveling with a friend is always better. If you are unable to (or don’t want to) travel with a friend, contact your host and make sure that other WWOOFers will be there when you are.
- Don’t confine yourself to just one farm. Get to know the program by traveling to a few different farms. That way, you can meet more people, learn more things, and see more places.
- Don’t let the host abuse you in any way. Yes, they are giving you housing and food, but in exchange they’re getting a capable, curious, and educated worker. If you feel like your host is overworking you or giving you jobs that are dangerous or unhealthy for you in any way, you should voice your concerns and leave if you need to.
- Have a contact at home who knows your itinerary as well as your host’s name and contact information. This is a general safety precaution for you.
Remember your common sense will be your best guide to staying safe and finding a host who you can trust and enjoy working for. Once those things are set in place, start WWOOFing and learn as much as you can!