Your Weekly Travel Inspiration is a day late because I’m still settling in at Hana Farms — the organic farm in Hawaii where E and I will be living and working for the next month or two.
We found this opportunity through E’s older sister, but she, and most of the other people working here, found it through the WWOOF website. That’s why this week, I want to highlight WWOOF, as well as some other websites that offer alternative opportunities for travel and living.
WWOOFing is an organization of work-trade opportunities on various organic farms the world over. Farms that are interested in hiring help in exchange for room and board will list openings online and accept applicants from all around the world. The link above will take you to the WWOOF organization’s website for more information about the movement, but most countries have their own website where farm owners post jobs. To access these listings, you’ll need to sign up for a year-long membership to the WWOOF website of whichever country you’re hoping to work in, but the fees are reasonable — it’s only $30 to access the WWOOF USA listings.
If farming isn’t your style, workaway provides listings for a lot of different work-trade opportunities. I’ve never used this website, but the hostel that I stayed at in Budapest was staffed entirely by people who found their jobs on workaway. These are volunteer positions, but they provide room and board, and for 22 euros you can access workaway’s worldwide listings for two years. They list farm positions as well as hostel work and other odd job opportunities, so if you’re unsure where you want to go or what you’d like to be doing, this might be the website for you.
I’ve never tried house sitting, but many travel bloggers swear by it as an inexpensive and fun way to travel. I’ve been meaning to buy Globetrotter Girls‘s ebook on house sitting, but you can also just read some of their blog posts on the subject. If you want to check out a website to see some house sitting listings, Globetrotter Girls speak highly of TrustedHousesitters.com. However, a year-long membership with this site costs $75, so this is a more expensive option.
If you’re not interested in volunteering or being committed to one place for an extended time (many WWOOF opportunities have a minimum stay of at least three weeks), then this might be the option for you. Couchsurfing is a website that I used while in Europe and with which I’ve only had good experiences. It’s free to sign up and create a profile, and then when you want to travel somewhere you simply use the website’s search function to look up people who live there and send a request to stay on their couch (or in their spare bedroom or whatever their accommodations happen to be). You can read their profile ahead of time to see if you have anything in common, and they can read your profile to make sure they want you staying at their house. Couchsurfing users also leave reviews of their experiences with each other so you can check and make sure that the person you want to stay with has hosted other people before and isn’t an axe murderer. It’s a great way to meet locals and have a different experience in a new place.
So, there you have it. Four websites where you can find alternative travel opportunities.
For any work-trade agreement though, and this includes house sitting, make sure that both parties know what they are signing up for ahead of time. For example, E and I committed to work 25 hours per week in exchange for room and board. Right now, we’re sleeping in a tent on the farm’s property, but we knew that’s what our accommodations were going to be for the first week, and were prepared to be camping. There are horror stories floating around of WWOOFers being overworked and exploited, so make sure you know what the deal is going in.
Ultimately, there are lots of ways to finance travel and lots of ways to live and work, so why not try something new?
Have you had good experiences with any of these websites? Are there others you’d like to add to the list? Let me know in the comments!