Tag Archives: WWOOF

When we were planning our first extended journey we basically had no money to travel at all, actually quite the opposite. We had overwhelming debts as our business was down the drain and couldn’t even keep our home. Still, it was in this desperate situation that the idea of going on a longer journey first did strike us. We had heard of WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) and the possibility to work on farms a number of hours per day in exchange for food and lodging. And we could even do it as a family…

Not having money to travel can feel like being stuck. But there is always a way out!

Not having money to travel can feel like being stuck. But there is always a way out!

It didn’t turn out that way in the end though and we didn’t go WWOOF-ing in New Zeeland at that time as was our initial plan. But we did go on a longer journey. Life took some unexpected turns and we took off in an old (very old) campervan on a 5 month journey through Europe instead.

Looking back now, I realize that it was actually when we were experiencing the lack of money that our desire to go on an extended journey with the family was first brought to life. Prior to that situation, we had hardly ever thought about it. We were just so preoccupied with living our everyday life with all it included, like taking care of family and home, work and school and then just running out of energy at the end of the day.

Interestingly enough though is that the lack of money, which is the most common reason why long term travel is out of the question for most people, was actually the reason we left on our first longer journey.

How can that be you may wonder? Well, when we considered the possibility of WWOOF-ing in New Zeeland, we realized that once we’d arrive there, we would almost be able to “live for free”. We have some friends who did just that, WWOOF-ed around Europe for five years with literally now money (they even became parents along the way:grin:). This possibility just wasn’t available if we’d stay at home.

This is something that is so hard for most people to understand; you don’t actually need a lot of money to travel long term! It can be a lot cheaper than staying at home. Traveling short term though can often be very expensive.

And this is not something that just we are saying. It has been confirmed to us by other long term travelers over and over again. Here is a great article that describes how you don’t need money to travel to go on a long journey. Another example is this man which we’ve mentioned before and who twittered himself to the other side of the world.

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We are members of a couple of network travel organizations that allow us to both welcome visitors from all over the world to our home as well as travel ourselves and stay for free at other members homes.

Los Arenalejos

Los Arenalejos

There are some different forms for these organizations. Some of them require that you help out with things a few hours a day in exchange for free food and a place to sleep. It can be all kinds of work, farm work, garden work, building, cooking, baby sitting, helping children with homework, you name it. These places usually allow you, and want you to stay for a bit longer – weeks or even months. A couple of examples of these organizations are WWOOF and Helpx.

Other Organized Network Travel groups only allow you to stay a few days but you are not required to do any special work in exchange. Some examples of these are Servas and Coachsurfing.

We have mostly traveled through WWOOF – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms – in Europe and especially Spain. We have many great memories from these visits but one special place comes to our minds, Los Arenalejos in the mountains above Marbella, Southern Spain. The family who has this huge farm is now dear friends to us and we have been staying there several times, helping out with various things. Since they grow absolutely everything on their land, there’s always something to do. Some of the things that grow there are olives (lots and lots of old trees), avocados (almost as much), oranges, mandarins, lemons, grapefruits, apricots, peaches, apples, pears, pecans, almonds to name a few.

If you’re interested in horses you might want to stay on a farm.

If you’re interested in horses you might want to stay on a farm.

We have also had visitors come to us through WWOOF. We remember the man who came on his bike (!) from England. He didn’t take the quickest way though but made a small detour around France and Italy first. He was a great help with repairing things around the house.

Another time we had a young man from New York coming to spend time with our kids and to “teach” them English. It did very much turn out the other way around though, they taught him things like harvesting honey and chopping wood.

We’ve also had a family staying at our home for a winter when we were traveling ourselves. They were a Finnish-English couple with a son. They had actually been WWOOFing themselves around the world for 5 years as a family!

Travel with the help of an organization like this really helps you to learn a lot about the people and the customs and the culture of the country. You feel much more like a local than like a tourist and also you don’t have any costs for accommodation and usually not even for food.

We really think you should have a look here to get some more ideas about this great way to travel!

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