If the cost of traveling is holding you back—or if you’re simply interested in experiencing an alternative way of traveling—consider volunteering for a work exchange program.
There are number of organizations across the globe that link volunteers up with business, farms, organizations, and people who are willing to exchange food and accommodation for labor.
Taking part in an exchange can be a tremendous way to see the world, avoid the beaten path, learn a language, meet people, and truly immerse yourself in a foreign culture. But before you go, it’s important to find the organization and host that’s right for you. Here’s a list that’ll help you get started:
Find Your Inner-farmer While WWOOFing
WWOOF—pronounced the same way as a dog’s bark—is an acronym for the World Wide Organic Organization of Farming. It was originally founded in 1971 so London workers could escape the city and learn how to grow food. Now days, the organization has expanded, linking volunteers with organic farms located all across the U.S and the globe. There are currently more than 75,000 WWOOFers in more than 100 countries and on six continents.
What They Offer: in exchange for your help, which consists of working 4 – 6 hours a day, the WWOOF hosts provides volunteers with food, accommodation and opportunities to learn about farming and local culture.
Requirements: the requirements and needed abilities can vary from host to host, but typically volunteers have to be at least 18 year-old. No prior knowledge of farming is necessary, and the duration of stay and time off is negotiable and depends on the host. All travel and visa arrangements must be taken care of by the volunteer and a small fee, which varies from country to country, is required to become a WWOOF member.
Travel The World With Workaway
Workaway is a similar fair, work exchange organization. Though unlike WWOOFing, Workaway presents volunteers with an expansive list of opportunities—beyond farming.
What They Offer: Workaway offers budget travelers and cultural seekers a vast array of exchange options in nearly every corner of the world. For example, you could teach at a boarding school in Mazabuka, restore a house in France, work on a Swiss farm, be an au pair in Australia, work at a bar in Nicaragua, help with horses in Spain—the options and locations are seemingly endless.
Requirements: there is no age requirement with Workaway, and naturally, the other requirements are dependent upon the kind of job you’re applying for. Workaway is not an agency so it’s up to the volunteer to make travel and visa arrangements and to contact the host. There is also a small fee (around $24 USD) to become a member (http://www.workaway.info/signup-en.html).