WWOOFing stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. It is one of the many types of free accommodations that are available out there. Basically, your job is to help the “farm” owners with chores and in return, they will give you food and accommodation. The number of hours you spend doing chores varies on the host. Sometimes, you work six hours a day six days a week, and sometimes less. You always get the weekends off which is the perfect opportunity to explore your local area. You also get to learn more about the local culture through WWOOFing and see if from their lenses as oppose to a tourist point of view.
I was fortunate enough to interview an individual that has been WWOOFing since November 2014. He was kind enough to share his story on how he got started with WWOOFing. His advice are invaluable and practical. Anyone who is seeking to save money on accommodations while traveling will truly derive benefit from his advice.
Austin Miller went to school for International Affairs and Chinese Language and Culture. He went to school for 3 years and 8 months in China where he met his current girlfriend Yui who then became his travel partner.
Living in China, Austin realize how much he loves traveling and decided to embark on his own journey of slow travel to see the world. One of his biggest motivator to travel is seeing his friend’s life. Whenever he saw his friends, he realized how mediocre their lives were and didn’t want to end up like one of those people that only travel for two weeks in a given year.
Upon graduating from post-secondary, Austin was fortunate enough not to incur any student loans or credit card debts. This gave him the freedom to travel to Australia instead of having to stay in USA and work a typical job in order to pay off debt or loans.
Austin landed in surfers paradise and that’s when his WWOOFing journey began.
Here are some advice from Austin in order to succeed with WWOOFing:
1) Buy the WWOOFing Book and Membership
First, pick the country you wish to travel to from the WWOOFing website and start filling out the application form. The website is located here: http://wwoofinternational.org/
Some countries like Australia comes with a WWOOFing book that has a list of families and farms. In the book, you can see the location and type of work those individual families and farms need from their volunteers. The work ranges from working on the fields to doing household chores to taking care of children. Austin himself learned how to do home renovation from one of his WWOOFing host (an amazing skill to acquire).
2) Contact WWOOFing Hosts
After getting the WWOOFing book, contact at least 10 WOOFing families either by email or by phone and start inquiring about being a volunteer. If you’re sending an email to, make sure to make it really in-depth. Talk about your skills, interest (such as hiking) and, yourself. Make sure you have really good pictures of yourself doing hard work and manual labour.
3) Make Your Resume Even Better
Austin and Yui went as far as making a website to really catch the attention of the host. You can see their website here: http://www.yuiandaustin.com/
They made sure they have lots of pictures of themselves playing/taking care of animals. Having childhood pictures makes you look even better and WWOOFing as a couple makes you more trust worthy.
4) Build Strong Relationships with Your Host
As you go from one WOOFing gig to the next, make sure to take the time to build a good relationship with your hosts. They will provide you excellent reference for future WWOOFing and House Sitting gigs.
Some perks Austin and Yui experienced from WWOOFing include:
- Free entry to a music festival from a connection of the local host.
- Stayed in a 1.5 Million dollar house made of glass on top of a mountain.
- Stayed in a doctor’s house where they had the whole house to themselves.
While Austin definitely more positive experiences, here are a few “less positive” ones:
- He once worked 6 hours a day, 6 days a week. He said it wasn’t really that bad, just monotonous manual labour which Austin offset by listening to audio books and podcasts.
- He dealt with a close minded host who was not interested in dealing with people with a different mindset.
- Because of the time he spent doing work, errands and chores, he didn’t have much time to work on his side business. His host often wanted him to go out and have fun instead of staying home working on his laptop.
Overall, Austin’s experience was a positive one and he highly recommends WWOOFing to everyone. Just make sure you are open and adaptable. Don’t worry too much about what will happen and don’t set any expectations. Just go for it and keep your mind open to the experience.
Austin’s website is at Austinmiller.com (currently under construction). He supports his lifestyle by doing some online freelance writing. He aims to get his business off the ground to help further support his lifestyle.