This is a guest post submitted by Tony from LandingStanding.com. You may remember that I recently featured him and his wife, Meg, in a Who’s Out There Now interview. This post has been delayed for a while and I’m glad I can finally publish it. One of the top activities for career breakers is volunteering and giving back. For the past few years, WWOOFing (Weekend Workers on Organic Farms) has become increasingly popular. Tony and Meg recently spent time on a farm in Italy and agreed to write about their experience and tell you how you can get involved. Thanks to Tony for writing this post. Happy farming!
A machete in my right hand, a thick glove on my left, and bloody scratches covering my arms. Thick foliage blocked most of the Italian sun, but I was still dripping in sweat. It was my my first day at the agriturismo site, Barbialla Nuova, and I was loving life.
Just one year before (back in the US), my days were spent either in meetings, on the phone, or pounding away at the keyboard writing up credit reviews so that my commercial banking customers could get financing. It is amazing how far I’ve come as I travel around the world… and I’m not just talking about miles.
When taking a career break, there is always that freaky blend of apprehension and excitement that preludes doing anything uncertain or unknown. There are many reasons why you might make the decision to travel, but for me, my reasons were finally clarified 6 months into our trip. As I whacked away at insanely sharp thorn vines on an Italian truffle hunting trail, I realized that I took my career break and traveled around the world so that I could:
- Experience more.
- Experience something different.
- Experience life.
As tired as my shoulders felt, as bloody as my arms got, and as hot as I became, I had never appreciated work or life more. This was why I quit my job to travel.
The best part about working at this agriturismo site? I only had to work at various jobs around the farm for 4-6 hours per day and I had 2 days off per week. Oh, and even better? On some days, part of my 4-6 hours of work consisted of me helping host a giant lunch for people staying at the farm’s villas… where I got to eat and drink right alongside the guests.
Yes, it was as dynamite as it sounds.
So how did I end up working for 2 weeks on an agriturismo site in Tuscany?
My wife and I spent almost 2 years planning our around the world career break. Much of that time was spent researching and dreaming about all of the different ways we could experience our travel.
We have rented apartments, slept in hostels, lined up house-sitting gigs, camped, stayed with friends, taken overnight buses, but had never tried WWOOFing. Luckily, a friend of my mine had secured herself and her boyfriend a great 5 month job as assistants on a lovely agriturismo in Tuscany. She let us know that the farm was looking for WWOOFers to come help for a couple of weeks and we knew we had finally found our WWOOFing opportunity.
WWOOF stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms and is an organization that links organics farms with volunteers. The farms list what type of work they need, the hours required per week, and what they will provide the volunteers. In return, volunteers typically get a free place to sleep and often get free food as well. At the agroturismo site, we received full payment for any groceries we bought in addition to a private bedroom and bathroom in a quiet tuscan villa. Not too shabby.
Who Should Try WWOOFing?
WWOOFing really is not for everyone.
You need to be open to performing physical labor, actually working during your travels, and getting dirty. But you are thinking about taking a career break, right? Why else would you be reading this? So scratch that. Let me amend my statement. WWOOFing is for everyone who wants to try something different and is looking to experience life while on their career break.
If you’re considering a career break, then you’re probably exactly the type of person who would enjoy WWOOFing. There are jobs posted for people of all abilities.
How To Sign Up
Anyone can access the list of available opportunities and it is a great way to see what you might like to try. But if you want to actually inquire about a job, you need to sign up for that country’s specific WWOOFing list.
It costs $25 to sign up and you have to sign up by country, so plan on where you want to apply before you start paying for a ton of lists. But the list does provide you with the contact info you need to contact the farms, so it’s a must.
There are a lot of amazing opportunities on these lists, so give them a try!
Would We WWOOF Again?
We see WWOOFing as a great way to save money while we travel (especially in more expensive places like Europe), but we also like having time to just work on our own projects, which WWOOFing does not always allow (we were always too tired at the end of each work day).
This means we would not do back-to-back WWOOFing gigs. We loved our experience on the farm and had an amazing time getting to know everyone who worked there, but it was actual work for us.
Bottom-line: WWOOFing is a great way to save money while you travel and get an incredibly rich life experience. We maintained truffle trails, picked wild cherries, played with truffle dogs, took care of chickens, and worked our butts off. If any of that sounds interesting to you, then you are perfect for WWOOFing.
Your Turn: Is anyone considering WWOOFing? Has anyone tried and had a different experience from ours? We’d love to hear so please share!
About the Author: About Tony – Tony Rulli is the co-founder of LandingStanding.com and has been traveling around the world with his lovely wife, Meg, for the past year. They are passionate about food, travel, and all things ridiculous. They are always eager to meet new people and you can say hi on Twitter or Facebook.