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Why We WWOOF | Born Naked

Me, taking a break from gardening

 Okay, so we actually use the Help Exchange database instead of WWOOFing, for a variety of reasons, but I didn’t want to ruin the alliteration. My interest in WWOOFing began many years ago when I began to research traveling, but it wasn’t until last year, when I learned about Help Exchange, that it became the basis for our travel plans. It began simply as a way to travel inexpensively, as well as to experience cultural immersion for a short time in many different places. However, it soon became much more.

Help Exchange is a work trade in which a helper stays with a host. The helper works an agreed-upon number of hours per week (usually between 25 and 35) and receives food and lodging in return. The work is often, but not always, outdoors-based: gardening, farming, helping with the animals, and building various structures. However, it often includes cooking, cleaning, organizing, childcare, and whatever other work the host and helper agree upon.

We love Help Exchange because:

–We get to experience life with different families, in different cultures

–We gain skills that can be applied to our future life, or added to our resumés

–We stay fit!

–We make friends

–We have a home base for exploring an area

–We get to experience life in different geographical areas with different climates: big cities, out in the country, and everything in between

–We can live and travel without needing to own a lot, and without being tied down to our possessions (house, car, etc.)

–We can travel long-term for very little money

–We can travel slower, allowing us to really get to know the area in which we’re staying

–In many countries we can Helpx on a travel visa, since it counts as volunteering

–We can live a simple, balanced life on the road. We don’t need much money and we have more time to just be.

–We are exposed to many different experiences! While exploring the variety of hosts available, I have found an ashram, several retreat centers, many B&Bs, sailboats and yachts, cafés, ecovillages, ranches, a mansion, and many farms and small homesteads.

A few words on why we choose to find hosts through Help Exchange rather than through the WWOOF organization: firstly, WWOOFing is limited to farming experiences, while Help Exchange can cover a variety of different work experiences and living situations. We love farming, but we like doing different things as well, and we like having the ability to Helpx within a large city, which is difficult to do while WWOOFing. The Help Exchange website is also much better set up, provides the opportunity for hosts and helpers to leave evaluations for each other (very helpful!), and provides a two-year worldwide membership for one small fee. There is a similar work exchange organization called Workaway, and although they look very promising, we have found that they don’t have nearly the number of hosts around the world (yet) that Help Exchange does.

So, are you hooked yet?

 

The Dirty Details:

World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms or WWOOF (it used to be Willing Workers)

http://www.wwoof.org/

$30 for one-year membership for WWOOF USA, comparable for other countries

Must pay and register separately for each country or geographical area

Help Exchange

https://www.helpx.net/

20 Euros for a two-year membership for a single or couple/two people (about $25 at the time this post was written)

One fee provides access to the entire website, which lists hosts all over the world

Workaway

http://www.workaway.info/

22/29 Euros for a two-year membership for a single/couple

One fee provides access to the entire website, which lists hosts all over the world

 

8 Responses to Why We WWOOF

  1. Andrei says:

    Hey Zoe! Thanks for the insightful article. I’m planning my big South American trip and I was considering using WWOOF. After reading your article, I’m more inclined to use Help Exchange. Seems like a better deal:)

  2. Zoe Lassen-Purser says:

    I think both are really good resources, I just want more people to know about Help Exchange so that they know they have more options! It can be more financially viable, depending on how/where you’re traveling. Glad it was useful, and have fun in South America!

  3. Shannon says:

    Thanks for the heads up on Help Exchange Zoe. I had heard of Wwoofing before, but not this! My hubby and I are going to sell up at the end of this year, pack our backpacks and go and travel the world starting Jan 2014. HelpX sounds like a fantastic option for us. I look forward to reading some of your other posts. :-)

  4. Zoe says:

    Thanks for the comment, Shannon! We loved using helpx. More posts will be coming! Dealing with technical issues at the moment, but so much to tell…life has taken a 180 degree turn since I last posted in November!

  5. Ted says:

    Hi Zoe -

    My girlfriend and I have been exploring Wwoofing options in Ireland lately. Well, she has been exploring it for a while, me, just as of lately. The more I read about wwoofing and HelpX, the more I want to sell my house, car, belongings, etc. to pay off my debts and get a taste of the rest of the world. Life is too short to work a mundane job just so I can afford to buy “things” that have no true meaning to me. And to work/travel with her, that is a dream come true. Not to mention being able to reevaluate life in general. Thank you so much for the insight.

  6. Zoe Lassen-Purser says:

    Hi Ted:
    Awesome. Do it!
    -Zoe

  7. howie says:

    As nice as helpx is it does not have the selection of hosts that WWOOF does in a given country. WWOOF also has a country coordinator available at all times to help with your trip and travel, ensure safety and give feedback that’s a big thing should you need it.

  8. Zoe Lassen-Purser says:

    I agree that for most countries, helpx does not have near the same number of hosts. However, we found that the number of helpx hosts was more than sufficient in England, Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, and Australia. And there are plenty of options in Western Europe. Not so much in the US, though :) I didn’t know that WWOOF had country coordinators, that’s awesome!

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