A working what?
While searching to discover which city in the U.S. Is the most “hippie friendly” (spoiler alert: the consensus says it’s Eugene, OR, by the way), I stumbled upon something that I’d heard about in passing but never investigated more fully: working holidays.
I had heard about this concept in passing a few times, often with stories of traveling to distant jungles, staying with nice families, and having wonderful experiences volunteering on eco projects, organic farms, community art projects, education efforts, exotic tourist locales, etc.
The first site I found was http://www.workaway.info/ which looked good at first glance. I dug into some of the listings and found 2 types of listings dominate the site:
1) People host travelers with projects that need completing and/or regular work that needs to get done. In exchange for the the work the host provides food and board (usually free, sometimes at a price small enough to be practically free).
2) People host travelers with projects and/or regular work that needs to get done but charge travelers for room & board, often at a higher rate than nearby hotels.
#2 doesn’t sound quite so sweet, so I decided to look at some reviews and see if I could find some competitors with sweeter deals.
On Brave New World Traveler, I found a lively comments section following a post comparing workaway.info with a competitor, http://www.helpx.net/ (Help Exchange). According to Jill (and most commenters), while helpx.net and workaway.info charge the same price ($29 for 2 years), helpx.net is far more reliable and a better value because the search results allow you to focus on active listings and communication actually happens most of the time, unlike – apparently – workaway.info.
Also among the comments, I found http://www.wwoof.net/ the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, which operates much likehelpx.net and workaway.info, except that wwoof.net focuses on organic farming opportunities worldwide. Jill’s commenters highly recommended wwoof.net.
So, if you’re looking to travel, spend time living among local people in a different culture, and/or learning about eco, farming, adventure, education, and/or tourism occupations (and more) without spending a fortune on the trip (aside from the ridiculous cost of flights), you can. And it’s never been easier.
Working holidays sound like a great way to expand one’s mind as well as one’s culture.