Work exchange lodgings
Programs like WWOOF and Helpx let you barter your services for a free place to stay
You've heard of singing for your supper? This is farming for your room.
If you really want to get your hands dirty, sign up with either one of two organizations—Helpx and World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms—that provide longer-term free housing (and sometimes meals) in exchange for you pitching in a few hours of work each day.
The major differences between Helpx and WWOOF
Which is best? That depends on whom you ask—but many who have used both (including both workers and hosts) seem to prefer the upstart Helpx.
There is a detailed description of each in the "Links" section below, but here are some key differences:
|Cost||$10–$40 per chapter (curently £20 for the UK)||Basic: Free
Premier: €20 ($28) for 2 years
|What membership covers||You must join the WWOOF chapter in the country to which you want to travel. Planning a volunteering trip to more than one country? You have to join each chapter separately.||Covers the whole world with one membership.|
|Global reach||There are WWOOFing chapters in 120 countries, some of which are part of the "WWOOF Independents" chapter representing limited numbers of opportunities in some 40 countries.
|Helpex features some 700 opportunities in the U.K., and at least 100 farms in each of 26 other countries (strongest in Australia, New Zealand, U.S., Canada, and Western Europe) with a smattering (50 farms or fewer in most cases) in many others.
|Types of work||WWOOF is pretty much restricted to just farm work, and these days almost always on certified organic farms.||Helpx has a bit looser rules, and many times the type of work offered is not restricted just to typical farmhand jobs but also odd jobs around the house or farm (painting, carpentry, gardening, etc) or, say, working at a B&B.|
|Reviews||WWOOF is pretty much still a basic catalog, with little user feedback.||Helpx offers fuller profiles of both volunteers and of hosts, allowing hosts to seek out or choose good matches, and potential workers to read reviews that other Helpxers have written about working for a particular host.|
|Age||Founded 1971||Founded 2001|
- Helpx.net -
Helpx was founded in New Zealand in 2001 by an Englishman who worked his way across Australia and New Zealand. The idea is to offer to work for an average of four hours per day in exchange for free accommodation (and, sometimes, meals).
You can sign up for free, but if you pay for Premier membership (€20 for two years), you are able to contact all hosts and read all host reviews. Being "Premier" also allows hosts to read your own profile, where you can list special skills, and they might reach out to you to offer a gig.
Some hosts only ask for two hours of work a day, but require you to provide and cook your own food. Other might ask for a full four to six hours, but cook for you and feed you.
- Wwoof.net -
WWOOF is a collection of volunteer organizations in 97 countries around the world, from Australia to Korea, Ghana to the U.S., Italy to Nepal (plus "independent" members—countries with only a handful of opportunities).
Each chapter is devoted to supporting and helping teach about organic and environmentally sound farming techniques—though many joke that the funny acronym WWOOF doesn't actually stand for "Worldwide Opportunites on Organic Farms," but rather for "Willing Workers On Organic Farms," since you do end up doing a lot of farmhand chores.
To become a Wwoofer, You join the WOOF chapter in the country where you'd like to work (for roughly $10 to $40)—so you would join WWOOF UK (for £20)—it sends you a list of farms that would appreciate a helping hand in exchange for room and board.
You must be willing to put in six hours of work six days a week to see how the farming half lives in a variety of nations.
Also in Lodging options:
- British Bed and Breakfasts★★★
- Apartments (rental flats)★★★
- Farm stays and agritourism★★★
- Aparthotels in Britain★★☆
- Castle hotels★★☆
- Cottages & villa rentals★★☆
- Hostels in the U.K.★☆☆
- University dorms in the U.K.★☆☆
- Stay for free| Free