Today Budget Travel can mean just about anything to anybody.
What is expensive to one person is dirt cheap to another, but the following definition sits well with me.
“To Travel as Cheaply as Possible while still experiencing the thrills that a different culture can offer”. B.H. and I sometimes stay in private hostel rooms, but mostly we use budget apartments, budget hotel rooms or house-sits.
WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) provides another way to explore and connect with a Country while keeping within your travel budget. Jobs can be as diverse as building a clay pizza oven, raking piles of poo or picking fruit. In return for working the agreed amount each day, you receive free accommodation and food and the opportunity to explore the area in your time off.
Lucille, a 25 year old French Girl has been Wwoofing in Australia since February 2012. It has been her ticket to travel on a budget. She can also thank Wwoofing for finding her the perfect travel partner for the journey – her horse – Jed. Lucille has agreed to share their budget travel story with us.
Welcome to BTT, Lucille.
Did you have your first Wwoofing job arranged before you arrived in Australia?
About one month before I was due to arrive, I contacted a few hosts around Melbourne. One in particular was very interested but was not ready to take me on straight away. I decided to look around until they had room for me. I ended up Wwoofing at three other places instead and I found Jed.
Did you have previous Wwoofing Experience?
I had stayed and worked on an organic orchard in Colorado, U.S.A., and on a small organic farm in Norway, but never as part of the Wwoof Organization.
Tell us about the Wwoofing jobs you have had so far in Australia.
I have had lots – so far seven places – all in Victoria. The work experiences have been very, very, different to each other. Weather permitting, the work has mostly been outside in the open air. At some places I did every-day jobs, of which there are many on a farm, while at others I worked on improvements like painting or building. You are welcome to follow my BLOG and FACEBOOK where I share my experiences.
Lucille, how many hours are Wwoofers expected to work and how much free time do they have for fun.
Well, it depends, as every host has different work requirements and the Season plays an important role also. The Wwoof Guidelines say:
“You will be expected to exchange between 4 and 6 hours per day of your time for your accommodation and food”
At some places, I have worked a little every day, while at others I have worked a lot on one day and then had another day free.
I really enjoy working with the host as we can exchange ideas and I think that is nice. Most of my Wwoof hosts have taken me everywhere with them, and I especially love visiting the farmers’ markets. As long as I am outdoors and in a nice place I always manage to have fun.
Keep in mind that as a Wwoofer you do not have to do something if you really don’t find it enjoyable – the Host will always find something else for you to do.
I always find time to go for a ride on Jed, read or write on my blog!
What led you to Australia (and Jed) and What does a typical travel day for the two of you entail?
I rode different horses for ten years in France and then stopped nine years ago because I preferred to wait until I had my own horse, with whom I could build a real relationship. But first of all I wanted to travel and find a great location to keep a horse and other animals.
While Wwoofing at Nathalia, a town in northern Victoria, I began riding young horses on the same road around the same block every day. While riding this boring route, I started dreaming once again about travelling with my own horse, so I asked my host if she thought it would be possible to travel on a horse in Australia, and if Jed was for sale.
Amazingly she answered yes to both questions – so I purchased Jed and started living my dream life in my dream country.
On arrival in Australia last February, all I wanted was to get to Queensland before the winter set in as I hate the cold. But the amount of time required to ride a horse to Queensland would mean travelling during Winter, so I stayed in Victoria.
From Central Victoria, the plan is to get to Queensland and the tropics – but stopping before we reach the crocodiles! Jed and I walk between 30 and 40 km per day for two or three days and then rest at a farm while he grows more hoof (I ride him bitless and shoeless). At night I get permission from a farmer for Jed and I to camp in his paddock. This way Jed gets to feed properly and I get to meet real Australians, and so far I have met only good friends.
Taking back roads we hope to join up with the Bicentennial Horse Trail around the town of Yass. The trail is one of the longest in the world, covering a distance of 5,330 km from Healesville (60 km north of Melbourne) to Cooktown in far North Queensland. I hope to stay at Wwoof places that interest me and that are not far from our route.
I have no idea how long the journey will take, and am open to any experiences and opportunities that come our way.
What will happen to Jed when you leave Australia?
Buying Jed and travelling with him is my dream come true and I will never leave him. I had always planned to stay in Australia, and now that I have a horse to care for I have a good excuse that will satisfy my family. When I do visit my family in France Jed will spend some quality time in a nice place with other horses around.
Do you need farming skills to be a Wwoofer?
Not at all – most Wwoof hosts are happy to teach you and not all jobs are even farming related. It could even be office work.
What advice would you give other budget travellers contemplating Wwoofing?
To have some idea of the places, and experiences you are interested in as there are a lot to choose from, but if you keep an open mind and a positive attitude you will have a great time wherever you end up. Wwoofing and travelling from place to place by horse is a fairly cheap way to travel (after you have bought your horse!).
Thanks for sharing your unique budget travel story Lucille – I know you will have great experiences, Wwoofing your way to Sunny Queensland.
If you would like to share your Wwoofing story contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
For these and other travel photos visit TRAVEL PHOTO THURSDAY AT BUDGET TRAVELERS SANDBOX.