Want a unique travel experience without breaking the bank? Now you can work in exchange for food and accomodation during your vacation by WWOOFing!
WWOOF is a program that facilitates non-monetary exchanges between voluteers and local farmers. In short, you get to enjoy farming hands-on, get free meals, and free accomodation during your travels overseas. How cool is that?
As a travel lover, I did not want to commit into a full-time job after graduated from university, so I worked part-time to fund my travel expenses. With my limited travel funds, I have been thinking of ways to maximise my budget and have a unique travel experience at the same time. Then, my sister told me about WWOOF and encouraged me to go for it. So I did! I was going to be a WWOOFer in South Korea for two weeks!
I still feel a little high thinking about the moment I landed in Seoul. I was all alone, 4651.9km away from home, in a land where there’s free air-con everywhere, limited funds, and absolutely zero experience in farming. I’ve never felt more alive!
I met my host in Ungilsan train station, and took his lorry (YES, LORRY) to the farm. The lush greenery and fresh mountain air in the farm immediately made me feel energetic and blissful all at once. The host family and five adorable dogs welcomed my arrival, and I couldn’t wait to get started.
My first night on the farm was, I admit, scary. It was too cold, too quiet, and completely dark. It felt like an eternity before I finally calmed down! But after that, I actually felt serene and enjoyed the silence. I guess we all just need a break away from the hustle and bustle of city life from time to time.
Life in a farm starts at 7am, and although I struggled to wake up on time for the first few days, I started to adapt and begun to appreciate the experience. After a hearty breakfast, it was time to start work.
I was first asked to plant seeds— a task that is not as easy as it sounds. The seeds were really tiny in my palms, and I had to plant only three seeds in each hole in the soil. It was indeed an eye opening experience (pun fully intended)! I’ll be working for the next 2 to 3 hours before a lunch break, and another 2 hours until dinner time. Dinner on the farm is a simple homecooked meal. The food was good, and I bet you can’t find better authentic Korean food elsewhere!
I only hoped that I understood Korean so that I can communicate more with my host family. There was a communication barrier as they can’t speak English, but they tried their best to share their experience with me, and that made the conversations we had even more meaningful.
The most fun I had on the trip was during the harvesting of Jerusalem artichokes (돼지감자). We had to harvest, clean, slice, and dry the artichokes before it was ready for consumption.
A group of volunteers from Group WWOOFing came to help. We chatted and exchanged stories and travel experiences, all while carefully digging out the artichokes. Learning about different cultures and making new friends is another reward I got from this trip.
Time really flew by and my trip had to come to an end. At that moment I knew I will be missing the farm and my host family. I couldn’t ask for a better experience than this!
After the two weeks of farming, I continued exploring Seoul for the next 2 weeks. Feeling excited to embark on a journey like this?
Start earning your travel funds now!