If you're in great shape, love the outdoors and need money to travel, working on a farm - usually picking fruits or vegetables - may be your ticket to staying on the road just a little bit longer.
Agriculture-related jobs come in all sizes and shapes and while they may not be among the most glamorous, many travelers who have tried farming work rave about it:
The correct answer is, 'it depends', on so many things: the country or region in which you're working, the time of year, the weather, the kind of farm, the working hours... but some things should be the same.
Living light on the farm
Accommodation, if it's available, will usually be basic, but you never know - you might end up in an old farmhouse or chateau. You may also be in a small dorm (possibly sex-segregated) or in a converted barn or farm building or even in a tent. The good news is that accommodation is often free so it's a great way to save money on the road.
Working on a farm is exhausting, at least at first
Unless you're already super-fit, that is. You'll ache, you'll be begging for bed, and you'll wish morning would never come. That soon passes as your body gives up fighting and accepts its fate.
From one apple to the next
You'll be pushing yourself to the limit, at least at first, so that won't leave you much time to contemplate your place in the universe. You'll tend to live in the moment, from one apple or pear to the next. You may have a steep learning curve as well - if you've never climbed a ladder or cleaned a shed you might be in for a few surprises.
Do you know where you want to go?
Here are some perennial farm job favorites:
When it comes to finding jobs in agriculture, there are two schools of thought: setting things up ahead of time, or just showing up. Each job search has its merits.
Arranging to work on a farm means you'll be able to hit the ground running and start right away. You'll have a destination and a certain measure of security. On the other hand if you hate what you're doing, you may be stuck far from everything with no place to go. If you do decide to look ahead of time, two good sites to start with are pickyourown.org and pickingjobs.com.
Just showing up certainly gives you more flexibility, but you run the risk of not finding anything if the season is over or others have already taken all the jobs. On the other hand, you'll be able to start and stop when you want to. You'll need to speak the language for this, though. You won't get very far if you can't ask for the work and understand instructions... (find out how to learn a language the easy way - enough at least to get you by).
How easy is it to find farm jobs?
Again, it depends. In Australia, for example, if your timing is right you'll easily find a job. In Europe, given the economic crisis and availability of cheap labor from North Africa and Eastern Europe, finding a farm job that pays anything worth having is much harder.
Be careful about your status. If you're an EU citizen, you'll be able to work throughout the EU with no problem. If you're British, you can head to Australia and New Zealand and even if you're not, they have many visa schemes for which you may qualify.
Americans have the hardest time with overseas visas, with Canadians close behind. In any event, you probably won't stand a chance - in these days of economic crisis - of getting even the lowliest of harvest jobs without the proper paperwork (this page on the international travel visa may be of help).
Still keen to tackle that farming job?
Try asking some of the following questions in your agriculture job search:
If you work on a farm, you'll get into awfully good shape while learning a new skill and maybe even making money at it! That said, paid farm work is becoming harder to find as unemployment rises and an increasing number of travelers opt for volunteering on a farm.