If someone said to you they’d decided to spend their vacation on a farm you’d probably think they’d gone the way of many a poor cow — mad. Why would anyone want to spend their one and only holiday of the year arm deep in sheep dip and cow manure? Well, that’s because Farmstays are altogether different.
So what’s it all about then?
Farmstays are becoming more popular as people are venturing deeper into the country areas when they go travelling instead of sticking to the beaten track and seaside resorts.
People want to discover the real deal and get into the heart of the country they’re visiting. And because farmers have realised the earning potential of putting tourists up for the night Farmstays have sprung up in rural areas where overnight accommodation is sparse.
Rates are low and as long as you’re not expecting to live in the lap of luxury you’ll learn more about the culture, the area and the people than if you’d stayed in a nearby hotel.
Backpackers and budget travellers will revel in the affordable prices but that doesn’t mean they’re always cheap. It really depends on which country you’re visiting. Prices are much lower in Asia than Australia and New Zealand or North America but then the lifestyles are completely different. So too is the accommodation; some Farmstays are much more luxurious than others and this will be reflected in the price.
Do the farmers expect guests to help out on the farm?
In some cases there is the opportunity to get involved in the workings of the farm but it’s not necessary to stay there. Still, it is the ultimate way to give something back.
Who would suit a Farmstay?
Easy answer? Anyone.
You’ll find the families who open their homes are as eager to meet you as you are them and they can easily become your ready-made family or a home away from home.
The only trouble with Farmstays is that, when the time comes it’s hard to leave. Many travellers stay in touch with the families they’ve stayed with or recommend them to other friends and travellers which has resulted in a greater need for them, which can only be a good thing.
And if you’re actually hoping to get your arm deep in sheep dip and cow manure, there’s sure to be something for you too.
Where to find Farmstays
They’re a bit more difficult to find than your common hotel and hostel but online is a good place to start.
Check travel guidebooks and newspaper supplements too; they often run first-hand reviews written by people who’ve stayed there so you get to know what goes on from those in the know.
What about WWOOFing?
WWOOF, or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, is slightly different in that those who visit them do so to specifically learn about living sustainably.
The WWOOF network publishes a list of organic farms and businesses that welcome volunteers from time to time. Host farms provide accommodation, food and opportunities to learn how to lead an organic lifestyle and because volunteers don’t have to pay for their accommodation it makes it an ideal way to see a country on a budget.