An Online Primer for Budget Exploration
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V. WORKING and VOLUNTEERING
In the spring and summer, the easiest jobs to find are in fruit and vegetable harvesting. The most productive way to get hired is to visit the harvest areas well beforehand and ask the individual farmers. As with all casual work, sometimes the employer will hire you just because they like you, or maybe they never met someone from your country before. It helps to know the local language, at least enough to understand the harvesting instructions. Most of these jobs will include room and board, and will either pay a flat daily rate or by how much you pick. France is a big agricultural producer. England is also a good bet. Through the travelers' grapevine, you may hear of such things as tomato picking in Greece or strawberry picking in Denmark. I have not done it but others have told me it is not a bad way to earn a bit of kroner.
In the fall, grape picking is a renowned way to earn some quick money and have fun at the same time. As with the other agricultural work, the season starts earlier in Spain and Italy than in France and Germany. The last time I picked grapes was in Switzerland in late September of 1989, and we earned 90 Swiss francs a day (about $65 at the exchange rate then--a great wage!). The season is short, a couple of weeks max, so don't plan on saving much overall.
Aside from asking fellow travelers, sometimes the government provides some guidance. The French embassies used to pass out lists of regions and seasons for various fruits, as well as wine grapes. Armed with the list, you can head for the area of your choice and ask around. Of course it is better to ask well before the season starts to secure a position, but in areas where there are big harvests, you may find something during the harvest.
There is one unique outfit worth a specific mention, the International Farm Camp in England. I have been there three times and while each experience was different, all were happy and rewarding. The camp is run by the company which produces Tiptree jams (you may find them sold in fancy shops), and the drawback is you must be between 18 and 26 (some exceptions granted). Very few non-Europeans go there, so you will be working (fruit picking, hoeing, weeding) at your own pace alongside Italians, Poles, the occasional Japanese, Turks, and many other nations. It is an excellent place to get working information, make good new friends and get addresses to visit. The money you earn depends upon how much fruit you pick.
The camp is open three to four months during the summer fruit harvests. Contact the Camp Organiser, International Farm Camp, Tiptree/Colchester, Essex CO5 0QS, England, as early as possible; space is limited. I advise going early or late in the season, when things are less crowded. For years there has been talk about the camp closing for good, but at the moment it still seems to be operational.
Another great program, Atlantis, places young people ages 18 to 30 on family farms in Norway. The work is sometimes hard and dirty but it is a great way to experience the country for a month or two, and pick up a little pocket money for travel as well. See their website for information: http://www.atlantis-u.no/index2_nor.html?/norway/farming_noneu.html.
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