6 tips for planning an agricultural work experience trip abroad

Travelling to another country to experience different methods of farming is the dream of most young – and older – farmers. There are a few companies that can arrange a work placement abroad for you, but they also charge a fee. Organising a trip yourself is completely doable.

It might seem scary but here are six handy tips to make it that little less frightening.

Social media is your best friend

Make your presence known on social media. The world of Twitter can open hundreds of doors if you use it in the right way. Make sure it focuses on farming (not your drunken escapades last Friday, they don’t want to know how many Jagers can down in five minutes…) so that people can see you’re committed. By coming across as an enthusiastic young person, people will want to help you. Twitter is by far the most popular, but LinkedIn and Facebook are good, too.

Tip: Try sending out a tweet asking for contacts in your chosen country and you’ll be surprised at the response you have. Follow up on every contact, no matter how irrelevant. It’s not what you know, but who.

Email like a pro

Phone calls to other countries can be costly. Emails are much quicker and free. Most farm/company websites will have an email address to contact them on. Writing down your “personal sales pitch” means you won’t forget to include important information. Do your research into the company you’re contacting, don’t just send out a generic email. Prove to them that you’re interested in what they’re about.

Tip: Make yourself a professional email account. No one can take an email seriously when it’s from x_1dfan_x@hotmail.com. Also, add a signature to the bottom of your emails with your twitter/blog/phone number on so that they can pry a little more into what you’re about. 

Sophie was a finalist in the Farmers Weekly Farmers Apprentice competition 2012

Sophie was a finalist in the Farmers Weekly Farmers Apprentice competition 2012

Blogs away!

Blogging is like keeping a not-so-personal diary. When you’ve finished one of the most epic experiences of your life so far, don’t you want to be able to look back on it? Writing a blog will also help keep your friends and family up to date with your trip without having to do individual emails to them all. www.wordpress.com is free and insanely easy to set up.

Tip: For a little more work, you can actually earn money from your blog with advertisements. Simply google “Setting up a blog” and you’ll see a plethora of companies that will set up a domain name and help you design a page for a small fee.

Stay legal

If you’re wanting to work anywhere outside Europe, you’re going to need a visa. Every country will have its own rules and regulations when it comes to work experience. Before you apply, make sure you know how long you’re wanting to work/play for and if you have the money for it. You have to pay for a visa application so you need to be 100% sure what you’re signing up for before you hand over the cash. Make sure you’re honest about your intentions on your application; you don’t want to be kicked out the country before the fun’s begun.

Tip: Some countries will ask for a health check to be completed alongside your application. These can cost up to £500 so make sure you’ve budgeted for this.


Money, money, money

There’s no doubt about it, travel is expensive. Flights, insurance, travel, food and accommodation all add up. Make the most of the internet when it comes to booking your flights. Your standard comparison websites aren’t the best for long-haul flights. www.kayak.co.uk isn’t as well known but is unbeatable in low prices. Do your research before entering the country. Which is the cheapest phone network? Do you need car insurance? Can you get discounts for accommodation? A lot of farms will feed and house you in return for work, which is all well and good, but you need to live a little too.

Tip: If you’re in a country for a substantial amount of time and travelling from place to place, consider buying a car – it’ll be cheaper than renting and you can sell it when you’re done.

Every little helps

If you look hard enough, funding for travel is there in the agricultural sector. Nuffield Scholarships are the most common but you can’t do that straight out of college. It’s worthwhile phoning up your local agricultural society and see if they have any scholarships available. You might have to do a little presentation in return, but hey, what’s that in comparison to your flights being paid for?

Tip: Seasonal farm work pays well and it’s an ideal way of funding the trip for yourself. Lambing/harvest/milking for a year will earn you more than enough savings for a trip abroad. Don’t be disheartened if you can’t find any funding – it’s completely doable by yourself.

You can check out Sophie’s blog or follow here on Twitter @SheepishSophie