If you are looking for an off-the-beaten-path vacation option, consider a farm or ranch stay. With so many different options, everyone can easily find one that fits their needs, personality, and budget.
Depending on where you choose to take your farm vacation, internet and mobile connections may be spotty or nonexistent. While this can be a pain, there are many benefits of unplugging for a short while. It gives you time to relax and enjoy interacting with people, animals, and your environment. Most people find that they are happier after they have unplugged for a time. Unplugging also helps you to live in the moment and enjoy things that are going on around you.
Types of Farms to Consider
One of the first decisions that you will need to make is which type of farm that you want to visit as there are many different types. You may want to consider visiting an organic farm to see where farmers raise organic produce without the use of chemicals. You may also want to see how farmers raise cows, pigs, or other animals for your dinner table. Visiting a fish farm can be a unique experience. Staying at a dairy farm for a while can provide a different perspective on milk, butter, and ice cream products you see on your store shelf.
Decide on Accommodations
When you are considering a farming or ranching vacation, you will want to consider your accommodations. Many farmers offer homestay programs where you can stay with the family and participate as a member of the family. At others, you are treated like a special guest and given free rein of the farm or ranch during the day. At others, you can stay in tents or converted silos and participate actively in farming or ranching activities. Still, others have a separate dorm or hotel for you to bunk in with planned activities throughout your stay.
Real Farm Living
You will see many beautiful animals and scenery during your farm stay. You must keep a few safety tips in mind. Tractors on farms are dangerous, but there are other hazards as well. Never walk behind animals, especially horses, as they may get spooked and kick. If you find a gate or door open, then leave it open, but if you find it closed, be sure to close it behind you. Farmers use gates and doors to control access to certain areas, and you do not want to be responsible for letting animals out where they can get hurt. While you may be tempted to give farm animals treats, be sure to ask permission first. Once approval is granted, always feed with an open hand as curling up your fingers allows the animal to bite them accidentally. Make life easier on your host family by cleaning up any mess that you made. This is particularly important if animals can access the area because many everyday things can be dangerous to them. While most farms have very few rules, be sure that you follow the ones that are in place, as they are designed to keep everyone safe.
Where to Travel
You have many different choices in where you want to travel when staying on a ranch or farm. Considering the type of farming that you would like to know more about can be a great place to start choosing the one that is right for you. In the Western United States, most farmland is used for free-range grazing. As the name suggests, you can experience the life of a corn farmer with a visit to the Corn Belt, including Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and parts of Ohio and Missouri. If you would like to stay on an orchard farm, then consider states located along the Gulf of Mexico along with pockets along the Great Lakes and the Eastern seacoast. If you would like to stay on a dairy farm, think about California, Wisconsin, New York, Idaho, and Texas. You could also consider international farming and ranching stays, like those found in Brazil, Columbia, Vietnam, and Ethiopia; rice farming with a farm stay in India, China, Bangladesh, or Thailand; or an olive orchard by planning a trip to Spain, Italy, Greece, or Turkey. If you are looking for a unique farm adventure, you may want to go to China, Brazil, or the Russian Federation to see how chickens are raised.
Time of Year to Go
The time of year to go on your farm or ranch vacation depends on the type of operation you choose to visit, its location in the world, and what you want to do once you reach the area. Springtime is usually when animals are born and is when most farmers are busy working in the field. Summer is a great time to visit if you are looking to unwind as farmers usually have more time to show you around their operation and let you participate in more activities. Fall is another busy time as crops must be picked and preparations made for the colder months. This is a great time to get involved with harvesting activities, and many small communities hold harvest festivals. Going in the winter offers a great chance to unwind in landscapes viewed by very few others. Winter, however, can get very cold, and you may be expected to spend periods outside, so make sure to bring the appropriate clothing. You may be surprised at the amount of time that farmers spend outside when the weather turns nasty, and everyone else huddles inside.
Going on a farm or ranch vacation allows you to get a new perspective on how your food is produced. It may also allow you to share memories of your farm upbringing on the next generation. You can go on many different types of farm and ranch vacations, stay in a variety of accommodations, and go at different times of the year, so everyone can find one that meets their interests and schedule.
You might also like: 7 Best Places to Travel in Winter—Sometimes You Just Need to Go