Working While You Travel – How to Find a Job on the Road

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Working while traveling is becoming more and more common these days, as it’s a great way to earn money, meet new people and have new experiences.

If you want to extend your trip (but can’t currently afford to), working abroad is a great way to do so. One great thing about it is that most jobs on the road allow you to work as part of a team and to learn a new life skill.

Finding a permanent job while traveling is difficult, as there is always the problem of getting through the ‘red tape’, and most employers will be cautious about hiring someone that will be leaving in a few months. ‘Casual’ jobs (that are lower profile) such as bartending, working in a hostel, washing dishes and farming are much more suited to travelers, as staff turnover is common, and because you can often get away with working there without a work permit/work visa (although this is not recommended).

If you do have a job abroad but don’t have a valid work permit (as a lot of travelers do), it is wise to be extremely discreet about it, as both you and your employer could get in trouble if you’re found out.

If you have experience (or are qualified) as a secretary, hairdresser, chef, doctor/nurse, builder or carpenter, or if you speak English (and are traveling in a non-English speaking country), finding a job in your field of expertise shouldn’t be too difficult. For example, if you’re a nurse you could get a job working as a care worker looking after young children.

The Job Interview

Hopefully you created a CV (resume) before you left and stored it in an online dropbox (so that you can access it from anywhere in the world). If so, download it and print it out at a local internet café, as it’s a good idea to take your CV along with you to your interview. If you’re applying for a job that requires a specialized skill or qualification, also bring any relevant qualifications/certificates that you have (or at least a copy of them) to prove that you can do the job.

Remember that even though you’re a traveler, you’ll still be expected to dress (reasonably) smartly for job interviews, so if you do plan on working abroad make sure to pack a set of fairly smart clothes (or be sure to buy some before going for your job interview).

Teaching English

Because English is the first or second language in over 70 countries worldwide, there are countless opportunities for travelers to teach English abroad.

teaching englishJust being from a country (such as England or the USA) where English is the main language automatically makes you an expert in the eyes of most developing countries around the world, and means that you shouldn’t have any problems finding a teaching job there (although having a degree from college/university does help and can entitle you to a higher paying job).

Some countries require you to have a ‘Teaching English as a Foreign Language’ (TEFL) qualification, however (especially if you’re looking to teach English in Japan or Asia or for an extended period of time), so it’s best to check with the country/region before you leave. As a general rule, the further you are away from the United Kingdom, the less likely you are to need a qualification to be able to teach.

Most countries in Eastern Europe and the Baltic region, for example, will happily employ you even if you have no teaching experience or a TEFL certificate, as they are so desperate for English teachers.

USA Summer Camps

Summer camps are very popular in the USA (as lots of children go away to camps each year in the summer) as because of this there are lots of summer jobs available to travelers. If you’re a student, getting a job at a summer camp should be easy, as they prefer to hire students over anyone else.

Summer CampsWorking at a summer camp involves becoming a ‘student counselor’ – where you’re given the responsibility of looking after the children, organizing activities and sometimes teaching them a new skill or two (such as soccer). As well as student counselors, summer camps also hire people for maintenance and admin positions.

Summer camps usually last for around 8-9 weeks (typically from June to the middle of August). Most camps will pay you a small wage for working there, as well as offering you free food and accommodation for the duration of your stay. Many camps will also offer to pay for your return flight home, and will give you some free time (after the camp has finished) to explore America before flying home, should you so wish.

The best way to apply is to do so through an officially registered organized programme. For more information, look up ‘Camp America’ (www.campamierca.co.uk) or Camp Counselors USA (www.ccusa.com).

Although most summer camps do operate in the USA, they are run all around the world (especially in Europe, where they’re becoming more popular). For more information on these, check out www.teachabroad.com.

Working at a Hostel

The easiest way I’ve found to get a job in a hostel is to stay there for a few nights, get friendly with the staff and then ask them (about half a day before you leave) whether they’re looking to take on anymore staff.

The great thing about staying at the hostel for two or three days BEFORE asking about jobs is that it allows you to get a feel for the place (and for the current employees), meaning you can make a more informed decision as to whether you’d actually like to work there or not.

Don’t expect to earn a lot of money from working at a hostel. You’ll most likely be employed to do some cleaning or basic bartending for a few hours a day in return for a bed for the night (and occasionally a free meal or two a day). This is a great way to extend your stay in an area you like, and in my experience hostels are the central hubs of most travelers in an area, making them great places to meet people, make friends and enjoy yourself.

Another benefit is that because you’ll only be working a few hours per day, this gives you plenty of time to enjoy the area you’re staying in, whether you’re going out in the day or at night.

Working at a Bar or Club

Getting a job at a bar as a bartender or a server is another option, and your best bet to getting hired is to just go into all of the local bars in the area during the day and ask if they’re hiring. Alternatively, try looking on the notice board at your hostel, as pubs and bars often leave adverts for bar work there.

Having previous bar experience (especially as a bartender) will help you massively. As a traveler, you’ll most likely be employed ‘off the record’ and paid cash in hand.

Tom CruiseThe kind of bar work you do will usually depend on where you’re located. If you’re working at a local pub in the middle of rural England, your main occupation will be pulling pints and keeping the locals happy. These jobs are easy and gentle, but as they’re so slow-paced, time certainly will drag on. On the other hand, getting a job behind the bar at a busy nightclub will leave you exhausted at the end of the night (as you’ll constantly be rushing up and down to serve drinks) but you’ll be surprised at how quickly the end of the night comes around.

If there is no room behind the bar for you, another option is for you to become a promoter of the club/bar. This usually just consists of standing in the street outside and handing out fliers to passers by in an attempt to get them in the door.

Most bar jobs will require you to work a few nights per week, which should leave you more than enough time to do all the things you want to do.

Working as a Tour Operator

Because the holiday trade is seasonal in most countries (i.e. it doesn’t operate all year round), there is often a great need for staff at certain times of the years. For a beach resort, this would be in the summer, and for a ski resort, this is obviously in the winter.

Ski Resorts

If you’re a fan of skiing or snowboarding, getting a job at a ski resort could be ideal for you.
Most ski resorts hire from November to April. France, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, the United States and Canada all have excellent ski resorts, and are your best bets for getting hired.

There are two main jobs that you can be hired to do at a ski resort (as a traveler). Firstly, you can be hired as a ski or snowboard instructor. Secondly, you can be hired as part of the chalet staff.

SkiingUnfortunately, competition for jobs at ski resorts is often extremely fierce, so unlike many of the other jobs talked about on this page you can’t just stroll up on the day and expect to get hired. Instead, your best bet is to apply as far as possible in advance (i.e. in the summer before the next season starts).

Ski Instructor
To work on the slopes as an instructor you obviously need to know how to ski (or snowboard), and to be hired you’ll often need some kind of instructor qualification (such as the British Association of Snowsport Instructors, or ‘BASI’).

In addition to getting a job as an actual instructor, ski resorts also hire people to be ‘ski couriers’ – which basically just involves looking after people as they travel down the slopes.

Don’t expect to be paid a lot to be a ski instructor. You’ll earn enough to live on, however, and you’ll also have your accommodation, food, ski pass and rental of your gear paid for you.

If you love to ski, the main enjoyment of this job will be getting out on the piste each day knowing you’re getting paid for it (and then getting out and pissed in the evening). Although you’ll be teaching/acting as a ‘courier’ a lot of the time, you will obviously have days/time off in which you can go out onto the slopes yourself (for free) and not have to worry about looking after or teaching people.

Chalet Worker
If your skiing/snowboarding skills aren’t quite up to scratch yet, fear not, as there are lots of other jobs that you can find at a ski resort. In my experience, the easiest jobs to get at a resort are as chalet workers.

A chalet is basically like a miniature hotel, and just like a hotel there are lots of jobs that need doing every day (such as cooking, cleaning, serving food, changing the sheets, etc). Chalets will hire what they call ‘chalet boys’ and ‘chalet girls’ to do the majority of these jobs.

If you intend to get a job as a chef, it is preferable that you have some kind of cooking experience, as you will be tested on your cooking abilities (often in a ‘Masterchef’-like manner). Working as a cleaner is the preferred choice for many people, as the responsibilities are lower than a chef (but so too is the pay) meaning you can just get on with the job at hand and look forward to going out on the slopes later.

Working as a chalet worker can be tough, as most shifts start early and can be fairly gruelling (especially if you’re cleaning), and because you rarely get your own space (because you’ll be sharing accommodation with the other workers). That being said, most nights there’ll be a party going on somewhere that you can enjoy, and you’ll have plenty of free time in the afternoons to go skiing.

Working as a chalet worker will entitle you to free accommodation and oftentimes free meals. In addition to this, some chalets will pay for your ski pass and for the hiring of your gear. Not bad!

Club Reps

Club RepsBeing a rep usually means working in a beach resort where sleep is a luxury and the parties go on long into the night. These jobs can be extremely fun (if tiring), but they are not for everyone. You’ll need a lot of stamina, as ‘having a hangover’ is no excuse for not working!

Your responsibilities include being available and helpful if guests have any questions about their stay or any problems that need solving. You’ll also be organizing and conducting entertainment (such as pool games, bar crawls, etc), helping guests get to and from the airport and doing general paperwork. You will be the face of the resort, and you’ll be responsible for ensuring the guests have a good (and safe) time during their stay.

To become a club rep, the easiest ways are to apply online (by searching for places in the area you’re staying) or to go in and ask at the local resorts if they are hiring (much the same way as you’d find bar work). You won’t need any special qualifications to become a club rep, but they are looking for you to be fun, confident and outgoing, and they want someone who can make other people feel at ease (as you’ll be responsible for the fun and wellbeing of dozens of holiday-makers looking for a good time).

The wages for club reps are usually pretty low, but you’ll have free accommodation at the resort, as well as many of the other perks that come with the job.

Manual Labour

If you don’t mind working outside and getting your hands dirty, there’s a whole world of manual labour jobs available to you, from working on a building site to working on a farm or even fruit picking!

Most of these jobs require not real skills or experience, but working outside in the sun all day can be extremely hard work (although you will pick up a nice tan).

Working On a Farm (WWOOF)

If you fancy working on a farm, the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms (Google ‘WWOOF’) program has been set up to enable you to do so.

Farm WorkThe range of jobs you’ll be doing on the farm largely depends on what season it is and where the farm is in the world. Typical jobs can include planting crops, feeding the animals, repairing fences and harvesting crops.

Working on a farm can be great fun, and because many WWOOF locations are outside of the general tourist areas, you’ll be experiencing a part of the country that you’d never normally would.

Although farm jobs are available worldwide, the idea of working on one of the many farms in Australia or New Zealand is popular amongst travelers as these countries are both beautiful (in a rural sense) and expensive to travel. Because they’re so expensive to travel, working there means that you can essentially stay there for ‘free’, and it also means that you can save up money while you’re there to extend your stay and see more of the country.

Fruit Picking

Becoming a fruit picker is a bit like going back in time 200 years. You have to get up at the crack of dawn and pick fruit for hours on end. That being said, there are lots of advantages to becoming a fruit picker. For example, you’re working outside all day and you can wear whatever clothes you like (although I’d recommend wearing a set of old clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty). In addition to this, you’ll be paid cash in hand, and you don’t need any experience to be hired. It’s also funny to see the look on your friend’s faces when you tell them you’ve been working as a ‘fruit picker’!

Picking FruitLike any good business, you’ll be paid on commission – or in this case by the amount of fruit that you pick. As an estimate, most people will make around $30-$40 a day. Typically you’ll be given free accommodation at the farm you’re working at, or at the very least (if they don’t have a spare bed for you) they’ll let you camp in their grounds.

What fruit will you be picking? It all depending on where you are in the world. It could be grapes, bananas, apples, strawberries, or anything that grows out of the ground!

Out of all the places in the world, Australia and France are the two countries that seem to have the most fruit picking jobs available. If you’re a wine fanatic, grape picking in France could be just the thing for you, as they’re famous for being very generous with their wine and you might just get to taste a bottle or two!

To find fruit picking jobs anywhere in the world, check out this website

Building Work

Short-term contractors will always be needed for large building projects, making it relatively easy to find a job in the construction industry.

Although you don’t need to be a skilled laborer to apply, it certainly can help, and the more expertise you have, the more money you’re likely to earn.

If you have experience as an electrician, plumber, carpenter, joiner, steelworker, civil engineer or driving machinery (such as forklifts), it’s highly likely that there will be jobs going in your chosen field of expertise.

If you don’t have any particular skills or experience, don’t worry, as most building sites require unskilled laborers (often for basic tasks like clearing up an area) and will look to hire you on short-term contracts.

The best way to get a job in the construction industry is to approach a recruitment agency. Unlike most other jobs, you can’t simply walk into a building site and ask if they need any extra help as the construction industry is controlled by the unions.

Hopefully by now you’ve got some idea about how to work and travel abroad. All of these jobs listed above are great ways to make some extra cash on the road and extend your trip. Don’t feel restricted to doing only the jobs listed above, however, as there’s a whole world of possibilities out there. For example, you could get a job on a cruise liner or as part of a sailing crew on a ship. Very often local newspapers and magazines will have adverts for such jobs, so keep your eyes peeled and you never know what might turn up!

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