Travelling long-term isn’t as expensive as most people think, but it does require funds. While saving hard before you leave might garner enough to pay for the whole trip, many travellers find it convenient to work while they’re on the road.
Turner from Around the World in 80 Jobs has some interesting stories to tell when it comes to finding work overseas: from becoming a tequila harvester to a festival toilet cleaner. If you have some, make sure to add them to the comments below. And if you’re ready to make some of your own stories, keep reading:
The easiest way to work on the road is to volunteer. You probably won’t make much (or any) money, but accommodation and sometimes food is often included, which considerably reduces your travel costs. Organisations like WWOOF match volunteers with hosts who require help on their farms. Some organisations are free to use (or just require a small joining fee) while others charge astronomical amounts — somewhat negating the idea of trying to save money!
Where to work
If you want to work, not just volunteer, first consider what kind of work you can do. If you can continue doing your existing job on the road, excellent — you probably won’t need a visa and will just have to talk to your boss or clients to make it work. It’s not recommended that you start a business while you travel, it’s just too stressful. Instead, start well in advance and see if it’s making money before you go. Otherwise, you’ll just have to choose a job that requires your presence in person — popular choices are bartending, office work or teaching English. If you aren’t skilled in one of these areas, a short training course before you go might strengthen your chances of finding work.
Then, decide which country you’d like to work in. You’ll need to do a bit of research to see how hard (or easy) it is to work in your destination of choice.
Firstly, do you need a visa or work permit to be allowed to work in your destination? In some cases, the answer is no — for example, New Zealanders and Australians can work in each other’s country without any form of visa, and Europeans can work in other Schengen states. If you’re travelling further afield though, you’ll probably need some form of paperwork — and there might be more than one option to choose from.
Many countries offer working holiday visas to travellers aged 18-30. If you’re eligible, it might be a good option, although you can usually only work in each place of employment for a limited time (such as three months). If you’re planning to stay in one place for a longer time, you could consider a work visa, but that usually requires an offer of work, which might be hard to come by. Some student visas also allow you to work part-time while you’re studying, so if you’re planning to go to school while you’re away, this could be a good choice.
Make sure to look through all the options carefully and choose the visa that suits you best. If it’s expensive, weigh up how likely you are to use it before forking out.
Wages and cost of living
That’s another thing — how much are you actually going to earn in your destination? Do some research online to find out what the average wage is, and what people in your line of work can expect to earn. We didn’t do this when we went to Malta, and were surprised at how low the wages were — and how high the cost of living was. Six months of work funded our day-to-day lives, but we only saved enough for about another month of travel after that. If we’d done some research into what wages we could expect to receive, we would have chosen another destination.
In contrast, the wages in the UK were more reasonable — but we still didn’t save much, because of the cost of living. Once we’d paid the rent and bought food for the week, we didn’t have much left over. Luckily, we found a happy balance in Australia — although the cost of living was high, our wages were even higher, and we managed to save a substantial amount.
Hit the internet
Next up, you need to find a job. How hard you look will depend on how committed you are to working. Either way, do a search on the internet to get some ideas about possible employers, and either make contact with them before you go or make a note of their details so you can drop in after you arrive. If you’re interested in a long-term contract, apply in advance as they might be able to help with (or completely organise) your visa. This is often the case with English-teaching jobs.
Of course, if you’re not too worried about what kind of work you do, you can just show up and see what work is on offer. It is worth making sure you do it legally, though — although under-the-table work is sometimes available, it’s not worth the stress of being caught — the punishment could be severe and there’s always the chance of being ripped off by an employer who takes advantage of your illegal status.
Working while travelling is a great way to make a bit of money and also get immersed in your destination. It just takes a bit of preparation.