Don’t have enough money to go traveling? Think you can’t save enough in your current situation to realize your dream of traveling the world? Well, you are wrong.
The perception that travel is expensive keeps many people from embarking on a journey around the world. They think to themselves “it’s too expensive and too difficult and I’ll never be able to do it.” But travel is not as expensive as it appears and even if you can’t save thousands upon thousands of dollars, you can always find work overseas. It’s not as hard as you imagine and it’s an option overlooked too often by travelers.
Finding work overseas is not like finding a job in the United States. It’s a much more informal process, and if you remember you are looking for a job rather than a career, and stay flexible with your options, you’ll be able to find work anywhere. Whole economies and industries are built around employing travelers. Heck, I don’t think the Australian economy would survive without the labor backpackers/travelers provide!
So what kind of job can you get overseas? Here are some examples of jobs that are easy for travelers to get and often don’t require a long commitment:
Teach English (or any language!)
This is the easiest type of job to get for native English speakers. Teaching jobs are incredibly abundant around the world, especially in Southeast Asia. Really, when in doubt, find a teaching job. They pay well, the hours are flexible, and many countries offer great bonuses. I taught in Thailand and Taiwan. Not only did I have a fantastic time being an ex-pat, I also learned a lot about myself, living overseas, and made enough money to keep me on the road for years. It’s an experience I’ll never regret. There are a lot of online resources for potential teachers, including a guide to teaching I wrote. (Not a native speaker? Teach your native language. There’s a language school out there for everyone, especially in big international cities!)
Get seasonal work
Move with the seasons and work in ski resorts, bars, as a camping guide, on boats, whatever. There are many options—wherever there’s a big tourist season, you’ll find a big demand for temporary labor. Make sure you get to your destination well before the season starts to secure a job. If you show up mid-season, all the good jobs will be taken. Show up to hostels and ask around and they will be able to point you in the right direction!
Do freelance work online
If you have a background in web services, design, programming, or anything tech, a website like Elance is a great way to find virtual work that you can complete as you travel. Just pick up work as you need it. There’s a lot of competition but if you build up your portfolio, you can get a lot of work over time. I have a friend who gets all her freelance consulting jobs from Elance!
Work on a cruise ship
This option is an excellent way to earn good money while getting a taste of the world, gaining some solid work experience and networking with people (both fellow crew and passengers) from around the world. Many of the easy low-wage jobs usually go to people from developing countries, but there are many jobs available to choose from. This book by Wandering Earl (who worked on a cruise ship) is a great place to get started.
Under 30? Get a working holiday visa!
If you are under the age of 30, the world is your oyster (so to speak)! Australia, New Zealand, Canada, England, Norway, and many other countries offer working holiday visas to those under the age of 30. A working holiday visa allows you to take any job in the country. It’s essentially a work permit and it’s awesome. (Note: every country has their own rules and some place limits on what you can and can’t do.) Most of the time, these are easy temporary and seasonal jobs. (Or mundane office jobs. My friend once worked in a call center for six months.) To find these jobs, search local job boards or walk into any hostel and ask around. In countries where working holiday visas are really prevalent (Australia, I’m looking at you!), many hostels have job boards or can point you in the right direction.
Be an au pair
Love kids? Take care of someone else’s! You’ll get room, board and a weekly paycheck. You’ll have to be around a lot to watch the kids, but you’ll normally get the weekends off and some vacation time to explore the country! Popular websites for finding au pair jobs are:
This is also a good article about what being an au pair is like.
Work in a hostel
Speaking of hostels, hostels are often looking for staff to work the desk, clean, or show the guests around town. You can often trade a few hours of cleaning for a free bed. Even if you aren’t getting paid but just getting free room and board, it’s still a way to save money. When you aren’t spending, you’re saving. Moreover, they jobs can often be for as long as you want – a day, week, month. Whatever you want and they need.
Become a scuba diving instructor
If you are a certified diver and want to become an instructor (additional classes my be needed), there are dozens of great scuba destinations around the world where you can easily find work (Thailand, Cambodia, Honduras, the Caribbean, and Bali are all good destinations). You can find jobs just by going to these destinations and asking around.
Use your skills!
Use your existing skills and talents to find work. Teach people music, dance, cut hair, offer business consulting, cook for people – use whatever skill you have to find a job. Don’t be shy. Be creative. Websites like Craigslist and Gumtree are two places to advertise your abilities and find work. Where there is a will, there is a way.
Become a Bartender
Bars need bartenders and you’ll find plenty of bars that pay cash to travelers looking for work. Bars in party destinations or at hostels are the best places to start looking as they often have a high turnover and the work can be steady. In countries that have working holiday visas, these job also often go to travelers!
Work in a restaurant
On that same vein, waitstaff, bus boys, and dishwashers are always in demand since people come and go from those jobs very frequently. These jobs are easy to get, especially in popular backpacking and party destinations as well as large cities. Again, in countries that have working holiday visas, travelers become the backbone of the service economy and jobs can often be easy to get.
Do volunteer work
While these jobs don’t pay, you’ll save money on room and board, which will save you money and keep you on the road longer. Plus, you’ll be doing something good. Win-win. You don’t have to spend a lot of money with large global operations in order to volunteer. Those companies just end up keeping a large cut for themselves for “operations.” Instead, find volunteer work when you arrive at a destination to find more opportunities where your time (and money) help the most. I also highly recommend the website Grassroots Volunteering. It’s the best site for finding small scale, local volunteer initiatives.
Be a tour guide
Use your love of travel to work in travel! Tour companies are always on the lookout for new tour guides. This is more of a “real” job than the rest, but it’s a fun (though tiring) means of employment. The pay isn’t great but you get your expenses paid while on the tour and get to meet people from all over the world. Companies that often hire travelers are Busabout, Kiwi Experience, New Europe Walking Tours, and Contiki. (Note: these jobs often require a long-term commitment.)
Work on a Yacht
If you love the water, work on a boat (and forever be singing “I’m on a Boat” by Lonely Island). Yachting jobs are surprising easy to get without much experience (though it helps) and you’ll be able to sail around the world doing so. One of my readers did it so she could see the world. You can find jobs on the following website:
Note: Positions are long-term and you’ll be required to get a STCW ’95 certificate, which covers all basic yacht training, including fire and water safety training.
Take whatever you can find
You can always trade your labor for work. There are a lot of short-term jobs around the world you can find. Jobs that you can get on the fly. If you’re willing to work a few hours each day in exchange for room, board, and extra cash, you will always find something you can do. Four great resources for finding jobs are:
Finding work overseas is all about finding a job, not a career. Many of the jobs you’ll find overseas will be unglamorous and hard work, but they will allow you to earn enough money to keep you on the road longer.
Don’t let money get in the way of travel. If you are creative and flexible about what you want to do, you will find work. Working on the road was a lot easier than I thought and it let me travel a lot longer than I could ever imagine. Get out there, find a job, and explore the world a bit longer.