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Getting A Job Abroad

TeamTortoise
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TeamTortoise
01.09.16

Backpacking around the world costs money, and unless you are wadded or do not mind running up high credit card bills, you're going to need to get a job while abroad to help fund your travels. Okay, so having probably just quit a job to go backpacking, the thought of having to get another job when you're supposed to be having fun might not be all that appealing. However, working abroad is all part of the travelling experience and, in truth, a trip is made all the better for it.

Working abroad lets you immerse yourself in a new culture, learn a new language, and meet new people. It also gives you experience that few people will ever get the chance to have and, of course, gives you that much needed dough to pay for travel, accommodation, and food.

The Visa Situation
When getting a job abroad the subject of visa's and work permits generally arises. In many countries, workers are required to work through stacks of paperwork in order to get a visa that allows them to work. While visas are a necessary requirement for professional roles abroad, the jobs you'll most likely be taking can be found without going through any such application process.

If you're not planning to spend any more than two months in one place, applying for a visa probably isn't going to be worth it and you will be better off going down the same route as the majority of backpackers and finding cash-in-hand employment. The downside to many of these off-the-record cash in hand jobs is that they are rather unskilled and not so well paid - cleaning, bartending, dishwashing, etc. However, the money you do get all goes towards funding your trip and you will generally be working with other backpackers and meeting locals, which is always fun.
Finding short-term jobs
When backpacking to different countries, jobs will not simply be handed to you - you're going to need to go out and find them. There is certainly no shortage of short-term employment opportunities available, you just need to keep your eyes and ears open to spot them.

The best place to start is by asking fellow backpackers. Travellers that have been in city for a few weeks already may have found a job and can put you in touch with employers. Hostels are also a good place to find work and many of them employ backpackers to help with varies chores, such as cleaning dorms, serving breakfast, and washing dishes. As you'll probably be staying in a hostel, working there can be a good way to pay for your stay.

Restaurants, bars (especially international ones), nightclubs, coffee shops, beach stands, and work with families are all good areas to find employment during your travels. Use the internet to look for job openings - a number of English language websites specialise in advertising jobs for backpackers. Also, check local newspapers and keep an eye out for notices in windows and on lampposts.
Teaching English
If you're planning to stay in a particular place for a significant period of time, then teaching English is a popular job option. English teaching jobs are plentiful, and the pay and benefits are pretty great too. Asian countries such as China, South Korea, Japan, and Vietnam are particularly good markets for finding work and becoming a private tutor can see you earning anywhere between £10 ($15) and £40 ($60) an hour. If you are interested in getting a job teaching English abroad, it is advisable to find employment before starting your adventure. There is a number of good websites that provide information and offer teacher placements to native English speakers. These include:

China TEFL
Footprints Recruiting
Teachaway
Teacher Port
Working holiday scheme
A working holiday scheme is a great way to find work abroad. Available in Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, schemes allow people under the age of 30 the opportunity to work abroad. Working holiday schemes do require a visa; however, the application process is made simple and straightforward, and allows you to find employment in a specific country for one year.

Some schemes come with a stipulation that prevents you from working in a particular place for more than six months, but the jobs and pay are generally better than cash-in-hand alternatives. Employment is mostly found in offices, bars, and restaurants and labouring on construction sites.
Volunteering
While there is generally no pay involved, volunteering abroad can be a hugely rewarding experience. You can offer your time and labour to help with local projects and learn about different people and cultures. The experience you get from volunteering often outweighs any financial gain, and many roles will see you provided with alternative payment in the form of food and accommodation.
Be prepared
If you are proactively looking for jobs abroad then it is important that you are prepared to get straight to work if an opportunity arises. Have some smart professional-looking clothes on hand to attend an interview and, unless the work is cash in hand, make sure to have a visa, tax number, and local bank account at the ready.

You should also be prepared to take on any job that comes your way. You cannot be as fussy about the jobs you apply for when backpacking as you would be at home, because, while having no money at home means missing a night out, no money when travelling means sleeping on the streets in a country you don't know! The wider you cast your net in the search for jobs, the more likely it is that you will find employment.


Travelling is all about learning about yourself and the world. Whether you decide to teach English, work in an office, or clean hostel floors, it's all part of the experience and will change your life for the better. Very few people get to experience travelling and working abroad - you are getting to do both!