It’s a dreary Monday morning and you’re gazing out of your window dreaming of travelling, sunnier times and a change of lifestyle. One problem; you don’t have the cash in your pocket to peace out and take an extended holiday. This leaves you with just one option – get yourself a job abroad. It is possible, as I did almost 2 years ago. It’s been a bumpy road and I’ve learnt many lessons, but here are my top tips on working while you travel abroad.
Unfair as it is, the world really is your oyster when you’re under 30. Both Australia and New Zealand offer working holiday schemes, which involve just a simple application process, and a small fee and then you can travel and work in either (or both) of these amazing countries. The Australian working holiday visa scheme allows you to work for a year (which can be extended to 2 years if you have 3 months of farm or regional work under your belt.) For New Zealand, you can get a 2 year visa straight away, although you do need to pay a bit more and get a full medical before applying.
Once you’re over 30, things get a bit more complicated, especially where New Zealand and Australia are concerned. Your best bet is to apply on the basis that you have a skill that is deemed as being in shortage.
Areas that often appear on the shortage list are things like nursing, social work, veterinarians and engineers. Other occupations that you might not expect can also appear as short term shortages, for example right now (June 2016) for New Zealand will find a shortage of chefs, snow sport instructors and scaffolders!
You can find the skill lists for both countries online, and these are updated regularly. Having a skill on the list is just the start of the process, but it will give you a good head start.
If you’re looking for long term employment, the above occupations are great, but if you’re simply working to travel on a working holiday visa, you’ll find a completely different skill set to be useful.
Things like waitressing/bartending and barista skills are invaluable as many places are looking for staff, especially in resorts or seasonal locations (probably due to high staff turnover). These jobs are also easy to pick up as a traveller as minimal training is required.
I was able to get these kind of jobs based on my background in customer service, but a little experience before leaving the UK would have been incredibly helpful – see my post One year on: lessons learned from my Australian working holiday visa.
If you’re planning on travelling, work experience back home in a café, bar or restaurant will help you pick up these skills quickly and feel more confident; the will be handy and the experience will help your CV stand out from the others.
This will never earn you the big bucks, but having a skill you can barter is always handy to earn a little cash, swap for other services/lodging or endear yourself to the local community if living in a remote location.
I’ve seen hairdressers doing a roaring trade giving cheap haircuts at backpacker hostels and one friend using his mechanic skills to fix bikes in exchange for free burgers in Rarotonga!
I recently completed my Divemaster Qualification through PADI, which is an internationally recognized certification that opens up some doors if you want to work in the Dive Industry. There are so many locations around the world you could learn to dive and get this qualification – the choice is yours!
It teaches you valuable safety and first aid and qualifies you to work on the water. This applies more to Australia than New Zealand however as in New Zealand, Divemaster positions are rarely paid with many people willing to give time for free in exchange for gaining experience.
A more valuable qualification for working abroad is the Dive Instructor certification, which will allow you to teach diving at any PADI Dive Centre around the world. Although it’s more of an investment financially, if you enjoy diving, it’s a great way to work and travel.
One more useful qualification for working on the water is the STCW95 which covers the basic safety training to work on vessels. If you want to crew on a yacht, this is a mandatory qualification. Working on yachts is a fantastic way to travel the world, and this qualification, along with experience in hospitality (cooking, waitressing etc) will put you in a good position to look for work in this field.
Working on a cruise ship is always an option with frequent vacancies. They’re usually looking for anyone from hairdressers, to entertainers, bar staff to housekeepers. Although wages are not too high, in many cases your wage is tax-free and all of your living expenses (food and accommodation) will be taken care of.
There are plenty of opportunities to teach English abroad, and this can be an incredibly rewarding way to travel.
Having a teaching background will give you a great head start, but is not absolutely necessary. The qualifications vary from country to country; a degree (especially in English) can be highly valued, as is the TEFL certificate (Teach English as a Foreign Language), or TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages).
These can either be completed online or as a classroom based program. You can also take the course as part of an in-country placement, and then once qualified; you will get assistance in finding your first position.
In terms of where to work, Asia and the Middle East have the combination of higher salaries and lower living costs – you could think about teaching English in China or getting CELTA qualified to teach in Vietnam for example.
It takes a certain type of personality to pull this off, but it can be a fantastic way to travel the world and meet new people.
Having solid experience travelling around the area you plan to tour guide in is important so you can pass tips on to your customers. You’ll also need good people skills and infinite patience as it's definitely a 24/7 job. Some tour guides also work as driver-guides (this is common in Africa) so you’ll also need to gain qualifications and experience in driving larger vehicles.
The internet has opened up amazing opportunities to go mobile with your working day. Find a good wi-fi connection, hook yourself up to Skype and no one would ever know that you're talking from a hammock overlooking the beach, or that you haven't quite managed to get out of your pajamas.
Freelancing as a ‘digital nomad’ is becoming increasingly popular, with fast internet connections and co-working spaces popping up all over the world from Bali to Chiang Mai in Thailand. If you’re going to work for yourself as a web developer, copy writer, designer, editor or digital marketer, you get to choose where to call your office!
If you want to work abroad, it makes sense to plan ahead. Travel Nation can help you find the best round the world flights that help you visit and try out a few places.
We also offer a super handy date change service which means you can easily tweak your flight plans as you – your consultant will deal with the airlines so you can travel as flexibly as you like. For plenty of first-hand advice and to book your trip, call us on +44 1273320580 or request a quote by email.