Over the past two decades, a rapidly accelerating number of countries have forged agreements enabling their citizens to travel and work for up to two years. This is great news for those of us who love to travel, but who lack the trust funds to support us as we do so. It means world explorers can leave immediately, without having to save up cash working a monotonous job; it’s an experience that brings closer contact with local people; and it is a chance to learn a trade while, for the career-minded among us, buffering that dastardly CV. With those worries swept aside, here are ten destinations primed for a potentially life-changing next adventure.
Europeans have been travelling to Australia for work and adventure for centuries; through the first half of the twentieth century, thousands tolerated six week boat journeys for the sake of a fresh start in life. These days it’s somewhat easier to get there, and if those between 18 and 30, getting hold of a working holiday visa is pretty straightforward too. A wide range of employment opportunities opens up - there are urban jobs working in hotels, bars, gardens and stores, and there are outdoorsy positions in the wilds of the Outback, working on sheep or cattle farms or caring for horses.
Producing grapes for France’s many varietals of wine is one of the country’s key agricultural outputs. The work is highly seasonal - the harvest typically begins in September and lasts until October - and every Autumn, approximately 100,000 grape picking vacancies open up. So if you’re travelling in Europe and running out of cash, or just want to support yourself in France for a couple of months, finding work at that time of year won’t be difficult. The same can’t be said for the work itself, though, which is pretty tough - eight hours bending and plucking in the hot French sun. The pay’s fairly minimal, too, although many of the farms offer free accommodation and food, so you can squirrel away your wages for the future.
If the vineyards of France don’t appeal, what about the Alpine peaks of Switzerland? Every winter, ski and snowboarding resorts speckled across the country’s snow-swathed slopes require a big injection of staff as ski season descends. If you’re already an accomplished skier, then you could consider working as a ski instructor - many ski resorts host camps for international schools, which require good teachers to work with the kids. To do this, you’ll need a ski instructor qualification and a CRB certificate, so you’ll need to get planning. But if you’re ski skills are a little rusty you can still get involved - resorts also need hands-on staff to work in the catering and hospitality wings of their business. A great company for either of these roles is Viamonde, which runs ski camps for schoolchildren from around the world.
Teaching English is among the most challenging and, consequently, rewarding ways to work abroad. It involves planning lessons and managing classes, building a rapport with children and adults from a different culture and country. Perfect for native English speakers - or those just fluent in the language - there are countless opportunities around the world to find work. It’s worth getting a TEFL or CELTA, which can be done for little more $200; after which a world of teaching locales open up. Vietnam is an excellent option: right now, it’s developing rapidly, and many individuals and organizations are keen to learn to English to improve their chances of benefiting from this evolution. It has a handful of ancient, beautiful, and vibrant cities to choose between - Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City - a deep-rooted Buddhist culture, and a stunning natural world. And during vacations and breaks, south-east Asia is waiting to be explored.
Canada’s vast tracts of wilderness provide superb terrain for summer camps for teenagers keen to get out into the wild. There are also specific programs targeted at disadvantaged and difficult teenagers which, through the experience of fending for oneself out among the immense indifference of things, aim to engender self-confidence and self-belief. These camps always need people to help look after the camp residents; one possible position is to work as a camp counsellor, which involves organizing activities, leading team building exercises and providing pastoral care. Canada also has an efficient and widely accessible system of working holiday visas, making it all the easier to travel there to work.
New Zealand - the gateway to the far flung Polynesian isles, sprinkled across the mighty Pacific - is an immensely popular destination, renowned for its intricate fjords, giant glaciers, volcanic landscapes, rich Maori culture and myriad sheep. Unfortunately, its position in remote polynesia also makes it quite expensive to get to for most of the world’s population. One way travelers overcome the flight fare is by making a little money while they’re out there. Like Canada, there is a well-established and accessible system of working holiday visas. And there’s a wide range of possibilities for employment, so there’s something to suit almost any kind of interest - options range include working at a hostel in the shadow of the Franz Josef glacier, helping out on a dairy farm, becoming an au pair or picking kiwi fruit, among much else.
The UK’s busy bureaucracy has come up with its own form of the working holiday visa, called the Youth Mobility Scheme. These enable citizens from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Monaco to stay and work in the country for up to two years - and of course, doing so from an EU member country is straightforward too. This makes it much easier to stay in what is a pretty expensive country, and it will also give travelers the cash to travel round and avoid the old tourist mistake of seeing nothing beyond suffocating London. The city’s capital, with its hugely diverse and transient population, has a line of revolving doors into work stretching out of sight, and most people should be able to find some form of bar, restaurant, temping, nannying, tutoring, construction, retail or banking job with little difficulty. Alternatively, it’s worth immersing oneself in the UK’s wild natural world, working at a hotel out in the highlands of Scotland.
Photo by Sam Ng -LP/Flickr.
Japan is an alluring challenge for backpackers: a fascinating country and culture to explore and experience, but damn expensive, and with little infrastructure for the budget traveller. A working holiday visa is a great way to get around this: citizens aged between 18-30 from a variety of countries are now eligible, and more countries have been continually added over the past decade; Norway was the most recent addition, in 2013. English teachers are in immense demand and finding teaching jobs will be relatively easy, even without a diploma. Or there are endless available positions in bars, restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions.
Like Japan, South Korea has signed agreements with a number of countries over the past decade, enabling citizens aged between 18 and 35 to work there for up to 12 months (18 months for US citizens). Again, if you speak fluent English and communicate well with other people, then teaching is in great demand and, compared to working in a bar or restaurant, very well-paid. There is bad news for people with some very specific skills, however - acrobats, dancers, musicians and singers are all excluded by the visa regulations.
Instead of working in just one country, why not bob around the Caribbean visiting a few? As the ranks of the world’s super-rich swells, there are a surprisingly large number of opportunities to work as a crew member on a luxury yacht. Travelers who can stomach the disorientating confluence of state-of-the-art technology and somewhat feudal social relations, will find a gloriously easy way to travel the world’s sun-drenched corners without having to to worry about expenses such as accommodation, food and even toiletries. On top of that, the pay can be really rather good. There are a wide range of positions available, such as working on the decks, maintaining equipment, cooking in the kitchen, waiting tables or being a steward.