Work and Travel the World!
Welcome to the Ultimate Guide to find work and travel the world! There’s a surprising number of jobs that involve travelling out there and even some jobs where you can actually get paid to travel.
While I’ve built a career out of proving to people that you can travel with very, very, very little money… you still need some money to travel!
There are varying ways to work and travel. My highest recommendations are along the Digital Nomad route. Digital Nomad jobs are higher paying careers that only require a travel friendly laptop and a wifi connection – the ultimate freedom!
But sometimes Digital Nomad jobs take a while to get up and running. It takes time to build your online empire – and you might need to make money (or save money) NOW!
So I present the best travel jobs for backpackers whilst on the road. These are the jobs that allow you to work and travel the world without having to worry about running out of cash. Some of these are bona-fide travel careers whereas others are simple stop-gaps you can do to earn a quick bit of cash before you continue on with your adventure!
Teach English Abroad
English. It’s actually a seriously tricky language but somehow, everyone got stuck with it (long live the British Empire!) and there’s now a hell of a lot of people that want to learn it. Lucky us! You can teach English in so many countries these days and see the world at the same time. You can give yourself, even more freedom by teaching English online and it’s possible to score some very high paying gigs if you have good hustle. This is probably one of the best travel careers out there and there’s a pretty low barrier to entry – most natives can get a travel job teaching english.
Being a native speaker gives you an obvious advantage but it’s also possible for non-native speakers to get work teaching English too. Taking a TEFL course first will help you hit the ground running and hopefully will mean won’t be a crap teacher; it’s a small investment that will help you get a better paying job. Check out my case study for teaching English in China, Japan and read first-hand accounts from teachers making a living from teaching English abroad.
Being a certified Scuba Diver Instructor takes a bit of investment, but can be one of the most fun ways to work and travel. You need a handful of courses and certifications, as well as having logged in a certain amount of hours underwater yourself. If you are already certified, get excited! If you aren’t, you can do it at home, or take advantage of many programs that exist in countries like Thailand and The Philippines. Hand’s down this is one of the best ways to get paid to travel.
Similar to a scuba instructor, but without all of the need for certifications. You just need to be a badass surfer! Surfing instructors can do well for themselves by traveling, surfing, meeting people who are interested and want to learn, and then offering their services. It won’t be as well paying as scuba instruction, but you’ll be getting paid to do surf work and travel which is probably the coolest thing ever. I’m a big fan of surfing and hoping to spend a year or two getting a hell of a lot better in the future. If you are looking for a cool job that involves travelling, this may be for you.
Yoga has emerged in popularity around the world, and Yoga instructors are in high demand. While not the highest paying travel career, finding work as a Yoga instructor is one of the more assured ways to work and travel. Getting certified certainly helps you stand out from the crowd, but isn’t needed. Talk to other guests at your hostel, or even better, throw up some courses on Udemy or similar online education sites. Namaste bitches.
Buy A Place and Rent It
If you have been working for a while, you may have some savings. Rather than blowing it all on a couple of fast paced years of travel, invest it into buying a property at home and renting it out whilst you travel (living off the rent money). You can advertise your place on lots of different websites including Airbnb. It can easily turn into big bucks: so much so that some of my friends will not even stay at their own place when they return to their hometown. They’ll keep renting it out and stay somewhere else. Cha-ching! Click here to get $35 Airbnb Credit for your first Airbnb stay.
Work on A Boat
Unfortunately, the days of being a pirate are kinda over but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be a modern day ‘kind-of pirate’. Still a bit under the radar, it’s very possible to find travel jobs on boats, specifically – yachts and sailboats. Work is certainly easier to get with experience, but sometimes it’s as easy as just walking on to a dock and asking around. Sailing around the world is one of the best ways to get paid to travel! If you are interested in working and traveling on yachts or sailboats, this is a phenomenal resource.
Work on a Cruise Ship
Cruise ships are one of the best travel jobs out there – you just gotta be ready to work! Cruise ships span the globe and gigs are easily found. It’s a work hard, play hard atmosphere. You’ll be doing 60 hour week shifts, and partying at nights and exploring ports with your colleagues. One phenomenal perk to working on a cruise ship is the ability to save money. The jobs usually only pay $1,000-$2,000 a month, but with no car, no bills, no insurance, no nothing to pay for, it all goes in to the savings account. Cruise ships are a great way to work hard, see the world, and finish your contract with a boat-load of money saved up.
A bit difficult to get into as a newbie, but if you have some experience on the high seas, boat delivery has some serious work and travel potential. Typically the pay won’t be very high (if at all) but you’ll get your experience up and get to sail the seven seas for free! Getting into this travel career could lead to more lucrative gigs in the future. Check out crewseekers.com or cruisersforum.com for some job leads!
WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) has been budget travellers go-to for decades now. The gist is – you work on organic a farm for 20-30 hours a week and are given free food and accommodation in return. There are tens of thousands of farms spanning the globe, so where ever you wish to travel, WWOOF’s got you! My buddy Aaron from Nomads Nation (pictured above) spent two months on a farm in Portugal and wrote an awesome post – The Ultimate WWOOFing Guide
Similar to WWOOFing, HelpX has been around for a while. You haven’t earned your budget travel stripes until you’ve HelpX-ed somewhere! HelpX and Workaway (next on the list) are very similar. As opposed to WWOOFing (which is volunteer gigs exclusively on farms) these two sites have a range of volunteering tasks. Teaching English, translating, painting, hostel work, watching kids, farming – anything!
Similar to HelpX, Workaway allows you to volunteer for free food and lodging. Workaway is a bit newer than HelpX but has grown in popularity very quickly, becoming the preferred out of the two for many travellers. I can’t recommend Workaway enough, it’s an awesome platform – check it out here.
Sort of a work-exchange-meets-a-job, Housesitting is all the hype right now. Typically you pet-sit for an extended amount of time, and in return are given free reign over an entire house! Housesitting gigs rarely pay, but you can’t really complain. You’ll be getting free accommodation, a big ass kitchen, and the privacy of your own house! This is one of the best ways to travel. As with all good things, it’s challenging to crack into, but once you gain experience and a resume, you’ll have your choice of gigs. Highly recommended!
Work as an Au Pair
Au-Pairing is one of the oldest travel careers around and is still a great option to save some money and see the world. Personally, kids ain’t for me. However, if you are bubbly, happy, smiley and don’t mind clearing up sick then there’s plenty of little ones who need a lovely person like you to help take care of them. It doesn’t always pay, and if it does pay it’s not always much but you can earn up to 5k a month if you’re happy to teach in some more far-flung lands. You’ll get free lodging and food, and likely some pocket change for the weekend if your volunteering in Europe. This is a pretty solid way to get paid to travel and live in a new country. Check out the Ditch your Desk Nomad Guide on how to travel the world as an Au-Pair.
Be A Translator
Are you a smarty pants who can speak other languages fluently? Or perhaps you have a knack for learning other languages quickly? You should consider becoming a translator and work online or offline to fund your travels. I have fuck-all experience with this as I am relatively talentless when it comes to languages.
Hostel work is one of those unspoken backpacker rules. It’s on the web a bit, but it’s still pretty hush hush. So let me tell you – finding hostel gigs is f**king simple. One of the easiest travel jobs to get – just ask the hostels you are staying at if they are looking for any help. They will know exactly what this means. “Help” means manning the front desk graveyard shift, sweeping the floors, or most likely minding the bar. If they are looking for any “help”, they might pay a bit of cash, but you’ll surely get a free bed and some food out of it. Hostels are one of the staples for travel work and are a phenomenal way to save money while traveling.
Similar to hostel work, bar jobs have kept the backpacker going since basically the dawn of time. Often the bar work will be in a hostel bar (mentioned above) but just as legit is finding work at standalone bars. This is particularly true in seasonal European cities (but I’ve seen it in South America, Australia, Asia – basically everywhere). The best way to find a job is just to walk around and ask if the bars are looking for any help, or if you’re having a pint somewhere, strike up a conversation with the bartender and get the scoop. A simple inquisition can lead to a lot of opportunities.
This is a large category that encompasses many different jobs. Restaurants, construction, hotels, cruise ships, fishing boats, ski resorts, the list goes on! While a lot of these jobs are covered elsewhere in this post, seasonal jobs are worth noting. You can literally travel the world, chasing season (which by the way usually equates to amazingly beautiful weather) and making money when jobs are in demand and at their highest paying.
One can find legitimate and decent paying construction work in Australia or New Zealand. In other parts of the world, asking around can bring also bring a lot of opportunities. If you have construction experience heed my advice – check out WWOOF, HelpX and Workaway. Many hostels, farms, and everything in between will advertise their needs in hopes of finding a qualified traveller. You’ll get food, lodging, and (depending on the project) a bit of money as well.
Become A Freelance Photographer
If you love taking pictures, why aren’t you making the most of your skills and being paid for it? Breaking into freelance photography is no easy feat but it is totally possible if you have perseverance and work at honing your craft every day. You can travel the world forever by snapping away; check out my Freelance Photography Guide to learn how to get started with earning money from your photos.
Transport a Car or RV
Car and RV dealerships or car rental companies sometimes hire people to drive cars to a different destination. Car rental companies often find themselves with too many cars in one destination and want to move them to an area where rentals are more in demand. Car dealerships may need a specific car, with specific options or colours that they arrange to get from another dealer. While most companies work with full time, professional drivers, there may be some opportunities for one time trips. The trick with these jobs is getting a car that’s going where you want to go at the right time. You’ll need a clean driver’s license and may need a speciality license to drive RVs. Transport companies like DAS Auto Shippers and RV Transport hire drivers. HitTheRoad.ca is a well known Canadian company that offers mostly long distance, one way, one trip driving contracts for cars, while AutoDriveAway has listings for the USA.
A Tour Director accompanies a tour group for the entirety of the itinerary and basically makes sure people are having a good time. If it’s a twenty one day culture tour through Central America, the Tour Director is there the entire time, leading the group, answering questions, communicating with the bus driver, and most importantly creating solutions when s**t goes wrong. This is one of the travel jobs that requires the most work, but if you think you possess the qualities, there are thousands of tour operations companies looking for new leaders. This industry is very competitive, but once you get your foot in the door you’ll be offered work left and right. I’ve got some experience leading adventure tours myself and this is a solid job choice… You just need to have endless amounts of energy!
Travel Tour Guide
As opposed to a Tour Director, a Tour Guide usually does shorter tours (think three hour walking tours). Ideally, Tour Guides are experts in their niche, but sometimes a bit more knowledge than the average Joe will suffice. If you have experience or certification, getting tour guide work will be easy. If you live within the EU, you can also find tour guide work within Europe relatively easy (Free Walking tours, etc.) without certification. Otherwise, there are lots of people on the web tapping into their entrepreneurial spirit and starting their own tours while on the road.
Just kidding. Gotta make sure you’re paying attention!
Similar to Yoga, if you’re in shape and know how to break a sweat, you can get paid to help others do the same! I love finding creative ways to stay in shape while traveling, and you’ll find plenty of other travellers who will share this interest. See if your hostel wants to organise any activities or events which you can market by word of mouth off by putting a flyer up. Head to a park or the beach and BOOM! You’re a certified fitness instructor… sort of.
After a long day of traveling and walking and drinking, backpackers might want to wind down with a nice massage! If you are a trained massage therapist this is a great way to work and travel!
If you have experience working in a restaurant then you’ll know that it’s a very transient industry. Employees come and go in short spurts, only to be replaced by others, who then do the exact same thing. It’s just the way the industry works. But this benefits the traveler! If you have some cooking abilities or some legitimate kitchen experience you can find a job by asking around at kitchens in hotels, cruise ships, boats, or retreats. Also take a look into WWOOF, HelpX and Workaway as you can certainly find some cook-work opportunities for a free place to stay.
Making and Selling Jewellery
Screw travel jobs, be a travel entrepreneur! While you can make and sell anything, Jewellery is certainly the backpacker artisans staple and I’ve met lots of people who make and sell jewellery whilst travelling. Think about it. The materials can be cheap and light to carry, it’s an artsy/fun thing to do, and you can set up shop (busking style) in a city and make some money! Selling handmade jewellery on the street isn’t the path to becoming a billionaire, but if you can make a decent product, it’s a great way to bring in enough to cover a day of gallivanting. You can also sell your jewellery online using Etsy, eBay, or Instagram (and obviously promote the f**k out of it on Pinterest!).
A personal favourite of mine, this is what I sometimes refer to as the ‘stuff your backpack’ method. When in exotic countries you will find awesome nicks and nacks that people back home will go crazy over! Think hippie stuff – chillums, trousers, jewellery, etc. These items will be authentic and dirt cheap. Then, when you are outside that country you can sell the authentic handcrafted Indian peace pipe (that you paid $.75 cents for in Mumbai) for $15 at festivals or online! It’s a great way to make 1,000% or more on your investments. The best thing is that if it’s a success you can keep it up – this is the very definition of a job that involves travelling as you’ll need to do it again to get paid regularly.
Play an instrument? Tap into your inner performer! While not guaranteed, street performing musicians (aka busking) can bring in some good money! Next time you’re walking by a street performer, take a look at their tip jar. If the musician chose the right location and is talented enough, there’s a pretty good shot they are making some dough! Also, as a musician, you should look into giving lessons while traveling, or playing gigs at bars or hostels. They might give you a free bed or some drinks. Not a bad payoff for a few hours of jammin’!
Stop right now and listen to me. If you are a nurse, or if you are thinking about becoming a nurse, being a traveling nurse is one of the single most amazing careers you can get into. Traveling nurses are usually hired for thirteen to twenty six weeks in whatever location they choose. Housing is usually covered, and due to the high demand and urgency, traveling nurses are paid more than regular nurses. It’s one of the best ways to travel and save a stupid amount of money.
An oldie but a goodie. Being a flight attendant isn’t as glamorous as it once was, but if you are looking to work and travel, this is a fantastic travel career. Free flights, long stopovers to explore, and the ability to tweak your schedule to have a few weeks off a month – there’s a lot to like!
Be an extra in Bollywood
A bit more off the cuff, but more than possible! Bollywood is the movie capital of India and puts out double the amount of movies Hollywood does per year. A high quantity of movies means a big need for actors, especially foreign actors to fill foreign roles. India is one of my favourite countries on the planet, and having been there numerous times I’ve met plenty of people that work and travel while living their acting “dreams” in Bollywood!
New Zealand/Australia Work Visa
Depending on where you are from, New Zealand and Australia are two of the easiest countries to get work visas. The visa allows you to be employed in most industries, but you’ll most likely find jobs in the food, hospitality, or farming industries. Also, Australia just reduced their visa fee by $50, and upped the age group from 30 to 35!!! This is HUGE for anyone who thought they were too old to experience a year of Aussie life! Now is the time!!!
Farm work in Australia
A backpackers secret – three months of farm work in Australia gets you a year visa! Sounds great right? It can be but do be careful. While there are many stories of backpackers working on farms that pay them fairly, there are nearly as many that have expressed being exploited and paid unjustly. Not to scare you away! The incentive is amazing, just make sure to do your research before you get your farm on! (Also, you can mine for gold in Australia too!)
Have you ever been told you are a good salesman? Could you sell s**t to a pig? Ice to an Eskimo? A rolling suitcase (come on, they’re fucking stupid) to me? Selling timeshares (or anything else) is a great way to work and travel. Overseas companies want to sell tourists on timeshares but have found it more profitable to hire the salesman that can relate to the potential customer. Hence, the timeshare company in Greece wants to hire a Brit to pitch timeshares to Brits visiting Greece on holiday. Got all that? This is certainly not for everyone, but it is a way to travel and make money!
While I mentioned resorts and seasonal gigs before, skiing deserves its own holler. Ski resorts are notorious for hiring travellers, often under the table. You won’t get paid much and will likely be overworked, but it’s a great way to work hard, play hard and make some friends! Plus there will always be skiing perks which are obviously awesome.
Thrill seekers, beware! This is not a line of work for everyone. But if you are good at poker and can maintain the discipline required, playing poker can be a great way to earn money and travel… possibly even professionally! I rented a flat with a random bunch of backpackers in Medellin and one of the lads there was travelling the world, funding his adventures by playing poker online – he had a system that dictated how much risk he took and how much money he needed to make to maintain his lifestyle.
Join the Peace Corp
This is certainly one of the noblest travel jobs on this list – but it deserves a mention! A different work and travel experience, the Peace Corp is no joke. It’s a two year commitment, you have very little influence on where you are stationed, and you only get two days off per month. But if you are serious about helping people, this could be the experience of a lifetime. Also, if you are eyeing a particular career, having Peace Corps experience on your resume can be a game changer in certain industries.
If you are planning on working on line, check out this post on the best laptops for digital nomads.
Need even more inspiration?
The Backpacker Bible – Learn how to ditch your desk and travel the world on just $10 a day whilst building a life of long-term travel with an online income. This book is my dissertation on backpacking, nine years of tips and tricks and your purchase helps keep the site going. If you’ve found the content on this site useful, the book is the next level up and you will learn a ton – if you don’t, I’ll give you your money back. Check it out here.
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And there you have it amigos; There are so many ways to work and travel, sometimes you just gotta get a bit creative! As long as you are cutting the costs of travel and picking up a job where needed, you can easily pick up a job that involves travelling or even a travel career where you get paid to travel and live in a new country.
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