Working your way around the world

Working While Backpacking – What to do and where to go?

If you have the travel itch but don’t have the bank account to match- working while backpacking is a great way to earn and even save money while seeing the world.  There are essentially 5 groups of jobs open to travellers: tourism; agriculture, childcare, teaching English and volunteering (no money here but a great way to beef up your resume while backpacking).

Generally, the sooner you apply for seasonal work the better. Countries such as Switzerland recruit months before the summer season. But if you are hoping to find work on a whim- you should show up to the place of employment bright and early, looking as presentable as can in your backpacking attire and try to impress your perspective employers. If you are trying to score a job in a hotel try the biggest hotels and chains first and ask to speak directly with the manager, bypassing anyone who doesn’t really look like they know what they are talking about.

Working While Backpacking


There is an abundance of tourist related jobs open to travellers. Similar to agricultural work, much of the work is seasonal thereby discouraging a stable workforce. Consequently, many tourist based companies rely on foreign labour during their busy seasons. In addition, many tourist destinations are in remote locations where there is no local population to fill these jobs. This allows travellers to work in some of the most beautiful regions of the world, where backpackers don’t normally venture out to due to either its expense or remoteness.

Several online companies assist travelers in hooking up with local companies. But sometimes it’s best to feel out a place, see if you could see yourself staying there for a few weeks or even months- then try and find work.

Empowering Hospitality Jobs- This free service for job seekers enables travellers to search for jobs in the travel, hospitality, resort and restaurant industry.

Traveljobz- this world-wide company posts work from all over the world, in practically every tourist industry. For those looking for 9-5 employment there are computer programming jobs, media and communication opportunities and travel technology opportunities. For something a bit more laid back-back- there is employment available in theme park related jobs, events, hospitality and even car rental companies.

Hotel jobs- an all encompassing hospitality website, interested job seekers can search from a range of jobs from entry level hotel clerks to cruise shop director. This list includes clubs, hotels, cruises and travel agencies and is free for job seekers.

Resort jobs- those interested in teaching skiing on Whistler’s slopes or working as a dancer on a cruise or even working as a GO in Club Med should check out this website.

Summer jobs- this website lists a range of summer, seasonal and short terms work contracts

Cruise Ship jobs- this company offers many long term and some short term contracts on cruise ships. Work on Cruise ships is another good website for those wanting to earn money while travelling by boat.

Hospitality jobs- this U.K. based company offers a wide range of hospitality related work in both the U.K and international hotels.

Job Monkey- provides a wide range of seasonal work across the globe.

Season workers- this U.K based companies offers a variety of employment opportunities in the hospitality, child-care industries and is perfect for students or those only looking for seasonal employment.


Historically, agricultural work has always attracted casual workers looking for casual employment or looking to make basic wages while continuing on in their nomadic journeys. Hundreds of years later- not much has changed. Agricultural work is a great way to get out of the city and experience remote locations outside the typical tourists haunts. Unlike the big tourists chains- harvest and farming employment is usually only done through face to face meetings. Once you arrive in a town and feel as if you might want to stay for a while ask the locals, hostel owners or business owners if they know of anyone hiring in the countryside. Alternatively, you could get a list of farms and go from door to door.

Appellation Controlee- this Dutch company, originally started by two ex-travellers, helps people find work on farms offering reasonable pay in France, Britain and a few other countries for a small agency fee.

Picking Jobs- this company offers an extensive job list of fruit picking jobs from grape- picking in France to cherry picking in Australia to blueberry picking in Canada.

Jobaroo- provides information about seasonal farm work and fruit picking opportunities in Australia.

Farm Helpers New Zealand- while it does not provide a matching service, if you sign up for their program, they provide you with a booklet listing about 190 farms in New Zealand looking for volunteer helpers in exchange for room and board. (this is a non paid job)

WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) – WWOOF coordinators match up individuals who in return for their help on organic farms, gardens etc, provide travelers with meals, accommodation and the know-how of organic growing. The work is simple, the hours manageable (6 hours) and you can stay for as long you and owner agree.

Anywork Anywhere- this company offers the opportunity for backpackers to live and work anywhere in the world. They mostly focus on the European market but there are often job postings in Australia/New Zealand and North America.

AMS Ltd. – useful database of all jobs searching in U.K.

Australian job search- this government run (aka free) website serves as an excellent fruit picking search engine.


Whether you call it an au pair, mother’s help or a nanny they all pretty much do the same thing- a live-in child care taker. However, these distinctions are useful to describe the backgrounds and roles in the house. An au pair, is supposed to work 30 hours a week or under and are expected to learn a foreign language while taking care of a family. A mother’s help works full time and in addition to general child-care responsibilities assumes cooking and a variety of household jobs. Whereas, a nanny generally has some formal training and is only responsible for the children (think Mary Poppins). An au pair’s work is usually for the academic year or seasonal whereas nannies and mother’s help may have indefinite contracts.

Unfortunately for men, this industry is mainly female focused- with most households preferring females as their child care takers. Fortunately for women, there is such a high demand for child care takers that these jobs are relatively easy to come by.

There is little regulation of au pair agencies and things can go wrong- so make sure you do your homework. If working in Europe ensure that the agency is a member of the International Au Pair Association (IAPA) an international agency trying to regulate the industry.


Janet White Agency-   with over 30 years of providing reliable service this agency sets up nannies and au pairs in the Yorkshire region. They are members of the REC (Recruitment and Employment Confederation) and BAPAA (British AuPair Agencies Association) which binds members to codes of professional and ethical practice.

Interexchange Inc.,- Sends au pairs to France, Germany, Netherlands and Spain. Also sends participants to camp in the USA.

Childcare International Ltd.,- this U.K based company offers au pairs, mother’s help and nanny services in Europe, Canada, Australia and South Africa.

Edware & Solihull Au Pair Shop- places English speaking au pairs/nannies across Europe, Great Britain and USA.

Almondbury Agency- offers both nanny and au pair services done manually by their experienced staff.

Scotia Personnel Ltd.,- this Canadian based company recruits nannies across Canada and abroad, sending them to Spain, USA, England, Denmark,  France, Holland, Germany, Italy, Australia. It also sets up placements in summer camps in Italy, Great Britain and USA and teaching positions in Korea and Italy.

Childcare Solution- places seasonal nannies/au pairs in resorts- offering au pair homes services across the UK and provides events- based babysitting services.


Au this service sets up au pairs with families across the world. Au pairs can send messages directly to families and if they are interested in receiving a family’s contact details they must sign up for the service.

Au Pair and Nanny Service- offers a range of services including au pairs, senior care, housekeeping and even tutoring across the world.  Sign up costs $120 for 90 days; however, if you are unable to afford the membership fees, you can still continue to add families to your hot list. If a family is interested they can contact you directly.

Easy au pair- this website offers free registration for both families and au pairs with added privileges for members.  They also provide an anti scam program to ensure the safety and security of its members.

New Au Pair- this U.K. based company is run by former au pairs and those who previously employed au pairs. They employ a large international clientele with over 40,000 members.

Find an au pair- this easy to use site let’s both au pairs and families search a wide directory.

Teaching English

Knowing the English language, the most spoken and sought after language is a skill that comes naturally to most North Americans. Therefore, many use it to their advantage to see and experience another part of the world while still earning a steady pay check. The possibilities to teach English are endless from Korea to Vietnam from Argentina to Ecuador- the world is your oyster. While some areas of the world may be a bit more limiting, such as Europe, where there is an overabundance of English language teachers all hoping to capture similar jobs- in many parts of the world there are not enough teachers for all the school that require English assistance.

In many schools all you need is a North American or U.K passport and you are considered an experts, in other more respectable institutions you will be required to sign a contract (usually for a 6 month minimum) and have some sort of certification (such as a University degree, certificate in education with a specialization in English as a second language known as “TEFL”). While you can try and find one when you arrive, setting up a placement before you go makes the transition much easier  as many companies will often pay for your airfare and accommodation.

Footprints Recruiting- offers free teacher placement services for English speaking teachers. Teachers can choose from a wide range of countries including Korea, Chilli, Brunei, China, Georgia, Hong Kong, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam.

Go Abroad- lists numerous organizations, mostly volunteer based requiring payment that is a useful resource for those wanting to compare the various programs.

TotalESL- this information sharing site was established over 6 years ago brings together parents, teachers and students in all aspects of ESL. This site is free for all users and is very user friendly offering multiple categories and search features.

Teachaway Inc.- is an excellent alternative for those who want to be paid and don’t want to pay a membership fee. They offer highly lucrative contracts in Abu Dhabi, Brunei, Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Mexico and the Middle East.

ESL Cafe’s International Job board- this meeting space for all things ESL related is a great jumping off point for potential job opportunities.

i- to-i- offers internships abroad in a wide range of areas, including teaching English, working with wildlife, working with communities and helping with the environment. Volunteers must pay for the to participate in these activities. The teaching internships usually include the TEFL course and free accommodation.

English Language Teaching Assistance Program (ELTAP)- internship program open to undergraduates or graduate students in the USA, Canada or Britain either a 10- 18 week student placement program or 3-4 week practicum programs. Participants can be sent to 58  countries. a 10- 12 week placement costs around $3,500 whereas a fifteen week placement will set you back $5,200. On the plus side, students can receive course credits for their works with ELTAP.

Fullbright English Teaching Assistanships- offers recent graduated students an opportunity to serve as English teaching assistants in  Cameroon, South Africa, Belgium, France, Germany,  Hungary, Albania, Croatia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Moldova, Romania, Slovenia,   Indonesia, Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Mongolia, Macau, Taiwan, Argentina, Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Paraguay, Venezuela  and Turkey.

Australia Academic Circle (AAC)- posts job opportunities in Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Russia and China. It also has a section devoted to farm stays and volunteer opportunities.

JobMaze- this company attempts to facilitate the job search process for ESL teachers around the globe by offering free industry related advice and job postings/resume postings.

China TEFL- is a job portal for teaching English in China.

Global Crossroad- offers volunteer teaching and internships opportunities as well as paid teaching jobs in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, Chile, Russia, Brazil and Mexico.

Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL)- offers basic membership fees ($33- 95)  that allow members to search job vacancies worldwide.

JobsinJapan- Want to teach English in Japan? then check out this site or O-Hayo Sensei – for some fantastic resources.

Ajarn- posts teaching opportunities exclusively in Thailand.

Internetworks: teaching English in Mexico- portal for teaching English in Mexico.

TEFL Asia- portal for paid teaching English jobs in Asia


Volunteering abroad is a great way visit remote regions of the world while intimately getting to know a foreign culture by providing assistance to local communities. Not only will the community benefit from your assistance but you could also acquire new skills such as learning a language or gain practical experience in a variety of fields, such as health, human rights, environmental issues which will serve you well when applying for jobs in the future. While volunteering abroad is often one of the most self less acts you can do while you are away it also serves a fantastic addition to your resume. It demonstrates to your future employer that you are adventurous and willing to change the world around you.

Word to the wise, while it may seem odd but most unskilled volunteer jobs abroad costs will cost you- not only will have to cover your program expenses but you will have to pay the program’s administrative fees as well as the participants lodgings and food. While many of these are profit making companies, other organizations have no other form of support and have no choice to charge their volunteers money in order to maintain the program. Make sure before you sign up, you check the status of the organization whether it is charity/non for profit or commercial organization and ask for a breakdown of costs. Another good idea is to speak to former volunteers about their previous experience. As you don’t want to end up like my friend and I stranded in Tanzania after we signed up with a fraudulent organization.

Oftentimes its better to just show up at an organization and hope that they will hire you for free. After my friend and I left Tanzania, we headed to Blantyre, Malawi and found ourselves working for a wonderful organization called the Joshua Project, where the director offered us free broad in exchange for our volunteer services. The experiences was extremely eye opening and meaningful and at the end of our time there we donated the money that we were supposed to give to the fraudulent organization to the Joshua project for the generosity.

Volunteer Abroad – offers a placement assessment service to assist volunteers reach their short and long term goals and programs start from 1400 and up.

CADIP- provides affordable volunteer placements (from 270 including admin fees and food) in a wide range of areas. For instance, volunteers can renovate classrooms and teach English in Indonesia, provide therapeutic programs for the elderly in Vancouver or sea turtle monitoring in Mexico.

GoEco- volunteer placements perfect for wildlife enthusiasts. Volunteers can work in Kenya doing wildlife conservation work or working in Greece at a wildlife hospital or working in a wolf sanctuary in Portugal.

IVHQ- provides reliable and affordable volunteer placements in developing countries. Volunteer activities range from HIV/AIDS awareness to sports education. Placements include: India, Nepal, Guatemala, Peru, Colombia, Ghana, Tanzania, Thailand and several others.

Global Volunteers- this company with over 25 years of experience, mobilizes 2500 projects annually in 19 countries. The organization is premised on the idea that volunteers help create a foundation for world peace through mutual international understanding

Global Crossroads- this U.S based company operates volunteer projects in over 18 countries. While the programs are inexpensive, the company’s eight years of experience offers volunteers with a reliable and meaningful volunteer program.

Global Volunteer Network- this company supports local organizations in developing countries through volunteer placements. Programs include: volunteering in Haiti, a community development project in Ghana, environmental conservation in the Philippines and an organic farming project in Uganda.

Kaya Responsible Travel- this company offers over 200 volunteer projects in over 20 countries; such as a photography conservation project in South Africa, Manta Ray and Whale shark conservation in Mozambique and home building projects in the Philippines. While this companies offers varied and interesting volunteer work – you pay for what you get for and prices can range up to $2000 for a volunteer project.

The Humanity Exchange- offers programs that contribute to local development while offering volunteers the experience live, work and learn abroad. Volunteer placements range from 2 weeks to 4 months in a range of placements such as: woman’s empowerment in Liberia, a journalism project in Colombia and working in an orphanage in Cameroon.

Working while backpacking is a great way to se the world while earning some extra cash on the side.

Backpacking Bex