Will Work For Travel!

Joseph Hakoopian teaching English at Anania Shirakatsi Lycee. (Photo via G0h4r, at Wikimedia Commons)

As a long-term traveler, people always ask me how I do it. Am I independently wealthy? A trust fund baby? Nope.  I usually tell people that I’m just really good at being really poor – which is true. Any college student will tell you that ramen noodles and dollar menu dinners go a long way, and traveling is no different. But the real secret to being able to afford long term travel is to work while on the road.

Working abroad is a great way to earn some extra travel funds and stay on the road longer. Jobs abroad can range from work for accommodation exchanges to more legitimate career-building endeavors. More often than not, you’ll find yourself cleaning dorms in exchange for a few free nights in the hostel or mixing drinks behind the bar for some under the table cash.  If you’re open to doing anything for a quick buck, it’s usually not hard to find work.

What kinds of jobs can you find while traveling?

Hostel Work

Ready to get dirty?  You’ll be surprised at how many well-to-do European travelers will roll up their sleeves and clean a toilet while traveling. These jobs are the easiest to get, for obvious reasons. All you have to do is stay a day or two in a hostel and ask about working in exchange for accommodation, and you’ll usually find something. Hostel work varies from place to place and consists of a range of tasks including changing sheets, heavy cleaning, reception work, or trying to bring in travelers direct from the bus station.

Managing a hostel can be one of the most fun jobs you’ll ever have, even if the pay is a bit of local currency that’s a tiny fraction of what you would expect back home. You’ll usually work shifts behind the front desk, checking out all the sexy travelers as they arrive. There’s some responsibility and organization involved, plus a longer time commitment than general hostel work, so this job isn’t for everyone.

A Bartender pours some flaming shots! (Photo by Tom Purves via Wikimedia Commons)


Bar work can be another fun and rewarding way to earn a bit of cash while on the road.  There are almost always bar jobs to be found, ranging from hostel bars to local dives on the beach. Wherever you end up, you’ll be hustling sex appeal for minimal tips and probably be swimming in cheap (or free) booze.  Bartending can be a great way to meet locals and other travelers while earning a buck at the same time. Just keep in mind that when you’re boozing it up every night, you can burn out pretty easily. Best to move on before you become too much of a local legend.

WWOOF / Farm Work

Finding agricultural jobs like fruit picking, wine pruning, or even marijuana crop trimming can be easy, although this type of work is repetitious, laborious, and mind-numbing. WWOOF work stands for’ willing workers on organic farms’ and refers to a direct exchange of farm work for housing and meals without any financial compensation.  Various websites are dedicated solely to providing a link between workers and employers so it can be pretty easy to coordinate plans anywhere in the world before you even arrive.  FromFrancetoThailand, WWOOFing is available in pretty much every country and can be a great plan for people who like organic farm living and laid back country lifestyle.  Another bonus is, you can usually show up, work a couple days, and leave when you get sick of the grind.

Teaching English

One of the most popular long term commitment jobs out there, available practically everywhere, is teaching English.  The pay ranges from a humble local stipend to having entire plane tickets covered by a school.  It’s often best to do the research beforehand, but it’s also pretty easy to find something once you arrive in country.  Completing a TEFL course highly increases your job opportunities as well as prepares you for what to expect, even though it’s not always necessary.  Although this is the most rewarding way to connect with the local community, it’s a real job that requires genuine work.  There will be less weeknight partying and more lesson planning, but if you want to be abroad for at least a year, this is definitely the way to go.

Club Promotion

Maybe you just want to party a little harder than your current budget allows and you’ve got a bit of charm and sex appeal up your sleeve that you can put to good use. Clubs and bars in touristy areas are always looking for good promoters to hand out wrist bands and flyers for drink specials. You’ll usually get paid in free entry and free drinks, and it can be a great way to meet the local party people.

Career Builder

Okay, so you’ve got big dreams of corner offices and six-figure salaries, but want to take a break after college and travel the world. Yes, there are jobs for you out there too. If you’ve got room in your backpack for some button-down shirts and shiny shoes, you should do some research ahead of time and reach out to potential employers.  International work experience can give your resume a big boost and internships abroad have become a popular way for motivated young ladder-climbers to spend their summers.  Jobs of every variety are available and websites such as http://jobs.goabroad.com/ can help scour the world for the specific field and country you’d prefer to find work in before you even leave.

Musician or Artist

Although not usually financially compensated, traveling as a performing musician or artist can subsidize your lifestyle on the road.  Often bars and hostels like having live music and will provide free accommodation, food, or booze in exchange for a few hours of entertainment.  Also, artists can offer to paint a mural for the same exchange, although this isn’t always as dependable.  If you prefer the crafty arts, then travel with whatever jewelry or craft you make, as well as the tools to make more, and sell it as you go.  From parks to hostels, selling your work is easy and it will not only supplement your journey, but will help introduce you to lots of interesting people along the way.

However you choose to supplement your travels, working abroad is a great way to connect with locals, extend your finances, and feel at home on the road.  Not only will your trip lasts twice as long, but it will be a million times more amazing.  The best places are the ones you find along the way so don’t worry about planning too much ahead of time.  Just get out on the open road and be ready to experience work on the other side of the world.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!