Whether you’re yearning for an immersion, an escape, or a whole damn factory reset, working jobs abroad can provide some of the most time-stopping, game-changing experiences. Sure, it’s possible to see the world in two week glimpses, but you may eventually hope for the type of adventure that can only be had with a one-way ticket and a drizzle of recklessness.
Unlike other types of transformation where you quietly slip back into your daily rituals, living abroad uproots you from everything you’ve got and gives you a fresh opportunity to learn about a culture, and experience things with a sense of newness that you rarely do as an adult. You have moments of realization, moments of routine, and moments of profound irritation that allow you to develop just a little bit.
Maybe it’s fear of the unknown, or money, or timing, or career regression holding you back, but there’s always way to make long term travel happen without missing anything at home. So to the planners, to the freeloaders, to the professionals, and to the free spirits among you: You can absolutely do this. Here are a few ideas of jobs you can do abroad.
The Very Best Jobs Abroad
Teaching English Abroad:
If you speak English and graduated college, teaching English abroad is one of the most seamless, well-paid, and risk minimized jobs abroad. You can choose a program like CIEE Teach Abroad or apply for the Fulbright or Peace Corps if you’d like to have things locked down in advance. Normally, you’ll undergo a certification program like TEFL or TESOL, attend a big ol’ orientation in your host country, have a local advisor, and all of your rent and logistics taken care of. If you’re more impulsive, you can also arrive in country (with certification, a stack of resumes, and perhaps a copy of your diploma) and start making visits to schools that fit your interest. Check out Dave’s ESL Cafe to skim job postings, or to get an idea of expected pay in an area. Particularly in Asia and the Middle East where demand is high, waiting until you arrive can be the best way to choose where and how you live, and also a way to secure higher pay without an intermediary getting a cut. Check out our full guide to teaching English abroad.
International School Teaching Jobs:
If you’re a credentialed teacher or have a few years of teaching experience under your belt, you can make an even more sustainable and lucrative living as a teacher at an international school. Plan a bit in advance and attend international school job fairs to help find a job abroad before you start on the rest of the details.
If you’ve got plans to stop in a city and stay a while, working at a hostel is one of the best ways to stay for free for just putting in some hours. If you don’t mind the sheet folding, the weekend work, and the full-time socialization, a hostel job might be the right kind of laid back travel job you’re seeking. Check out resources like Hostel Jobs or WorkAway to line these up in advance, or simply enquire at hostels when you get to a town to express your intent to stay and see if they’re seeking help. Often, going for the less popular hostels will give you a better shot at landing an opportunity.
Camp Counselor Jobs:
Camp counselor is the kind of seasonal job that’s practically made for a traveler. Camp counselor jobs are easiest to land in your country of citizenship, and you can find hundreds of listings around the US if the idea of starting up in a new city for a few months as a camp counselor interests you. If you’d rather have this experience abroad, many schools and language institutions will host English camps during the summer, and are actively seeking English speakers looking to make some easy (and under the table) money. Ask around at language institutions and schools if you happen to be in town for the summer to see if you might be able to contribute.
Au Pair / Nanny Jobs:
If you’ve got an affinity for hair braiding and cookie baking, you might have what it takes to be a Maria of the times. Working as an au pair is an opportunity to live, eat, and exchange with a local family, normally in exchange for childcare and language lessons. You can start by creating a profile on Au Pair World or another au pair site. From there, you’ll send your application out to local families in cities of interest, communicate via Skype and email to interview, and arrange the details of your contract online. In Europe where this arrangement is most common, you can expect to make €100 per week, but you’ll enjoy free rent and the cultural immersion of living with a local family. Check out our full post on finding an au pair job in Europe!
If you’ve got a trade that’s in demand, you may be able to pay for your time abroad as an instructor. Whether you pick up ski school classes in Tahoe, lead sunrise yoga in Bali, or tutor piano in Brussels, you can often make a decent wage as an instructor. Most of these job opportunities will go unlisted, so bravely ask around if you’re hoping to find one of these jobs abroad.
Seasonal / Event Jobs:
While these aren’t always the most glamorous of the work abroad jobs, I’ve met hoards of travelers or temporary visa holders working as bartenders, bussers, retail staff, security guards, ticket takers and more during events and peak seasons. If you’re on a working visa, any event that requires lots of people is a good opportunity to start earning money without much effort or commitment.
Tour Guide Jobs:
While these jobs are delved out to locals or long time residents at best, it is sometimes possible to land a tour guide job in a city that you’re just passing through. If you happen to be in Europe at the beginning of the backpacker season, brush up on your culture, history, and perhaps second language, and apply to lead city tours. If you’re charismatic and knowledgeable, you can make decent money on pay and tips. Start leading tours in your own city for some practice!
You’re probably worse at picking lettuce than you might imagine. This type of work is an enchanting mix of agrarian bliss and menial torture. Join the people who have Facebook photos of them milking goats and harvesting berries, and make some extra money during the seasons that farms are requiring help. Through programs like Workaway, HelpX or WWOOF, you can work the farm in exchange for free lodging, meals, and the occasional day off. If you’re looking for more lucrative farm work, head to Australia and New Zealand where the demand for farm workers inspires relatively high wages in low cost of living areas. If you can get in on a work permit, you can stay for a few months and fill your coffers in no time. Check out this review of Workaway and HelpX from Two Scots Abroad!
Remember the Norwegian guys in Bangkok inviting you into a club off the street in perfect English? If you’re social, you may be able to land one of the most amusing and truly temporary jobs out there –promoter. These are best come by when you become a regular at a bar/club/restaurant/hostel or when you’ve completed a tour, and usually require the utmost spontaneity. If you don’t mind recruiting fellow travelers with just a taste of false advertising, this could be a quick opportunity for you.
Voluntourism can be good or all kinds of bad. While I think there’s immense value in volunteering abroad, it’s important to pick the right kind of projects. We generally think orphanage and health clinic volunteering for the untrained/uncommitted can be a bit voyeuristic, and more harmful than good to the children and people that you’re aiming to serve and a drain on organizational resources. If you’d like to get involved in a community, try volunteering for a project that builds or creates things, or uses tutors for things you’re skilled at.
Does your current company have an international presence? Ask your boss what it might take to get you into one of your overseas offices. Whether it’s a direct transfer of your role, an exchange, or just a foot in the door at the new office, some companies will make a switch like this easy on employees. If you don’t have international mobility at your current company, its possible that you do have a skill set that could get you a ‘real’ job somewhere else. If you’ve got a highly specialized or in demand skill, you may be able to negotiate visa sponsorship with potential employers overseas.
Perhaps the best way of all to make money abroad is to create a life where you can work from anywhere (and I mean anywhere)! With companies moving online and allowing more flexible work-from-home policies, it’s becoming easier than ever to get in on a location independent job. Whether you work as a writer, social media manager, customer support rep, engineer, computer scientist or anything else, you may just have the kind of skill that could be done abroad (whether with your current company or another). The biggest perk of this kind of job is that you may still enjoy steady pay in your local currency while also enjoying a lower cost of living.
Maybe you’ll find yourself in Valparaiso with a pocket full of tips or getting a direct deposit in baht for teaching hours in the classroom. You may not make a lot, but if the only thing holding you back from an adventure is the money or the fear of aimlessness, working as you travel is an fun way to experience the world productively.