Working holidays: ten ways to travel and get paid

See the world with these great working holiday ideas

Marcus Webb – Virgin Money Living Mentor

by Marcus Webb | Independent Money Mentor

Editor of Delayed Gratification and independent journalist


A working holiday might initially seem like a contradiction in terms. How can you enjoy your holiday if you’re slaving for The Man? But choose the right working holiday and you’ll be able to fund – and even elevate – your travel experience by doing something you love en route. Here are ten ways to work your way around the world…

Ski repping

The ultimate work-hard, play-hard winter holiday, repping the ski season at a European resort typically involves marathon days looking after the needs of customers, skiing and snowboarding on your days off, no shortage of après-ski activities and a severe shortage of sleep. Big tourism companies such as TUI list openings for holiday reps on their websites. 

Au pairing

Looking after someone else’s children can be tough work, especially since you also have to spend time with their parents. But if you land a friendly family and a comfy home, au pairing can be a great way to experience a different culture while having your living costs covered. For the classic tried-and-tested experience, Au Pair in America have been sending wannabe Mary Poppinses to live with US families since 1986.

Odd jobbing

Thanks to the internet you’re only ever a click away from somebody somewhere paying you to do something. Why not head off on your travels then monetise your laptop ownership and internet connection as you wing your way around the world? Your first stop is sites like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and Clickworker, which let you work on a wildly diverse range of data-focussed jobs anytime, anywhere.

Cruise shipping

The bigger cruise ships are pretty much floating towns and require a raft of staff doing a dizzyingly wide selection of jobs – butchers, croupiers, doctors, lifeguards, DJs, tour guides… If you like to leave your workplace at the end of your shift this clearly isn’t for you, but to meet tonnes of new people while seeing the world, a season on the seas is unbeatable.

Aussie-Kiwi working

Thanks to sunny skies, an enviable lifestyle and a language that’s the same as ours, the Antipodean working holiday never goes out of fashion. Australia and New Zealand both make it easy for UK residents aged 18-30 to get 12-month working holiday visas, which are priced at A$440 and NZ$165 respectively. Bonza!

Fruit picking

It’s arduous, exhausting and it’s not going to make you fantastically wealthy, but sweaty, sun-soaked physical labour in the rustic countryside might just be the perfect antidote to that urban office job you’ve been dreaming of escaping. During the grape harvest there are plenty of jobs available in southern France – and you’ll get meals, lodging and wine (so much wine) in exchange for the fruits of your labour. 

English teaching

A Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualification is a golden ticket for the adventurous working holidaymaker – there’s a huge demand for English teachers in every far-flung corner of the world. It takes around three months to complete the course but after that you’re ready to teach useful phrases anywhere you like.

Volunteering

Whether it’s working on the yam harvest in Taiwan, renovating a palace in Poland or running a community theatre in Vietnam (all real placements on global volunteering site workaway.info), there are countless opportunities around the world to offer your skills – or pick up new yam-related abilities – in exchange for food and board.

House-sitting

Want to live anywhere in the world without paying rent? Like cute furry animals? If you answered yes to both of these questions you should head to a house-sitting site such as nomador.com, which lists thousands of pictures of instantly lovable cats and dogs, which you can hang out with – and get free accommodation to boot. Win-win! 

Hostelling

If there’s one thing hostels aren’t in short supply of its beds, so when they hire staff they typically offer free accommodation in lieu of pay. In exchange for a few hours of reception work each day you can get free board in cities around the world. Head to hosteljobs.net to secure your bed in the dorm.

Before making financial decisions always do research, or talk to a financial adviser. Views are those of our mentors and customers and do not constitute financial advice.