4 Ways to Earn Money While Traveling

Expats Abroad, Finances & Savings, Working Abroad — By on December 20, 2010 at 1:01 pm

By Sarah Brown
LG Correspondant

When I got my first job at 15, just about every spare penny I made went straight into my travel fund. When I’d saved up just enough for a plane ticket to the next wish-list destination, I was off. But rather than working to save up for travel forever, the summer after my second year at college, I decided to look for a job abroad. Why not travel and work at the same time? Here’s some ideas on how to do just that.

Become an au pair

Through a friend, I stumbled upon a position as an au pair in central France. I  jumped at the opportunity and within a few weeks, I found myself packing up for the move to Auvergne.

Au pair positions are available in almost any country around the world. In many places they are in such high demand that there are websites dedicated solely to placing au pairs with their host families. If you speak a language fluently, this is an incredible opportunity to improve upon what you already know. If you don’t, no problem! You can either learn a new one, or capitalize on the fact that many parents will want you to speak English to their children anyway. While some au pair positions require a minimum of one year of work, you can also find short-term placements, a commitment anywhere from three to six months long.

Work on a cruise ship

After my return from France, I embarked on a study abroad program called Semester at Sea. This global comparative studies program takes students on voyages that literally go around the world. While on the program, I realized the staggering number of job opportunities available on the ship—and not just for academics.

Cruise ships take a lot of work to maintain, and ones that aren’t just “floating universities”, require even more. I’m not just talking about housekeeping, food and beverage, and maintenance. There are jobs for entertainers, lifeguards, trip organizers, etc. There are plenty of opportunities for people of all different qualifications. And honestly, what better way to see the world than to get paid to sail around it?

Teach English abroad

After my return from Semester at Sea, life was not the same. I knew that after graduating college, I wouldn’t want to dive straight into the 9-5, cubicle way of life. I knew that was not for me. What I did know, was that I had a passion for travel and a couple of languages in my pocket, and when graduation neared, I set out to find a job that would take me to a new country entirely. Today, I teach English at a high school in Saverne, France. Since I arrived in France in September, I have spent almost every weekend in a different place; Amsterdam, London, Munich, Brussels, Zurich, Paris, Dublin.

My program in France has similar counterparts in Spain, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. There is also a plethora of programs all over Southeast Asia. What is great about these kinds of jobs is that they are always in demand, you don’t really need to speak a foreign language to do them, and you can practically go anywhere in the world you want.

One drawback to be aware of with the au pair and teaching positions is that they are generally year-long contracts. The end of my contract arrives with the end of April, and so now I find myself asking the same question I did a year go: What am I going to do to make sure I can be in Europe? And to figure this out, I have done a fair amount of research.

WWOOF it

Another opportunity for Americans is to “WWOOF” around the world. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms, publishes a list of organic farms and smallholdings that require volunteer help. Volunteers work a certain number of hours per day (arranged in advance with the host), and in return for the help, the hosts provide food and accommodation. With branches in over 50 countries around the world, WWOOF provides volunteers with opportunities to try an extraordinary range of activities. Work on a cheese farm in Italy, a vineyard in France, a ranch in Patagonia, or an organic farm in rural India. The length of stay varies from host to host. WWOOFing is a great opportunity for travelers who want to see a new area, but don’t want to break the bank doing so. To start looking, visit www.wwoof.org.

For more ideas, check out my work-abroad bible, “Delaying the Real World” by Colleen Kinder. It is a great starter tool for figuring out ways to work abroad. With sections on internships, working around the world, outdoor jobs, and summer employment, Kinder’s book is my go-to guide for all things “European employment.” I have found that there are innumerable ways to stay abroad while making money.

    11 Comments

  • Madeleine says:

    I think this article is somewhat misleading. Your attitude is extremely cavalier, but living and working abroad requires some serious thought and preparation. I have worked abroad several times and loved it, but it wasn’t nearly as easy as you make it out to be. In addition to actually finding a job (most of us don’t have work miraculously “stumble” upon us), there are the issues of securing a visa, housing, insurance, and startup money. The only “drawback” you mentioned at all was that most contracts are for a year…this is not accurate AND not a drawback for most people who actually want to work abroad. I think you also should have mentioned that many au pair and TESOL agencies charge for placement services and will happily place naive Americans in terrible situations to turn a profit. Additionally, your article is titled “4 Ways to Earn Money While Traveling”…except WWOOFing is NOT paid. I think you should be more clear about that. Yes, you generally have housing and (possibly) food covered, but that’s different than earning money.

    I am a HUGE fan of Lost Girls World, being a twentysomething with nomadic tendencies myself. When I saw the article’s title I was looking forward to getting new ideas for earning some cash on the go; unfortunately, all I got was some meaningless bragging about your travels. I learned nothing and was frankly disgusted by the arrogant tone of this article. Next time you’re writing an article I urge you to stick to the point–if you’re advising people, give advice rather than talking about yourself! Sorry to be harsh…just trying to help!

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