Sunday, 8 January 2012

100 things…Backpacking jobs

When out backpacking it is usually for a long time, one year etc, so many backpackers get short temporary work, when they are staying in one location for a period of time. Obviously you cant get a proper job as you arent a citizen, so normally it tends to be the cash in hand jobs and manual labour type of jobs you get. But all is money to keep you there longer!

Australia jobs:
Minimum wage = $15.53 per hour - nearly £10 per hour
Some jobs which are normally available:
Bar/Restaurant Work

Bar and restaurant work is pretty easy to find in Oz, particularly if you have some experience. If you don’t, it isn’t difficult to blag; you’ve drunk in plenty of bars, you know how it works.

Before you even think about getting a job serving alcohol you need a RSA certificate. This stands for Responsible Service of Alcohol and it’s something Australians are really strict on. It’s a one day course; you can either do it online or at one of the many centres around the main cities. You will basically be drilled about not serving alcohol to under 18’s or anyone who appears to be intoxicated.

When applying for bar work it’s best to actually go into the bar and hand in your CV and a copy of your RSA certificate to the manager. The manager will then have the chance to see that you’re smart, friendly and polite and they’re more likely to remember you when a vacancy arises.

If you want to serve coffee, you will need to do a barista course – Aussies are very fussy about their coffee and won’t accept a badly made brew.


Casual labouring on building sites is a great way to earn money for those who aren’t afraid of some hard work.

You will need a white card (formerly known as a green card) to go anywhere near a building site in Australia. This again is a one day course where you’ll learn about health and safety and the main hazards on a building site.

You can find construction jobs on sites such as Seek and on hostel notice boards. You can also approach other labourers and they‘ll often be happy to refer you to their manager and pass on your details. A good work ethic will go a long way in construction so show you are eager and willing to work hard.

Hostel Work

Working in a hostel is a brilliant option for many backpackers in Australia as you get the chance to socialise with other travellers and have loads of fun at the same time. Some people opt to work 2-3 hours a day in return for free accommodation but others work full time for a basic wage.

Duties will include cleaning and washing, working on reception and generally making sure all the guests are happy.

A great way to find hostel jobs is directly through the hostel or on Gumtree where plenty of jobs are advertised. Hotel managers will be looking for people who are friendly, sociable and hard working so make sure this comes across in your application.

Farm Work

Farm work is tough with notoriously low pay but it is the easiest way to get your 2nd year visa. You need to work in a rural location for three months to qualify for a 2nd year WHV.

Check out the harvest trail guide to find out what crops need harvesting in certain areas. You can find jobs by directly contacting the farms or by using sites such as Aussie Farm Jobs. Another option is to try WWOOFing, where you'll work on an organic farm in exchange for free bed and board, plus a small wage.

Office Work

The best way to find office work, such as administration or secretarial duties, is through agencies. If you are on a working holiday visa, it is unlikely that a company will employ you directly as they can legally only employ your for six months so sign up to as many agencies as you can. It won’t be long before the odd day of work soon turns into a three month contract.

Festival Work

Backpackers are often employed to work at festivals as it is casual work for just a few days at a time. You will usually end up doing bar work and you will get free entry into the top festivals in Australia. These jobs are usually advertised in hostels and you will need an RSA.

Door-to-Door Sales

If you’ve got the gift of the gab, sales can be a great way to earn some quick cash while you’re travelling. These jobs can be found everywhere and virtually anyone will be given a two week trial. You could be selling anything from electricity and solar panels or raising money for charity. If you aren’t keen on door-to-door sales, there are telesales jobs available but you will need some experience in sales or impress your interviewer.

Stories from people that have worked in Australia and New Zealand:
Emma Reynolds: New Zealand

What she did: I worked in a secondary school. They gave me $120 a week, put me up in a house that I shared with another backpacker and paid for my food. All the money I earned went towards things I wanted to do. I also got to go on school trips for free. I did things that I probably wouldn't have been able to afford like eat in the sky tower in Queenstown, white water rafting, ice glacier boating, jet boating. Loads of stuff! I was pretty lucky really.

How she found the work: I arranged the work with Lattitude before I left because I knew that there was a guaranteed job waiting for me when I arrived.

Top tip: I had a lot of friends who started by WWOOFing (working on an organic farm). They weren’t paid but they got their food and accommodation and that's where they made contacts and ended up with paid jobs. Also, being a friendly regular at a bar is great as they would also give you a job. I was offered a couple, but my visa didn't allow it.

Laura Mayo: New Zealand

What she did: I’ve done bar work and I also did a month of housekeeping.

How she found the work: I found my jobs on Backpacker Board which is great for people to find seasonal jobs. I didn’t need an RSA to work in the places I did, but apparently some places are strict on that so it’s probably worth having.

Top tip: I also found that taking my CV to places was the easiest thing to do. Even if that bar/shop/restaurant/hotel doesn’t have any work, they can suggest places that might be looking for people and they will keep your CV on file.

Rob Eakins: New Zealand

What he did: I did a lot of work for accommodation in hostels. It wasn’t really proper work but it was a good way to avoid spending any money for a few months and lots of people had part time jobs too so they could save.

How he found the work: I just asked at the hostel I was staying at if they had any work. You can find a lot of work through hanging out in your hostel because you meet so many people.

Top tip: Lots of travellers in New Zealand work as fruit pickers on farms. The money isn’t great but it can be fun and it’s a new experience. Most people find this kind of work through hostel notice boards and word of mouth.

Dan Collins: Australia

What he did: I worked in an awesome little house on the Gold Coast of Australia doing some digital marketing/web design. The days were short, the people were awesome and the pay was amazing. I'd only planned on working for them for a few months but it was such an awesome place I stayed for a year.

How he found the work: I Googled "SEO Gold Coast" and emailed the first company that came up. I sent over my CV and said "I'd love to work for your company if you have any positions going". I had an interview a few days later and started the next week.

Top tip: Jobs aren’t going to find you so put yourself out there and search for the job you want. If you specialised in something back at home then use your skills and make it work for you in Australia or New Zealand.

Chris Stevens: Australia

What he did: I appeared as a nudist in a documentary. It was one of the most interesting and fun experiences I had in Oz. We stripped, we drank cocktails, we ate posh food and we partied. And we got paid to do it!

How he found the work: There are flyers all over Byron Bay looking for models. You have to be careful and pick the ones that seem legitimate: the more money you’re paid, the more naked you have to be.

Top tip: Your gap year is a chance to do something you wouldn’t normally do at home so give something new a go and have some fun.

Monica Stott: Australia

What she did: I worked as a ‘general hand’ on a small island off the west coast. I did everything from waitressing and bar work to assisting the scuba instructor or taking guests fishing.

How she found the work: I found it on Gumtree. The island managers were looking for a couple and wanted a guy with a trade and a girl with hospitality experience and my boyfriend and I fitted that perfectly.

Top tip: Working in rural locations is a great way to get your second year visa and it’s also the best way to save money. Accommodation and food is usually included and there aren’t many temptations to spend your hard earned cash.

Jobs in South America:

EU nationals can enter and reside in Peru for up to 90 days without needing a Visa or permit, but will need a valid passport and proof of a return flight. Volunteers and students planning to study in the country should obtain the relevant Visa from the Peruvian Embassy. If you intend to work whilst in Peru a working Visa is applied for by your employer in Peru. As is the case with most South American countries, it is generally very difficult to find work in Peru because Peruvian nationals are eager for employment and so even the lowest paying positions are often taken up. Most opportunities for working experiences will be found in either teaching English or volunteering.

Teaching English
Peru's capital, Lima, is likely one of the best places to find opportunities to teach English. English is becoming increasingly recognised as an important and useful language to learn, and many employers insist that their workers enrol in tuition. Jobs may be found within places of employment or alternatively, asking around from door-to-door in the hope of some freelance work, and advertising in local papers. Most English teachers charge between PEN 18 and PEN 36 (approx. £3 to £6) per hour. If teaching English as a foreign language is something you want to pursue seriously and in other countries where jobs can be particularly competitive to find, it is worth enrolling on a course to gain the TEFL qualification, check their website for more details.
There are a great many opportunities to volunteer throughout Peru, from conservational projects to work with underprivileged and impoverished families. Many of the volunteer agencies mentioned below organise similar schemes and projects across a wide range of countries, including other South American nations but they often require your own funding, which can amount to more than £3000 so it is wise to plan well in advance for such programmes.
Project Trust
Social care work, environmental projects, and English language helpers are all needed for the Project Trust's twelve month programmes. Volunteers must be aged between 17 and 19 and a half years old and are expected to raise £3850 themselves to fund their project, this includes all expenses for living costs, travel, donations etc. There are currently volunteering vacancies in three Project Trust sites in Peru: the SOS Cusco Children's Village needs workers to assist in the day-to-day running and supervision of the community; the Instituto Tupac Amaru in Cusco requires volunteers to help teach English to its students; and the Colegio Hiram Bingham in Lima, a school, needs helpers to assist in its work.
World Challenge Expeditions
For up to six months volunteers aged between 18 and 25 can work in teaching jobs, conservational projects, and medical and community care work. Again, volunteers are expected to fund their own expenses, which can total around £3000 in some cases. Given that work is most usually unpaid it is important that you have sufficient funds arranged before leaving.
Quest Overseas
Programmes run by Quest Overseas encorporate learning with volunteering. Volunteers enrol in Spanish language lessons and participate in projects such as those in shanty towns in Lima. Projects are usually long-term and can cost more than £3000 to fund yourself, which you will be required to.
AFS International Youth Development
Depending on your age, AFS offers places on either its Schools Programme (for 15 to 18 year olds) for ten months, or the International Volunteer Programme (for 18 to 29 year olds) for six months. In both cases volunteers are accommodated by host families. The Schools Programme is more focused on students experiencing life in Peru, whereas the International Volunteer Programme involves participation in a social project. Again, volunteers are required to raise their own money to fund their trip and costs can total £3000 or more.
Latin Link
The focus of work with Latin Link is Christian missionary projects within church communities in South American countries. Examples of projects include work in community centres, orphanages, shelters, and in schools. Depending on the nature of the project volunteering can last for up to six months, or more in some cases. Volunteers are required to fund their own travel, insurance, living costs, donations etc. which can amount to more than £1500.
Useful Links

TEFL are one of the leading organisations for teaching English abroad

Project Trust are involved in social care and environmental work throughout the world

AFS UK is a non-profit making organisation that aims to further inter-cultural learning

Latin Link is a christian charity which does missionary work in South America

General jobs you could get:
-Ski and Sports coaching:
 If you can't get enough of the white stuff, how about becoming a ski or snowboard instructor on the Alpine peaks of Europe or North America? Slalom the competition by taking some of this advice:
               The majority of instructor courses are several months long, with most starting at a beginner level and moving on to higher certification. As competition for jobs is high, take extra courses like off-piste guiding or avalanche control to differentiate yourself and leave the other candidates buried in the snow.
               As courses are regularly assessed, partying all night and arriving in a hazy stupor the morning before an exam is big no-no. Eddie the Eagle got nowhere on whisky and rum.
               When looking for a course think practically. Ask the company for their average pass rate, how much work experience can be gained shadowing or supervising and what exactly is included in the total cost. It can be quite a grind turning up at a resort only to find that you need to purchase a season lift pass that costs more than a pair of super shiny new ski's.
               Make sure the course is recognised by the ISIA and the governing body of the country you wish to work in. A qualification from the BASI (British Association of Snowsport Instructors), is recognised in most resorts throughout the world. A qualification in sliding down a black run on your face? Not so much.

Where do I start?
The highly reputable SnowSkool runs 10-13 week courses in Canada, France and New Zealand from EUR 7,000. Nonstop Ski also offers popular courses in Banff, Whistler and beyond at a similar cost.

Hit the Court
If colder climes leave you a shivering mess, how about spending your gap year transforming a group of underprivileged kids into world beating champions? Some of these tips might go a long way in helping to bring in the mother of all trophy hauls.
               The majority of volunteer projects around the world don't require any formal coaching qualifications. That's good news if you have the ball skills of a marble statue. Be sure you can at least run though.
               Gaining certification at home makes getting a paid job abroad easier. Community Rugby, the Lawn Tennis Assocation, the England Cricket Board and the FA all offer coaching courses that can help land jobs worldwide. Just don't badger the FA too much about goal line technology.
               Scuba instructing, is a highly specialised and lucrative option for teaching abroad. The BSAC, the UK governing body for scuba, and PADI, which most dive resorts abroad use to register courses, are great resources for finding the nearest course near to you. Impressions of Titanic's sinking Jack Dawson optional.
               Be aware that the costs of flights and insurance are not included in most voluntary schemes, but accommodation (mostly shared or through a host family) usually is. Avoid hostile house mates and remember not to wash your footy boots in the sink.

Where do I start?
Travellers Worldwide offers programmes in areas as far flung as Mongolia, Peru and Kenya. Coaching cricket to primary and secondary school students in Accra, Ghana, on a 12 week program costing EUR 1,795, makes for a unique experience. BUNAC, on the other hand, has a programme that combines teaching a range of sports including football, cricket, rugby, netball, hockey and tennis in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.

-Summer camps
What's it all About?
Summer camp mad North America has over 10,000 places looking to recruit each summer, and kids from all over the world up sticks for rural wilderness. Most work placements last 8-9 weeks and - depending on skills and experience - can offer a lot of different roles.

Reporting to the camp director, your role will vary enormously depending on what type of camp you enrol at. Private (family-owned) camps are usually full of wealthy kids, so prepare for some insane demands. Religious (mainly Christian or Jewish), agency (organisation owned), day and special needs camps will all offer different experiences.

The core experience of camp will be the same wherever you go. Expect sports and activities. Expect morning exercises. Expect never-ending food fights. Expect sleepless nights filled with endless chatter. Still sound good? Read on.

Can I do It?
Working at a summer camp is easier than you think. Having some experience with children will certainly help, especially if going for counsellor. Any sports coaching, volunteering or babysitting you may have done can all come in handy when applying.

If, however, you haven't had the luxury of a toddler dribbling on your face for a few hours, or any other experience with kids for that matter, there's still opportunity. BUNAC's popular KAMP USA scheme offers jobs like cleaning, cooking, administration, gardening and general maintenance at camps, with slightly higher pay.

When it comes to personality, patience, flexibility, an outgoing character and a passion for outdoors are all qualities that can help snag a job. Most positions open in May and mid-June, so make sure you're available around that time.

Applying for Summer Camp
Camp work is rigorous and some gappers experience culture shock, diet problems and even issues with their accommodation. Start your search early as most camps begin recruiting in early autumn. Agencies are a good way to find a placement as they offer many benefits including organising a visa, offering induction training, round trip flights and - for those all-important travels afterward - country and city wide tours.

The first step usually involves applying online, followed by an interview (by a local representative or via phone) and finally the offer of a placement. Remember to let your personality show through in the interview and outline your skills and experience. Avoid looking like a hermit.

Looking for a specific job, camp or region?  The American Camp Association allows users to search for jobs by state, work setting (residential, day etc) and job title. Summer Camp Worldwide is another handy resource - even listing camp positions abroad.

Agencies, however, are probably your best bet. Camp Leaders offers placements around the US, as well as return flights and a salary ranging from $500-Р’Р€1250 depending on skills. They also offer lifeguarding courses in the UK, so you can be a qualified member of a waterfront team even before arriving!

BUNAC and CCUSA are two main players, the latter also offering placements in Russia.

If you prefer the go-it-alone approach you can also try Employment for Students or Job Monkey, which both offer a more direct (and often cheaper) route to camp jobs.

Worst Backpacking jobs:
Some backpacking stories about working abroad:
  • "While jobhunting in a remote mining town in Western Australia, I wandered into a pub and asked if they needed any bar staff. The guy said yes and asked me to start work the following Friday. When I turned up to start work, it turned out it was "skimpies" night, which meant that I was expected to serve beer wearing only my underwear. Luckily I had some decent pants on, and luckily for the landlord, my need for the poxy hourly rate I was to be paid was greater than my self respect, so I worked there for a few weeks until I got really sick of being asked for the beers that were on the lowest shelf behind the bar."

  • "When I was in Melbourne, I got some work through an agency which was described as 'lettuce engineering'. it basically involved packing lettuces into boxes for 8 hours a day."

  • "One of number of fruitpicking jobs I had when in Australia was picking grapes. I managed to get a splinter in my eye, which swelled up so I couldn't see out of it. Then the next morning my other eye swelled up in sympathy and I was completely blind. We were in the middle of nowhere and had to hitch a lift for the 3 hour journey to the nearest hospital. The bloke who was in charge of the fruitpicking was drunk all the time and couldn't drive anywhere."

  • "Picking melons was the worst job I had on my year out. Melons are heavy"
  • Vine pruning when backpacking around Australia! Rows upon rows of vines, one pair of pruning scissors in each hand and going like the clappers so you didn’t end up falling behind for 7 solid hours.

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