The benefit of working while you are travelling is that you have the freedom to be guided by the countries you want to visit, or the countries which are overflowing with work. The important thing to remember is that to work overseas you will generally require a visa, and depending on where you are coming from and where you are going, work visas can be quite easy to come by. For example, if you are travelling from Canada, it is quite easy to obtain a work visa from other commonwealth countries. If you have a dual passport for the country you are travelling to, then you don’t need a work visa.
A work visa will usually allow you to stay and work for a set period of time with one employer. Usually you can work for between three and six months with one employer before you have to find a new job or move your travels to a new country.
As well as the ease of finding work, you will also want to consider the ease of working in a particular country. For example, British travellers have found that Spain and France are the easiest countries to integrate into, and many settle in so well they never leave. A HSBC survey also found that Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE were all hard to integrate into when working on holiday because of the significant differences in religious, political and social beliefs.
How to Overcome the Obstacles
While working as you travel the world is a romantic ideal, don’t forget that there are always people willing to take advantage of idealised travellers. Do your research into the conditions of a workplace before you sign up as a their newest employee – ask the people who work there about the conditions, and whether the company pays its employees on time. Even though you are a guest in the country, you still have rights, so don’t risk being exploited just because you are grateful for the work.
Working as you travel you will also need to bridge the language gap in some areas, so do as much research and learning about the language as you can before you arrive and you will not only find it easier to find work, the experience will be more enjoyable too. Sign up for language classes online or at a local community centre, or source books and tapes to learn at home. One you arrive, take every opportunity to practice the language, speaking with everyone you meet, and improving your usage and pronunciation.
Also remember that there will be cultural barriers to bridge as you work overseas too, so research the local customs and beliefs, as well as the language. You don’t have to change your own religious or social beliefs to integrate successfully, you simply need to understand and be respectful of the local customs.
Always remember that you are a guest in the country, and make a genuine effort to understand their culture, and use their language. You don’t have to be able to speak the language fluently to interact with the locals, and instead push yourself to strike up a conversation with the person next to you on the train or plane, as public transport is a great way to test your skills in a new environment. You could even make a trip to the area’s largest market and make your way through the stalls of products and produce, asking about the foods, learning about the culture and navigating purchases.
Stay or Go
Once you get the taste for new cultures and new experiences, you may find you want to put down more permanent roots and so you will need to look for some more permanent employment. There are a number of opportunities to teach English overseas, especially in Europe where you can teach on a freelance basis, or work for a dedicated language school.
If you work freelance you will need to work hard to make local contacts to find work, but you can also join a local agency which can help you make connections. If you want to teach English in a school you will need some form of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualification. TEFL qualifications will open up a number of career possibilities overseas, as the training is recognised around the world.
You may also want to consider an internship if you are seeking work in a particular field. This will give you a chance to prove your skills, while your employer decides whether to keep you on. Unfortunately many overseas internships are unpaid. If you are looking for sponsorship for your work permit, you will need to have skills which no one else can offer. Therefore, consider looking for work with English language magazines, tour companies or website developers.