How do you find work abroad?
Getting inspired and excited is inevitable when you start researching the many options out there for work abroad. You will find yourself daydreaming about your new life on a French vineyard, a South American ranch, an organic farm in Australia, or perhaps a yacht in Greece. Seriously, the possibilities for volunteering and working abroad are endless.
Work in Exchange for Room and Board
I am not going to get into searching and applying for paid jobs abroad, because in my opinion that is considered job hunting, and there are many ways to go about that.
What I’m going to talk about in this post is simply finding work in exchange for a place to sleep and food to eat. Many travelers opt to do this type of work program because it offers a unique situation for cultural exchange, and it’s also a budget-friendly way to travel.
While you are working somewhere, the idea is that you don’t have any bills because they aren’t paying for accommodations or meals. It can be an excellent gateway to starting a long trip abroad or perhaps a great opportunity to save some money in the middle of a trip. Most of them give you the option to stay for just a week or even several months. It’s usually up to you, although some hosts put a cap on how long volunteers can stay. Many of these work opportunities can be arranged last-minute; definitely, something to keep in mind!
I am going to give you three popular “find work abroad” websites. All three of these websites offer work opportunities posted by “hosts” from all around the world. They all generally work on an exchange situation: you work 4-6 hours (on average) per day in exchange for room and board. Of course, the details can vary from host to host, but the general rule is that you are expected to work about 4-6 hours per day. Usually there is no exchange of money involved in these programs, however, some hosts may ask more of you and offer to pay you for working extra time. All of these programs get great reviews and are highly successful.
I have several thoughts (good thoughts) on this website. I have listed it first because it is my favorite. I love the user-friendly interface of the website and that is enough to make me do all my research here rather than Helpx (the next one). It allows you to search work opportunities by region or country as well as subject, as in, what exactly (or not exactly) do you want to do? It offers everything from sustainable farming to art projects to cultural exchanges to inn-keeping to nannying… the list goes on and on.
I personally have experience finding work through Workaway. In 2009, I spent two months in the hills of Italy on a property that resembled the Garden of Eden. It was P-A-R-A-D-I-S-E. I learned a lot during those two months, including the fact that I never want to run a B&B again, but hey, I would never know that if I hadn’t done it! Workaway got us the job and for that I am grateful. That position was actually a paid position because we worked full time but I know this is rare for these programs.
The only downside to Workaway (and all of these programs) is that you do have to pay to register, which allows you to view the contact information for the hosts. The registration is inexpensive and very worth it in my opinion. At the time of publishing, it is 22 euros for two years for one person, or if you register as a couple it is 29 euros for two years.
Check it out at www.workaway.info. For more in-depth details about Workaway, check out The Budget-Minded Traveler Podcast episode 5: Volunteering Abroad’s Best Kept Secret, or a post about our most recent Workaway experience in Mexico.
Helpx, or Help Exchange, is very similar to Workaway. It offers just about the same work opportunities as Workaway, all over the world. I don’t like the user interface as much because it seems a bit busier to me but it is a tiny bit cheaper than Workaway. At the time of publishing, it costs 20 euros per person or couple to register and your membership is good for two years and allows you to contact hosts directly.
Helpx does offer the option for you to build a comprehensive “Helper Profile” in hopes that a host in the program will actually contact you but I highly doubt this will ever happen. I highly recommend that if you want to work abroad just pay the registration fee and contact the people you would like to work with.
Check it out at www.helpx.net.
WWOOF stands for World-Wide Opportunites on Organic Farms. The terms “WWOOFer” and “WWOOFing” are actually very common in Traveler’s Tongue. This program works very similarly to Workaway or Helpx, however, it specializes in working on organic farms (if you can’t tell).
The main website explains the program, and then once you choose a country where you would like to WWOOF, you are directed to that country’s WWOOF website. There is also a registration fee that you must pay in order to access contact information for WWOOF hosts worldwide, but the costs vary (a lot) depending on the host country.
If farming is something you are interested in, I highly recommend you check out the WWOOF program. You can do that at www.wwoofinternational.org. Happy WWOOFing!
I would love to hear if any of you have successfully used any of these programs and where you went and what you did! I hope this inspires you to look into the opportunities that you have to work abroad in a cultural exchange setting. Happy travels!