Have Your Cake and Eat it too: Work and Travel Abroad

Dear Travel IQ: I’ve decided I would like to live abroad for a year. I’m not flush with cash, just nerve. What are my pennyless options?

Signed: Expat to be in Charleston, SC

Dear Expat:

We’ve all felt it: that longing sadness that sinks to the bottom of your stomach as you realize your dream vacation is coming to an end. Just as you thought you were getting a feel for the place, it’s time to go. Well, what if I told you that you could have your cake and eat it too?

Working abroad has speedily increased in popularity in recent years and now there’s something for everyone. Whether it’s your personal goal to learn a new language, gain career experience, or merely try something new, there’s a way. Here are a few easy tips to jump start your working abroad experience:

Working Holiday Visa

First things first; to avoid a custom’s interrogation, hefty fines, and an unsightly deportation, make sure you’re papers are in order and that you don’t over stay your welcome. Applying for a Working Holiday Visa is the way to go if you’re looking for a 12 month opportunity to work and travel in another country. Intended for travellers aged 18-30 or 35, the Working Holiday Visa does also include other restrictions such as limitations on types and lengths of employment. Be sure to check your account balance before jetting off as many countries like Australia require you to have proof of sufficient funds to support yourself while you search for employment.

Applying for a Working Holiday Visa on your own as an American can be a somewhat tricky process as the United States does not offer a reciprocal program to other countries. But don’t shy away as agencies like Visa First offer Working Holiday Visas for Ireland, Australia, and New Zealand. Check out their site at www.visafirst.com. For information regarding a Working Holiday in Singapore, see www.mom.gov.sg .

Teach English

If you’re looking for a change of scenery as you gain valuable resume worthy experience, try teaching English abroad. Native English speakers are in high demand in all parts of the world and many teaching positions require a simple TEFL certificate that can be completed online at www.teflonline.com . The TEFL website offers placement or you can research sites like http://www.interexchange.org/ that offer a fool proof opportunity for cultural immersion whether it be teaching English, interning, or volunteering.

Au Pairing

If you’re seeking a unique, first hand cultural experience and like working with kids, au pairing is right up your alley. At times it can be very hands on and is a job that requires an endless supply of patience, flexibility, and creativity. In exchange for part-time child care, you are given the opportunity to not only submerse yourself in a foreign country’s language and culture but to also form long lasting relationships with the family you share your experience with.

Au pairing placements can be as short as 1 month and can last as long as 2 years, depending on the arrangement between the au pair and the family. Be sure to check out your chosen country’s visa regulations before organizing a placement as each country has different requirements.

To find your own au pair position, go to www.greataupair.com which offers a wide selection of families all over the world looking for an au pair to join their family for a semester, a full school year, or even just the summer holidays. For a more structured approach, there are also plenty of au pair agencies that offer a selective pairing service, contract agreements, and au pair insurance.

Organic Farms

Picking grapes in the dying Tuscan sun does sound romantic, doesn’t it? Many people jump at the opportunity without doing some research and are knee deep in grape juice before they realize there’s a lot more to it than wine tastings and beautiful Italian men. Working on any farm requires hard labour and long hours, but it also provides for a great way to see the countryside of a place you’ve always wanted to visit.


Placements can be found with WWOOF, an organization that pairs travelers with Organic Farms across the globe at www.wwoof.org . The only catch is that you must pay a small fee before seeing placements and each country requires its own membership.

All Current Travel SpecialsFor short term placements that don’t require a work visa, try www.helpexchange.net where hostels and independent farmers from all over post available positions. Although you will not be paid for Help Ex jobs, you will be provided with room and board during your stay.

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About the author: Meghan Casey

Born in raised in Alberta, Canada, Meghan couldn't wait to make her mark on the world. Having already traveled through 20 countries and lived in 3 at the prime age of 19, it's safe to say she's not turning back. Driven by her studies in Applied Linguistics and Professional Writing, Meghan's turned to capturing her rare moments in travel with a pad of paper in one hand and a pen poised in the other. You can read more by Meghan on her blog at www.suitcaseofdreams.blogspot.com

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