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The basics of working and traveling.

Updated on January 9, 2014
Goat Island, Hawaii
Goat Island, Hawaii

For my third revamp, I’m going to start with where I am now, which is where you might want to start if you’re considering extensive travel abroad as an American.

Personally, I’ve always wanted to travel, but it’s become a higher priority in the last six months since that guy I want decided he was leaving. Now I hate my job, I want to travel, and I like him. Going to the same general area of the world (while realizing that most things in my life, especially relationships, usually crash and burn) doesn’t seem like the worst idea ever. So I’m working on it.

Unfortunately if you’re planning to travel abroad for more than a month or two and you have an average thirty-something thousand dollar a year salary person like me, it becomes a financial nightmare. You only have two weeks of vacation, so you have to quit your job, and then you’re traveling with no income and, in this economy, no job prospects when you come home. That makes things hard, especially if you’d like to make some money while you’re traveling. It’s a problem, and not an easy one to fix. So if you’re considering traveling for an extended period of time and you’re interested in working and making money while you do so, here’s a very brief overview of what I’ve found out.


Americans are welcome in Asia. Go to Thailand or South Korea, even China, and they’ll love you. If you have a bachelor’s degree in just about anything you can work in any of these countries for a year or more teaching English. You don’t need experience, foreign language fluency or a teaching degree, though a TEFL or TESOL certification might get you a better salary. Many of these countries will help you find room and board, and may even pay for it for you. That makes traveling, working, and living in these Asian countries for an extended period of time relatively easy.


Australia and New Zealand are also pretty easy. They both offer something called a working holiday visa, which will allow you to live and work in the country for up to one year. Australia will allow you to reapply for a second year as well. You can work any job you find in the country, and all you need is a high school diploma. The only real restriction for these visas is age. Working holidays are meant as a cultural exchange between young people, and only applicants between the ages of 18 and 30 are accepted into the programs. New Zealand also requires that you have about $3500 and a return plane ticket in order to be accepted into the program.


This is where the easy working and traveling programs end for most people. Europe is the next main destination, and the one I’ve been focusing on. Naturally that’s for two reasons. One: I’ve always wanted to go there. Two: That’s where that guy I want is going.

Unfortunately Europe is also hard. There are working holiday visas available (that’s what the guy I like is going there on) but you need to apply for one, be accepted, and get into the country within a year of graduating college. Since that’s hard for most of us, we’ll skip working holiday visas, which are about the only working visas that exist for Americans in Europe right now. For the most part, economies are bad in Europe, and they’re not particularly interested in Americans coming over and taking their jobs.

That means you cannot, as many people think, work your way across Europe by doing odd jobs at bars or hotels. That’s what I originally wanted to do, but it’s pretty much a no-go these days unless you do it under the table. Even that would be difficult, though, especially if English is your only language. No one wants to a hire an American with only one language and no work permit. It’s too much hassle without enough rewards. You can also only stay in most European countries for 90 days without an extended visa, and no one wants to hire and train someone for such a short amount of time, even in a bar.

There are, however, au pair jobs and unpaid internships, but if you’re seeking employment in Europe those are pretty much your only options. Au pair jobs are usually restricted to anyone under 27, although the age restrictions vary by country. In order to let you stay in countries for more than 90 days as an au pair you’ll also have to take (and pay for) language courses, which will allow you to receive a student visa.

That’s about it for my overview. I haven’t looked into Africa or South America yet, but I certainly plan on it in the future, and I’ll let you know what you can expect if you’re interested in traveling and working in those areas as well. I’ll also try to go a little more in depth on traveling and restrictions in the future, as well as working visas and their restrictions in various countries. There are some really helpful tips and good things to know, and I’d like to share them with you.

For now, though, this is a pretty good overview, and it will help you at least get started in your research for working and traveling. And trust me, it’s hard to get started if you’re not sure where you want to go or what your options are. It takes time to look into each country’s visa restrictions, so I hope this information was useful, and saves you some time.


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