I work to travel, in more ways than one. Sometimes that means scrimping and pinching to save for plane tickets, and sometimes that means finding a job in a place that I want to visit so I can live there. This has been going on for so long that I’ve found myself wondering recently if I’ll ever settle down to a job that doesn’t have a defined end date.
I’ve done the seasonal job jig a couple times now, and it’s taken me from Washington to Nashville to Montana, to France and then back to Montana again (although that last one went more job-then-move-then-local-job, so maybe I’m growing up…But on second thought, definitely not).
And those are just the times I’ve been offered a job and taken it. Other times, I’ve applied to places and never heard back, or got an offer I didn’t take. So even when it didn’t work out, I had the opportunity to mentally explore, imagine myself in a new place in the world, often one I’d never seen outside of Google image searches.
The best part of this strategy is that it can take you anywhere in the world. I know people who came to the US from Spain, France, the Czech Republic, Romania, and more, and those who left the US to seek out jobs in Egypt, Southeast Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
It might seem early, but now is the time to get a jump on applications for the summer, since most US national parks and many resorts put out applications and fill the most desirable positions in December and January.
Below, find some of my best resources, both the hard-travel-tested, along with hopeful future items to check off my bucket list, for ways to work and travel the world.
Jobs in the US
CoolWorks is my lifeline, my go-to for all things seasonal work in the United States. You can search by state, season, job type, and more, with current postings seeking to fill immediate openings and business profiles with dates for future applications and company information.
It offers park jobs, park concessionaire jobs, resort jobs, and bunches of others, many in the food, beverage, and hospitality industries, but ranging as far afield as conservation liaisons and wilderness guides.
Most of the jobs are outdoor-related, and the site’s slogan says it all: Jobs in Great Places.
National Parks Websites
Prefer something outside of the service industry?
For a specific park, from Yellowstone to Yosemite to Mount Rainier, the government park website is the place to go for government jobs. Whether law enforcement or backcountry ranger, front gate ticket taker or guided hike leader, this is the place to look.
I have a friend who worked her way around the country for a couple years, moving from unpaid internship to weekly stipend to ranger in Yosemite, building her resume and living off of the housing allowances, happy and comfortable as long as everything fit in the back of her car when it was time to move on. Opportunities in parks abound, filling all sorts of fields and interests.
Visiting national parks for more than a day or two can be prohibitively expensive, so all the better to get paid to live there.
For US cities, Craigslist is the way to go. It may seem like a no-brainer to search there, but I’ve met a fair few people who are leery of looking on Craigslist. In truth, there are scams out there, but as long as you aren’t stupid and don’t give out any personal information before you’ve established that a posting is legitimate, you should be just fine.
I found both of my jobs in Nashville through Craigslist, as well as my current job, and all have been amazing experiences that I wouldn’t have been able to find otherwise. Most employees I’ve encountered prefer you already be living in the area to apply, but it’s never too early to get a jump on the search.
I talk in-depth about TAPIF here, but the general gist is that it is a language assistant program, designed for recent US grads with proficiency in French to move overseas for seven months and teach English in French schools.
It’s a long application, with an upper age limit of 30 years. Still, it’s a great opportunity to work in Europe, improve your French, and meet people from all over the world, since the assistant program draws from countries and languages all over the world.
If French isn’t your language, there are equivalent programs offered up by governments across Europe, from Spain to Italy and Germany. I strongly encourage looking into this, since applying for this program was one of the best decisions I ever made, by far.
Working Traveler Visa Program
A number of countries (New Zealand is at the top of my list for the moment, but there’s also Australia, Ireland, Singapore, Canada) offer working tourist visa programs to citizens of friendly countries.
A quick search will lead you to a countries that offer this type of visa, along with application requirements. The application fee may range as high as $500 or more, with bank account requirements in place to ensure you’ll have the funds to leave after your visa is up. But once you’ve applied and been accepted, you can live and work for up to a year in your chosen country, traveling all the while.
I am a big fan of working for money, but opportunities abound to work for room and board, whether that means manning the desk at a hostel or scrubbing toilets or planting organic crops and tending chickens. After completing a part time work schedule for your meals and a roof over your head, you’re free to explore the area and get immersed in a different culture.
I’m itching to try Workaway, since I have a lot of friends who’ve used it and loved it. Expand a language ability, learn a new skill, see a new place. What could be better than that? It seems to fill the slot of a more general version of WWOOFing, with a yearly subscription fee and a similar setup, but a much broader job set and limitless possibilities for locations.
There are hundreds of opportunities to work and travel, of course, not to mention location-independent jobs that only require an internet connection (which I also have some experience with). These are just the resources that I use the most, or most want to try. Share your favorite resources below, if you have them. I’m always looking for more ways to explore. Good luck on the job hunt, and happy travels!