I’m extremely flattered and honestly quite excited that over the past couple weeks people have been asking me travel related questions. When I got this one I decided to make a meal of it, so to speak. There was so much I could write in answer to this question so here goes.
‘I’d like your advice on travelling. I want to go overseas next year (destination unknown) and get a job (also unknown). Is it better to try get a job once you’re already overseas or try apply for it this side? What kind of jobs have you been doing over there?’
Where to begin? Picking a destination is always the hard part. Then again, deciding what kind of work you want to be doing is also tricky. It’s not ideal to be in an awesome location trying to have an awesome time if you’re not enjoying the work you’re doing. I’ve always taken a good amount of time to carefully consider where I would like my next live-abroad experience to be. There are various things I consider before settling on a destination.
- How easy is it to get there? Visas, flight prices etc. For example, flights to Chile are expensive but there is absolutely no visa needed for South Africans (for once).
- What are the chances of you finding work? Do your homework. Google things like ‘How easy is it to find teaching jobs in Chile’.
- Consider the Culture and the language. Is the language something you would be interested in learning? Or at the least, is it a culture you would like to immerse yourself in.
- Are you in it for the money or the experience? Some jobs abroad will make you rich- like teaching in South Korea or getting into the yachting industry, others will only keep your head above water- like teaching in Chile.
Once you’ve decided where you’ll be heading to it’ll be easier to know if you should organise work before you go or if you can arrive without a job. The kind of person you are will also dictate whether or not you would even consider heading over without a job secured. A lot of people find the idea of arriving without much more than a plan very daunting. Others will enjoy the thrill of it.
If you are planning on teaching English abroad you can have your pick of agencies that will place you from the safety of your own home. It usually involves a lot of paper work and a Skype interview. If you’re thinking South Korea then this would be free of charge. A big pro. I looked into placement agencies before I went to Chile but soon realised it was a big money making scheme and I was better off going there and doing it myself. It’s also a lot safer in terms of guaranteed happiness in the workplace.
If you decide to join the yachting industry and earn fantastic amounts of money monthly, there is almost no other option but to arrive without a job and look for one once you’re there. There is a tonne of competition for jobs aboard yachts these days and no-one is going to hire someone over the internet or phone if they have 100 CV’s being dropped at their doorstep every day. Also, you HAVE to do an STCW 95 course (one week) and have an ENG 1 medical exam done. The course includes first aid, fire fighting and personal safety at sea. The Eng 1 doesn’t test for drugs. In case you’re worried about that.
Even as a South African passport holder there are many options for working and travelling abroad. We just have to be a little bit more creative about it. And fill in way more paper work. You could:
- Work/Travel for a year in Canada. What’s nice about this option is you aren’t restricted to any kind of menial job like waitressing. You can work as anything, even a lawyer. Downside is that you can only get the visa once in your life. This was a drawback for me. In 2011 I fell in love with Colorado and desperately wanted to go back and work another season but since I no longer qualified for the J1 Visa it was virtually impossible.
- Work/Travel in the USA. A 5 month visa for seasonal jobs like ski resorts available only to those who are full-time students in their country of residence. You can get this visa over and over until you are no longer a student.
- Teaching English as a Second Language almost ANYwhere. Asia is the most popular option, perhaps because the money is good. Destinations include South Korea, Thailand, Hong Kong and more. Google it. If you’re not looking to get rich or pay off a student loan, Central and South America are good options. The only Country I know of that is not easy to work as a teacher is Brazil because of work visa issues. Places like Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, Costa Rica (the list goes on), are great for teaching English. Most of the time you will be able to work cash-in-hand and just hop the border every three months to renew your tourist visa.
- Be an au-pair in the States. Must like Kids.
- Pick a destination of your choice and work at a hostel for free food and board. Party hostels like Loki and Wild Rover are perfect for this since they’ve always got a busy bar and lots of thirsty young backpackers to serve. You won’t earn any money and you might become an alcoholic. But it’s too much fun.
- WWOOFING stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Volunteers work on farms of all kinds in exchange for food and accommodation. The website tells you all you need to know.
There’s something out there for everyone. Whether your an adventurer, an intellectual, a student, girl, boy, brave or not so brave. The
trick is to become super good friends with Google. She (yes, she), has all the answers.