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Top 10 Casual Jobs Overseas

Tourism Queensland Image Library

By  June 19, 2009

Thinking about working abroad? Check out these options.  

1. Special Events

Great bursts of employment activity take place around major events. Annual music and arts festivals from Edinburgh to Adelaide plus sporting events and trade fairs are magnets for world travellers who can often pick up ancillary jobs as car park attendants, ticket sellers and in catering. Jobs can also be found before or after when facilities are being set up and dismantled.

2. Organic Farms

The WWOOF scheme, which matches volunteers with organic farmers willing to give them hospitality in exchange for up to six hours of help a day, has caught on not only in the countries you might expect (Britain, New Zealand, Denmark) but other countries too (Estonia, Turkey, Korea, etc.). Visitors can stay from a few days to many months, and opportunities can be available at short notice.

3. Fruit Picking

In places where agricultural harvests have not been completely mechanized or taken over by gangs of migrant workers, a lot of manpower is needed to gather in crops. The majority of jobs are fixed up after meeting farmers face-to-face. Be prepared to earn piecework rates which may be discouraging until you gain enough experience to speed up significantly.

4. National Parks & Trail Maintenance

Making the great outdoors accessible to visitors takes an enormous amount of labour all over the world, from repairing boardwalks to building interpretation facilities. Many parks and wildlife services from Costa Rica to Western Australia depend on volunteers who either sign on in advance or stumble across a project which they are permitted to join on the spot.

5. English Tutoring

Teaching English in a language institute is only rarely available as a casual job, since most employers want to hire native speaker teachers with a qualification for at least one term. Opportunities do arise to give conversation practice to individuals and groups. In remote places, it may be possible to come to an informal agreement with the local English school teacher whereby homestay accommodation is offered in exchange for help in the classroom. In the non-English speaking developed world it is possible to set yourself up as a freelance English tutor, though this will rely on energetic self-marketing and access to decent premises.

6. Hostels

Many private hostels worldwide employ travellers when the need arises, to clean, cook, do maintenance and night porter duties. Some offer the less savoury job of meeting trains and buses to persuade new arrivals to patronize their hostel. Long-stay hostellers have been known to set themselves up in an entrepreneurial capacity, offering to provide breakfast or run an informal shop, in order to make a profit. This only works in hostels that don't already provide these extras.

7. Dive Centres

At local dive centres, you can sometimes get free scuba lessons and in some cases free accommodation in exchange for filling air tanks or helping on reception. If you gain an advanced dive qualification, you might be offered a wage or a percentage of the take.

8. Babysitting & Au Pairing

Family placements looking after children abound in cities and in resorts for the summer and ski seasons. Many matches are initiated online, or you can check in the local English language press or register with a local au pair agency. With more suspicion around these days, it is helpful to be able to show good references and possibly even a police certificate.

9. Kibbutzim

Although the kibbutz movement in Israel is in serious decline, travellers can still arrange to volunteer and stay on a kibbutz free of charge for a minimum of eight weeks.

10. Charity Fundraising

Increasingly mainstream charities use commercial companies to take charge of fund-raising. These companies in turn hire young people to accost people on the street or door-to-door, using hard-sell techniques to persuade them to sign up to make a monthly donation. Not surprisingly, this activity (which has been dubbed "charity mugging") makes some people uncomfortable, though the companies are always recruiting and earnings can be high, especially in Australia.

Related Articles:
More info on how to Find Casual Work Overseas
More resources for finding casual work overseas

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Published in Work Abroad
Susan Griffith

Susan Griffith is the time-honored guru of the gap year. Author of numerous travel bibles includingWork Your Way Around the World and Gap Years for Grown-ups, Griffith is an expert in the areas of working and volunteering abroad. From finding work selling ice cream in Cape Town to working as a film extra in Bangkok, Griffith knows the tips and tricks to making travellers’ dreams a reality. 

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