You and your boo have been dating for a while now, and you’re ready to take your relationship to the next level: traveling together to a new country! The thrill of the adventure, plus the test and the potential bonding experience it can bring to the relationship, have drawn you in.
You’ve already set the plan in motion: maybe you’re graduating soon, or quitting your respective jobs to travel and work abroad. Maybe you’ve already ended the lease on your apartment and sold your excess belongings. All that’s left to do is pick a place to go, and most importantly, a way to support yourselves while you’re abroad.
Whether you're looking for a long-term career break or simply taking a gap year with bae, here are some great employment ideas for couples looking to work abroad together.
1. Embrace the outdoors as a camp host
Think your relationship can withstand the test of mother nature? Then become a camp host!
Many campgrounds love the idea of couples taking on the responsibility of being a camp host. While the job is often seasonal, it is a laid back travel job especially great for van-lifers and RVers who love slow travel.
Being a camp host requires you and your boo to take turns “on duty” in park campgrounds. You’ll make sure campsites and facilities are in good condition, help customers, and take on other managerial and janitorial duties as needed.
To make the most of your camp hosting experience, look into hosting at epic national and state parks around the world (I’m partial to mountaintops, glacial runoff, and coastal scenery). On your off days, you'll be right at the doorstep of some of the most beautiful places in the world.
What to Consider: A park getaway may also mean a retreat from technology. If you and your partner are juggling other gigs that required connectivity, you may have difficulty doing both jobs successfully. Plus, even if a campground boasts Wifi -- there could be a bandwidth limit. Be sure to cover all bases before taking the leap.
2. Become a dynamic photographing duo
One job that can always be of use anywhere around the world is photography. Whether it's on the go or providing photography services to local businesses, this travel-friendly gig is perfect for couples.
Two is better than one when you offer photography services. While the more artistic and tech-savvy partner photographs, the other can be the assistant; positioning props, subjects, and lighting.
Being a photography team also helps keep the business side of things less stressful when it comes to finding clients, managing the books, negotiating rates, and providing deliverables.
What to Consider: Deciding how you will start finding photography work may seem tough at first. If you have trouble, try enlisting with a company that uses freelance photographers.
Airbnb sometimes looks for regional photographers to take photos of new home listings, and Flytographer is a directory of photographers for travelers seeking vacation photoshoots.
3. Try paid petsitting
If you’ve been traveling often, you've probably heard that some people become house and pet sitters in order to get free accommodations (in exchange for sitting for a specific amount of time).
Did you know that some sitting websites actually list paid pet sitting gigs too? Pet owners love when couples apply to their listings because it means two things:
- The pet will get a significant amount of playtime and cuddles from not one, but two people (this is actually a huge concern for many owners)
- If one sitter falls ill or needs to leave for any reason, the second can stay and continue caring for the pet
What to Consider: The reason why most people petsit unpaid is that most places require working visas in order to get paid in another country (and when you're doing multiple sits back to back that can get complicated). You’ll have to check the visa requirements of your destination before committing.
That said, since pet and house sitting exchanges provide free housing, you could always use this opportunity to cut accommodation expenses while taking advantage of our other suggested paid jobs for couples.
Pet and housesitting websites
4. Become an au pair
For couples who love working with kids, you may be able to take advantage of job opportunities abroad as an au pair. What is, au pair'ing, you ask? Becoming an au pair is a lot like being a nanny or a live-in babysitter.
Maybe your partner won't like the idea of working such a demanding job, but you might be able to wheel and deal your way into shared accommodation. If you have subsidized housing and the opportunity to live intimately with a local family, why pass it up?!
Popular destinations include the Middle East, New Zealand, and Australia. Au pairs typically take on a share of housework or childcare in exchange for free room and board and oftentimes, a stipend.
What to Consider: It might be difficult to find a family who will welcome two into their home instead of one, but certainly not impossible. A great deal of communication will serve you well in ensuring the living situation is ideal for all parties.
While not ideal for couples if you are keen on a ton of privacy, it just might be the overseas adventure you both are looking for.
Suggested au pair abroad programs:
5. Put on your caretaker hat
Every once in a blue moon you’ll hear about some totally Instagram-worthy opportunity to live your travel dream of escaping to an island. But did you know there are actual island caretaker jobs that often seek couples to live in isolation while caring for either a single home, farm, resort, or even lighthouse?
Most duties will require basic upkeep, weekly or monthly scheduled deliveries for food and supplies, mundane daily routines -- all while allowing little opportunity to leave the area for a set duration. Couples are highly preferred for these jobs to help them avoid going stir crazy!
What to Consider: Not everyone is the perfect candidate for this type of gig, and that’s okay. Healthy candidates are recommended (both physically and emotionally well) and introverted caretakers would likely enjoy the work more than extroverted ones.
Depending on the job, there may also be minimal access to technology -- if at all -- and limited resources (so pace yourself with those meals!) On the contrary, you may end up working at a luxurious location that has all of the above, so don’t count yourselves out yet!
6. Work at a hostel
Many backpackers find that getting jobs abroad is a bit challenging if the business knows that time is limited and their prospective employee is a traveler who will leave sooner rather than later.
The best way to get around this issue is to work at jobs where your eventual return home is expected, such as at a hostel.
Getting a hostel job can be as easy as getting to know the staff and simply asking about an opening. Opportunities can range from activity planning to encouraging socialization, to bar work. Stay in a town where there are many hostels to increase your chances of landing a couple-friendly gig.
What to Consider: Hostel work is often unpaid and functions more as a work exchange. The compensation is usually provided in the form of room and board, and maybe a small stipend.
If you want to stay together, try to negotiate a private room for the two of you to share, as the compensation often only provides dorm accommodation.
Also, it is probably best to travel around a bit and pick a place and hostel that really draw you in, rather than applying without seeing the hostel and getting an idea of the environment prior to arrival.
7. Teach English
One of the best and most popular options for working abroad is teaching English. If you’re a native speaker (or at least fluent), finding work just got a whole lot easier!
First, pick the country and city you want to work in, or at least a region of the world. Try to pick a city with lots of options so that you can still be together even if you’re unable (or would prefer not to) work at the same school. It may even be better not to work at the same school so that you can have some time apart to gain your own experience of the country you’re in.
Also, consider the time of year. Some areas hire year-round, such as Asia and Southeast Asia, while others have specific seasons, such as Europe. Some hire prior to arrival and some hire in person. Do some research or partner with a placement agency first to be sure you know what you’re getting into.
What to Consider: Anyone teaching abroad will have to make sure they’re qualified to work in the region they have picked. Teachers must have a bachelor’s degree and fluency in English for most, if not all, opportunities to teach abroad. Many schools will also require or strongly prefer a TEFL or CELTA certification.
Couples abroad have some extra considerations: will the school you're applying to allow for both of you to work there? If one of you doesn't want to teach, are there other options in that location? Can you both live in the house provided by the school?
Also, if you're teaching in the Middle East, it's important to note that unmarried couples likely won't be allowed to live together -- a huge con for many couples who want to live and work abroad together!
Suggested teach abroad programs:
For those who love the great outdoors and have a green thumb, or wish to develop one, WWOOFing (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) is a great option.
Generally, these jobs are ideal for travelers who want to gain some volunteer experience, support greener living, and wish to have a rich cultural experience. It often involves four to six hours per day of work either with farm animals (think cleaning out stalls or herding), tending to vegetation, or whatever else the farm may need at the time.
It can vary widely, so be sure to ask a lot of questions of your potential host so that expectations are managed and you know what is required of you. Also, make sure they know there will be two of you traveling as a couple!
What to Consider: Find opportunities through the WWOOF database and communicate with potential hosts through that service. WWOOFing is generally strictly volunteer. Room and board are provided in exchange, however.
If you’d like to be paid for agriculture work, Australia has a high minimum wage and is a popular destination for seeking out paid fruit picking opportunities.
9. Work in hospitality
Many foreign workers in Australia and New Zealand, for example, find work in restaurants, bars, or retail establishments. The minimum wage is good, the hours are flexible, and the work is generally easier to get than office jobs.
This is another opportunity to live in the same town, but take up work at different establishments in order to have both an experience together and apart.
While passport privilege may be a factor for some, these jobs are easier to get depending on what part of the world you’re traveling in. It is often as simple as looking presentable and passing out resumes to places that suit your qualifications. Pay will vary widely depending on where you’re applying. Consider what works best for you before choosing a country.
What to Consider: If working in Australia, you can only spend a max of 6 months with any one employer, and a working holiday visa is required. Check into the requirements of your target country well before setting off on your journey to avoid any costly mistakes!
10. Work as a digital nomad
In this day and age, many longer-term travelers are also digital nomads; meaning they travel with their computers where ever they can find a good WiFi connection.
There are many directions you and your significant other could follow, such as freelance work, travel blogging, or software development, to name a few.
This is where creativity and resourcefulness really come in handy. Digital nomad work could be an opportunity to start a new business together, or just be a side project to bring in some extra cash.
What to Consider: There is certainly a fair amount of risk involved. Freelance work can be sporadic at best and blogging takes a while to bring in decent money, if ever. Being a digital nomad often involves a significant learning curve and requires a lot of time and commitment.
It has to be something you both really love and are willing to put a lot of time and effort into. Plus, you need to always have an internet connection. This is particularly difficult in some more remote parts of the world.
Couples that travel together stay together
There are tons of options for couples looking to work abroad together. It’s a great way to enrich both the relationship and your own personal life experience. It’s also a great way for couples to see if their relationship can stand the test of new challenges and increased together time, and a perfect way to gain cultural immersion.
This post was originally published in January 2014, and was updated in September 2019.