No matter how many tips and tricks you follow, you’re always going to need a base amount of money to travel during your gap year. You may have decided that you want to take a break between higher education or your career, but can you afford it? You're in luck! Turning your gap year into a working holiday is a great way to boost your funds and get an in-depth look at someplace else in the world. Staying in one place longer and working allows you to immerse yourself in the culture and really get to know your temporary home, plus it looks great on your resume.
Some of the greatest satisfactions from living abroad include finally having a favorite coffee shop, being able to give tourists directions and speaking a bit of the local language. Give yourself the opportunity to experience these simple pleasures by not only traveling abroad, but taking a working holiday. No matter what climate, landscape, or job type interests you, there’s an opportunity for you!
But how can you do a working holiday abroad? Where is the best place to do a working holiday abroad? What kind of working holiday jobs are there? In this guide, we'll help you sort through the details to help you plan and organize your working holiday adventure.
Numerous countries have visa classes solely designated to promote working holidays. Depending on your country of residence, you could have several options. Americans, Canadians, Australians, New Zealanders, and Japanese citizens have many countries to choose from when selecting a working holiday.
A working holiday in Australia is a classic choice. Open to Americans, Canadians, New Zealanders, UK, and Japanese citizens, among others, this visa will allow you to legally work for up to one year in Australia. However, on this visa, you can't work in the same job for longer than six months -- so plan to do some traveling as well!
Another classic working holiday destination, the New Zealand working holiday visa, is open to the same nationalities as the Australian working holiday visa. Though similar, the New Zealand visa is less expensive.
For citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Taiwan, Japan, and Monaco, the UK has a working holiday visa available under their Youth Mobility Scheme program. To apply, you must be a passport holder of one of the countries mentioned above, have at least 1,800 British Pounds in funds, and be between the ages of 18 - 31.
Canada has a working holiday visa that allows youth from several nations to stay and work for up to 24 months under their International Experience Canada program. For more details on how to apply and if you qualify, look directly on the International Experience Canada website.
Ireland has a working holiday visa for non-Irish nationals -- including Americans. Other nationalities that are allowed to apply are citizens from Argentina, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and Taiwan.
The working holiday visa in Singapore isn't quite as easy or flexible as that in New Zealand / Australia and has a much more limited age limit. Applicants must be either recently graduated or still enrolled in university to qualify. Nationals of Australia, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland, United Kingdom, or the United States are allowed to apply for Singapore's Working Holiday Programme.
A popular destination for teaching English and living abroad as an expat, Costa Rica has a special working holiday visa for Canadian citizens between 18 - 35 years of age.
Less talked about in the world of working holidays, but certainly no less worth considering, the Northern European country of Denmark has agreements between Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan, New Zealand, and South Korea to allow youth from those countries to legally work for up to 12 months on the Danish Working Holiday Program.
Although limited to nationals of New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, Italy has a working holiday option for youth between the ages of 18 - 30. Canadians, however, are allowed to apply until they are age 35.
Again, New Zealand and Australian citizens have all the fun -- they're the only ones eligible for a working holiday visa in Sweden. However, Sweden does have a pretty sweet au pair visa available to a wider range of nationalities, if you're not too choosy about what job you take on your gap year in Sweden.
When choosing to take a working holiday, it’s important to consider where you want to move, what type of visa requirements there are for foreigners, and what type of work you want to do during your gap year. Generally, those taking a working holiday are a bit more laid back about what type of work they take on. But don’t rule out that your job abroad could help your current or future career!
Farms around the world are often looking for extra help to plant crops, pull weeds, assist in harvests, and perform produce quality selections. Such work is plentiful in both Australia and New Zealand. Additionally, if you do three months of agricultural work in Australia, you qualify to receive a full two-year work visa! Find opportunities in person or online at:
- Gumtree Australia
- Traveller's Contact Point Australia
- New Zealand's Backpacker Job Board
- Federated Farmers of New Zealand
Working on farms can also entail working with livestock, helping the family and even hospitality. Also regularly check bulletin boards at your hostels, as local farmers looking for temporary workers often post jobs there.
Hospitality is a large industry that constantly has job openings all over the globe. Working in hotels is a great way to live abroad and still meet plenty of travelers. Sites like Caterer Global and Hotel Career compile job openings at fantastic hotels throughout the world.
Restaurants are another industry with a rapid turnover rate that are always looking to hire. To work as a cook, server, or bartender, simply print out a CV and begin handing it out to restaurants once you've reached your desired destination. Again, the hostel bulletin boards may have postings as well.
A seasonal job is a great way to live and work abroad. Because seasons are happening simultaneously around the globe, summer and winter, spring and fall, there are always companies looking for seasonal hires.
With wintery activities like skiing and snowboarding, resort lodges are in need of new employees every year. If you're a skilled skier or snowboarder, consider becoming an instructor for children, adults, or both at a ski resort! If you're not one to hit the slopes, consider working in hospitality at the lodge. New Zealand has a great selection of ski resorts to apply to.
If you have the certification, scuba instructors can work with travel agencies, scuba schools, scuba gear rental shops and resorts. Scuba instructors are needed to satisfy the summer surge of individuals looking to get under the waves' surface and see the beauty below. Imagine if your job was to bring people face to face with sea life daily!
Yoga instructors and masseuses are always popular at resort locations, but the demand often rises in the summer months when more individuals are heading to resorts for rest and relaxation. Being certified in both makes you twice as likely to get hired!
Summer Camp Counselor
Summer destinations are equally ripe with job opportunities such as scuba instructor, yoga instructor, masseuse, and camp counselor. Summer camp counselors are consistently in need around the world and it is an excellent opportunity for those who love working with children.
Working Holiday Visas
Obtaining a work visa for Australia and New Zealand is straight forward and usually doesn’t take long. Work visas in Ireland, Singapore, and South Korea are a bit more difficult. Generally speaking, you'll have to be between the ages of 18 - 30 to apply for a working holiday visa in any of these countries, but not always.
For the full run down on how to get a working holiday visa as an American, read the Go Overseas guide to working holiday visas for Americans.
For citizens of other countries, the visa process may look a little different, and you may even have more opportunities. For example, although Americans can't apply for a second year on an agricultural visa in Australia, citizens of the UK and much of the EU can.
Cost of Living
Many of the countries with a set working holiday visa program can be slightly more expensive to live in than the United States. Australia and New Zealand pay accordingly, with an ample minimum wage of $AUD18.93 and $NZD18.90. Countries like Peru, Poland, Estonia, and Costa Rica have working holiday visas for certain citizenships and are less expensive locations to settle down. Numbeo is an excellent tool for researching the cost of living in a particular country before you decide to make the big move.
Health and Safety
Before living and working abroad, you may be required to obtain traveler's insurance. Even if it isn’t a requirement for obtaining a working holiday visa, we still highly recommend you having it -- as you never know what may happen.
World Nomads is known for it’s simple registration process, which can be completed in a matter of minutes online. They also allow for policy renewal while abroad, a perk that many companies don’t allow. Begin researching the insurance plan that’s best for you a few months before moving overseas.
Gap Year Working Holiday Programs
What is a working holiday?
A working holiday is usually a trip that allows the right to work and travel in a country for a longer period of time than a traditional visitor or tourist visa.
How can I go on a working holiday?
A working holiday is a great option if you're taking a gap year between studies or work. First, research what countries accept your citizenship for a working holiday visa. Narrow down your list and apply for a working holiday visa in the country where you want to work and travel. Research gap year programs and apply to jobs while waiting for your visa and to book your flights.
Which countries offer working holiday visas?
Some citizenships provide more options for working holiday visas than others. The most popular countries that offer working holiday visas include Australia, New Zealand, England, Canada, and Singapore.
Can you only get a working holiday visa once?
Generally, working holiday visas are only granted once. Sometimes they can be extended for a year in some countries and for certain citizenship. If your working holiday visa ends, you can typically find another visa to extend your stay, such as a student visa or temporary worker visa.