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Trying to make a few Euros while you’re traveling through the EU? Here’s how.

ALTHOUGH MANY TRAVELERS have notions of selling their poetry in French train stations or painting sweeping sunsets, these endeavors are not likely put many Euros in your pocket. And as the US dollar has lost its grip in the world market, travelers are finding their savings aren’t carrying them as far in their European adventures.

With some research, resourcefulness and a little luck, however, you can find a job that not only pays, but also culturally enriches your travel experience.

Preparation

When I left for Europe I had a return ticket to San Francisco but no plans of using it. Although a year later I find myself legally living and working in Berlin, things could have been a lot easier had I prepared to set myself up in Europe beforehand instead of spending money here sending out applications through overpriced internet cafes.

Here are several things to think about before you go:

1. Figure out how you want to work. Do you want to work short-term jobs that require little commitment, or something that would allow you to live in a certain city for an extended period of time?

2. What country do you see yourself working in?

3. If there is a specific place you’d like to work in then take a short language course?

4. Can you get a work permit for Europe before your trip?

5. Are you interested in teaching? Can you obtain a TEFL Degree? (It’s often less expensive outside Europe.)

Photo by tenerife

Kinds of Work

Short-term/ Seasonal Worker

Short-term and/or seasonal work is a good bet for backpackers or those looking for the quick Euro. These jobs are cash in hand or “under the table” which is not legal in Europe, but you get paid straight-away and in cash.

One of the most popular examples is working on a farm or a vineyard. Check out placement agencies such as www.fruitfulfarms.co.uk, which offers to find you jobs if you are an EU citizen or have the necessary paperwork. They can place you in farms all over the UK, as well as other parts of Europe.

Other resources include www.pickingjobs.com, as well as online directories and classified, such as the Jobs Abroad Bulletin , the farm work section of Transitions Abroad, the Farmers Weekly Jobs, the links page on the Denmark’s Seasonal Work website, and the Family Farms Around the World site.

Summer Camp Counselor

Another option is to work in a Summer Camp. This can be really fun and rewarding if you like working with children and leading outdoor activities. It’s also a good deal since accommodation and meals are usually included.

The most popular companies that are eager to hire English speaking travelers are Super Camps , All About Visiting Earth (who is seeking camp counselors and trip leaders), PGL Tours, Eurocamp, and Action Quest.

On the other hand, if you want a more local experience, or if you’re already on the road, you can scour ESL job sites such as www.esljobsworld.com and www.teachabroad.com, which posts camp counselor gigs all over Europe. Another option is to look through the local classifieds, English language magazines (ex. The Exberliner for Berlin) or a local craigslist portal.

Au Pair

Working as an Au Pair is one of the most popular ways to live and work in Europe. An Au Pair refers to a young foreign person hired to do light domestic housework and caring for children in exchange for wage, room and board and the opportunity to learn the language and culture of the country.

These kinds of jobs are not hard to find as there are many European parents eager to hire English speaking workers. You could score these jobs through an Au Pair agency such as www.greataupair.com, through an international organization such as www.iapa.org or a European job database such as the Europa Pages Au Pair Centre.

Though not all jobs found locally may offer accommodation, they are significantly more lenient regarding hiring people without a work permit, and also pay in cash.

Aside from listings in Transitions Abroad, check out the local English speaking newspapers, websites or city-specific craigslist site. If you’re already in the country, you could check out posts on a community bulletin board, local coffee shops and bookstores, and even by asking people you know for referrals.

Though not all jobs found locally may offer accommodation, they are significantly more lenient regarding hiring people without a work permit, and also pay in cash.

Tending a Hostel or Bar

The tourism industry is one of the best options for finding paying jobs. For short-term, you’ll most likely be paid cash in hand, most often in a hostel or a bar. For longer-term positions such as a ski instructor or a tour guide you’ll likely have to secure a work permit first.

Working in a hostel can be a sweet deal, as managers will often let you bunk in the place in exchange for work. Though much of the job may involve cleaning toilets or dealing with drunk backpackers, it’s a great way to put away some cash for your next destination.

Keep in mind that if you intend to work in the front desk or sell tour packages you’ll need at least a working knowledge of the language.

Working in bars, most likely the hostel bar, is also a great way to meet new people and score free drinks.

You can snag these jobs by going through online job directories such as www.hosteljobs.net, www.liveinjobs.co.uk and irishpubjobs.com.

Another option is to contact some of the most popular hostels that accept applications for staff and bartending positions, such as St. Christopher’s Inn, whose staff is mostly made up of backpackers and has hostels in Paris, London, Berlin, Amsterdam and throughout the UK.

Other options: The Circus Hostel in Berlin, The Clown and Bard Hostel in Prague, and the Picadilly Backpackers Hostel in London.

The most direct way to get started is to ask the your hostel manager if there are any openings available in exchange for cash in hand pay and/or a place to sleep. More often than not, hostels are eager to give travelers work. Or you can always call or email the hostels and bars ahead of time. Some of the more useful directories for European hostels are www.famoushostels.com, www.hostelguide.de and www.hostels.com.

Tour Guide

For those comfortable in front of crowds, consider finding a job in a tour company, such as Sandeman’s New Europe Tours, which operates in London, Edinburgh, Berlin, Munich, Paris and Amsterdam.

Be wary if they are unable to sponsor you for a permit but are still willing to hire you, as there have been many cases wherein non-EU workers have been exploited and underpaid in even some of the most reputable tour companies.

However, please note that if you’re not an EU citizen (or a member of its partner countries), they probably won’t hire without a work permit. Be wary if they are unable to sponsor you for a permit but are still willing to hire you, as there have been many cases wherein non-EU workers have been exploited and underpaid in even some of the most reputable tour companies.

Long-term

For those looking to put down some roots in Europe, there are plenty of work options available for you.

One of the most popular and lucrative yet competitive job options in Europe is Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). It’s often a great way to get to know the locals and gain deeper insight into the culture. You can either teach on a freelance basis or work for a language school.

Working as an independent freelancer means that you pound the pavement and find your own contacts. Freelancers can also join an agency which would make finding contacts a much simpler process.

Another possibility is teaching in a school. Nearly all institutions require some form of TEFL qualification. Getting yourself qualified in this field is a worthwhile investment; not only will it provide numerous career opportunities, but it will also give you a sense of security knowing that you can get a job almost anywhere in the world. Listen to this podcast for complete details.

Photo by jonrawlinson

Internships are a good choice, especially for those pursuing a specific field. Most commonly known as a “mini-job” in most parts of Europe, it’s a great way to get started. The downside is that like in the United States, many of these opportunities don’t pay.

As far as being granted a work permit: unless your skills are something they can’t get anywhere else, it’s unlikely you’ll be sponsored. There are many places specifically seeking foreign nationals to join their team however, such as in English language magazines, tour companies or website startups. Polish your resume.

One last note: be aware that exploitation of travelers or foreigners looking for work happens frequently, even from American-run companies that operate in Europe. Ask people who work there, especially foreign nationals, about the conditions and if they pay on time.

Even if you are a foreigner and/or a traveler eager to find work, remember that you have rights too. Don’t let yourself be exploited just because you’re grateful for the opportunity.

___________________________________________________

Editor’s note: Look for the author’s companion piece, “How to Get an EU Work Visa,” forthcoming at the Traveler’s Notebook.

Health + Lifestyle

 

About The Author

Michaela Lola Abrera

Michaela Lola realized at the tender age of eight that life was meant to be an adventure. Her escapades include riding the midnight train to Marrakesh, partying with the katoys in Thailand and sampling insects in China. Read more about her adventures on her blog.

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  • http://www.nomadicmat.com nomadic matt

    The clown and bard is one of my favorite hostels. That’s a serious partying hostel.

    Great article and advice!

  • http://www.nerdseyeview.com pam

    I’m glad to see that this is going to be followed up with a “How to get a permit” article. I think a lot of travelers expect it to be easy to get work and it can be quite difficult. Bad tourism seasons can hurt potential in those markets and, in my experience, European managers can be quite unimaginative about their hiring practices. Sorry for the broad generalization, it’s what I’ve seen.

    If you’re counting on working in the EU to pay for your trip, it’s probably better to line it up before you go or to have sufficient padding in case it doesn’t pan out. That time on the beach in Corfu was lovely, but I hope to not be that hungry again. :)

  • Michaela Lola

    Hey Matt and Pam,

    Thanks so much for the kind words. Yup, finding a job and getting a work permit is a real challenge, but the relief and satisfaction you get from accomplishing is pretty great. Finding work is also a cool way to meet fellow travelers who will be doing the same, as well as locals who are always eager to help you out with information and even let you surf their couch (I heart couchsurfing.com).

    Totally agree with getting a job ahead of time! I wish I had done that so that I wouldn’t have had to make a box of Muesli last a week and doing laundry in the tub! hahahhaha…but looking back, it was in its own way, kind of fun.

  • http://workineurope.ning.com Samantha

    Dear Michaela

    What a fantastic and informative blog! :-) You’ve laid out a clear guide on how to approach working in Europe, together with some sound advice.

    I worked in Spain doing an internship last year and it was great fun – I’m dying to go back there at some point soon! In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to set up a social networking site for people who are interested in working abroad in Europe to meet people based in Europe who can help and offer them advice. You’re exactly the kind of person I’m looking to invite to join the group and share their experiences and advice with other members. If you could spare a moment to look at the site and sign up, I would be extremely grateful, the link is:

    http://workineurope.ning.com.

    You can post blogs, photos, videos and contribute to discussions on there, as well as chatting and adding friends!

    Til then. I look forward to your next blog posting!
    Samantha ;-)

  • Mark

    hey michaela,

    this is a seriously informative piece of writing. only i wished i had found it earlier, as i recently moved to europe and made basically all the mistakes that you mention.

    although it came a bit late for me, i will definitely recommend your article to anyone i know planning to go to europe. great article!!!

  • http://wwww.nesthostelsvalencia.com Hostels Valencia

    you can try with us in “work for a bed” style, 3 hours work a day for a bed, for as long as we all like

  • http://www.search-aupair-family.info Paula

    Hi Michaela

    Becoming an au pair is an excellent way to travel, as well as earn a little pocket money. One key advantage of being an au pair is that you have a host family organised before you arrive in the new country. The family also help you settle in. We’ve had many au pairs come live with us for a few months to learn English. It’s worked out very well for my family.

    A good site to find an au pair or nanny job is http://www.search-aupair-family.info or indeed for families to find au pairs from around the world.
    Paula

  • http://nancythegnomette.com Nancy

    You have such informative articles, Michaela! This is so comprehensive! I did the au pair thing, thru greataupair.com and recommend the experience.

  • http://halfway2paragon.blogspot.com HafidzMD

    huh, it has always been my goal to do a work-travelling kind of thing. its only when you work and live during travelling that you can absorb much of the wonderful cultures.

    do you have a guide on types of work for someone with engineering degree? like 6 months stay to 1 year?

  • http://alainarose.wordpress.com Alaina

    If only I had found this article about 2 months ago, I wouldn’t be going home for the summer. I was looking for hostel work, and this article gives so many useful links! …Perhaps next summer :)

  • danny

    The main issue with Au Pair is that the families usually only seek females, and not males. Understandable, yet discriminative.

  • Tristan

    Hi there

    does anyone know how i can get started want to travel and work!

  • yogendra

    i am an indian , want to open an art & craft Store in Euorope, how can I ? whts the process and at least how much cost , thanx

  • Raj

    wow awesome article dude..
    I am Indian pursuing masters in Computer Science in USA on student visa. I want to travel and work in different parts of Europe. Just started searching for information. Pleas let me know if you have any information about visa process.

  • http://www.happycatstefl.com/ Tefl Jobs

    I recommend doing a TEFL qualification and teaching English. There are a lot of jobs available and it’s great fun. Spain and Italy are the easiest places to find work.

    Jon.

  • http://www.facebook.com/turnerbarr Turner Barr

    On my travel jobs quest, I have found that there is a big difference between having a job, and having a job that actually makes money. I found it difficult to found a job that you could do in many different locations (or than the make money online type of gigs). I started selling timeshares a few months ago, and you can also do that in europe or in 99 other countries to make money…if you are good at it. Here is my latest post on how to get a job selling timeshares. Enjoy and good luck. http://aroundtheworldin80jobs.com/how-to-find-a-timeshares-job/

    -Turner

  • http://www.AroundtheWorldin80Jobs.com/ Around the World in 80 Jobs

    On my travel jobs quest, I have found that there is a big difference between having a job, and having a job that actually makes money. I found it difficult to found a job that you could do in many different locations (or than the make money online type of gigs). I started selling timeshares a few months ago, and you can also do that in europe or in 99 other countries to make money…if you are good at it. Here is my latest post on how to get a job selling timeshares. Enjoy and good luck.http://aroundtheworldin80jobs.com/how-to-find-a-timeshares-job/

  • http://www.hostel-jobs.net/ Hostel Jobs

    There is also a great new website with more than 100 hostel jobs: http://www.hostel-jobs.net

  • Sybukura007

    Can hellp me?I want to work in Franc?

  • JeremyMcDonald

    I did the same thing a few years ago and found a job working for a summer camp counsellor for Rockley Adventure (
    http://www.rockleyadventure.com/school-activity-holidays). Was a great experience and showed me how important working when travelling is…

  • Backpacking Diplomacy

    Post bump! Is that picture of Dubrovnik, Croatia? It looks a bit familiar…

  • Michelle Olivier

    nice post, thanks.

  • Luke Thorn

    http://sydneybeachouse.com.au/work-while-backpacking/ has a great post on finding traveller work while in Sydney Australia.

  • Mad at Matador

    on top of looking out for the traveller, maybe a network as large as your’s should think twice before recommending working without a permit. If people had any respect for the places that they go to, they would make sure they pay their way in taxes and don’t damage the local job market. I saw this in London all the time with illegal workers making working conditions in hospitality impossible for us locals.

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