Carpe Dime

Nope, I didn’t mess-up the title, I really do want you to seize every dime. Are you dreaming of pursuing the backpacker lifestyle, but aren’t sure where to start? I can assure you it really isn’t as hard as you might think. I know that many people stop themselves from jumping on a plane purely due to a perceived lack of funds. So many think only money can make the world go round and are always concerned they never have enough of it.

 My advice to those who haven’t saved much before leaving on an extended trip is to get online and look at the thousands of websites containing international employment information such as Workaway or Jobs Abroad Bulletin. I can guarantee you’ll find work, either paid or volunteering, within a couple of days as I was able to. Also, jobs for backpackers aren’t just seasonal for the summertime, although there are quite a few more options available during this time there are still many employers looking for winter assistance.

You just have to be open to anything, quick thinking when problems arise (because they will) and when the money runs low, be willing to work any of the countless job options that are available out there. Even if you don’t feel like you have these qualities, just go! Get out there! You’ll gain far more life experience then wasting away at a desk and hopefully you will begin to relax into yourself that the rest will just come naturally.

The main thing to remember is that you don’t have to start with thousands of pounds/euros/dollars in the bank to make your travel last a long time.  From all the articles I’ve read from my favourite bloggers, they started with barely anything and only began to earn whilst on the road through persistence. Personally I started with £3,500 and was able to backpack for 7 months with some volunteering and paid work interspersed between. There were of course periods where I was worried about making ends meet between jobs, but something always came up so long as I was actively looking when I needed work.

If you really want to backpack authentically then living cheaply is the first thing you learn quickly. Rather than splurging on the most expensive food and accommodation, spend your hard earned cash on the things that make your heart beat faster. This doesn’t have to be parachuting out of a plane, although that’s definitely something I’ve done, would do again and totally recommend to everyone. Your own excitement might come from visiting a museum to see the work of your favourite artist, trekking to the top of a mountain, or taking a cooking class in a country you’ve always dreamed of visiting. Don’t get me wrong, for those that do prefer to travel in 5 star conditions, that’s perfectly ok, but overspending on things that can be simplified will see you run out of money pretty fast!

Finding short volunteer or paid roles along the way will of course help to keep you going longer than maybe you expected, so then you can do and see all of the things you want to. Below I’ve put together a few options if you’re struggling to make sense of all the information that is out there.

Hostel/Hotel Volunteer 

Working in a hostel as a volunteer is surprisingly far more fun than you expect. Often the roles are voluntary and hostels/hotels request a minimum of a 4 week commitment. There are still quite a few that do offer paid work, but be prepared to commit to a minimum stint of 3 months. Being a volunteer you are generally requested to work 5-6 hours a day for 5 days a week in exchange for a bed to sleep in a dorm room. If you’re lucky some places offer food as well such as breakfast and/or dinner. If food isn’t stated in the offer then expect to provide for yourself. Pick a hostel/hotel based on your needs and funds at the time. I would also recommend to do your research of the business. Check what kind of reviews are being left for the hostel, view images of the rooms and compare the hostel location to the city centre to decide whether it is a place you are willing to live and work in for an extended period of time.


This is an obvious choice a lot of backpackers seek out. If you’re already skilled in bartending then finding a job abroad should be relatively easy, you could also seek a more skilled position, rather than just one pouring beers. During the summer many bars have positions available for travellers who rock up and ask for a one night trial, no advance contact is necessary. If you impress, you’re hired! If wanting to work in the summer, owners generally want their staff to stick around for a minimum of 3 months between March-September, but it likely will be a cash in hand job. If you’re lucky to work for a bar with an apartment for staff to live, or it has a room above the establishment to stay then snatch it up real quick, otherwise you’ll be paying for accommodation elsewhere. If you’re working in a country that has a tipping system then you have a great way to earn extra money on top of your day rate, but be prepared to be working for peanuts as tipping often means the boss will pay you a lower wage.

Pub Crawl Promotion

If you’re a night owl, hate early mornings and love to drink then this is the type of job for you. You can do this for as little as 2 weeks as companies are specifically seeking backpackers who know how to get a party started and keep it going well into the early morning. These roles are run on commission, so your wage is based on the amount of people you can encourage to join you on the crawl. If you’re a smooth talker and can hold your liquor there is a decent amount of cash and free alcohol in this role for you. The only thing you have to realise is that this doesn’t give you a place to live with it being a night gig that has you trailing around to different hostels picking up the guests for a big night on the town. If you want accommodation as well, you may find yourself working in a hostel as I suggested above, but then the likelihood of you becoming a zombie from lack of sleep is also possible. You want to enjoy your international job, not feel exhausted 100% of the time.

Summer Camp

I love this kind of work because it is always adventurous. International summer camps usually seek native English speakers as the children are enrolled to practice the language conversationally. Camps will be totally different depending on what country you’re located in and are based on the companies core values as to why families sign the children up to participate. There are live-in camps and ones where the kids only attend on week days. There are theatre camps, educational camps and sport camps and the best thing is that they can be found anywhere in the world. I’ve realised the best locations with lots of companies to pick from are in America, Spain and Italy. Type into Google summer camp and the country you want to work in and I am sure you will have quite a few options. Otherwise jump on Jobs Abroad Bulletin as they always have good listings available.

Au Pair/Nanny

Taking on a nanny job internationally can be very rewarding or incredibly frustrating depending on the type of family you are placed with and whether personalities blend well. Often families require a 6-12month obligation as they are seeking a native english speaker to bond with their children, engage them in speaking a foreign language, as well as looking after the kids day to day. It’s not always glamorous as you’ll find yourself wiping kids butts, feeding and bathing them. Be aware that you may end up in a house with little terrors, but you may also be placed with a family that becomes your second home.

My personal experience was horrendous as I basically worked for a mother who hated her children, hated animals and always walked around in fur coats smoking cigars. I aptly named her Cruella de Vil. However, I’ve heard so many wonderful stories through friends of the amazing families they worked for, so there will always be pros and cons depending on where and who you are au pairing for.

I have been able to try these job and all you need to be aware of is that there are good and bad parts to each. Obviously you’re there to either save money or make money and they won’t be luxurious jobs. You’ll likely be copping a lot of crap, but will still gain so much from each new role. It might be meeting fantastic people (guests, clients, families or staff) that you’ll arrange to see again elsewhere in the world, or it could help you figure out what type of work you definitely don’t like doing and won’t apply for again, or even gaining a new skill that will allow you to find another job later on when you’re sadly back in the world of full time employment. If you take away any of this from a short term backpacking job then it makes the time spent in one place completely worth it. If you’re like me and don’t love sticking around for long periods of time, don’t worry lots of places will only ask for 3-4 weeks minimum, but you can always ask to stay longer if you find the right place!

♥ Love from Leah