Work Abroad

Hard Labour

Get old fast working to break your back.

Labouring Around the World

Tree Planting Fruit Picking Film Extras Modelling Art Modelling Festival Construction Giving Out Fliers Woofing Punting Rickshaws Cleaning Dishwashing Mushroom Gathering Crewing Yachts Deep Sea Fishing Care Work Medical Research Volunteering Building Sites

25. Tree Planting

Tree planting is the traditional job open to travelers and locals in good physical condition in Canada. Every year there are massive tree plantation programs and as payment is by the sapling, you can make some big bucks here.

Be warned though that it’s extremely arduous work and not a soft option for the skiving backpacker. Payment is by the tree so if you can’t move your ass then you won’t make shit.

If you can carry a whole bag full of saplings with you, dig holes quick and plant the baby trees fast then this could be the job for you. You sleep in a tent, suffer from aching shoulders, back, neck – everything – for weeks but there’s nowhere to spend the money and you can save a few thousand bucks fast.

Whilst some farmers will insist on papers, the reality is that there are often those who turn a blind eye to illegal workers, or who won’t check out the social security number all that carefully.

To find work check out planting seasons in advance, head out to the country and talk your way into a job.

26. Fruit Picking

Just about every piece of fruit you ever ate was picked up some traveler, immigrant or farm worker praying for sunset and the chance to rest their aching arms. Just think, that could be you.

All over the world there are fruits to be harvested every month of the year. The days are long, the conditions are often extreme and the pay mostly depends on how fast you can pick. But one thing’s for sure – there’s plenty of work to be had.

The quantity of work and rates of pay vary immensely from country to country and from crop to crop. Picking oranges in Spain may only bring you in 30 Euros a day but you could earn treble that picking grapes in Switzerland.

If you’re working in Europe or Australia you can probably save a couple of thousand bucks in about month of working. But bear in mind that you’ll also waste time waiting around for crops to ripen and farmers to give the green light.

It helps if you have a car and can team up with other workers and then you can contact farmers weeks or months before the harvest and book your jobs.

Few farmers really care about seeing your papers and, as most harvests only last a couple of weeks, the chances of getting caught are low. Hence why fruit picking is such an attractive job for illegal immigrant workers – sadly, too many of them get exploited and made to work in inhuman conditions, such as the poor sods picking oranges in Florida for Coca Cola and co…

Fruit Picking Jobs — Go pick those pears!

27. Film Extras

Any movie that you’ve ever seen probably had a cast of hundreds who were never mentioned in the credits. They were the passers by, the people on the bus, the families eating in the restaurant that you glimpsed for a second as Keanu Reeves walked past them – and they were all paid.

Anywhere that there are movies or TV shows in production there’s work for extras and all you’ve got to do is be available. You’ll make your way to the set or be picked up early in the morning, mill around in tedious crowd sequences for half the day and read your way through War and Peace during the rest.

Being an extra can get really tedious. The technical crew will hold everything up for hours for no apparent reason and you’ll want to take a good book with you. You’ll get fed well enough but you’ll get tired, bored and feel like there are so many better things you could be doing with your life.

On the other hand you will meet a lot of new people and it really doesn’t require much talent to get the job in the first place.

The pay isn’t always that impressive but there’s always the chance that you can schmoose your way into getting a walk through part or to say a single line in the production and then your cut soars.

Notable places to get jobs as extras include Los Angeles, London, Bombay, Bangkok and Sydney.

28. Modelling

You don’t have to have a catwalk figure to be a model. Okay, you won’t be asked to strut with the latest spring collection from Jean Paul Gautier but there are plenty of other opportunities for travelers to model, particularly in countries where there’s a pretty homogenous appearance, such as in South East Asia.

Basically, you sign up with an agent or agency and they try to place you with studios looking for a certain face for a TV commercial or maybe a poster ad. Their concept of what’s exotic or beautiful may be quite distinct to what you might imagine and so just about everyone has a chance.

All it really costs you anyway is to get a few photos made and a CV and then to turn up to some auditions and photo shoots. If no jobs come through for you then you can keep trying to find another way to get by meanwhile – who knows but one day your phone might ring offering you the chance to become the new icon for hairspray, mobile phones or condoms.

To improve your chances it’s worth hanging out with the local media yuppie set and see if a little nepotism won’t hurt your chances.

29. Art Modelling

A more traditional alternative is to work as a live model for art classes. All over the world there are drawing, painting, photo and sculptures classes in need of live subjects for students to practice on. Alternatively, you might find an established artist in need of a model in their studio.

Mostly these gigs involve nude modeling and you’ll be expected to hold poses for between 10-20 minutes depending on the class. The pay is usually pretty good (and is cash in hand) and schools, colleges and private classes are almost always in need of a new subject, so work isn’t hard to find.

The flow of work can be erratic as it often depends on things like school and college semesters. There may be times when you’re employed every day, whereas in other months of the year the only person asking you take your clothes off is your lover.

For men there may be issues with getting erections in front of the class so be prepared to start counting your 8 times table backwards in case a hot girl walks in and starts giving you the eye. If the worst should happen it’s usually good form to request a break while you look for some ice…

30. Festival Construction

At any major music or cultural festival there are bound to be a large number of marquises and big tents that need a crew of strong, able guys to erect and take down after the show is over. Often tent constructors will team together and offer their services to a whole season of festivals in advance but you can also just turn up in advance on site and offer your services.

The work is long and grueling but you can get drunk at the end of each day and make a load of friends before you have to deal with long timber poles and heavy canvas the next morning.

Even if you can’t get any paid work with festival construction, there’s a good chance they’ll need volunteers to help clean, cook and put up fences and signs – you’ll get the right to stay on site and they’ll feed you. Not a bad way to meet a load of new people and a good route into some of the cooler networks in a new country.

31. Giving Out Fliers

One of the most traditional forms of advertising, there are always businesses that want their info placed in the hands of the public on a bit of a dead tree. For travelers in party spots like Mediterranean Islands or outside nightclub areas, this means work. You’ll be given bundles of fliers to give out and be expected to encourage tourists and locals to hit the latest restaurant, bar or nightclub.

It helps if you actually like the place you’re promoting but like any kind of street work, it soon gets pretty tiring and you’ll get bored of dealing with the general public fast. Not many people stick at giving out fliers for long but you’ll meet some new people doing it and cover your expenses for a while.

32. Woofing

All over the world there are small organic farms that rely upon volunteers to come and work and learn about organic cultivation. Known as Woofing ((World Organisation of Organic Farms, we think), you can go and live in some of the most beautiful countryside in the world for free.

You’ll be made to work for your shelter and board but you’ll also learn a lot about how farming can be done without the latest chemical death pesticides. There’s a good community of fellow volunteers and now that the age of the kibbutz is practically dead, this is a good chance to get away for a while and learn something as you go.

In fact, these days Woofing involves just about any kind of voluntary work and you can end up helping out in museums, cleaning up at spas or looking after shoes at temples. Over all, quite a fun prospect.

Unless, of course, you have any religious convictions that don’t allow you to work without pay… – time aint money.

33. Punting

Punting is a job specific to Cambridge, England and also Christchurch, New Zealand. It involves taking tourists on a long, flat boat and propelling them up and down the river with a 5 metre pole – you lean on the pole against the bottom of the river and the boat moves along.

You’re also required to give a commentary and answer questions about all the historical stuff that you pass but that’s easy enough to bluff.

It’s seasonal work from April to October in Cambridge although a few firms do go year round and the pay can be good in summer with tips from drunken tourists.

Check out the story of a punter in Cambridge and ““ for more.

34. Rickshaws

The Western World is beginning to see the light and is giving licences for auto rickshaws and bicycle rickshaws in many parts now with England leading the competition. Bicycle rickshaw are three wheel affairs powered by pedaling and the customers sit behind the driver, admiring his calf muscles as he pants along.

In places like London where taxis are prohibitively expensive and the Tube shuts down at night, bicycle rickshaws are a great way to go. If you hang around outside pubs and nightclubs then you can make some serious money. Be warned though, it’s hard to make a quick getaway if any local thug decides to relieve you of your earnings.

Jobs can be got by approaching anyone who’s working on the rickshaws and asking them about how one goes about renting one.

Auto rickshaws have just been introduced to Brighton and may soon be arriving in London also. They’re also three wheeled vehicles but with a hood and powered by a scooter engine. In England they run along bus lanes but are facing aggressive physical and legal tactics from the taxis so their future is in some doubt.

Again, just approach one of the drivers and ask the score.

Or check out Rickshaws in London

35. Cleaning

Every restaurant, café, hotel or bar needs to be cleaned after hosting hundreds of customers each day. These gigs can often be cash in hand if you ask and all you need to do is be quick and efficient at cleaning up the mess that others leave behind.

The pay isn’t great but it’s a living wage and not a lot is asked of you.

36. Dishwashing

First comes the hungry customer, then the smooth waiter, then the professional cook and, at the bottom of the restaurant hierarchy comes the kitchen hand and dishwasher. There’s no lower status than this but all you’ve got to do is scrub those plates and glasses so they can be served to the next round of customers.

Again, dishwashing is often a cash in hand job which is about its only plus point and you’ll have an easier time if you work in a smaller establishment where the turnover isn’t too frenetic. Just walk in and ask to speak to the manager to get a job.

37. Mushroom Gathering

Mushrooms are one of Nature’s free gifts, arising out of the ground overnight and dying soon afterwards. If you can get there in time to gather them then you’ve got a chance of making a living.

What you’re really after are specialty mushrooms that classy restaurants buy for a few hundred bucks a kilo. Obviously, these aren’t easy to find and it can take a good deal of experience and study before you really know how to recognize the valuable fungi and where to find them.

Alternatively, you could also pick hallucinogenic mushrooms, several varieties of which grow around the world. It shouldn’t then be too hard to find some hippies to buy them. Just make sure that you know how to spot the lethally poisonous mushrooms so that you don’t wipe out any thriving freak scene.

More about mushroom gathering

38. Crewing Yachts

Yachts are typically owned by the very wealthy as they cost a fortune to buy in the first place and then maintain. Apart from posing in fashionable harbours around the world, the big deal is to hit the open ocean once in a while, either for day trips or to sail long distance.

Yachts are always in need of crew to clean the decks, tie ropes and, well, do generally boaty things. No one wants to take on a first timer though so you either need to take a sailing course before you set out or else lie through your teeth about your experience. If you’ve got a practical frame of mind you should be able to learn the ropes pretty fast.

Often there’s no pay involved and you’re expected to pay for your own board. There are options for making money though and these include looking after boats, yacht delivery or running daily excursions for tourists to see whales or local islands. For long haul journeys, cooks are also in demand.

To get jobs check out the crewing websites or just head down to a likely harbour and ask permission to come on board at the first likely yacht.

Sailing Courses and jobs

Crewing Jobs

More Crewing Work

39. Gardening

If you know your snails from your slugs and your perennials from your weeds then there are always opportunities to take care of someone’s garden. Naturally, we’re talking about people rich enough to have a garden too large to manage by themselves and they’ll expect a certain degree of competence.

If you know your gardening then you’ll recognize both gardens in need of a good deal of upkeep and those that are sadly lacking it – in either case it’s a good opportunity to offer your services. Cash in hand.

40. Deep Sea Fishing

Deep sea fishing is basically blood money. That is, you can make a fair pile of cash and probably shorten your life span in the process. Based primarily out of places like Alaska, there’s always work for itinerant travelers but it’s dangerous, exhausting and quite disgusting work for the main part.

You head out to sea for days or weeks at a time, generally with a large crew of guys who are too tired to make friends, chat or do much more than survive whilst they work long hours hauling in and separating tons of fish. You end up stinking of fish day in, day out and all you can do is count the days until you return to land.

The opportunities to injure yourself are various and, before you head out to sea, many ships make you sign a paper absolving the company of any responsibility for any accident at sea – which means if something goes wrong, you have no legal recourse whatsoever.

Still interested? There’s thousands of dollars in it…

Deep Sea Fishing Jobs

41. Care Work

In every country in the world there are old people and disabled who need care, attention or company every hour of the day. They need people to cook their meals, read to them, take them out on excursions or simply be there to help them to the bathroom and back.

You don’t need to be a nurse or have much in the way of qualifications, much more important is enthusiasm and a considerate nature. Depending on who you’re taking care of, the work can be physically and emotionally demanding but you’ll have the certainty that you made a difference to at least one person’s life.

It helps to have some character references to show prospective employers, many of whom can be found via agencies or in the classified ads. If you get the job directly then it will be cash in hand.

42. Medical Research

When the pharmaceutical mafia of the world develop a new drug for the doctors to push onto their patients, they have to pass some irritating safety tests before they make millions selling pills. That’s where guinea pig travelers like you come in!

Tests must be run for new medicine on humans to see if there are any damaging side effects. You can get paid thousands just to stay in a hospital for a week whilst they pump you full of medicine – but you might get lucky and be part of the control group taking the sugar pills.

So if you think you can put a price on your health and want to take your chances with side effects like nausea, infertility or long term organ damage, check the newspapers for medical research in your area.

Or play Russian Roulette with your health here

43. Volunteering

“Are you such a dreamer, as to put the world to rights?” (Radiohead, “Hail to the Thief”)

Seems like everyone with a Winnie the Pooh heart would like to help the children in Africa. Or perhaps you’ve just had one too many stoned conversations about saving the world and you’ve finally decided to do something about it. Is volunteering for you?

Possibly. But like any other realm of human affairs, the world of volunteering is also corrupt, incompetent and riddled with politics. It might be that you work for 6 month and make absolutely no difference at all or even make things worse. There are many who believe that aid efforts in places like Africa have only encourage a cycle of dependency that has set the country and economy back decades.

You could always volunteer closer to home though, unless you heart is set on them African kids.

Check out the Roadjunky Volunteering Abroad Guide for more.

44. Building Sites

Buildings go up, buildings come down and until we invent robots to do it for us, there will be a constant need for hardy types to lay bricks, erect scaffolding, mix cement and put up fences.

You need to be tough, fairly strong and able to work long hours without tiring much. You also need to be easy to get on with as tempers fray quickly on construction sites. It’s honest work though and the pay can be good in developed countries and is often cash in hand. Just walk onto any construction site and ask to see the foreman.