Work your way around the world

Itchy feet, empty wallet? Get paid as you go with our 10 work and travel options


Gaeilge is great but if you want to teach your way around the world, English is your biggest asset. An estimated two billion people are currently studying it – making a TEFL qualification your unrivalled passport to travel.

The most recognised qualification is the Cambridge CELTA. A four-week course at International House Dublin ( costs €1,495 or do an online TEFL course for €219 with i to i (, which can help sort you out for teaching posts too.

Demand is highest in Asia and the Middle East. In China, expect a monthly salary of around €1,300, which will go a lot further than the equivalent here.

We’ve all seen them, shepherding their charges on to buses at airports, organising welcome drinks by the pool and guiding sunburn victims to the local medical centre. Welcome to the world of the holiday rep.

Every year travel companies recruit thousands of them. Contact Irish holiday companies directly or fly to the UK for interview rounds that take place in January for the following season.

That said, there are still opportunities for summer 2013. TUI Travel is offering a “competitive salary” for football coaches, entertainment staff and kids club staff. According to Prospects, the UK’s graduate careers site, starting salaries for holiday reps are around £500 (around €600) a month, with flights and accommodation provided.

Believe it or not, people actually pay good money to go on fruit-picking holidays. You can laugh about it as you pick up your pay cheque for your day’s labour. It won’t be much but it will be enough to keep body and soul together while you enjoy those faraway fields, vineyards and orchards.

In France alone an extra 100,000 are required from mid-September to mid-August alone to get the grapes in.

If you feel like going very far afield, check out Harvest Trail, the Australian government’s online service which displays the pick of the crop from Berri to Darwin. You’ll be paid by weight but it should work out at between AUS$10 to AUS$20 an hour. In the UK expect the minimum hourly wage (£6.22) but the more you pick the more you get.

Not sure quite how this has happened but such is the appeal of organic produce for some people that people will work for you for free if you grow it. Known as Wwoof-ers (Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms) it means you work and they, the organic farmer, give you bed and board.

Farmer may be a misnomer. Jobs can be anything from commercial operations to kitchen gardens, but the big appeal is that you get to knit right in to a local community and, presumably, have great conversations about the evils of chemicals around the table at night.

Work should be four to six hours a day, in return for a full day’s food and accommodation and, while you won’t come away with hard cash, choose wisely and you should come home with a new skill. It’s possible to travel en famille too – some farms welcome children – but good luck selling that one to the kids.
SEE ALSO:, and

If you’re one of thousands of Irish people that travel to one of thousands of French campsites each summer, you’ll know who they are. They are the camping company’s eyes and ears, whizzing round on bicycles and golf buggies, taking deposits, giving keys and, damn their eyes, refusing to give your deposit back because you didn’t clean the fridge properly.

They’re not all students either. Companies such as Canvas, Eurocamp and Keycamp employ mature people too so, if you’re newly retired, or simply out of work, swapping the rain for sunnier climes and lengthy siestas is not a bad way to spend a summer – especially as couples are often employed together. Wages, at around £600 a month for a campsite courier, will just about keep you in sangria, given that accommodation is included.

Are you a man aged between 40 and 68? Are you single, in good health and, crucially, able to dance? If so, there’s a cruise ship out there with your name on it. Well, okay, it probably has a different name on it but if it’s run by Silverseas, Cunard or Majestic America, chances are they’ll let you travel for free.

Thanks to the cruelty of life and a shortage of men of a certain age, women of a certain age who go on cruises are crying out for male company, or at least, someone to dance with. Enter the Gentleman Host Programme, run by Compass, a US speakers and entertainment company.

If you meet its criteria, you can expect free travel around the world, including flights to cruise ships, cabin accommodation on board, meals, shore excursions and, very often, a gratuities allowance from the cruise line. And of course you get to travel the world, for free. Beats a bus pass.

Alternatively, if you are skilled at anything from aeronatics to zoology, come aboard as part of a ship’s “guest enrichment programe”. For the price of a brief lecture series, you too can travel for free, and sometimes bring a companion along for the ride.

Of course, you could always simply get a regular job on a cruise. All sorts of openings are available, from pot wash to lifeguards, with basic rates of pay running from $350 to $500 a week, not including those all important tips and, again, no accommodation costs.

Tour guiding is a great way to travel and get paid for it, as long as you are able to cope with endless questioning by that guy at the back determined to make you look dim.

Jobs vary from freelance tour directors who travel with a group and make all the logistical arrangements, to guides who simply turn up at the hotel in the morning and take a group off for a guided walk.

Pay rates vary but according to the US’s International Tour Management Institute – which offers a two-week training programme plus graduate placement programme – a US guide can expect to earn between $150 and $250 a day, including gratuities and commission. In Ireland, according to, which provides information about courses here, tour guides get €135-plus a day.

Contiki, the tour group company for 18 to 35 year olds is currently advertising a number of tour guide positions on its website, for summer 2014. Alternatively, UK walking specialist HF Holidays regularly seeks people to guide its treks around Europe, offering free travel, board and a modest stipend.

For generations of youngsters, au pairing has provided an introduction to the world of paid work, travel and talking “foreign”. Au pairs typically work 30 hours a week, over five days, with two days off. For that they receive pay of between €60 and €100 a week, more if you’re willing to babysit at night, plus bed and board.

If you’re a little old to au pair take the more professional option and get qualified as a nanny. UK agency Royal Nannies, offers overseas jobs with salaries depending on qualifications of between £500 and £1,000 a week net.

Short-term opportunities can arise too. The Hynes Agency in Dublin has overseas postings including, currently, a nanny for a month in Italy this summer.

If you know your knots and have been honing your sailing skills since you were a slip on the slipway, it is eminently possible to monetise those skills while travelling. Specialist sailing company Sunsail regularly recruits people to work on its flotilla holidays. These run from its bases in Greece, Turkey, Croatia, St Vincent, The Bahamas and British Virgin Islands.

Alternatively, if you have the qualifications, it looks for skippers throughout the year for its yacht charter bases which are spread around the world.

If simply being on board and out in the ocean is payment enough for you, check out Crewseekers International, which provides experienced sailors opportunities to bring boats all across the globe for their owners, who in some cases, will pay your airfares too.

Depending on your skill set, working with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) or charity offers an opportunity to travel to far-flung places and do some good at the same time.

At the time of writing, Concern Worldwide has jobs posted on its website for programme coordinators in countries such as Chad, Haiti and Sierre Leone, with rates of pay of between €32,000 and €40,000. And with work like this, one can only presume the job satisfaction rates are off the scale.

Alternatively, sign up with Voluntary Service Overseas, for a range of development project work for which you’ll receive free flights, accommodation and a living allowance to cover daily expenses, with assignments that can last up to two years.