Working holidays have been popular around the world for a long time, but may be an unfamiliar concept to many young Americans. If you’ve dreamed of living and working in another country - like Canada, Australia, New Zealand, or Ireland - and designing your own unique travel abroad experience, a Work and Travel program may be a great fit for you! The great thing about this program is its freestyle nature, allowing you to work and live where you please!
Work and Travel programs are an exciting opportunity to truly experience another culture firsthand, but there are a few factors you should consider before taking the plunge. Below are some questions you should ask yourself before you book that one-way ticket:
Can I be flexible and "go with the flow"?
I go where the current takes me. You will be perfect for a working holiday, as long as you can remain diligent in finding job opportunities. Job leads could come from our partner organization, word of mouth, the internet, or job boards around town, and the variety is half the fun!
No, I like more predictability in my daily routine. Work might vary from day to day, and you should be ready to work on a day's notice in some cases; the process can be similar to working temp or freelance jobs here in the U.S. Some participants love tackling something new every few days or weeks, but if you’re not ready to be flexible, then this program probably isn’t the best fit for you.
Am I open minded about the type of work I do?
Sure, as long as I get a paycheck! Fantastic! You could be selling fries at a sporting event one day, catering for a party the next, and temping in an office, all in the same week (as long as you are proactive in your job search)! If you’re looking for more stability, on the other hand, there are lots of hospitality, agriculture and travel/tourism jobs that are a bit more long-term.
Nope. If you have a very specific type of job in mind we encourage you to pursue it, but it will probably be more difficult to find work right away: the easiest jobs to find are short term and low skill. Since your visa only lasts one year (though you do have the potential for a second year), you might have some difficulty finding more career-specific work.
Am I comfortable putting myself out there?
Yes! This program is perfect for you! While you will have support from our partners, including job leads, resume review, and other advising, it is up to you to apply for and obtain your own employment. Finding jobs on your own allows you the freedom to live and work where you please. Making friends (and finding travel buddies and roomies!) will certainly be important to most participants and getting out of your comfort zone is essential to connecting with new friends.
No. You can use our partner's job services (you will still have to apply on your own), but this should be a skill you try to develop early on if you decide to take on this challenge. If you are hesitant about sending out your resume, you will likely find many gaps in your employment, thus a low cash flow. You should also be open to attending events organized by our partner - they're a great way to meet your fellow explorers!
Am I flexible with living arrangements?
Yes, I love hanging out after work! - Great! You can choose your own living arrangements, but living with roommates or in a shared house is a fantastic way to save money. You can rent by the week or month, so you're not tied down to anything long-term! Most people make friends during their couple of months through jobs or traveling, and often find roommates that way. Often participants stay in a dorm-style room at a hostel, at least a few nights (also a great way to meet people!). Some InterExchange Work & Travel programs include hostel accommodation while you settle in. Need advice on where to stay? Check out our accommodation suggestions and tips.
No, I need my own private space. - Just keep in mind that single occupant accommodations can be expensive. Plus, shared living spaces can be a great way to meet new people during your Working Holiday Visa program!
Do I have at least a few months available to live and work abroad?
As long as possible - I’m ready for a change! Pack your bags! For programs in Australia and New Zealand we suggest allowing at least six months to work and travel. Each country allows for one year on a Working Holiday Visa (with the option to extend another year in Australia, in some cases), so we recommend using as much of the year as you can. You can only get the visa once! In Canada and Ireland you can organize a shorter program - just over the summer, for example - but you still have the option to stay for as long as a full year!
No, I need to be back for my brother’s wife’s niece’s wedding next month. You might want to hold off and do this program when you have a little more time.
If this all sounds good, but you'd like some guidance to move things forward, we've got your back. InterExchange offers Work & Travel programs in each of the aforementioned countries, including job search guidance, social activities, logistical support, and in most cases, accommodation for your first few nights after arrival. Contact us or start exploring today!
Melissa worked with InterExchange between 2016 and 2019, helping U.S. citizens planning to travel abroad. She traveled to Spain and Ghana before moving to Japan for three years. She now lives in the almost-foreign country of New York City.