What is a Working Holiday?

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Open ended working trips known as “working holidays” are starting to catch on in the U.S. Here are the basics.

Explore the open road with a working holiday visa.
Explore the open road with a working holiday visa.
Image courtesy of Work & Travel Company

An open ended adventure

A Working Holiday allows someone to visit a country for longer than the average tourist with the opportunity to take on short-term jobs to save money or at least help fund the trip. Many people seek short-term jobs in multiple regions as a way to explore that country in-depth. In some cases a working holiday also refers to the specific type of visa needed to embark on this style of trip. The idea is to have an adventure, make friends from around the world, and try new things!

Where can I go?

U.S. citizens can travel on a working holiday in Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, Singapore, and South Korea.

What are the requirements?

Each country has specific requirements but generally the minimum age is 18.

Australia and New Zealand each have an upper age limit of 30, whereas Canada’s is 35. There is no student status requirement. In Ireland and South Korea, there is no age cap but applicants must be students or recent students. Singapore requires that you’re 18-25 and a student at a top-200 ranking university. Further to this, U.S. citizens traveling to Canada must work with a Recognized Organization.

How do I find work and housing?

You’ll find lots of seasonal jobs! Common ones include waitstaff, fruit picking, hotel or resort jobs, office temp work, and cleaning. With a good attitude and some flexibility, it’s not difficult to find short-term work. Many providers offer job listings, connections with employers, one-on-one consultation regarding the job search, resume review, and related services.

As for housing, agencies like InterExchange have accommodation included or available upon arrival for a set length of time to help travelers with the transition upon arrival. Beyond that many travelers like to share apartments, or if traveling, perhaps rent a camper van or go camping occasionally. In some job industries such as agriculture, au pairing and sometimes hospitality, housing is often included.

It’s possible, but generally on a working holiday the easiest jobs to find are going to be seasonal and won’t require much previous experience. This means almost anyone meeting the basic criteria can participate! That being said if you have a field of interest, at the very least you should consider site visits, informational calls, and perhaps volunteering to pick up experience. Meanwhile you can work seasonal jobs to have some income. If you’re pro-active you may just land something related to your career. If not, you’ll still be developing invaluable intercultural and international workforce skills that employers love to see.

A participant explores the salt flats of Australia.
A participant explores the salt flats of Australia.
Image courtesy of Work & Travel Company

Can I travel with friends?

For those traveling with a friend or partner, working holidays are ideal since you can plan together where and when you travel and work. Since there are so many solo travelers doing working holidays it’s not difficult to make new friends. We recommend signing up for group activities like surf or diving courses early in your program, which can help you make new connections!

U.S. Department of State-Designated J-1 Visa Sponsor
Alliance for International Exchange
Exclusive partner of the Erasmus Student Network for J-1 Visa sponsorship of internships in the U.S.
European-American Chamber of Commerce New York
Generation Study Abroad
Global Ties U.S.
International Au Pair Association
WYSE Travel Confederation