Open-ended working trips known as “working holidays” are starting to catch on in the U.S. Here are the basics.
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 international friends, 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. InterExchange currently only offers work and travel programs to Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.
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. There is no age cap in Ireland and South Korea, but applicants must be students or recent students. Singapore requires that you’re 18-25 and a student at a top-200-ranking university. Furthermore, 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, finding short-term work is not difficult. 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 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. Housing is often included in some job industries such as agriculture, au pairing, and sometimes hospitality.
Can I find professional jobs related to my career?
It’s possible depending on your career path, but generally, on a working holiday, the easiest jobs to find will be seasonal and won’t require much previous experience. This means almost anyone meeting the basic criteria can participate! 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 proactive, you may land something related to your career. If not, you’ll still be developing invaluable intercultural and international workforce skills that employers love to see.
Can I travel with friends?
Working holidays are ideal for those traveling with a friend or partner since you can plan where and when you travel and work together. Since so many solo travelers participate in working holidays, it’s not difficult to make new friends. We recommend signing up for group activities like surfing or diving courses early in your program, which can help you make new connections!