Staying On The Road By Working

Unless we’re traveling on a lottery ticket, we all run out of money eventually if we’re traveling with our savings. It’s a horrible feeling knowing when our bank account is starting to run low. The first thing that comes to mind is having to go home but if you’re not ready to go home yet, there are options for you to stay on the road. They might not be career path type jobs but they will definitely keep you on the road longer and you’ll build a whole new set of skills you never would have thought of learning.

Work at a hostel

Rarely will a hostel actually pay you but they will offer free accommodation and sometimes food, drinks, and tours. It’s a great way to live in a city and spend very little. In South America, you can just show up to any hostel to volunteer. It’s very popular in South America. Australia, Europe, New Zealand, and other developed countries might require a working visa but they actually pay.

The Prince of Wales Hostel/Bar
The Prince of Wales Hostel/Bar by sebr, on Flickr

Before working at a hostel, stay for a few days and make sure you’re comfortable with the environment and city you’re in. Also depends what kind of environment you want. South America has small guesthouses to major party hostels. I worked at Loki in Mancora for a month which was a huge party hostel. That’s what I wanted so for the next month, I was killing many brain cells. It was conveniently located right on the beach and had a fantastic pool.

Teach English abroad

We’ve covered it extensively on Art of Backpacking. If you’re from an English speaking country, you’re qualified. This is especially great when you want to stay somewhere for close to a year and have a real local experience. When I taught in Xi’an, China, I was one of the 7 foreigners in the entire area. I was 30 minutes from downtown so there was nothing but local foods, entertainment, and students. It helped me learn Chinese as well since there wasn’t that many foreigners around. The students often teach me about their culture, family, and foods. Check out our ESL category for articles on this subject.



Not hostel volunteering but volunteering to help towards a greater cause. I volunteered in Buenos Aires for 4 months at L.I.F.E. They can provide cheap housing and a great way to experience culture and learn the local language. It improved my Spanish tremendously since I worked exclusively with children. I eventually became a leader for one of the areas and became very involved with the organization. It even accidentally took me back to my roots. Check out The Underground Guide to International Volunteering eBook by NerdyNomad to get started on volunteering around the world.

Work at a bar

In South America and Asia, they don’t pay much if at all but they do offer you free party, drinks, and popularity at the bar. I found it to be very popular in Australia among travelers though and they pay well. Many of the employees at the bars were getting around $20 an hour. You do need to get a RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol) license in order to work at a licensed bar in Australia though. Try asking hostels for bar work or local town bars.

Other options

  • Find work on a sail boat. Great way to travel slow and get to your next destination.
  • Australia and New Zealand has loads of opportunities for travelers. Restaurants, cafe’s, sport activities, and office work.

What have you done on the road to keep you traveling?


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