Have you ever been surfing through some of your friends photos on social media – photos with the most amazing views from all these different corners of the world – and wondering: how are they actually making it? Their profiles don’ t show any stable job, and, as far you know, they don’t sit in the office for the sake of a 2 week vacation once a year. And still: the world remains open for them and they seem to remain open for the world.
Have you ever been even jealous of these people?
Yes, you probably should. But behind these wanderings there are some underwater rocks as well. Obviously the money doesn’t fall from the sky, and also these people, with their amazing travel photos and stories, have their ways, how they fund their travels. And one of the ways is by making money while traveling.
In this article series we will talk about the most popular ways of earning money while traveling. And we will start with seasonal jobs. The article you are about to read now is a compilation of tips from experienced Latvian travelers – wanderers, who have been doing seasonal jobs for years. So let’s get started!
1. Winter Season Jobs in Europe (in the Alps)
This is considered as probably one of the most popular ways to fill up your wallet, while being on the road. Your year is divided in 2 parts: winter season (December – April), when you work hard (ski hard and party hard as well), and the rest of the time (May – November), when you can spend your hard-earned bucks on traveling to your favorite destinations.
If you are clever and careful enough with money, you can even go throughout the year with your winter season income and without a need to refill your wallet.
Typical positions: waiter, bartender, kitchen staff, cleaning, ski service and ski or snowboard instructor (if you have a licence).
Typical destinations: Zermatt, Chamonix, Sölden, Sankt Anton, Lech
NB: If you have had a good winter season, it is possible to do the summer season as well. Some hotels open for the summer time (mid June – mid September), but the summer season in Alps is very calm, quite rainy, and might be a bit boring.
How? Where? When?
- Start to research about the job options early enough. The best time to apply is September and October. By the end of November most of the places are already filled up and you will have to reconcile with the leftovers and the least tempting positions, like dishwasher, cleaner or night guard.
- Great advantage is if you have some useful skills, like the language (French in French or Swiss Alps, German in Austrian Alps, but generally English is widely accepted), and some customer service skills (have you ever been a waiter or bartender before?).
- Research the destination and the job offers online. Normally it is enough to send a CV and cover letter (if possible, in the language of the destined place), and wait for an answer. Next step usually is a Skype interview, and voilà : you have got the job!
Guna, seasonal worker for 8 years:
In the first year when I looked for the job I sent my CV to about 80 hotels. They are mostly looking for people with experience. When I changed the resorts I had to send just one or two CV and I had a job straight away. The job I do now I found by just walking in and asking if they need someone. I had a luck because it was mid January.
- Great, if you love skiing or snowboarding. This job can turn your life into a secret paradise. The ski pass for chairlifts is greatly discounted for seasonal workers and you can ski every minute of your free time.
- in Austrian Alps the accommodation and food normally is free of charge and provided by your employer. Which means – if you don`t party all your money away – pretty much all of your income lands straight into your travel pocket.
- new friends, amazing views, love stories, exciting lifestyle… winter seasons are seriously addictive! If you have tried it once, most likely you will keep coming back every season again and again.
- You work either hard, very hard or extremely hard 6 days a week, 9 and more hours per day (or night). Sometimes, especially in the high season (Christmas) you work 3 weeks in a row without a day off. The job can be extremely tiring and sometimes you feel simply too exhausted to get out of the bed in the only free day you have.
- You don`t have such thing as Christmas, New Years eve, Easter holidays or any other public holidays. In fact, these are the days, when you work the hardest.
- As always and everywhere: you deal with the most different range of people. Sometimes your bosses can be unpredictable and difficult. Some hotels hire a great amount of people for the high season (Christmas time) and fire them straight after. And if you are a beginner, you might be the one in the French roulette game, who will drop out first by the end of the season, when the hotel will get emptier, and there will be less job to do.
Special tip from Guna, experienced ski seasoner:
When you look for a place to work research the place first, look at their home page, look what the TripAdvisor says about that place. Make sure if they secure you with a place to live. Don’t mix the gross and net salary. Pay attention to where the hotel is located – there are some high in the mountains where it’s hard to get down for shopping or anything else you might need. Have contract signed.
If you’re sending your CV – make it short and simple. But it’s better to come here and look for a job by walking in hotels and asking (first check out on the internet if they are looking for someone, though).
In your free time do something that makes you happy because it’s not only about work and sleep and you can’t pause your life for six months just because of the work.
Take care of your health. Don’t let the guests stress you out, take everything easy.
Save some money, don’t spend it all partying :)
2. Grape Picking in France, Switzerland or Italy
The summer is slowly turning to the end, you have traveled and partied hard, and feel a little bit confused, because the money is running like the beach sand through the fingers and you have no idea, what’ s next.
If you happen to be in Southern France, Italy, or Switzerland, and have at least 2 weeks of time and no certain plans, here we have a job option for you: lets pick some grapes. The season is quite short, the money is very quick, people are really great and the wine tastes heavenly.
The salary for grape picking is the minimum salary of France, which now is 9.61 EUR per hour. Taking off the expenses for housing and food, the approximate pay in a day is about 55 – 60 EUR.
Typical destinations: Champagne – Ardenne, Epernay, Reims, Aquitaine, Burgundy, Pie Monte, Chianti-Net.
How? Where? When?
- The season might vary between mid August till mid October, but if you want to be prepared, start to look for the jobs already in July.
- Good, if you have some basic French skills, although the most important thing in this job is your physical fitness.
- Be flexible about the weather conditions. Also pay attention to the offered living conditions (some places offer a room, some only a place to pitch your tent).
- If you want to work the full length of the season, be ready to switch the location and the farm at least one time. Usually the farms employ season workers for no longer than one month.
Liene, an experienced seasonal grape picker:
First time I had a travel buddy who had a contact, so I went with him.
Usually in the village, which is famous for vendangeurs (grape collectors in French), there is a grape collecting job office. So this is where I went couple of times after that first year to get a job, but mostly I get my contacts trough friends, or I have my own favorite places where I return to every year.
French job search websites is an option, too, though in the last years the responses are very rare… So, I would suggest to find someone who has done it and ask to share at least one contact.
- Very quick solution for an empty wallet.
- The job is a great opportunity to meet like-minded people from all over the world, create useful contacts and sometimes even to find buddies for your future travel plans.
- Food and in most cases also the accommodation is provided by the employer (it’s not for free, though; money is deducted from your salary).
- There is a never ending stream of wine, flowing into your mouth, your gut, your veins, your system. If you are a wine lover (or an alcoholic), you have a chance to be in a slight buzz all the day during your working hours. In most cases it helps to get through the day.
- The job is physically very hard (8 hours of being in half bent position, lifting up heavy buckets full of grape). Be ready to experience intense back pain, also hangover, if you are passionate wine and party lover.
- Weather conditions. Usually there are 2 extremes: either very hot (+30 C and more), or rainy and humid. In both of the scenarios the job is very hard. If it rains, the downside is being in the muddy fields, when everything is wet and it’s cold, although the rainproof gear is provided.
- As always: at the beginning you never know, where are you landing at. Some places offer excellent accommodation and food, some: rooms like prison cells, or worse case just a place to pitch your tent, and canned food. If you are lucky to find a great employer, give us their contacts ;) These places should be written in a special list.
Special tip from Liene, experienced seasonal grape picker:
Be ready to work hard and party even harder!
3. Diving or Surf Instructor Jobs in Portugal, Thailand, Egypt or Australia
This is probably a dream job of all the adventure seakers. Turquoise waters, snow white sand beaches, blue sky and fresh mohitos, served by chocolate brown waiters with a lovely accent. Sounds almost like a vacation. And partly it is, if you turn your passion into your source of income or at least, a way to survive. A lot of ski seasoners turn into surf or dive seasoners in the summer time.
Normally surf or diving instructors get 20% commission of the total income per group.
Typical positions: surf or diving instructor, waitress, bartender.
Typical destinations (surfing): There are thousands of tempting spots all around the planet, but in Europe try Algarve and Faro in Portugal, Les Cavaliers and Anglet in France.
Typical destinations (Scuba Diving): Ko Thao in Thailand, Bali in Indonesia, Sharm-El-Sheikh, Dahab in Egypt.
How? Where? When?
- For serious athletes surf season can last all year long, but the tourist season in Europe is between May and September. The diving season applies to the countries season (try to avoid the rain season). In Thailand it will be winter (November-April), but in the neighboring Indonesia the season is May-September.
- You need the necessary certification to be able to do this job. So you can do the first season as a waiter and parallel to this get your certification to be able to get a different job afterwards.
- Please notice, that this job will not turn you into a millionaire. In fact often it will barely cover your living expenses on the spot, but at least you will be doing something your heart desires. The market is quite full, and a lot of surf and diving schools are aware of that. Sometimes just to get the approval and invitation to teach might take a while.
- If you are an experienced and skilled instructor, you can freelance between the diving or surfing schools, and in this case you can also choose, who to teach (Russian clientele are the most rewarding), and in this case the job can be very well paid.
Horens, an experienced diving instructor:
I had 50 dollars in my pocket, when I came to Egypt. I was thrown in totally different culture, climate and ambience, but I had my diving equipment with me. The secret key to all the success in this field is your language skills and your willingness and talent to communicate with people. Very soon I got to know all the necessary people and became a freelance diving instructor. So I could choose myself, who to dive together with.
- Very colorful, free lifestyle. You usually teach from 12-5 PM up to 2 groups per day, plus the kit maintenance, but the job is not tiring.
- You really have the opportunity to do the job you really like.
- If you have savings, you can skip winter completely and surf between time and climate zones form season to season.
- As mentioned: the job is not very rewarding. It is recommended to have at least another side job to feel free to move around afterwards.
– If you can not afford to rent an apartment, normally the diving school will provide you with a hostel bed. If you are flexible enough, this can be a good option for you, but forget about piece and silence, if needed. Take a walk along the beach when you want some peace.
- The job requires a lot of communication, and you must understand, that clients are very different. The stress level varies 1-10, because you are diving or surfing is some of the most beautiful waters of the planet, but meanwhile 10 people’s lives depends on you at the same time.
- Be ready to stand in 45 C degrees heat, fully equipped and wait for your group to get ready. Meanwhile be also ready, that being for an hour even in 27 C degrees warm water can cause body cooling.
Special tip from Horens, diving instructor for 6 years:
To understand the dynamics of this job, first of all you must level down your ego. You must feel the desire to help and serve others, because this is your job at the first place. Be calm, before you get the solution in an extreme situation. Under water everything feels like in a slow motion movie. So learn to calm down, breath slow and take the right decisions.
Photos used in this article have been provided by Gundega, Liene and Horens.
Author: Gundega Liepina
Gundega is a passionate traveler and adventure seeker, who likes to learn more about different lifestyles. In the last decade up until 2017 she has lived in 8 and traveled to more than 40 countries. She is also a self-taught circus performer, hula hoop dancer and fire performer. If you want to get in touch with Gundega or maybe you want her to perform at your event or party – contact her on Facebook – Gundega Liepina.