I’ve been working and travelling outside of New Zealand for over 11 years in all sorts of different ways. I’ve had the traditional travel jobs, jobs like the ones I’ve had at home, as well as jobs that fall in between!
I often get questioned about how to travel and work, find jobs for expats or how to find work overseas.
The idea of being a digital nomad has hugely exploded since I began travelling and working abroad. Back when I first left home, it wasn’t really a thing so I had to find a job wherever I went. While travelling while working is more acceptable and easier now, it’s also worth considering a more permanent or long-term (slow travel, if you like that term!) way of travelling and working abroad.
Having a job in one place allows you to really get to experience another culture and travel to lots of places nearby. Some of the jobs below work for digital nomads, and others are more settled jobs.
Whatever you do, working and living abroad is an amazing journey!
There’s more than one way to satisfy your dream of travelling the world. From my own experience, the worst thing about travel is that it ends too soon!
This list of the best jobs for expats and digital nomads will help you afford to travel the world for longer or help you settle in your new country.
So here’s my take on how to not only get an expat job but also pick one that will help you to continue to travel the world.
If you want to work and travel the world, or you want to find a way to make travel your priority with a dose of work on the side, then this is the list for you.
Usually, teaching English is the first suggestion mentioned when discussing the best jobs for expats and ways to work abroad. Teaching English can be done in countries all over the world and has always been popular.
Teaching English used to be one of the ultimate ways to live and work abroad. It’s definitely still a path worth pursuing, but as well as in classroom programs, there are now companies that facilitate teaching English online, like VIPKid and Kooli.
The thing is, there are so many ways that you can teach English abroad that it’s hard to know where to start.
Firstly, consider whether you want to teach in-person or online. There are positives and negatives to both! In-person can be more reliable and better paid, but if you do it right, then online can give you a lot more flexibility.
You’ll also need to take note of the qualifications needed for each place or company online.
If you want to teach English in Asia, then some places like South Korea, Japan or China can pay well, and many programs also include free flights and bonuses if you finish the program.
It’s worth noting that the above countries normally require a university degree of some sort.
Other countries like Thailand or Vietnam might not pay so well, but you may not need as many qualifications.
Teaching English in Europe is much more difficult if you don’t have an EU passport as well as being required to have various teaching certificates.
You’re better off trying your luck in Eastern Europe, where you won’t necessarily need to be a qualified teacher, but you can often do a course with a school that will then help you get a job.
Although you don’t always need to be a native English speaker to teach English, you do need to have a fluent level.
Also, there are teaching jobs abroad for other languages too. I worked as an English Language Assistant in Spain, but the program I was doing (Auxiliares de Conversacion) is open to French and German speakers too.
Becoming an Au Pair or Nanny is another common position people consider when thinking about the best jobs for expats, plus it’s a great way to get an insight into family life abroad.
You can apply to be an Au Pair through agencies that will place you with a family, or you can look on forums and search for work yourself.
As far as visas go, you will need to assess each country to see whether you need to get a visa. Often there are particular visas for au pairs, or you can do this job under a working holiday visa.
Check out The Broke Backpackers guide on how to travel the world as an au pair.
Freelancer who travels
When I originally wrote this post it made sense to have this as a separate category, since it wasn’t as common. Now being a digital nomad is so popular and much more understood! I’ve kept this here to explain a bit more about how it works for those not in the know.
This category covers all sorts of freelancing jobs which allow you to travel the world while working.
You can often find companies now who are willing to allow you to live wherever as long as you do the work for them. This means you can travel wherever you like and do the work. Working from “home” is way easier now, but you can essentially travel and do it too!
On the other hand, websites like Upwork and Guru, amongst many others, have made finding and applying for freelancing jobs much easier.
You could work as a Virtual Assistant (VA), as a translator, play a part in various web projects like web design or social media, as a designer or travel writer or basically anything; the possibilities are endless!
Many people are now also becoming freelancers running their own businesses, with travel blogs running rampant over the internet and jobs as “influencers” on Instagram or Youtube allowing people to make an income from anywhere in the world.
There are so many ways to make money on the road now!
As a note, while freelancing websites have made finding a job that lets you travel the world and work from anywhere easier, many of them pay obscenely low rates. You need a lot of hustle to become a freelancer, and make sure not to sell yourself short!
Working Holiday Visa
You don’t have to have a travel job to travel and live overseas. If you’re under 30 (or sometimes under 35), then I’d urge you to take advantage of all the Working Holiday Visas that you can!
Different countries have different agreements, so you’ll need to see what you’re eligible for.
As a New Zealander, I was able to work in most European countries before I turned 30 (seems like a long time ago now!), and I know a ton of people or have been to New Zealand and Australia on working holiday visas.
If you get a Working Holiday Visa, then the doors are opened for you to work in any kind of job in that country. This is a great way to experience the country before you might choose to become an expat.
I worked in Scotland in a normal office job I could have had at home and then used my spare time and holidays to travel. This gave me a great base and life in Scotland while enjoying the travel life too.
I know others who have worked to gain international experience while in the UK as a teacher or in marketing.
Working abroad as an expat doesn’t mean you need a travel-related job. It can be a great way to gain experience to further your chosen career.
If you want to build your career with some overseas experience, or you’re willing to take whatever job you can get somewhere, then a Working Holiday Visa might be for you.
Instructor Jobs Abroad
Becoming a Diving Instructor had to feature on this list of best jobs for expats and is a dream for a lot of people.
Being able to do something you love every day and be paid for it is why so many people are looking for a job abroad or a way to travel and work.
I instantly fell in love with diving, and it’s not hard to see why people want to become a scuba dive instructor, especially when they can work all over the world.
In contrast, snow seasons present another great opportunity for a dream travel job. If hitting the slopes is your thing, you could look to upskill as a ski or snowboarding instructor following the winter around the world.
Seasonal Jobs Abroad
In some countries, you can get short-term seasonal work that can help you to work and travel.
Do keep in mind that you may need to have some kind of visa; for example, if you work in Australia as a fruit picker, you’ll likely need to be on a Student Visa or a Working Holiday Visa.
Camp America, or summer camps elsewhere, are a great option if you want to spend a summer abroad. There are even options to work as part of a travelling circus!
Winter and snow season are also the perfect time to secure a great travel job. If you don’t think your skills are up to scratch to be an instructor, there are all sorts of other snow-related travel jobs available.
Some of these jobs include: working the lifts, bartending, serving in restaurants or even housekeeping or cooking in hotels on the mountain or in the ski villages.
If chasing summer is more your style and you love festivals, then you might be able to become a Festival Worker.
Festivals always need people for setting things up, security, working at various stalls etc. You’ll need to check out each Festival to see what their requirements are. If it’s one that travels, you might be able to travel with it too! Living the dream.
All of these jobs are the perfect way to trial a country or an area before you make that leap and move there permanently, and so has its rightful place as one of the best jobs for expats.
If you want to travel the world for cheaper, then a series of work exchange positions can help you do it.
You do need to consider visas because some countries like the UK say you shouldn’t do any kind of work, even work in exchange for accommodation or volunteer work, but many countries do allow this.
While you won’t receive any money in exchange for your work, you will usually receive free accommodation and some or all of your food.
HelpX and Workaway are the main two websites that people use for work exchanges, and you can read plenty of blogs about work exchange experiences abroad that should inspire you to give it a go!
I loved my work exchange in Spain because it allowed me to try out Spanish country life and meet some other awesome travellers.
I used HelpX because I like the interface, and it had been recommended to me by friends.
Work can range from specialist tasks like building to more basic things like gardening, cleaning and cooking.
Visit any hostel around the world, and you’ll likely run into a hostel worker who isn’t from that country or place. Working in hostels is a great way to help finance travel around the world.
Sometimes you can do it as a work exchange (see above), but there are also jobs in hostels that pay.
If you love the backpacker lifestyle, then travelling the world working in hostels is for you!
This job has to feature on any best jobs for expats list as it can be both a real introduction to an area as well as a great way to meet new friends.
If you want to work abroad for a cause, then consider working with an NGO, humanitarian organisation, or the Peace Corps. The kind of work you do can largely depend on your experience.
Emily shares some awesome information on her blog about what it’s like to serve in the Peace Corps.
I would caution against “voluntourism”, which is when you pay to volunteer somewhere. This can do more harm than good to the community that you want to help.
In particular, paying to work in an orphanage could create a scenario where it is more profitable to house volunteers than it would be to rehome the orphans people are paying to come and help.
Cruise/Yacht Ship Worker
Life at sea isn’t for everyone, but working on a cruise ship might be your ticket to a travel job.
It can be long hours, but you get to travel relatively in style. The camaraderie among the crew can be great fun, and you will have at least some free time to check out the sights. Plus I’ve heard rumours about the parties…
On a smaller scale, you can work abroad on yachts, travelling through all sorts of different places, but commonly in the Mediterranean.
There are different levels of positions, from Captain to steward, and all sorts of different size yachts you can work on. It’s a great way to spend at least a summer of travel!
Companies like Busabout, TravelTalk or Contiki always need tour guides to lead groups all over the world and therefore deserve their place as one of the best jobs for expats.
If you love showing people around and are comfortable being “on” most (all!) of the time, and can think on your feet to deal with any issues, then being a tour guide could be a great travel job.
Smaller companies may be easier to break into, especially while you find your feet.
If you don’t want to work for someone else, you could set up your tours of a place you know well.
If you’re an expat somewhere and you see a gap in the market for walking tours, food tours, haunted tours, etc, then set up your own travel job!
Working as a flight attendant often means long hours and short stopovers.
However, on my travels, I’ve met a few flight attendants who really made the most of the time they had in each country they went to.
It must be tiring, but visiting countries all over the world and getting to travel so much would be worth it!
The benefit of this role means there can be the potential to move around as and when staff are required in different places. Ideal!
So there you have it, a list of the best jobs for expats that are your ticket to travelling the world.
There are so many ways to travel and work abroad that there is something for everyone out there; you just need to find it.
Wondering how to find these jobs? Check out these awesome places to find travel jobs to start with.
Being an expat and working abroad has been the best thing I’ve ever done. Here’s to many more years of it!
Thinking of moving abroad and becoming an expat?
- Saving to make the big move? This will help How to Save Money to Move Abroad (And How Much You Need)
- Who knew there was a right way AND a wrong way! How Not To Move Abroad
- Looking for a few tips before you move abroad? You Should Know These Things Before You Move Abroad
- So many countries, where should you move? How To Choose A Country To Move To
- How do you pick which city to call home? Check this out The Best Expat Cities
- Still not sure if you should move? This will help Thinking of Moving Abroad? Why You Need to Do it Now!
- Wonder how your new country will become a home? Read this Expat Life: How to Make a Home Abroad Feel Like Home
- Have you made the leap and are now wondering what to do? Read this New Expat? To Do List For After Moving Abroad
- Money can disappear very quickly, learn how to manage it in your new country! How to Manage Your Money as an Expat
- Making friends in a new country can be tricky. Here’s how I did it 5 Ways To Make Friends When You Move Abroad
- Spending Christmas abroad can be hard. How to Survive Christmas When You’re Travelling or Living Abroad
Have you worked abroad before? What did you do?
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