jobs overseas

Jobs Working Overseas are everywhere. Really. Just Go.

Okay this post is longggg overdue. But after receiving possibly my 1 millionth email asking how to work overseas, find a job abroad, what should I do with my degree in 15th century French literature because I really just want to get paid to travel the world…etc. etc. I just finally have to say it:  You can go to pretty much any country and find work when you get there. Seriously. These working overseas “internship” or “work experience” companies are complete and utter bullshit.

When you Google any of the following phrases: working abroad, gap year jobs, internships overseas….our benevolent big brother Google will give you about 101 different websites showcasing fabulous work experiences abroad. They promise internships, real life work experience, glorious jobs in exotics lands with beautiful natives with some excited looking white person giving the thumbs up as they hold a smiling African child. I get it, it tugs at the romanticized longings you had as an 8 year old to be Indiana Jones or some Mother Theresa or something – whatever, point being – the reality is, when you scroll down to the very bottom of the description, you know, after you have read your dream job light up in front of you – there happens to be a little explanation about a “course fee” or “program cost” or “inquire for price”.

Um that is curious, why am I being asked to pay $2,500 to feed orphans? Why is volunteering to scrub these turtles an eye popping $3,200? Why am paying to intern?

Flights? – Nope. I guess they say you get housing, maybe a meal, and transport to your dream hut – but I hate to break it to you, these things costs like a $1 when you are actually there.

scuba diving instuctor with turtle

Yes – I would love for you to spend your days counting the number of tiles on my back but $3,500 seems a bit steep.

The reality is most of your “program fee” goes into paying for these companies to operate and some piece of mind that you don’t have to figure it out yourself. They aren’t job agencies per se. No – they are tour operators or housing accommodation guised as work experience programs, but the programs they are shilling are nothing more than holiday and vacation experiences. Which is fine, if that is your modus operandi, I just thought you should know that if you want to work overseas – you don’t have to shell out your life savings. You just need a little bit of hustle. Case in point, I showed up it the Philippines – a country where I knew no one and have never been to before and created my own volunteering experiences (relief worker, fundraiser for children) for a grand total of …drum roll – zero dollars.

So where can I find jobs working overseas?

jobs overseas

Know how to windsurf? Because there are people who pay you to teach them.

Everywhere. I know it sounds flippant. Maybe because it is. But the reality is you can go to sooooo many places – basically anywhere that has tourists, and you will find expats who own businesses and people just…like…you. As you can see in the video above, there are a million kite surfers, well, what are those instructors doing? Getting paid to travel and live overseas is what. But first, the question is….

You need to decide where to go. Do you like beaches or mountains? City life or the freezing your ass off in Arctic tundra? I don’t know you, you are probably nice, maybe, but I can’t possibly field all of these emails I get. But the point of the matter is – just go. Hop on a plane and go. Here are some jobs around the world that I did, without any placement company in my first year of this site. Oh and here are 14 other unique jobs I did also without a company. Most I just made – yes – made myself. I found people and created them.

Do you like diving? Lots of places to teach that.

Um….do you like diving? Lots of places to teach that. Note – I do not teach it as I hate to be responsible for others, but Talon tells you how in his article on “How to travel the world as a scuba instructor”

Well – what a about a job that pays well that I can take with me? What about long-term career potential? Well – that my friend – is a deep rabbit hole and is a post for another day, but if you are keen on making working overseas a long-term reality, developing hard skills for location independent jobs is the way to go (ie. computer skills). More on that later. The first step is to see for yourself and get started.

No need to sell your kidneys – just make sure that piggy bank has about $2,500, after other trip costs (ie, laptop, camera, plane ticket) and pick your destination.

A good way to started if money is of concern is try teaching English in a country that pays well and has a lower cost of living. Some of these places even cover your plane ticket. Check these posts (note – these ones you can use a recruitment company for, recommendations are in the articles, and visas are usually hooked up through the schools):

Until then, stop thinking about it, grab that beautiful butterfly and buy that plane ticket already – you never know what kind of jobs you will discover. For real.

Turner barr
turnerbarr@gmail.com

Hi, my name is Turner. I travel the world, hustle to find interesting jobs, and write about what happens when you read too many self-help books.

23 Comments
  • Spencer Bing
    Posted at 23:46h, 21 January

    I love what you did for the children and people of the Philippines! They hold a very special place in my heart after spending 5 months there in 2011/2012. I am sure you experienced how extremely hospitable and gracious everyone was! Keep up the good work mate!

    • Turner
      Posted at 19:14h, 22 January

      Thanks Spencer. The kids were stoked. Pay it forward.

  • Yvette
    Posted at 02:35h, 22 January

    Been reading awhile but wanted to chime in and say yep, this is similar to my experience. Mine has the twist that I’m doing a PhD in science which means you get paid to do so- actually at a far better wage than in the US- which obviously took a touch more planning then just “hop on a plane” but comparable to the effort it’d take in the US to start a doctorate. But the good news is hey, once I was in I didn’t need to arrange any work permits and such for Europe, so that was great.

    • Turner
      Posted at 19:17h, 22 January

      PhD. is a def. a way to get up close and personal with some cool natural and animals on the Uni’s dime. Unfortunately, not everyone is in that position. But if you really love animals and biology, it’s a def. way to get involved in some cool projects around the globe.

  • grasya
    Posted at 03:35h, 22 January

    never met you here because you never responded to my inquiries 😛 anyway i’m off to Nepal and I’m sure this tip will be useful, thanks!

    • Turner
      Posted at 19:19h, 22 January

      Hey Grasya, Yeah sorry I have been overwhelmed as of late and without internet most days. Hope you enjoy Nepal.

  • Brenna
    Posted at 07:03h, 22 January

    Awesome post, Turner, and so true. I’m going to share this all over the place.

    • Turner
      Posted at 19:19h, 22 January

      Awesome B! Hope you are doing well and killing at your new job. One of the best travel jobs!:)

  • Katie Featherstone
    Posted at 07:54h, 22 January

    Interesting post. I also particuarlly like your ‘check you are human’ thing below!

    • Turner
      Posted at 19:21h, 22 January

      Thanks. Yes, I love sweet captcha. Way more fun to drag cartoons than to try to read impossible to decipher numbers, but maybe that is just me.

  • Chris
    Posted at 10:50h, 22 January

    Well said bro – it’s a case of doing a bit of extra work on the ground or pre travel research and you can find a heap of awesome things to do. Or simply turn up like you and create a job.
    I’ve worked for hostels, photographed, been photographed, surf coached and heaps of other things on the road to fund my travels.

    Trust in yourself, load your CV with awesomeness and go looking!

    • Turner
      Posted at 19:22h, 22 January

      Yeah bro. It blows my mind how much opportunity there is all over the place abroad – even for more business type stuff…if you have an open mind.

  • paul
    Posted at 14:34h, 22 January

    I like this article I really do .

    I’ve done it, I’ve traveled the world and worked everywhere, but I’ve also seen a lot of people get booted out of countries for working a legally.

    basically what you’re saying in this article is work illegally and don’t get caught. not always the smartest way to go….

    Happy travels

  • Turner
    Posted at 19:26h, 22 January

    I am actually not suggesting that. As per teaching English, most schools take care of the visa issue for you. As for shorter-term jobs I have never seen it to be a problem. Maybe if you are doing it in Oz or NZ or somewhere, but there are easy paths for a visa there. As per location independence, which I haven’t covered yet, you are working online and can get paid the same. You are independent, both in location and in working. So unless you are planning on setting up shop on a long term basis, no worries.

    What countries, jobs, time length and who were the people you are vaguely referring to?

  • Banker in the Sun
    Posted at 04:16h, 26 January

    Turner, great advice as usual. While I’m personally more of a planner, and understand people wanting to have something lined up, the truth is that you really can just go and find something once you get there.

    I’ve met people who stay at their guest houses for free by recruiting other foreigners to stay there too. I’ve met people who’ve scored free room, board, and even spending cash by interning (aka “volunteering”) with foreign organizations.

    I’ve even met a girl who did a yoga exchange in Nepal – in exchange for teaching a few weekly classes, her rent was free. It’s out there, and the truth is a lot of times you won’t find it online, because your future place of employment doesn’t even have a website yet.

    • Turner
      Posted at 13:45h, 03 February

      True that. Trick is to just do it. Cheers.

  • Greg
    Posted at 04:43h, 27 January

    I have been in Costa Rica for 7 months now – I early retired here at 41 with my wife. The number of people we have met and are doing exactly what you are saying is impressive. We have friends that use chiropractor skills (he is VERY busy), teach belly/fire dancing, teach yoga, perform massage etc…My wife has started baking goodies that are not available here and people are eating them up – get it, haha. We have other friends that have internet based jobs – one guy is an IT director for a company in Florida and all he needs is an internet connection. Another owns a software company and once again he just needs internet. We are in a small mountain town and expats here are just making it happen. Do what you love and you can figure it out.

  • Paul Jones
    Posted at 10:23h, 27 January

    Inspiring post, but I have a question. You said:

    “If you are keen on making working overseas a long-term reality, developing hard skills for location independent jobs is the way to go (ie. computer skills). More on that later.”

    I’d be interested to read about these computer skills. Do you get round to talking about them in another post?

  • Black Hat Source
    Posted at 01:12h, 28 January

    Hello Turner,

    Thank you so much for this article. You’ve opened my eyes to both the freedom and reality of working overseas, as well as giving me the little shove I need to get over the procrastination and book that flight. I’m keen to teach both kiteboarding and English. 🙂

    Cheers, Andrew.

  • Nina
    Posted at 18:26h, 02 February

    OK, but really…. where can I get a job abroad? Can you just find it for me?

    HAHA, JK… I live and work abroad already. =)

    People just don’t get it… They think it involves sorcery, witchcraft and a lucky rabbits foot to get awarded a job abroad. It’s not that difficult people! They just don’t have the balls to give everything up back home, get on a plane, and actually do it. That’s the end of the story there.

  • Turner
    Posted at 13:47h, 03 February

    haha yes. It is sorcery indeed. I like your candor. On-point.

  • What To Do After College? 14 Ideas to help you escape the cubicle
    Posted at 11:00h, 19 February

    […] *And a sidenote on voluntourism/working abroad sites that have hefty course fees. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that it should cost $3,500 and your first born child to volunteer to help people/animals/your grandma? Some money yes, but me thinks that there may be a few unscrupulous companies out there – Check out this post on the matter. […]

  • Jess
    Posted at 02:02h, 21 February

    Inspiring article and outlook on working overseas, however it would be great if you could elaborate a bit on the being able to work overseas without paying a program fee. I’ve been looking into working in either Europe or the US, both which require a visa that costs a lot of money. Without having a visa the only way I could work overseas is if I was to work illegally. How have you gone about getting jobs overseas legally but without having to pay a fortune?

    Cheers,
    Jess