Do you dream of an adventure travel job where you get paid to travel, party, and live in paradise? How about a travel job that you can do all over the world and crawl into “the office”? If this sounds intriguing and a better way to spend your time than filing TPS reports, maybe you should get a bartending job overseas. This week I interviewed Pommie Travels Victoria about how to escape the cube and get paid to travel abroad by bartendering abroad in Lagos Portugal.
Travel Background and why you decided to Bartend Overseas
My name’s Victoria, I’m 25 and I’m originally from Manchester. When I graduated from university back in 2008 I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with my life, but I decided there was more to life than the hours between 9 and 5. At that time I just really wanted to travel and just have a good time, so I partied in Portugal for a summer, came home to the UK, then saved up for a backpacking trip to Australia and New Zealand. I came home broke with no money in the bank, and I eventually decided it was time to live overseas and get paid at the same time. I moved to Bali and attempted a few different jobs, including a job as a personal assistant to a fashion designer and a job teaching English online. They weren’t for me, but I ended up with an awesome traveling job making promotional videos for this well-known beach bar called Ku De Ta. I was also submitting travel articles to online magazines and started my own blog, Pommie Travels. Sadly I had a scooter accident and that put the dampener on things, so I eventually decided to give the whole bartending thing a try in Europe.
How did you find an adventure travel job as a bartender?
I had quite a bit of bartending experience back in the UK- I got my first bartending job at university and worked in various bars to save money for travel…it’s one of those jobs that’s easy to get and easy to quit.
But I was really introduced to the whole bartending overseas thing when I met my best friend at university. She had a house on the Algarve in Portugal and we went out there during the holidays. There’s a town on the coast called Lagos, which is a major backpacker party spot, and I met all these Aussies who were working out there. That really opened my eyes and I knew that if I ever wanted to work and party and go to the beach every day, that this would be a pretty good spot to do it.
In March 2010 I flew from Bali to Lagos with about 10 pounds left in my bank account and got bartending job overseas in one of the bars there. I stayed for 7 months doing that to supplement the income from my fairly new travel blog.
How do you get a bartending job overseas and how can you make money for traveling from Bartending?
Getting a job bartending overseas is super easy, you literally just rock up to a bar when they are opening up and ask them if they are hiring. In the backpacker places it doesn’t really matter what country you’re from or whether you have a visa, it’s all cash-in-hand anyway. The bars will sometimes test you to see how much you can drink so they ply you with booze…if you can still stand and pour drinks at the end of it, then you’re hired. You could even check out events like Budapest Pub Crawl and network with the people running it for a job.
In the party places there are so may Aussies, Canadians and British people bartending. There are really three different jobs for bars- there are the people that hand out flyers and get people to come into the bar, then there are the bartenders, and then there are what we call the ‘floor whores’- the girls that dance and get guys to buy them drinks. You can find a job working in the Greeks Islands that are just like this.
The bartenders make the steadier money and get tips, so that’s the job you really want. You’re not going to make great money though, we’re talking about 5-6 euros per hour so about 30 euros per night if you do a 5 hour shift. But in towns like this it’s enough to get by and you have a good time while you’re doing it. Flyers sometimes get paid based on how many people they bring into the bar, but other bars pay 5 euros per hour. It’s best to be paid hourly because if you don’t get many people in, you’re going home empty handed. You do get paid in alcohol though, so you basically get a free night out.
What the lifestyle of a bartending abroad is really like?
The lifestyle is basically partying at night, then either lying in bed hungover as hell, or hitting the beach in the day. You drink as much free alcohol as you like when you’re on the job, which inevitably results in debauchery and sex. All the workers know each other and obviously some start hooking up, but some have a strict policy of only hooking up with tourists so as not to complicate things. No matter what, the stories all come out the following day. Nothing stays a secret for more than 5 minutes.
Hours vary a bit depending on where you go. Adventure travel jobs in Ios Greece are pretty hardcore. You usually work from about 9/10pm till 4am in the morning, although some bars don’t close till 6am. The next day you have to drag yourself out of bed to clean up the bar at 2pm, then hit the beach to promote your bar and get backpackers interested.
In Lagos (Portugal) you’ll typically work from about 9 pm till 2am, clean the bar, then party until 4am when the last bar closes. Days are spent relaxing on the beach listening to people shout “mate how drunk were YOU last night!”
You don’t make much money but rent is really cheap. There are usually workers hostels, which are like regular hostels with shared dorm rooms, or you can hunt for an apartment and share with a few other people. In Lagos I paid between 5 and 7 euros per night on rent. Then all you have to pay for is your food.
What advice would you give for someone who wants an bartending job overseas?
If you want to party every night and live by the beach then this is a really easy way to live overseas. There’s not really much point emailing bars before hand, just show up and ask around for work. If you arrive early enough in the season then it’s a lot easier to get a job, although if things are slow to pick up then you might be struggling to get shifts for a while. If you arrive mid-season then it’s harder to find bar work so you might be stuck with handing out flyers. Some people prefer flyer jobs though because they get to chat up tourists and it’s easy work. You’re not going to save any money, but you’ll get to have a summer of fun.
There are obviously downsides to it- your health suffers and there are days when you wake up thinking “WHY do I do this to my body?”. Then the night comes and you have a beer and suddenly things seem rosy again.
And there you have it – for some it sounds like a dream travel job – drinking, partying, sexing up a hot slab of Aussie beef, while for others, possibly a nightmare, but such is the life for those that seek a life of adventure outside of a
walled dungeon cubicle earning money for someone else for your empty robust 401K. So, what’s your dream adventure travel job? You could buy an up and coming websites like Dotbeasts too if you can’t swing a bartending gig.
If you are going abroad or doing anything that would make your dear sweet mother cringe, I would recommend picking up some Travel Insurance. The hospital situation there can be sketchy, so pay a little to have the piece of mind. I recommend World Nomads – as that is what I get when I travel abroad. They have a ton of different coverage options for any situation. There are other companies online if you don’t want to go with World Nomads, but I do recommend you get something so you can sleep like a sweet panda cub.