How to work your way around the world

Each year, thousands of Aussies take up their passports in search of the ultimate backpacking adventure.

But if you're looking for a little more than your everyday itinerary involving must-see monuments and unforgettable hostels, there may be a job in it for you.

Holding a work permit in your country-of-choice has opened up a whole new itinerary for globe-trotters looking to traverse the world - and we're not necessarily talking about stuffing envelopes or serving McValue meals.

Whether paid or volunteer, for one month or one year, there's no limit to the kind of jobs, people and experiences you can come in contact with when working your way across the globe (not to mention, adding some much needed spending cash to the piggy bank).

So pack your toothbrush and an open mind and get a taste for the world of opportunity available to backpackers with a willing work ethic.


Summer camps in the United States are about as all-American as baseball and apple pie. For nine glorious weeks camps spanning from New York to North Carolina become over-run by kids aged between seven and 17, chaperoned only by the camps' directors and the caring counsellors who come from all corners of the world to lend a hand.

Counselling at a summer camp offers backpackers nine weeks paid employment and nine weeks of fun-fuelled experience playing, eating and living with their campers. And we're not talking tents pitched around a bonfire.

Depending on the camp, sites come complete with cabins, dining halls, lakes, swimming pools, tennis courts and even skateboarding rinks along with every activity a camper, and counsellor, could hope for.


Activities involve anything from swimming, mountain biking and high-ropes to drama, dance and photography, with counsellors playing a primary role teaching and encouraging their campers to learn and participate.

That's got the days covered.

Evenings are spent hosting barnyard hoe-downs or playing capture-the-flag with weekends often reserved for trips to surrounding locations.

But beware - camp counselling is not for the faint hearted. Make sure you pack generous amounts of energy and be prepared for long days spent being the apple of your campers' eyes.

Camp Counsellors USA (CCUSA) operates out of Australia and works as an employment agency to the USA, Canada, Russia and Croatia. CCUSA assist with interviewing, placement and visa applications. Visit or call 1300-859-040 for more information regarding summer camps and other CCUSA supported programs.


Seeking a change of scenery and climate? Or maybe you're dreaming of a white Christmas? Then pack your winter woollies and head to the Canadian mountains for the snow season.

The winter sees parks in Whistler, Banff and Aspen turn into a backpackers' paradise by providing all major prerequisites for a working traveller - employment and accommodation.

No matter where you go, the mountain's ski resorts operate like a small town, with plenty of employment available both inside and outdoors.

Jobs can include positions in hospitality staff, administration and house keeping to lift attendants, gondola operators and skiing and snowboarding instructors (if you've got the knowhow).

Accommodation is available in exclusive staff housing at the mountain's village, where you can also find food and laundry services as well as a vibrant night-life. Mountain-based employment also brings with it certain perks including free lift passes and equipment hire.

These perks sure come in handy when making the most of your mountain home. Whether a seasoned professional or still getting your ski legs, five months spent at the snow is sure to turn you pro at carving your way across the slopes. So much so, you'll be booking in another season the moment you touch back down in Australia.

Once you've selected the destination and resort you are interested in, you can source employment and employer contact details through the mountain's website. Already securing a position may make applying for a work permit with Citizenship and Immigration Canada easier to do. Visit for more information.


Europe is one of the premier destinations for backpackers, given its rich historical culture, and photo opportunities.

So what better way to take in everything Europe and Britain have to offer than by becoming a temporary local and working behind the counter pulling pints in a UK pub?

From Sussex to Yorkshire, there's no shortage of job opportunities in the land of steak and kidney pie and you're sure to see your fair share of true British culture by working on the other side of the counter.

Things sure can get a little rowdy in these here parts, especially if Manchester United wins the English Premier League or England beats Australia in the Rugby Union World Cup.

If you're a little new to bar work, training can be provided by your employer as well as help sourcing accommodation. If you're travelling with friends or a significant other, both single and twin accommodation can be organised to keep you and your loved ones together.

If beers and bartending is not quite your forte, there are plenty of other options available to the eager traveller. From receptionists, customer service and room attendants, through to more heavy labouring positions such as furniture removalists, there is something in the UK to satisfy every resume.

If you are aged between 18 and 31, you are eligible for a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Scheme, which allows you to work and travel through the UK for up to 24 months. The application process for UK visas can be detailed, so to source more information visit

For job assistance, Seek provide UK-based search engines, resume help and tax services. Visit for more information.


If you're looking for something a little more short-term or have a love for animals that could rival Dr Dolittle, why not use a few weeks of your travel time to help those creatures, great and small, who live under the threat of poachers, collectors and inevitably, extinction.

Located in Chaing Mai in Northern Thailand, the Elephant Nature Park aims to make a difference by providing a safe sanctuary for 34 rescued elephants. By offering volunteer projects to eager helpers, the Elephant Nature Park continues to educate and rehabilitate these gentle giants.

By volunteering with the project, backpackers are given the opportunity to live and work on the park grounds and participate in all matters of elephant care. From bathing and feeding through to standard health checks, volunteers work with the elephants in close collaboration with the park's full-time staff.

Accommodation is available on-site in rustic cabins, with facilities and meals also provided for volunteers. No previous veterinary experience is required for first-time helpers, except a love and appreciation for those elephants who call the park home.

Standard projects with the Elephant Nature Park run for seven days through to a maximum of 14 days, at approximately $400 per week. Visit the Elephant Nature Park website ( for more information. Australian travellers can volunteer in Thailand for 30 days without a visa.


There's no better way to truly experience a country's culture and environment than living, working and interacting with the people that call it home.

In Brazil, those people are a mix of Portuguese, African and Indigenous heritage, making Brazil and Rio de Janeiro, a vibrant collaboration of cultures and ethnicity. However, amongst this diversity, is a community pressed by poverty and unemployment and the kind of outcomes these issues create.

WorkingAbroad offers backpackers the opportunity to make these outcomes positive. By volunteering in community projects throughout Brazil, not only can travellers experience the tropical culture of Rio de Janeiro but assist children and adults through specific programs.

Have a flair for the arts? Why not enlist to help teach dance and music to under-privileged children. Or if you're a sports fanatic, be prepared to burn some serious energy keeping up with the kids as you kick a football throughout the streets of Rio de Janeiro.

WorkingAbroad's Volunteer in Brazil Programs can range between three and 24 week durations and are available for travellers aged 18 to 60. Visit for more information.

Australian passport holders require a volunteer visa to participate in volunteer work in Brazil. Visit for more information.