Earning a ‘Backpacker's Salary’ – Working to Save Money, Not Make Money
It Sounds Odd, but the Experience May be More Worthwhile…
You may not have planned it but in order to extend your travels, the concept of work may became inevitable.
Work is normally associated with one word:
But put work in the context of travelling and it may not be as bad as it seems.
The master plan though is to seek out work that will SAVE me money, not necessarily MAKE me money. That sounds completely wrong (everyone wants to make money right?), but when travelling it may be the more rewarding option – and by saving I mean making the money last longer by doing work that pays you in what I am calling the backpacker’s salary – accommodation and food.
Every once in a while I want to take on work that is worthwhile and gives me an insight into the country and which essential act as ‘money can’t buy’ experiences rather than the same kind of work I can do back home, like long term and high maintenance office work minus the sunshine.
So here’s my top four ways in which I am planning to make my funds last longer, hang with the locals and increase my changes of real cultural exchange.
How to Extend Your Travels and Your Wallet
Help Exchange is exactly what it says it is - volunteer work (that’s the help part, because I’ve already told you volunteering is great) in exchange for free accommodation and food on farms, backpacker hostels, lodges, horse stables and even sailing boats. Hurrah! Especially to the sailing boat - isn’t that how Eat, Pray, Love ended? Anyway…
So you sign up and fill out three boxes of info: your location, a call out to meet other work buddies and your experience/what you can offer. Really simple.
Then you choose the country, click on a specific region and up pop all the relevant job posts. I’ve mainly seen farming and maintenance work but there are also a lot of people that just want a native English speaker to help them and their children improve their language skills. I’m all for giving something back, as you know.
It's free to join.
However, in order to respond to a lot of posts you have to have a premiere membership, which is £18 for two years. Not bad when you weigh up the benefits.
A random Aussie in STA told me about this because his parents hired people via it and it sounds ace, especially when you tell people who have no idea what it is and they wonder why you are partaking in a dog related activity. It stands for Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
It’s similar to Help Exchange except it’s just farm work - no babysitting, housesitting or language lessons. Instead it links volunteers to organic farms and smallholdings where you can learn about ‘organic lifestyles’ in exchange for (you guessed it) free food and accommodation.
There’s a pattern here if you haven’t already guessed. Eat and sleep, sleep and eat.
Each continent has its own dedicated WWOOF site that you need to sign up to, and lists an overview of the average minimum hours and how many opportunities are available. They are not the most easy to use sites, but you find your way in the end.
Certain countries, like Australia for example, require you to buy the bible of organic life, known as ‘the WWOOF book’, which is approximately £50, but can include some kind of insurance plan – although obviously have your own too!
This is like Help Exchange except you don’t work. You chill your boots and live with locals. Some even show you around their town/city too, take you out for a night on the town, become your best mate. Who knows!
It’s an easy to use website, which features your own profile, people looking for hosting in your area and a simple search mechanism for searching either: locals to hang, travellers to meet or hosts to stay with.
You might even get a bed and your own room rather than a couch. Don’t take it too literally.
It’s free to join.
Making/buying your host them dinner, shouting them a few beers every now and then - after all you are saving on accommodation fees.
A local guide and making a potential friend for life - priceless.
4. Foreign Friends
I’m lucky that I live in London where the whole world literally surrounds me. I’ve met and have the best of friends from all around the globe, not to mention the people from previous travels stints who add further pins on my world map board.
So make use of connections.
It’s a no brainer but don’t be afraid to ask if there is any chance of extending an invitation past your mate’s house to see if you can stay with ‘a friend of a friend’, a relative or another travel buddy. From my experience, people are more than happy to oblige just as I would if someone needed a place to crash or wanted a London tour guide. It’s a never ending system of connection and a good way to get acquainted with an area… and save money.
I’ve already got my Kiwi friends discussing where and who they are going to ‘place’ me with and who I will then be passed along to. It’s actually rather exciting to know I’m already going to be looked after if I need and that I have people to call upon around the world if I am ever in a bit of a pickle. Or want escape hostel life for a few days.
You can't put a price on a friendly face.
You can also try out housesitting. Check out The Travelling Housesitters course on how to be a housesitter here.