A working holiday is a great way to get to know a place, have fun, earn money and travel at the same time.
Unlike a whistle stop tour of a place or a couple of days overnight in a destination, a working holiday gives you a different perspective of the place you are staying in.
As well as getting to live like a local and experiencing the area in an authentic way, rather than rushing around trying to cram in the sights, you also make new friends and connections.
4 reasons why a working holiday makes an ideal travel plan
1. The connections you make
When you travel as a tourist the experience is different to living and working in a place. Working means that you are almost always likely to come into contact with people who live in the area on a permanent basis. The great thing about this is they have information that you can take advantage of.
These people know the best places to eat out, where to watch the sunset and which festivals you should go to in the nearby towns. In other words, they are sources of inside information that you might not otherwise have access to. This means you get to know what’s going on locally and can make plans to ensure you don’t miss out.
2. You live like a local: there’s time to explore and have fun
Living like a local has pros and cons. While you are working, you don’t always get to see the area at certain times of the day. For example, I spent one summer working in Exeter for six weeks. As my timetable was from 10.30 – 17.00, I was rarely able to experience the city during the day time. However, living in the centre of the city gave me the opportunity to explore it at my leisure outside of working hours. I didn’t feel that I had to rush to see everything in two days and I began to get a feel for the city, the people and the atmosphere.
The money you earn funds new experiences
Discovering new things is exciting. When you live somewhere, you can take your time and go back to places, perhaps gaining a different perspective each time.
You also get to visit local shops and businesses that you might have overlooked as a tourist.. Had I not popped into Smith’s Wines one day on Magdalen Road, I may never have discovered that Iain the owner, prepares what he calls a “Cheeky Mid-Week Supper”. It’s a food and wine experience with a difference. Iain explained to me that it’s a whatever’s-on-offer affair. In other words, Iain prepares a dish – forget ordering from a menu. You eat the mouth-watering meal he has skilfully whipped up and get to taste a selection of wines. Thanks to our conversation in the wine shop, I also discovered a lovely walk along the canal.
Living with a housemate who knew the area well was also a bonus. Long summer evening walks to places like the Double Locks pub or a trip to the Sidmouth music festival at the weekend may never have happened without her insight.
On a short trip you have to make decisions based on the time you have available; which places are you going to visit? Where you are going to eat? What activities you are going to do? However, when you live somewhere, even on a temporary basis, these options are available to you throughout your stay. If you like the look of the pancakes in Café X and also the buns in Café Y, you can try both at your leisure. If you fancy going on a long bike ride one weekend and hiring a canoe on the canal the next weekend, you have time to explore both options.
3. You pick up new skills
A working holiday provides you with a fantastic opportunity. Not only do you learn new skills on the job, but you also work with people from different walks of life.
In Exeter I was lucky to be working with a group of 60 plus teachers, all of whom had had different experiences to me. Every day was like a new adventure as I discovered someone’s story. I crossed paths with people who had worked and lived in many different countries, grown microgreens for a living, worked on Vanuatu island, developed cross cultural communication programmes for refugees and even someone who knew one of my old workmates in Spain – it’s a small world after all!
The best thing I got from working while abroad was the coming together of people from so many different walks of life and me being one of them. Working towards a common goal exposed me to new ways of doing things, of living life and I ended up making some really beautiful connections.
I’m also very thankful that while I was getting so much out my stay there, I was also earning rather than watching my bank balance just go down.Debbie Blye, English Language Teacher
Collaborating with such a versatile and experienced group of people, enriched my outlook on life, sparked off insights and made me feel motivated.
Then of course, there were the students. Working with international students is an amazing source for learning. They shared stories of their home countries, their families and cultural insights. Each one taught me something new.
If you work in another country or with people who speak other languages, a working holiday also gives you the opportunity to pick up some basic language skills.
4. You get paid; you earn money and travel
Then of course, there’s the fact that you earn money while you there. Travelling can be an expensive hobby, so combining it with work makes you richer in more ways than one. Getting paid to be there is an added bonus.
It’s often cheaper to stay in accommodation long term and many seasonal jobs offer accommodation or meals as part of the deal. As a resident you can sometimes get to take advantage of local discounts.
The local people you work with will often share information about the best places to shop or where to find a great deal thus saving you money.
Keeping in touch
As a result of that summer’s working holiday, I now have new friends across the globe, knowledge of an area that I was not so familiar with, skills to add to my portfolio and wonderful memories of the summer there. I feel that I have had a very different experience to the one I would have had as a tourist. I was able to earn money and travel around the area during my free time.
How about you? How have you benefitted form a working holiday? I’d love to hear your experience of working holidays in the comments.