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Overseas Jobs for Women Who Travel
How to stretch your money and extend your travels

Looking for overseas jobs may not have been part of your plan - but knowing how to find one could be a lifesaver if you're short of cash on the road or thinking of extending your travels.

So what kinds of jobs can you find abroad?

I've done lots of strange - and less strange - things to earn money for travel when I wasn't working full-time.

Jobs Overseas for Women

Teaching English abroad

This is a common way to make money on the road. Being a native English-language speaker is helpful, and a qualification is even better.

Until relatively recently, demand was so high that many organizations would snap you up just for being English mother tongue. No longer. Now you need that piece of paper.

You need credentials most of the time. Not always.

Overseas Jobs for Women

Good luck plays a part too...

  • Existing teachers may have a last-minute change of plans.
  • Being in the right place at the right time can make all the difference if someone gets ill and you happen to be there.
  • Substitute work may be available.
  • Private tutoring of individuals or businesses requires no qualification at all - other than speaking the language and being able to teach it.

Demand is highest in Asia but there are plenty of teaching opportunities in other parts of the world. 

Interested? Here's more about teaching English abroad.

Jobs Abroad for Women

The English language is the lingua franca of the 21st century - everyone wants to learn it. Photo British Council Russia via Flickr CC

Overseas jobs with non-profit organizations

If you have any experience that can be put to use in a developing country, you might pick up some short-term work with international organizations like the United Nations or its agencies, or with charities like Oxfam and Save the Children.

Here are some areas in which you might find work - if you're qualified:

  • Communications and report-writing
  • Fundraising
  • Monitoring and evaluation
  • Web work and social media
  • Health and medical specialties
  • Sanitation...

You get the picture. If you have the skill, flog it.

It's often easy for these agencies to hire people for short-term assignments (as opposed to near-impossible if you're looking for a real job).

Wherever there is poverty, organizations that try to help aren't far behind. These children in southern Senegal are getting education help provided by a charity - there's always a chance you might find some work with one of these groups

Non-profit jobs overseas with international organizations are usually long-term and take forever to get.

There is a loophole: if the position is short-term, say a few weeks or months, field offices can often simply hire people locally on a freelance or temporary basis. If you're qualified, and on-site, this may be your chance.

Development or humanitarian not-for-profit jobs require special skills: unskilled work goes to local people (and rightly so).

Plan in advance. Look up the UN and NGO offices where you're going. Write ahead. Spruce up your CV. Or just call once there.

I got lucky in Laos: I called the UNICEF office in Vientiane when I arrived and offered myself up as a writer. They had a project in Luang Prabang and no one to do it so they flew me up for a few days; I attended a workshop and wrote up the report. I was qualified for the job - but all I did was ask. You never know!

I got lucky in Laos. There isn't much work abroad for unskilled workers and what work there is goes to local citizens - as it should. But if you're qualified, it's worth a shot.

Casual and seasonal jobs overseas

What if you don't speak a foreign language, you can't type, and the thought of teaching sends shivers down your spine?

Travelers have found joy in all sorts of jobs...

  • Like working on a farm, the 'odd job' - the pulling, picking, plucking or hauling when manual labor is hard to find.
  • My friend Lisa worked as a barista in Australia, and plenty of other travelers find jobs in bars and pubs (lost on my as I don't drink - I wouldn't know how to pour one!)
  • There is also seasonal work to be found in the hospitality industry, for example ski resort jobs, serving in cafés, working in a bar or hotel (yes, I've done that too), working at a Club Med, being a club DJ...
Women Overseas Jobs Ski Resorts
  • I've worked as a hostess at major conventions before - check the major congresses in town and call up the administration. If you speak English plus another language or two, you may be in luck.
  • Are you water-worthy? In that case consider employment on cruise ships - get paid to travel, as their recruitment posters say! 
  • Or yacht jobs on smaller boats that ply well-traveled routes to the Caribbean or across the Atlantic? The pay may be low, but you'll get where you're going without having to pay for hotel rooms.
  • If children are more your thing and you have a few months to spare, au pair positions are sometimes available, through forums or local agencies. There's no better way to truly immerse yourself in a culture (and saving some money while you're doing it). 
  • Now this is a long shot - but you could work as a movie extra. In London? Try browsing this site just for fun.
  • And if you're just looking for room and board, hostels have been known to provide work in exchange for a bed. Nice, if you're desperate.

One of my all-time go-to travel sites, Transitions Abroad, has a great page with advice about finding tourism and hospitality jobs.

Building an online web business

This isn't about blogging. Nor is it about a quick buck.

But if you're the independent type and thinking of running your own online business, this might be right for you. 

Here's how I did it, from scratch.

This website - Women on the Road - is designed to earn me a modest income wherever I go, as long as I have access to wifi. It's my passion, so I'm more focused on what it is than what it earns. 

That said - I have two other websites designed to do just the opposite.

These days you can find Internet access pretty much anywhere...
Photo Jonathan Lidbeck via Flickr CC

Web-based freelance jobs

The beauty of the web is that it allows you to telecommute, full-time while you're home, and part-time when you're on the road. There are literally hundreds of web-based jobs you can take on - all from the cozyness of an Internet café.

Plenty of jobs fall into this category, and this is just a sampling:

  • Editing
  • Proofreading
  • Photo editing
  • Web research
  • Web design
  • Virtual assistance
  • Graphics
  • Advertising
  • Public relations
  • Translation
  • Writing resumes...

These traditional 'stay-at-home' jobs no longer require you to stay at home: they can be done from anywhere. You've probably all heard of Tim Ferriss's Four-Hour Work Week, or read articles about the new nomads, location-independent individuals who live their entire lives on the road.

You don't have to move overseas forever but the web can be your job-hunting friend.

The best places to look for online jobs are sites like elance.com, odesk.com or freelancer.com - just sign up and bid for jobs you're qualified for. I know this works: I've found jobs and hired people this way.

Overseas writing jobs - and not just about travel

Travel writing is one of the best overseas jobs in the world. It's also probably the most competitive, the least lucrative, and the hardest to find.

Have I discouraged you yet?

Good!

The joys of seeing your name in print and your first paycheck are hard to beat. I actually framed my first byline...

If your goal is to make enough to stay on the road, becoming a travel writer is an option. But only if you really want to write. It's not an easy profession - at least not if you want to actually get paid for it.

Photographers have it even worse as websites think nothing of grabbing pictures and using them for free. BUT...

It's easier to sell your words if you have beautiful pictures to go with them.

There are plenty of other kinds of writing (or providing content, if you're writing for a commercial website). Many local companies advertise or prepare corporate materials in English - and sometimes they fail dismally. If you can put words together, you might get a bit of work fixing what they've done.

That's me, working on the road, with my iPad and portable keyboard

Professional jobs

If you're a professional, using your skills will probably be the first thing you think about.

I've been a professional writer or journalist all my life so working with words is the first thing I look for (even if I do sometimes end up doing strange things, like selling toilet seats!)

If you're a health professional or an engineer you're lucky: you have naturally portable professions, like mine. If you're a schoolteacher, you may be able to find replacement work or a real job (this site has a lot of listings).

There are plenty of nursing jobs (have a look at my page on international travel nursing for a few ideas), medical jobs, accounting jobs, and other professional jobs to be found in other countries.

And here's where you find them:

  • On major job boards, like monster.com (actually I never look at these megasites - they're too broad for me)
  • Through LinkedIn - a step up and often good for networking
  • On professional job forums (this is where Google becomes your best friend) - getting better
  • And finally, on expat forums - just Search for country + expat + forum and you'll find local discussion forums, often with local job classifieds; expats are usually helpful and knowledgeable! This is often my best source of job leads.

Have you ever worked outside your own country?

I'd love to hear about it if you have! What did you do? Where did you work and where are you from? How did it change you? Would you do it again?

What kind of job did you have?

What Other Women on the Road Have Said

Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...

Teaching in South Korea 
I had always wanted to live overseas, and after graduate school teaching abroad was the next step. So, I decided for no particular reason to live in …

A Musician By Night 
I worked as a musician. I played 'living room' concerts, usually pre-dinner party and post, for my hosts in Germany. Small affairs really. I did not bring …

Cruise Ship Lackey 
On my 21st birthday I joined the MS Maasdam as a youth counselor during summer break from University. I spent the next six weeks running youth activities …

The Professional Storyteller 
I wrote to several international schools once I knew I was going to be in the Netherlands for a few weeks and explained I'd be in the area and a storytelling …

Flower Arranging in Saumur 
I had left University at the end of June and decided to go traveling for a few months in Europe before starting a serious job search in the Fall. I spent …

Grape Picking in France 
I can thoroughly recommend my experience picking grapes in France. This was something I did one year in my late teens on a break from university. I wanted …

Even More Jobs for Travelers 
I lived in gorgeous Switzerland for two years as an au pair. I bought a one way ticket to Europe, a place I had never been before... I was scared yet anxious …

An Asian Working Overseas 
Walking through London streets and browsing the classifieds and internet for school teaching jobs was an experience worth remembering for an Indian school …

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