How to Get Paid During Your Gap Year


By Manita Dosanjh

Planning a gap year is stressful.

I know, I’ve been there. You so badly want to spend endless months discovering new worlds, meeting new people and learning important life lessons that will stay with you forever…

There’s just one issue, your bank account won’t let you.

And to make it worse, the internet seems to be full of false promises. Of course you want to spend three months playing with elephants in Africa, but why do you have to pay £5000 for it?

Don’t worry. Here at HostelBookers, we’re all about helping you spritely young travellers learn from our hardships, so here’s a little helpful push into the world of paid gap years. You can earn while you travel, make friends with your bank account, and have the unforgettable experience that you were looking for all along…

1. Get paid to help in a hostel

Work in a hostel

Most backpackers begin their trips by booking a stay at a hostel in a popular travel hub. You get the chance to meet other travellers with diverse experiences, collect great advice and make new friends to take forward on your journey. So why not have all this and get paid?

There are dozens of way to set this up. One way is to Google big hostel chains, pick a property in your chosen destination and contact them to ask if they need help. Be sure to research working visa requirements beforehand though.

For UK residents, Australia is a great place to work as it’s quite easy to get a working visa. Try visiting the YHA website as there are new job vacancies added every day. YHA is a division of Hostelling International, a large backpacking network with over 100 properties down under, so you’re guaranteed to find something you like. For visa information, click here.

2. Join the Harvest Trail

Berry picking

And why would you spend your time getting stuck into Australian agricultural life? Well, apart from the fact that it’s fun (picking berries in the sun anyone?) and pays really well, it could also help extend your love affair with Australia.

If you spend three months doing specified agricultural work in a regional area, you may qualify for a Second Working Holiday Visa which lets you stay another year once your working visa expires.
There are plenty of harvest trail jobs to choose from, just click here to start your search.

3. Join a yacht crew


Does that grumpy bank account have a problem with exotic locations? Working on a yacht may just be the answer you’re looking for…

Get paid to mix cocktails, serve canapés and enjoy a different view every day with a little help from crewseekers. There are new job listings every day (everything from stewarding to crewing) and a lot of them don’t require any previous experience. Just search for the kind of position you want and click apply.

4. Teach white-water rafting in New Zealand

white water rafting

It’s easy peasy. Rafting companies such as Kaitiaki Adventures run training courses for wananbe rafting guides. The application process is quite selective; you’ll have to prove that you’re a fun-loving personality who is good with people. No good being shy when you’re hurtling down some white water rapids now, is there?

Being a guide for a white-water rafting company has to be one of the most exhilarating gap-year jobs there is. As always, you’ll need a permit to work in NZ, through the Working Holiday scheme you can travel and work in the country for an extended period of time. For more information, click here.

5. Work as a tour guide

Tour Guide

From a backpacker’s perspective, there are pro and cons to working as a tour guide. The great thing about the job is that you get to visit some exciting places for free, meet tons of new people and earn a lot of money.

The downside is that these things are not guaranteed as they depend on what kind of company you work for. It’s also important to remember that if you’re busy you may not get much time to yourself for exploring. Make sure you do plenty of research so you can find a company that can give you what you’re looking for.

Contiki, New Europe Tours and Year Out Work are all great places to start.

6. Teaching English


Teaching English as a foreign language is the perfect way to immerse yourself in a foreign culture and with so many countries around the world constantly looking for ESL teachers, it won’t be hard to find a placement in your dream destination. Just as before, you do need to make sure you research thoroughly and go with a well-established school or company to avoid a disappointing experience. A great place to start is Teachaway, as they have hundreds of teaching vacancies listed and update regularly.

China currently has a very high demand for English teachers, and many of the positions pay very well. For more information, visit Year Out Work.

7. Be an extra in a Bollywood movie


The great thing about Bollywood films is that they’re always larger than life; gigantic sets, vibrant colours and hundreds of extras – that’s where you come in. If you hang around  Leopold’s Cafe on the infamous Colaba Causeway – the city’s epicentre of all things Bollywood – you’re pretty much guaranteed to be scouted out by a Bollywood official as foreigners are always in demand.

You could earn up to £7 a day (ok it doesn’t sound like much, but that’s 500 rupees which will take you pretty far in India). Expect a lot of waiting around, but it’ll be worth it…

8. WWOOFing


The idea behind WWOOFing is simple: in exchange for helping out at an organic farming project you get free board, free food and new friends.

WWOOFing is by no means a relaxing holiday – you’ll find yourself doing anything from digging up soil to restoring walls – but the hosts of every project are often inspiring individuals who can teach you a lot about an alternative way of living. To apply to a WWOOFing project you can click here.

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Thanks to ruffin_readyBarnacles Hostels , various brennemans, Ari Helminen, PeterJBellis,  garryknight,  One Laptop per Child,  Meanest Indian, strikeael for the images off Flickr! Please note, all images were suitable for use at time of publication according to the Creative Commons license.

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