Five Reasons to Work Abroad on Your Gap Year

Five Reasons to Work Abroad on Your Gap Year

It is what runs through everyone’s mind when it comes to a gap year: money. How am I going to afford to do all of this travelling when there is so much I want to do? When you think about it, it comes down to two choices. Work in your home country and save until you have enough for everything or book some flights and get a job once you land in your chosen country. Bear in mind you can only get a working holiday visa in certain countries depending on nationality. For me, as a UK citizen under 30, I can easily get a working holiday visa for Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

This is exactly what I did for my gap year. I saved up the cash for round the world flights on my chosen route (Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia) and applied for a working holiday visa in Australia. They require you to have £2500 in your bank account (or at least they did in 2012), so I saved this too and took off. I had enough for six weeks of travelling and fun before needing to find a job, it worked out perfectly as I then saved all of the money I needed for New Zealand and South East Asia while working and travelling in Australia.

Enjoying some down time in Melbourne

Enjoying some down time in Melbourne

Working abroad worked out well for my gap year but why should you chose to work abroad on your gap year?

Experience Working in Another Country

Working in a country is very different to travelling through one. You’ll get to know a city inside out instead of travelling around at a fast pace, ticking of activities and cities until there is nothing left to tick off. You’ll start to find out where the locals go, you’ll explore more than just the tourist attractions and you may even start to support the local football team. There will be no more getting lost, no more feeling like you’re in a new city, this place you’ve settled in for a while will begin to feel like home. The working part feels the same in every country but it’s the getting to know the city that will make the experience something to remember.

The Pay is Better

This statement is very true for Australia I however cannot say for other countries. While working in Australia I worked as a bar tender and waitress, a similar job I had been employed back home doing. The pay couldn’t have been more different, for starters it was more but then at the weekend and on public holidays it increased even more. When you add tips on to this I was earning near to double what I would have been at home for the same job and hours. It might not have been the most social and skills driven job but it is what enabled me to travel in South East Asia and New Zealand for two months. If you did have said skills for labour jobs you were looking at an even higher pay rate. Even better than all this was I could claim all the tax I had paid back once I’d finished my job.

working holiday

Being a tourist in Melbourne around my full time job.

You Can Go Sooner

If you only need to save the money for flights and visa requirements before hand then that means one thing: you can leave sooner. If you had to be saving for a whole years worth of fun then you would probably need to take two years out to do so. Instead by working once you hit your first country you will be on the road much sooner. This is exactly what I did and it took around four months to save for a round the world flight, visa and the visa requirement money. A working holiday could be your key to a longer gap year.

You Have a New Country to Explore While You Work

So we’ve talked a lot about working and living in a city but I haven’t mentioned what you are going to be doing with your down time. You’ve just landed in a brand new city, I don’t see you hauling yourself up inside during your days off each week. Every city will cater for tourists and offer handfuls of daily or overnight trips to local tourist attractions. While working in Melbourne I took a day trip off to the Grampians as well as exploring all of the suburbs of the city. I topped this up by visiting attractions in the city centre as well as experiencing some of the amazing events Melbourne puts on every year. Taking a working holiday will allow you to explore the city and surround area all while holding down a full time job. You could always move on every few months and work your way around the country.

Orange Picking in South Australia for my second year visa

Orange Picking in South Australia for my second year visa

You Can Stay For Longer

This point has two meanings to it:

1 – On a tourist visa you get three months in most countries but on a working holiday visa you can spend 12 months in the country. This means that you don’t have to see everything in such a short period of time, you can move around slowly and really get to know parts of the country. You don’t have to be employed constantly while on your visa and you are free to leave and return to the country during that year.

2 – In Australia you have the chance to gain another working holiday visa – if you partake in farm work for three months in certain locations of the country then you can apply for a second year working holiday visa. This is great if you just don’t want to do home, think you might like to return in the next few years or know you want to get sponsored in Australia then you have another years visa to make that happen.

Would you like to work abroad on your gap year? Find out more information about a working holiday in Australia here.



  1. 2nd April 2015 / 8:43 am

    Even though ‘m past the point of taking gap years… the opportunity is so temtpting to work in NZ or Aus!

  2. Elle
    3rd March 2017 / 8:21 pm

    I’m currently planning my gap year and don’t want to sound completely stupid but; where do you stay ? How do you figure out where to stay when you haven’t yet got a job ? Thanks !

    • Jodie Louise
      5th March 2017 / 3:43 pm

      Hi Elle, I stayed in hostels while travelling and until I had a job worked out. You can use sites such as hostel bookers or hostel world to help find hostels in all locations. Hope that helps!

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