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7 Tips for Making Your Working Holiday a Success

WORLDWIDE | Tuesday, 12 April 2011 | Views [14301]

I’ve been travelling around the world working in other countries for 14 years now. I know the working holiday experience well. In that time I have seen many others walking the same path, very quickly turn around and run for the next plane home.

Living and working in another country has its fair share of challenges and surprises, but if you can be fully prepared for the experience, it can be one of the most rewarding travel experiences you can ever have.

It is also one of the most cost efficient ways to travel the world as you don’t need to save as much before you leave to go overseas, and you can travel on the local currency while there. Every day is an adventure in itself as you are now living in a new and exotic culture. A working holiday experiences offers you a total immersion into the culture and enables you to make lifelong international friends

Here are some tips to make your working holiday experience a success:

Choose your country wisely

When choosing which country you would like to work in there are a number of important factors you need to consider. The first is to work out which countries you are eligible to work in through work visas. You then need to consider the types of work experiences available to you, the cost of living in that country and the salary you will receive. This is so important. I had many friends who left after their first year of teaching in the US as their salary was not enough to cover their living expenses and travel adventures. And of course you only want to work in countries that you want to live and visit.

Become job certified

How prepared are you for a variety of work options? You may have the right credentials for your current occupation, but sometimes it is worth learning new skills in order to give you more work options. I highly recommend any person considering working holidays to get their TEFL certificates before leaving. This allows you the freedom to work in many different countries around the world. You might think you are moving to work in London, but your plans might change and halfway through you might decide to spend the summer in Italy teaching English.

Learning new job skills can also help you with having a second job in order to save more money to travel with. I worked in pubs and restaurants as a second job in Dublin and London, as well as teaching English in summer schools.

Organize work before you leave

You can’t always organize work in your new country before you leave, but it is always a great idea if you can. That is one less thing you need to worry about upon arrival and gives you great piece of mind. Not only that there may be certain perks that come with it and they often have orientation sessions to help you get settled more quickly.

Teaching in Bangkok on a pre-organized program entitled my husband and I to free accommodation and work visas, which are difficult to obtain. My teaching in the US program also entitled me many benefits such as free return flights, discounted car insurance, and subsidized health insurance.

Do your research

Once you know where you will be moving to spend a great deal of time researching the country and local area. Find out about their culture and way of life and make sure you are aware of any cultural taboos.

Discover what there is for you to do in the local area, and start making a list of all the places you want to visit and experiences you want to have. This will really get you excited for your upcoming experience.

Research and plan for things that will assist you with cheaper costs of living, such as internet providers and phone plans. Start looking for accommodation and any vehicles you may need to buy. We never had to worry about purchasing cars until we moved to the US; there are limited public transport options. This is a big factor to consider.

Be prepared for Culture shock

This is the number one reason why people give up on their dreams and return home so quickly. They do not understand nor know how to manage culture shock. This is something you will go through. After having the experience of teaching in Bangkok, London, and Dublin I thought I would sail into teaching in the US with culture shock far behind me. Wrong it hit me big time, and if I didn’t know what it was and how to handle it, I would have been catching the plane home three months later with Natalie, another teacher on my program who was slayed by the effects of not being able to adjust to the new ways of being and doing.

Make friends as soon as possible

It is easy to be overwhelmed when you first arrive in the land of your new home. Don’t let this cause you to lock yourself away in your room. Force yourself to get out and start meeting people straight away. A good way to do this is to join meet up groups online before you leave so that you already have points of contact. Start meeting the people you will be working with, and go to the places like-minded people are hanging out-- bars, restaurants, cafes, the park or gyms.

It is always a good idea to make friends with any expats in the area, as they can be a great source of support and encouragement for you. But, do not limit your friendships to just those people you know. Become friends with the local people too, this is why you are on a working holiday experience, to get to know the local culture and experience something new.

Remember it is just a job - Why are you really here?

Do not make the job the focus of your time in your chosen country. You did not travel half way around the world to work another job. You came here to travel and experience the new culture so go out and do it. By all means, make sure you do your job well, but don’t put off doing things, just because you have to work tomorrow or on the weekend etc. These are all job responsibilities but find ways to work around them.

 Ask for time off to go on short getaways, go out for that evening during the week, spend the weekends exploring. Plan for long vacations during work breaks or for when you move between jobs. If you don’t find time for these sorts of activities you will become so disillusioned with the whole experience that you will go home.

Related Articles:

A Reflection on Teaching in Thailand - Becoming a Better Teacher

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About the Author

Caz Makepeace has been travelling the world and working abroad since 1997, solo, as a couple and now as a family. She shares her tips, stories and inspirations through y travel blog. Connect with her through facebook and twitter.

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Tags: connect locally, country, culture shock, destinations, friends, locals, teaching, tefl, travel tips, work and holiday

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