Great travel jobs we have done with almost no experience
In 2010 we had no money and no experience in any kind of travelling job. What could we do to start travelling the world?
With no savings, to start to travel you have to make your money along the way. That’s easier to say than to do, if you have no experience. Or is it not?
Successful travel blogging is not as achievable as it may look, so although we did start a travel blog we never looked at it as a decent source of income.
It was this feeling of a potential struggle to maintain ourselves uniquely through blogging, mixed with the silly disbelief in our writing capacities, that led us to search for more traditional hands-on ways of how to make money and travel.
We embarked on exploring all the offline travel jobs options we had. Online may be tempting, but not everyone wants to spend days in front of computers.
Still if you are curious of online options, then go directly to the best online traveling job available, on our step by step guide for Best Online Job of today.
Otherwise, keep reading and start imagining yourself leaving home.
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How to make money and travel - best entry level travel jobs
To start to travel with no money and find entry level travel jobs you have three main options:
- Find a full-time job in a location that allows you to save (use resources like Cost of Living)
- Find seasonal work or seasonal travel, where you work part of the year to fund the travels on the other part of the year.
- Find volunteer work, not voluntourism (so you can have very low expenses)
We will focus on option number one: full-time jobs. On later articles, we’ll share also our experience with the other options.
With no skills and experience the best entry travel jobs you will find are Hospitality and English teaching.
There are many articles out there giving huge lists of travel jobs to do without any real life experience. We have done this, and we know it works.
By following our guide you will be able to save time and skip hurdles we had to go through which we wished we knew back then, but hey, lucky you. 🙂
Can you work overseas with no experience? You can, but...
You can definitively work overseas in Hospitality and English teaching with no experience, but we highly recommend to get some under your belt before leaving.
The reason for that is that a small initial experience can lead to an exponential increase on your potential pay. Ok, maybe not exponential, but well worth the initial effort.
There are two reasons for this to happen, and both are equally important:
- You go over the gazillion competition you would find against inexperienced candidates. It allows you to apply for better jobs right away, and reclaim better pay
- The confidence you will get for just a small experience on doing something is amazingly high, which will naturally reinforce your achievements of point number one
Remember you are doing something out of your comfort zone: your work skills and your home town.
We really have those two points close to our heart, because we did not follow this recommendation so we moved to London with zero experience on travelling jobs.
So why did we move to London?
You need to move to a place where bartending has a high standard, typically in some big cities or huge tourist spots. The important factor here that you choose a destination well known for the skill you want to learn.
If the best options were to work in hospitality and teaching English we thought that we should go to London and master those skills.
We could have chosen the South of Portugal which is full of great cocktail bars, and it would be much easier or us.
But we chose London because we had unrestricted access to the labor market and the city is famous for its exotic cocktail bars.
We packed our bags, left our 9-to-5 jobs and moved to London. Being Portuguese, part of European Union (at least in 2010, maybe by the time you are reading this Brexit has been implemented) we have free movement and free work conditions everywhere in the Union.
Let’s look at hospitality first and then English teaching:
Traveling Bartender - how to prepare to get the best paid hospitality jobs
Making cocktails around the world, also glamorously called traveling bartender, is probably one of the most well-paid jobs in the industry.
And because you can easily do it outdoor while enjoying the waves knocking down those wealthy great tipper’s tourists, it can be fun too.
This is obviously a generalization, I’m not downgrading the profession that has amazing people with years and years of hard work. And we did have some hard times on our hospitality jobs too.
Nevertheless, our experience has shown that the type of job where you can most likely earn more money vs the time or at least pleasure you have to give is bartending.
This was what we did:
We can't hack instant knowledge, yet!
You probably have seen the movie Matrix right? In the movie, Neo learned Kung Fu in 10 seconds. Although there wasn’t a how to become a bartender stunt from Neo, there was something that really fascinated me (not just one but many actually).
I believe we are getting closer to it: the ability to inject knowledge and skills directly to our brain, just like the scene in the movie that they do it with the martial arts and helicopter piloting instant knowledge.
I’ve heard a couple of podcasts and read some articles about this ability to accelerate your brain training. It’s called neuro priming and you can check it out on the Startalk Radio Podcast too or even explore the guys doing it already, Halo Neuroscience.
Unfortunately, this is still not available for budget travelers like us which mean we have to use old-school techniques: real-life practice.
Even if you do a course on hospitality or a specific bartending diploma, nothing will substitute real experience in your hands.
There are many bars and restaurants in the world that would accept you with no relevant experience whatsoever, but then you are paid for that, and it will take some time for you to be able to travel again.
If the plan is to travel there is no time to climb the career ladder, you have to hack your way up, hence the experience.
You need to get your first job
We got our first jobs through agencies, but because we had no experience, they were terrible. Pretty soon, we felt miserable as hell.
We had left our comfortable lives in Portugal, our safe and well-paid jobs for these supposed amazing traveling jobs.
We cursed and regretted our decision many times. But we kept going and became resilient, a skill that has proven handy throughout our journey, and our life I would say.
It took us a couple of months to find better conditions jobs, albeit still on the lower wages end of the spectrum.
It was enough to allows us to live in the amazing city of London, and we were finally adding some numbers to our soon to be hospitality CV.
Agencies or showing up at places with your CV in your hand is the best way to get jobs at this point, we are talking about entry level work so unlikely to be hired by online ads.
In London we used Reed mainly, but some of our jobs were just by showing up at the right time on a place looking for a job.
At the same time you study
In the meantime I did a bartending course, to improve my skills and allow me to get better jobs. The goal was that, to learn how to work in proper bar jobs that would open doors in other countries.
I found Shaker UK but there were many options out there with the slogan “how to become a bartender in no time”.
I just chose this school because of their course schedule. The course was great, made good friends and learned a lot, not just bar skills.
We learned everything about spirits: their history, how they should be produced, how they should be used and their current influence around the world.
It was while doing this course I realised that making drinks is not much different than cooking recipes. You have measures, ingredients and the right way and order of doing something, the only difference is that the end result is liquid.
Inspiration on the side, the diploma allowed me to get a really good job in a nice neighborhood of London, from that moment there was no looking back.
And then decide is time to leave
Fast forward some months and I was working in a fancy cocktail bar close to Notting Hill in London.
After a year I was ready for anything. I’m not saying you need a full year, we just had a saving goal in mind and it took us a full year to achieve it in London because life is so expensive.
A proper course and 6 months of working time should give you some experience and confidence enough to land well-paying jobs abroad.
I’m not saying that 6 months are enough to make you a great bartender, (if you are a bartender you are probably insulting me already), I’m not a great bartender and I never was.
But 6 months will be enough for you to know what to do in a proper bar anywhere in the world. You may not do it very well, but you will not feel lost.
Will you be able to do it as a pro with 10 years experience? Not at all, but you can be the third bartender doing some basic tasks, and earning some good money.
And so I became a traveling bartender, the coolest of all traveling jobs.
English teaching - the basics to get into teaching jobs
We knew how to be a traveling bartender but we wanted to have a second option in case bartending did not work, so we moved on to what it was the second on the list of best travel jobs: English tutor.
While living in London we looked for options to do the TEFL diploma, and there are millions.
We chose i-to-i TEFL courses because they also had an online component, something that in 2010 was not so common as today.
We did the weekend crash course and got our teaching diploma. We did not feel at any point capable of teaching any kind of English language, and unfortunately, during our stay in London, we had no time to practice.
Maybe looking back to our experience we would have tried to have some practice before leaving London, or do a more comprehensive course than the 20 hours TEFL + 80 hours online study.
We did have the hospitality skills to support us, and that was what supported us in our first stop: Cayman Islands.
After the Cayman Islands where we just did hospitality work, we moved to the second option of our travel jobs: we started our teaching adventure in Nicaragua on a volunteering project we joined: The Peace Project of the Laguna de Apoyo.
We started as support for more experienced teachers to give us some confidence and knowledge to do ourselves, and after 4 months we travelled to Brazil.
There are many destinations in the world famous for getting English teaching jobs that pay well: mainly in South America and Asia.
We easily landed teaching jobs in Sao Paulo, Brazil, I mean as easy as one can imagine. Sara for example applied to 10 schools and got 6 interviews, 60% job application success.
Where in the world can you get this? Let alone traveling jobs, with so much competition.
The pay wasn’t great but enough to live in the city and to save some by having a frugal life.
If you are a native English speaker this could easily be your first option for a traveling job.
The biggest advantage is that most of the contracts you will get include stay, which means you only need to save to get there.
On the other hand, you loose flexibility compared to hospitality because you will probably have a long term contract. Choose which one suits your desire better.
Teaching English Online - if you want to transition to a digital working nomad
We kept on with this approach of local travel jobs for 6 years, working in fancy American-style restaurants in the Caribbean or teaching English to skilled Brazilian multinational employees.
This gave us a lot of confidence to teach and allowed us move to online teaching to have even more flexibility. When we saw an advertisement of Teaching English Online job and thought: Why Not? We have some experience, it’s online and it pays well, sounds exactly what we were looking.
I got a couple of schools started to teach, and quickly realised digital life was an option, and a good one. I wrote an extensive article about being an English Tutor Online, check it out.
Wrapping up what you need to do to start traveling with no experience
- Decide with travel job you want to do (we recommend bartending or English teacher)
- Find the first location you can easily move where you can start low but grow fast (a list of the best cities in US for bartending)
- Work and study the trade at the same time (if you don’t find local check online courses)
- Be frugal and save enough money for your dream destination
- Give the jump and never look back
Good luck, and drop us a line if you need some more detail or guidance on these travel jobs, and check our ultimate guide for traveling healthy because it will be a real challenge.