An Online Primer for Budget Exploration
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V. WORKING and VOLUNTEERING
IIf you plan on staying in Europe for several months or years and are on a tight budget, you will likely need to work. As a practical matter, the work most often available will be in low-paying service or agricultural work. There are some English language schools where the diligent traveler can find work, albeit rarely, and while these jobs are quite interesting, they are seldom lucrative. You could luck out and find work as a tutor, nanny, or housecleaner for a family, but it should not be counted on. On the other hand, some jobs can be arranged before you leave home, which eliminates the random search.
Still, the competition for casual jobs has intensified from the influx of eastern Europeans, so success often depends upon being in the right place at the right time, and in being lucky. These casual labor jobs will always be short-term and under the table. It is nearly impossible to get a visa to work legally unless you have medical training. Most potential employers will ask if you have a work permit.
OK, I just gotta say this: If you are a good-looking babe, chances are you are going to have an easy time finding any kind of work. Most of those doing the hiring are men, and that's just the way it is. It gets kind of discouraging when you spend a week going door to door seeking work, and you run into a lovely Norwegian who casually mentions she had three job offers that day alone. Not that there is a quid pro quo expected; it's just that the employers seem much more sympathetic to a young, blue-eyed blond than to your typical backpacker.
Those of us with average looks should start with self-education. One of my favorite books of all time is "Work Your Way Around the World" by Susan Griffith. It is loaded with practical advice on finding work, without the sugar coating, and is invaluable if you plan on bumming around from job to job for a year or two. (Information on this and all other resources mentioned here follows in the next chapter.)
Another decent book to look through before you go is "Work, Study, Travel Abroad: The Whole World Handbook", published by the Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). This offers addresses of organizations and volunteer groups you can contact to arrange a position before you go. Most of these involve paying some sort of registration fee, and then you work in exchange for room, board, and (sometimes) pocket money. If you simply need to break even with your labors, this is a great way to go.
For an abundance of general information on living overseas, get a few issues of "Transitions Abroad", a magazine covering budget travel, living, studying and working overseas. It is packed full of advice, ideas and experiences from people who have been there. It offers addresses, costs and other useful nuts and bolts stuff. Budget travel icons such as Rick Steves and Susan Griffith are regular contributors.
A number of websites have popped up with international work opportunities, such as escapeartist.com: http://www.escapeartist.com/jobs35/jobs35.htm, and they can help inform about which countries are hiring for what kinds of positions.
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