23 Companies That Help You Travel The World For Free (And Might Pay You, Too)
Laura Begley Bloom
Transformative Travel: I look at how travel can change lives.
English speakers willing to spend a week talking with foreigners can get a free vacation to Spain or Germany with Diverbo. (Courtesy of Diverbo)
Think you can’t afford to go on vacation? Think again.
A Wisconsin-based teacher and author with a passion for Spain, Abbey Algiers looks for inexpensive ways to take trips on her summer holidays. So when she discovered Diverbo , she couldn’t believe it. Diverbo offers free vacations for English speakers willing to spend a week mingling with foreigners in Spain or Germany to help them practice their language skills.
“It’s the best-kept secret on the planet,” she says.
Algiers spent a week chatting, enjoying Spanish tapas and wine and bonding with fellow travelers. The setting couldn’t have been more perfect: La Alberca, a tiny village four hours west of Madrid. The best part? Apart from paying for the flight there, the trip didn’t cost her a cent.
With Diverbo, you can travel for free to a village like La Alberca, Spain. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
Algiers loved it so much, she has done Diverbo two more times and is currently traveling in Portugal with a friend she met on her first trip. “This is a legit way to make lifelong friends from around the world,” she says.
Diverbo is part of a growing trend: companies that are giving new meaning to the phrase “business trip.” If you’re willing to do a little work while you’re on vacation, these companies will help you get most — if not all — of your travel costs covered. Some will even pay you a stipend or a salary. It’s a trend that is taking off, especially among young female travelers who are new to the workforce and looking for affordable vacation options or for millennial women in search of ways to give back while on vacation.
A free trip and a chance to see the world? Sign us up! Read on for 10 ideas and 23 companies to check out right now. And if you want to quit it all and live on the cheap, check out “Quit Your Job: 5 Countries Where You Can Live For Under $1,500 A Month.”
Speak English? You’re in luck. Diverbo recruits English speakers to help foreigners in Spain and Germany practice their language skills. Even better: Diverbo prefers if you don’t speak Spanish or German. There’s not much downtime — you’ll spend most of the day “working” in small villages near Madrid, Munich, and Frankfurt. But it’s not a hardship: There are group dinners, parties, and even theater performances. There’s also an offshoot of Diverbo for teens.
Christina from Austria is a Wwoofer, willing workers on organic farms. She’s pictured here in Ty’r Eithin farm, South Wales. (Photo by In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)
Work On A Farm
Sue Coppard was a London secretary who volunteered on a farm with some friends back in 1971 and thought the idea was so great that she turned it into a business: WWOOF , which stands for World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. The company has recently been rediscovered by a new generation of travelers that craves getting dirt under their fingernails. Here’s how it works: Farm owners post help-wanted ads on the site, and you can apply to do anything from sowing seeds to making cheese to gathering herbs. In return, the farm pays for your accommodations and food (you usually need to cover the flight). Volunteers typically work a few hours a day, then get time off to explore. There are opportunities everywhere from Costa Rica to Cambodia.
Working with an elephant and son in Thailand. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
Are you willing to put in a little sweat equity on your next vacation in exchange for free meals and accommodations? The sharing economy has resulted in innovative resources for work-exchange programs. Workaway and HelpX connect travelers with localsaround the globe looking for volunteer help. You could find yourself working for people like Alex and Allie , who own an eco-lodge in the Northern Thai mountains near Chiang Mai where they rescue elephants and support human rights. Or Pamela , who has a house in Provence and wants assistance gardening and cooking. Or there’s Rick and Lindy , a couple who needs workers for their cattle farm in New Zealand. Generally, volunteers work four or five hours a day, five days a week, then have the rest of the time to themselves. It’s a great way to affordably see a new place and live like a local.
Work In the Adventure Space
Want to spend a week or two skiing and snowboarding — and get paid to do it? The website AdventureWork lists jobs in the adventure space, some long-term postings but others for vacationers looking for a free trip. For instance, PGL hires ski reps at its resorts in France, Italy, Austria and the U.S. to accompany school groups. In exchange, PGL covers your room and food, in-resort expenses, lift passes, board hire and gives you a small stipend of $229 (£175).
Photo courtesy of @roundtheworldfamily/Instagram
Organize A Trip
Now here’s a sneaky way to get a free vacation: Plan a trip for a group of your friends or family. Many travel operators will cover your costs if you function as a trip leader. The rules change depending on the company, but as an example, YMT Vacations will give you a free vacation if you enlist 12 people to take a trip with them; if eight of the guests book their flight through YMT, your airfare is also covered. Other companies offering free trips to group leaders include Grand Circle Cruise Line , Select International Tours , All Abroad Travel and Merit Group Travel .
Host An Educational Trip
Are you a teacher who wants to take your students on a trip so that they can immerse themselves in what they’ve just studied? A number of educational travel companies provide free trips to teachers in order to get them to host trips for students. (Many will even throw in a free training trip beforehand, so that you can learn the ropes of hosting and guiding.) Some of the best outfitters include EF , CHA Educational Tours , and Explorica .
Heritage Greece invites young Greek adults to come “home” on a free trip. (Photo courtesy of Shutterstock)
Explore Your Roots
Are you lucky enough to have roots somewhere else? Your home country might want you to come back and connect with your culture. For instance, the Hungarian Human Rights Foundation runs ReConnect Hungary to get young Hungarian-Americans ages 18-28 to take a two-week trip to learn about their history and traditions. The program covers airfare from New York to Budapest and two weeks of accommodations, meals, transportation, entertainment and programming. Countries with similar programs include Heritage Greece , aimed at accomplished college students of Greek heritage. Birthright Armenia reimburses expenses for Armenians ages 20-32 who will intern or volunteer for at least two months for a variety of organizations, including media outlets and NGOs. Love Boat Study Program is for people of Chinese or Taiwanese descent, ages 16-27. And Birthright Israel has helped over 500,000 Jewish young adults travel for free to Israel since the company was founded in 1999.
Take Your Nursing Skills On The Road
If you’re a nurse, you can go mobile and travel for free to places like Florida or Hawaii — and get paid for it. The site TravelNursing.org offers opportunities around the country, with assignments lasting eight to 26 weeks. Compensation varies based on your skill level and the type of position you’re filling, but a traveling nurse can make as much as $10,000 a month, with food and housing often covered.
Become A House Sitter
Are you open to taking care of someone’s home – or even their pet — while on vacation? You might have a free place to stay for offering your services. Companies like Trusted Housesitters and HouseCarers connect travelers and people in need of sitters around the world.
If you’re willing to teach English as a foreign language to non-English speakers, you can pretty much write your ticket. Some of the best resources for job hunters include TEFL.com and ESL Cafe , which list salaried jobs across the planet in search of your skills (typically, you don’t need to speak the home language). This isn’t something you’d do for a week-long vacation: Postings generally range from nine months to two years. Still, it’s a great way to have an extended (paid) vacation.
For great affordable travel spots, check out “Quit Your Job: 5 Countries Where You Can Live For Under $1,500 A Month.”
19 Feb What the F*ck am I going to do after college? 14 ideas to help you escape dying in a cubicle
Posted at 10:59h in Money Making Travel Jobs , Travel Job Tips , Volunteer Jobs by Turner
So after you strolled down aisle, waving embarrassingly to your adoring familia in the stands, proudly clutching your hard earned diploma (see: glorified paper weight), the thought probably entered your mind – ‘okay, what do I do after college now’?
For the love of God why?
Perhaps, it may have crossed your noodle many a time in the preceding months leading to aforementioned overblown affair, but you decided to postpone the complete thought process for a later date when those grueling last minute examines were over, or for the more socially minded, when the keg had finally run dry and your last attempt at that cute co-ed flopped. I don’t blame you, because I was there and did far worse – especially in the co-ed department. But let me cut the foreplay and address the terrifying thought in more succinct and mature, adult-friendly manner: what to do after college?
If you already found gainfully employment, you can skip this blog post – you smug, prepared bastard – as it will just make you question why you are cold calling mom and pop stores in the Midwest about their paper supply needs.
Your “golden years” never looked so good huh?
For the rest of us, who postulated deeply on the culturally accepted next step into adultdom (see: becoming a corporate wage slave job) in order to not fall behind pack of fellow grads – may I be so bold as to offer up an alternative: To travel and see the world. Or perhaps more precisely, to get paid and do interesting meaningful work whilst traveling the globe.
What a surprise, a travel blogger shilling advice to go and travel the world – or in the least, explore some gap year ideas and see what inspires you.
My unsolicited, and albeit, heavily biased and self-serving advice being a travel blogger and all (gag), would be to postpone the corporate jungle and venture, for at least a bit, into the real jungle, or beach, or overly populated urban jungle of filth , which happens outside a cubicle and requires nothing but a passport and a couple bucks in the bank, and by a couple of bucks I suggest at least $2,000 in the bank.
Sunsets on Boracay: home to kitesurfing jobs and the Best Internship in Asia
Trust me, it is far more fulfilling and important for your future than making photocopies or creating PowerPoint presentations using words like ‘pivoting’, ‘synergy’ or other business buzzword bullshit no one really understands ad nausea for a year. No – the completely biased advice I am doling out is to travel the world, open your eyes a bit, get some real life experiences under you belt, then you can decide if selling your soul to a multi-national corporation is in fact the course for you. But there is an obvious elephant in the room question we must address first:
How can I get paid to travel the world?
Excellent – if you got this far and waded through my trite prose you are not a mindless, reality show pop culture drone who clicks ‘like‘ on everything Facebook throws up like the rest of America, probably.
If you are up to your eyeballs in debt to Uncle Sam from that freshly minted college degree which now makes you more employable than the 5% of the American population, I would suggest you seek advice from someone much smarter than myself on the subject. Google is your friend (for now), or pay close attention to the obligatory teaching English section that is the obvious go to when people think about working overseas. Me – I just know about job opportunities abroad that can keep you afloat and get some unique experiences around the world under your belt.
So without more meandering unintelligible dribble, here are some helpful, real options of what to do after college slams in door in your face (with a big bill)
Yes, yes – this of option of course was going to go down as it is far and away the most obvious of way of working overseas. As if you are fortunate enough to be a native speaker of the international language of choice, you can grab one of these gigs in any number of countries, some require that 5-week TEFL courses, others prerequisite is simple to be white-ish, smile dopely, entertain people and have words fall out of your mouth. Check these posts out:
Can you really make money teaching English in Korea?
Can you really make money teaching English in China? Enter the Dragon
Can you really make money teaching English in Japan? Godzilla vs Gaijin edition
Taiwan, Thailand , Vietnam, some middle-eastern country that makes women wear a bee keeper outfit, etc the list goes on also have some jobs that pay well relative where you are living so you can make some coin to spend on some extra wild experiences (sumo wrestling, cat cafes, underwater basket weaving, etc.) or pay back Uncle Sam for that paper weight we talked about.
Working Holiday in Australia or New Zealand
Yes – the land down under is full of animals that can kill you and an accent so horrid it will make you wish you were dead. But if you are from America you can get a working holiday visa, or if you are from Canada or another country that was once part of the imperialist, war mongering British Empire (the Commonwealth), you can get a whole other kind of work visa (lucky you).
Jeremy hit the road to Australia and landed a career as a bartender. Boom.
Australia’s economy is booming and there are lot of jobs where you can make a very high minimum wage even if you are exceptionally unskilled, but the booming economy means it has also gotten very expensive so you will have to still keep your wits about you money wise so you aren’t forced to sell your kidneys to feed yourself at some point. Likewise, if you are manly enough and can hack it in the outback, you can earn money traveling in the booming ore industry there. Here is a post on on how Jeremy got skilled and made bank after college by becoming a bartender while on a working holiday visa in Australia.
And trust me, Australia is a dream travel destination for a reason.
Timeshare Sales Jobs
Timeshare Grand Mayan aka Soviet Holiday Resort
I don’t really recommend this as it is like being a used car salesmen, selling false hopes and dreams, but on a beach or in some ski bum haven. It requires thick skin and a flexible moral compass in what you are selling. To each their own, but buyer beware.
I gots a uniform
…and I am pretty excited about it as you can clearly see…
Yacht Crewing Jobs
I actually haven’t don’t this yet, as the idea of being stuck on boat for prolonged periods of time makes me queasy just thinking about it. But I do meet people who do it and they make bank, seriously – especially if that mega yacht has American tourists who tip. You can make said big money but you will usually work long, long hours and do a lot of work unless you are the head engineer who sits on his ass unless they hit an iceberg. You need to get all kinds of certifications, but you can find employment year round if you jet hop. Salaries and big tips await on this one. Just show up prior to the season with certificates in hand and you may just land your first boat gig. Or you can land an easier gig on some short-term party boats that sail through the Mediterranean .
Au Pair Jobs
Alex was an Au Pair in Germany
This is for the ladies out there. Not that I am sexist, misogynist scumbag or anything (I am). No – I just have never heard of a male au pair, probably because the fairer sex is more responsible and can multitask than us (or not let kids play with fireworks and bourbon, either way). Here is a post by Alex on how to get a job working as an Au Pair in a faraway land .
…apparently she loved it.
Scuba Dive Instructor Jobs
I am a diver but purely for pleasure as the idea of being responsible for other’s lives doesn’t appeal to me. People who do this mainly do it for the free diving than making big money. It is a job of love, but if you are a dive master, you can live for peanuts in beautiful spots around the world while you dive until your hearts content, until you oxygen runs out and you die a horrible death. Either way, people seem to really love this one. Talon travels the world with his son and pays his way by diving. Here is his take on how to travel the world by becoming a scuba diving instructor .
Cruise Ship Jobs
Again, like with yachting/crewing jobs, you are at sea for long periods and work long hours, but you can save a lot and travel by boat around the world. Jobs awesomeness, or not, onboard varies. Research. Personally I would opt for activities coordinator guy or if I were in shape, the fitness guy who gets paid to work out and scheme on older women. This is a pretty great option if you want conistent pay by contract. I recommend Wandering Earl’s book on (the guy is money and a legit blogger/person – recommend). Click here to visit Wandering Earl.
Working in the Greek Islands/Mediterranean
this office has potential
Fun, Fun, Fun but you aren’t going to be putting anything in the piggy bank. But you will have a great time making bad decisions and get a tan at the same time.
You can check out these posts on working in the Greek Islands , working in Portugal , or for the more sexually-party minded (not that the former does not involve such), you can work at the backpacker party resort on the Island of Corfu in Greece at the Pink Palace. You dirty dog.
This office also has potential
Tour Guiding Jobs
What you don’t want to buy a tour from me? Che Cazzo Dici!
Okay, this one can be tricky. As some countries you need to be an expert and have permits, visas, etc. Your best bet here would be to learn the ropes and try to get onboard with a company that has groups that come in from afar (probably your native land) ie G-Adventures for touring with young people, or to make bigger tips something that caters to old people who have more cash than time left to burn. I on the other hand, have never been a tour guide. I did however, sell tours in Rome for a spell, and while it was a challenge, if you got sale chops (unlike me), you can live in many places getting your hustle on.
the Gatherer- sales tout – makes is move, attempting the walk and chat
Okay. This is cheating, as these jobs don’t really pay anything, ergo the verbage ‘volunteering’, but they can give you that feel good dopamine for lending a helping hand rather than using that wellbutrin your doc gave you to feel better about living such an entitled life that you get to even ponder the idea of ‘why am I depressed?’.
I suggest volunteering with the elephants in Thailand rather than the tigers , but to each there own. And if you get some smelly feet and shoes along the way, you should rectify that.
Not so sweet
If you really want to go deep and know more about doing good for others and giving back (to make up for all those college years). Check out Shannon’s The Volunteer Traveler’s Handbook as she knows much more on the topic of volunteering than my impostor self who hates to get dirty.
Also, just because you don’t see an official website or some thing written about volunteering, doesn’t mean you can’t create your own volunteering opportunity. I just spent the last 4 weeks hustling to throw together Operation Save Santa, a fundraiser for Filipino children for gifts for Christmas , and there wasn’t any application form. I decided to help out, and took action. Boom – pick your mission.
*And a sidenote on voluntourism/working abroad sites that have hefty course fees. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that it should cost $3,500 and your first born child to volunteer to help people/animals/your grandma? Some money yes, but me thinks that there may be a few unscrupulous companies out there – Check out this post on the matter.
What am I doing? I don’t know, really.
Well, I don’t know much about professional, journalistic writing to be honest. I just included it because of all the bullshit lists of jobs to work your way around the world that you find via the Google state this one. They write freelance, write for magazine, get big brands to throw money and host champagne showers for them. There are some amazing journalist/travel writers out there. I am KEEN on this one at the moment, as she seems to do it all and pack in fantastic writing and travel and get paid and have a dog and have a dreamboat for a husband. For me I tend to feel that the written word is dead, based on the amount of New York Times articles coming out by writers complaining of not getting paid anymore to write. It’s a labor of love. At this point I just assume most people perusing the inter-webs just want look at pictures of animals dressed as humans or are merely skimming for important fact rather than enjoying the subtleties of the English language. Based on my analytics, the only people who read my site top to bottom, other than my mother, are the very handsome people from London and Dublin, who apparently still give a shit about the integrity of their invention. Or they are just drunk and like to watch their former indentured servants who kept the mercantile system afloat butcher their language. Either way, I love you.
I couldn’t find my old photo that isn’t cartooned, so you get this one. Lucky guy, girl, family pet perusing my site.
Quit your corporate 9-5 today and you too can live the dream overseas in lavish splendor while you watch your bank account tick upwards. Just kidding. Some travel bloggers do it well professionally and build a community and have products and an actual business (ebooks, tours, consulting etc.). Some become the darlings of sponsored traveled whisked away on free trip medleys and such, while others build fake sites to sell ads and links to travel operators to keep themselves living the dream. There are many courses you can go down, but all require a lot of legwork to make a reality. Dreams crushed. Sorry, no quick and easy path here to travel the world, but it is possible to travel the world this way – it just takes a lot more work than buying an ebook on how to do it for $9.95.
One must become an expert in writing “the top ten reasons to visit xyz” to pump those page views baby.
Promotional Video Making
Honestly, this right here is what’s up. My second travel job , I worked with a guy in Puerto Vallarta who made videos for local companies than hosted them on his YouTube channel. We went whale watching. I held a camera. He got paid. …And no more explanation needed.
Whale watching with beer while filming onsite…looks like career potential
Location Independent Jobs
This could be a long, serious list, full of serious skills that you must have or learn to work remotely anywhere in the world. Basically every course I didn’t take while in college. Thanks guidance counselor. Por ejemplo,
online poker or things like ladbrokes casino games
blogging in general
The list could go on and on. Seriously, everyday it gets longer and longer as technology makes it a reality and more cost effective for people to work remotely. I could go into detail on many of these opportunities but I don’t want to give away the farm on the first date by completely whoring myself out to get some extra page views and Facebook likes. What do you think am? Some kind of slutty travel blogger or something?
So what I will leave you with is simply: there are many paths you can choose, before or after college, don’t be afraid of taking a leap of faith and trying to something a bit different before shackling yourself to some career that will probably be dead in a decade anyhow. Your future self will thank you, maybe.
Hi, my name is Turner. I travel the world, hustle to find interesting jobs, and write about what happens when you read too many self-help books.
Ron | Active Planet Travels
Posted at 11:19h, 19 February
Nice list of job related resources. As you can probably tell due to my name, I’ve stuck with travel blogging and have been doing it since June of 2011. You’re right, it takes a hell of a lot of leg work to get anywhere in this business and is definitely a labor of love but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m currently transitioning over from getting an income from “paid blog post” to having actual products & services so that I have a legit business. Many people are successful at it but you’ve really got to dedicate yourself! 😉 lol
Posted at 11:22h, 19 February
Great post. I really enjoy reading your writing. I am headed of to live this kind of lifestyle as well. Keep up the great work and I look forward to your future post.
Adam Finan @ Tropical Nomad
Posted at 12:44h, 19 February
Decent list there Turner.. I would add construction work though. It is easy to make +$1000 per week in Australia and $700 in NZ as a labourer. I done it in NYC also and made $1200 cash in hand once upon a time. Any clown can break a wall with a sledgehammer or operate a skill-saw!
Camels & Chocolate
Posted at 10:19h, 24 February
Love this! if I didn’t work as a journalist and get to travel that way, I’m pretty sure I would have gone on to get my divemaster and flitted around the globe leading dive trips. Dream job!
Posted at 01:10h, 26 February
Great stuff Turner! For location independent jobs, I really recommend people check out Elance.com for freelance work online. You don’t have to be a great writer or know photoshop or know how to code a website. There a lot of admin jobs and virtual assistant jobs you can do from just about anywhere with an Internet connection.
Mel in OZ
Posted at 22:52h, 03 March
I read your site top to bottom – thanks for an interesting, laugh out loud, inspiring and human take on the question that has a lot of people, including me, going around in perpetual dizzying circles.
Posted at 20:35h, 06 March
Turner, thank you for your honesty. You know, I’m not a handsome person from Dublin or London, but the article was worth reading top to bottom (and, yeah, I liked all the pictures).
Posted at 10:27h, 13 March
From all of us working class slobs back doing the daily grind, we salute you! Awesome post. We traveled for a few years, blog about it, and now are back in the U.S. wondering why in the world we stopped. This 9 to 5 thing is for the birds! Take care.
Hey I’m Turner – a 30-something American guy into eatin’, drankin’, and traveling. Not always in that order. You’ve met me at a weird time in my life, but that’s okay. Let’s get weird.
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