How to move abroad, live for free and save money to travel.
A bold statement, right? If you’re thinking you’ve fallen for a classic click-bait title and now I’m about to tell you that this is only possible if you give me your bank details/home address/promise me your first born – I don’t blame you. In fact, as I wrote it, I questioned myself. And then I just became super-grateful all over again for this crazy 10-year career of mine. That’s right, folks! I’ve been doing exactly what the title describes since I first decided to move abroad at 18. Now I’m here to tell you how to do the same!
So, let’s break it down.
Step one: Move Abroad.
Now, I’m not talking about a permanent move abroad. You won’t be hunting for homes to rent or queuing in an embassy to get a working Visa. Although, who knows, if Brexit ever goes though, eh? I’m talking about Seasonal Work. Most seasonal jobs will help with everything you need to make the move, including accommodation and travel. Most often, you will work for a company that continues to pay into your UK bank account (Or other EU account, dependant on where you are from). You will even carry on paying tax/insurance/student loans as if you were home.
“So, where can I go?”
There are a whole host of different companies to chose from, each working in different regions and countries. There are opportunities available further afield than the EU, but I haven’t tried these personally. (If you have, please let me know all about it!) Companies like Camp America offer great opportunities to travel the US, and I’ve spoken to a lot of people that have had incredible summers with them. However, not only do you need to have enough money to sign up and fly there (£600+) but the pay doesn’t usually work out at much either.
Staying with the camping theme, there are thousands of opportunities every year to work on Campsites in France, Italy, Holland, and Spain. Mainly (but not only) recruiting staff from the UK, Ireland and Holland, are several companies; all with the common goal of creating memorable holiday experiences for families. Not only will they organise your move abroad, but they will pay for it too!
While it never hurts to ask, it is unlikely you will get the exact area or site you want. But this is also a positive because Europe is full of wonderful and often underrated areas, many you have probably never heard of. I have mainly worked in the French Riviera, Lake Garda, Picardy, and the Adriatic. I had no clue about these areas before I was allocated to them. Although I would never have thought to visit them, I am eternally grateful that I got to know them so well. I can find my way around the French Riviera better than my own home town and Lake Garda has become one of my favorite places on earth.
What kind of work will I be doing?
Many of the camping companies offer various roles. I started as a ‘courier’ – nope, this doesn’t mean I was delivering parcels! Then I worked as a Team Leader for a few years, did a season as a Trainer/Assessor and then went back into Team Leading and became an Area Manager for 3 years. Now working as a ‘couple site holiday representative’ with Lee in Italy before we return to the UK in September 2019! Phew! So what does all this mean!? And do you have the skills and qualifications needed to do the same??
These are the most common job roles. A courier, campsite rep, Holiday representative, or other variation, is essentially on site to ensure guests enjoy their holidays. Generally, you will be responsible for the cleaning and maintenance of mobile homes and/or tents. Daily tasks include cleaning, topping up equipment (Cutlery, pillows, blankets), maintenance tasks (like changing lightbulbs and gas bottles), checking guests in, basic admin tasks, giving local information and dealing with requests (and complaints if necessary! – let’s be real!)
Usually working in teams of 3-30+ people but there are also opportunities to work alone, or as a couple, as we are doing!
Is this job for me? – If you are energetic, enthusiastic and genuinely care about creating positive experiences for tourists then this could be for you! You have got to be not only willing but happy, to clean. Previous experience of cleaning professionally will help your application, but it isn’t essential – all training is provided. Customer Service experience and any supporting qualifications are also preferable, but the prepping of accommodations is the main focus of the job. If you think you are more suited to just cleaning or customer service, there are opportunities on certain sites to do this.
As a Team Leader, you will be responsible for a group of couriers/holiday reps. As well as motivating and developing your staff, you will be expected to organise the workload daily and take responsibility for admin tasks and basic accounts. If you have never worked within the camping industry before, then leadership experience is essential. You will need to monitor and give feedback to staff regarding their performance within work. As well as taking an active role in their pastoral care. You will be expected to take pride in your team and your campsite. Monitor customer feedback and work towards targets. As well as checking the standards of your teams cleaning, you will also be expected to clean regularly, leading by example.
Is this job for me? – If you have relevant experience, enjoy taking on extra responsibility and want to have a key role in other peoples development then this could be for you!
These roles vary depending on the company. Assistants will generally need to be flexible, happy to travel and ready to get stuck in! You will usually work alongside an Area Manager, visiting sites, collecting local information, driving long distances, delivering stock, booking travel, driving staff to shops, airports or between sites and even taking on the role of holiday rep or team leader if cover is needed. Trainers may have similar responsibilities when they aren’t training new staff on health and safety, cleaning and customer service. Assessors are generally also trainers or assistants. They work with students or other members of staff working towards a work-based qualification.
is this job for me? – If you are adaptable, enjoy varied work and can manage your own time, this could be for you! These roles, like team leaders, are popular among returning employees, so relevant experience and/or qualifications would likely be essential!
Want to work with kids? Interested in outdoor activities? Have maintenance or managerial experience? You could also begin a career abroad as a manager, engineer or working as part of a kids club or activities center. Check out the links at the end of this post for vacancies and job descriptions!
Step two: Live for free.
Did I mention that seasonal work generally includes free accommodation?? It may be a shared mobile home, bungalow, chalet, tent or some other campsite or resort accommodation. Oh yeah, and generally, all bills are included! Winning! If you aren’t sure about living in a tent or on a campsite, then join me on Instagram or Facebook where I share the reality of #tentlife in my posts and stories.
Often, you can minimalise your food bills too. Either by joining a food kitty – where you shop and cook (and wash up!) as a team. You can even live off ‘finds’ – these are foods or drinks that guests leave behind, either as gifts or because they didn’t get around to using them themselves. (be prepared for a lot of pasta!)
Campsites vary, but often the only costs are washing facilities and wifi – and even these are free or heavily discounted in some places! Moving abroad isn’t always fun and games, and travel doesn’t always go smoothly, but the pros always outweigh the cons – and when you’re getting paid to do it?? What do you have to lose!?
Step three: Save money to travel!
So, if you haven’t noticed by now, seasonal work is pretty cost-effective! If you’re living rent-free, not paying any bills and spending very little on food, what are you doing with your money!? Saving it! That’s what!
Use your days off to explore the local areas! I have fallen in love with so many beautiful lakes, beaches, cities and medieval villages on days off. Make sure to enjoy yourself and your new disposable income, but keep some back for your next adventures! I have spent winters volunteering in Thailand, exploring European cities, and wandering Christmas markets the last few years – and all without working November-February!
How much can I save?
The company you work for, the job role you have and the country you work in will all affect how much you are paid. However, It is totally possible to save between £400-£1000 per month. I say this from personal experience as well as knowing a lot of people that have done the same. It is genuinely easy to walk away from a season with enough money for a long backpacking trip around Asia, an interrailing adventure in Europe or a series of mini trips and holidays. Whatever your travel style is! Baring in mind the amount above. Consider how much time you have to give. When do you want to move abroad? How long can you stay? Seasonal contracts can be 8 weeks to 8 months. I’ll even do the math for you – that means you can walk away with anywhere between £800 and £8000 in-a-single-season!!
Where do I sign up!?
Personally, I have worked for Eurocamp and Al Fresco holidays (and formally Keycamp) since 2010 & although I may be biased (I’m still employed by them now, although this post is in no way sponsored by them) I will always recommend them first. You can check out all the latest vacancies and job descriptions here.