Previously posted at Escapenormal.com (no longer operational) as “The Best 23 Resources for Cheap, Free, or Paid Travel (Part 1)” & “The Best Resources for Cheap, Free, and Paid Travel (Part 2)”, this list has been condensed and updated.
I have what most people in the “real world” would consider an unusual way of life. I am a traveler and a seasonal worker. Every few months I pack and move to a new home, somewhere beautiful with a a built-in community of coworkers living in staff housing. Seasonal workers like myself have figured out how to travel for free, and how to get paid to travel. The lifestyle is not for everyone, but it comes with incredible rewards.
Below is a list of some of the best sites for finding seasonal jobs with housing.
Get Paid to Travel
This is the go-to site for seasonal workers. Every job includes employee housing, and many come with both room and board.
Only paid positions are posted- there is no volunteering, and no scammy pay-to-work nonsense. Each job listing includes gorgeous pictures, employee perks (housing, food, and activities), and other enticing tidbits. The types of jobs you’ll find include hospitality, ski resort jobs, seasonal summer jobs, adventure jobs, work abroad, etc.
This is the site for finding adventure jobs, guiding jobs, and travel programs. It is best for people looking for paid work in beautiful natural settings. Jobs are more physical and adventure oriented and less hospitality/tourism focused.
For those of you looking to teach english as a foreign language (TEFL) abroad, this site has you covered. It guides you through the process of finding a job and getting to the new country. You need to at a minimum be fluent in English, and better-paying opportunities will open up if you get a TEFL certificate, which can be done online in 50 to a few hundred hours. There are many other good sites that will help you find English teaching jobs abroad, so shop around.
Au pair Jobs
This is a great way for young people to experience another culture. Au pairs spend a year or so living with a host family in their country of choice and take care of children. There are many au pair match sites out there.
This site lists ski resort jobs, hospitality, TEFL, outdoor adventure jobs, and childcare jobs, as well as Gap Year programs.
There are some really interesting jobs on here from all corners of the earth.
Travel for Free (Volunteering & Work Exchange)
This site is one of the best options for volunteer work-exchanges, with a small membership fee. There is a strong emphasis on beautiful and exotic locations, both off the beaten path and urban, and positions are available around the world. You’ll need to set up a profile and can link your profile with that of a travel buddy. Hosts are rated and reviewed by previous volunteers and vice-versa. Gigs can last anywhere from a few days to a few months and include housing and often meals.
World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farm is a great resource for travelers, especially younger people. It is a group of hosts and volunteers dedicated to sustainable agriculture. In exchange for your work on a farm, with plants, animals, or both, you get food, accommodation, and an education. Everyone who tries it seems to love it, but you do have to be ready for down-and dirty work.
Student Conservation Association
This is a large volunteer operation with many locations. Volunteers work to maintain and restore important natural environments, like national parks, marine sanctuaries, and landmarks. Positions are geared toward students, but there are opportunities for other age groups too, based on qualifications. The internships are expense-paid with opportunities for educational awards.
Help Exchange (Help X)
This is very similar to WWOOF, except the jobs have a slightly wider range. There are the farm gigs, but you can also find people with bed and breakfasts, hostels, and even sailboats who are willing to exchange food and accommodation for your volunteer work. Help Exchange is one of the most popular free volunteer sites.
This is long-term a volunteer program. Americorps is more focused on social issues, like poverty, so this may not be the bright, exciting adventure that avid travelers are craving. Benefits include a stipend for food and housing, training, and healthcare.
This is a database of nearly-free volunteer opportunities worldwide, which gives you access to a variety of volunteer work in places like Kenya and Cambodia, and is definitely worth looking into. It is a little difficult to navigate the site.
All Hands is a non-profit that offers both volunteer positions abroad. They send volunteers all over the world to provide disaster relief, which seems like something we’re going to need a lot more of, since global warming has arrived.
Go Workabout Australia
This site is geared toward Australia. The jobs vary from hospitality to vine pruning and apple picking. While most of the jobs require you to get your own Visa and find housing, some jobs are part of a “complete package,” meaning Workabout Australia will help you secure the job and have everything you need set up before you go, for a fee.
Other Travel for Free Ideas
House sitting is what it sounds like- babysitting a house. Wealthy individuals often need someone to take care of vacation properties while they are away. They tend to hire older people and couples, who tend to be more responsible. There are many other sources for house sitting online, so shop around.
For those of you who are lucky enough to already own a home in a beautiful place, this site and others like it will let you match up with homeowners in other beautiful places so that you can trade houses for a while.
*Job Search Tip
There are many opportunities that will never be listed on these sites and you’ll have to dig deeper to find them. It helps to pick a specific location and do a google search for that place + employee housing/seasonal job. (Ex: Lake Tahoe employee housing).