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Working and volunteering

Volunteering

If you want to spend more time living and working in Europe, a short-term volunteer project might seem a good idea, say, teaching English in Poland or building a school in Turkey. However, most voluntary organisations levy high charges for airfares, food, lodging and recruitment (from about €250 to €800 per week), making such work impractical for most shoestringers. One exception is WWOOF International (www.wwoof.org) which helps link volunteers with organic farms in Germany, Slovenia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the UK, Austria and Switzerland. A small membership fee is required to join the national chapter but in exchange for your labour you’ll receive free lodging and food.

For more information, Lonely Planet publishes Volunteer: A Traveller's Guide to Making a Difference Around the World.

Work

EU citizens are allowed to work in any other EU country, but there can still be tiresome paperwork to complete. Other nationalities require special work permits that can be almost impossible to arrange, especially for temporary work. However, that doesn’t prevent enterprising travellers from topping up their funds by working in the hotel or restaurant trades at beach or ski resorts, or teaching a little English – and they don’t always have to do this illegally.

The UK, for example, issues special ‘Youth Mobility Scheme’ visas to citizens from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan aged between 18 and 30, valid for two years of work (see www.gov.uk/tier-5-youth-mobility/overview). Your national student-exchange organisation might be able to arrange temporary work permits to several countries.

If you have a grandparent or parent who was born in an EU country, you may have certain rights of residency or citizenship. Ask that country’s embassy about dual citizenship and work permits. With citizenship, also ask about any obligations, such as military service and residency. Beware that your home country may not recognise dual citizenship.

Seasonal Work

  • Work Your Way Around the World by Susan Griffith gives practical advice.

  • Typical tourist jobs (picking grapes in France, working at a bar in Greece) often come with board and lodging, and the pay is essentially pocket money, but you’ll have a good time partying with other travellers.
  • Busking is fairly common in major European cities, but it’s illegal in some parts of Switzerland and Austria. Crackdowns even occur in Belgium and Germany, where it has been tolerated in the past. Some other cities, including London, require permits and security checks. Talk to other buskers first.

EuroJobs (www.eurojobs.com) Links to hundreds of organisations looking to employ both non-Europeans (with the correct work permits) and Europeans.

Natives (www.natives.co.uk) Summer and winter resort jobs, and various tips.

Picking Jobs (www.pickingjobs.com) Includes some tourism jobs.

Season Workers (www.seasonworkers.com) Best for ski-resort work and summer jobs, although it also has some childcare jobs.

Ski-jobs.co.uk (www.ski-jobs.co.uk) Mainly service jobs such as chalet hosts, bar staff and porters. Some linguistic skills required.

Teaching English

Most schools prefer a bachelor’s degree and a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certificate.

It is easier to find TEFL jobs in Eastern Europe than in Western Europe. The British Council (www.britishcouncil.org) can provide advice about training and job searches. Alternatively, try the big schools such as Berlitz (www.berlitz.com) and Wall Street English (www.wallstreetenglish.com).

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