Q: Peter, I'm wondering if you can help me. I am planning on traveling next year for the long term. I'd love to work while I travel through Europe, for example, so I have some sort of purpose to be in another country besides just visiting. Any suggestions for small, part-time positions in Europe? Any country is OK with me. I plan on doing this solo. I do not speak another language.
–Terri, Scottsdale, Ariz.
A: Hi, Terri. Since Americans are not able to work legally in Europe unless they are EU citizens or have work visas, options are limited with paid work. The only legitimate options for non-EU citizens are such things as teaching English, writing for a local newspaper, working for an international governmental agency, or working as an au pair. But these are long-term contract positions, not short-term casual work, and they often require language skills.
However, if you are willing to work in exchange for room and board instead of money, there are many options. World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms puts travelers in touch with farmers all over the world (including Europe) who offer free places to stay in exchange for four to six hours of garden and farm-related work per day. Workaway connects travelers with businesses and families who are looking to exchange room and board for services, such as child care, construction, administrative work, and more.
If you're not keen on the idea of physical labor, check out Caretaker.org and HouseCarers.com, which connect locals with potential house sitters. All you'll have to do is make sure the house is kept clean, the animals are fed, and the plants are watered. For more ideas, a great resource is the book, "Work Your Way Around the World," by Susan Griffith. The Web site TransitionsAbroad.com also has links to hundreds of short-term work and volunteer programs in Europe and beyond.
Unofficially, many Americans pick up casual work on an informal basis just by asking around when they get to their destinations. Places like bars, restaurants, and hotels often hire people for short periods and pay cash "under the table." I'm neither condoning nor discouraging this (remember, you do run the risk of getting caught). I am simply saying that it is possible to find casual work arrangements.
Since we now live in the Internet age, an increasingly common scenario is to earn money through an online business while you travel. Whether it's day-trading stocks or proofreading documents for an employer halfway around the world, a mobile job can keep a steady stream of income coming in—as long as you have a laptop computer and an Internet connection.