Under 30? Plan for a Working Holiday Abroad

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Under 30? Plan for a Working Holiday Abroad

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Under 30? Plan for a Working Holiday AbroadUnder 30? Plan for a Working Holiday Abroad

Before you get up to your eyeballs in a career, house, family, and the accoutrements of life that tend to tie you down, wouldn't it be nice to spend some time working abroad? By having a working holiday, you can earn money as you go to cover your expenses, and in some cases you can even return home with some extra money in your pocket.

Working Holiday Basics

Many countries around the world offer working holiday visas: opportunities for people under 30 to live and work in another country for up to one year. This is the easiest way to get a chance to travel, earn money as you go, and experience a new culture that can be quite illuminating.

The work available depends on what skills you bring to the table, as well as what infrastructure is available in the country you are visiting. In most cases countries offering working holiday visas are well developed, and their biggest need (and impetus for offering working holiday visas) is in hospitality, tourism, and seasonal industries.

But that doesn't mean you are relegated to waiting tables or picking fruit; with a working holiday visa you can work anywhere you want; you just have to land the job.

Define Your Working Holiday Goals

Many working holiday travelers are eager to see the country and move around a bit, which is one reason why transient positions such as those in hospitality are popular. But some working holiday-makers want to build a diverse career in their chosen field, and others yet see working abroad as a way to create a life in another part of the world (with hopes for obtaining sponsorship through their employer so they can stay).

So in setting your career and travel goals with a working holiday visa, take time to understand your motivations so you can achieve what you desire most from the experience.

It's Good for the Resume

Some people might think it's irresponsible to take a year off to travel, even if it's to work abroad. Their biggest objection is the giant gap that will appear in your resume; how would potential employers view it?

In fact, many potential employers see a working holiday as a character-building exercise that speaks volumes and adds credibility.

"I look at [work abroad] as a positive. I believe that it takes a lot of courage to just pick up and leave for a year. They are forced to network and make new friends along the way which would develop their personal skills which is the most important attribute in any career. It will help with life skills, not just work."

-Ermos Erotocritou, hiring manager, Investors Group

Teaching English Abroad

Most working holiday visas are offered by western countries. If you'd rather experience a dramatically different lifestyle, you may want to teach English abroad in a region like Asia, where demand for English teachers is great.

You can have all your expenses covered (often including flights) and receive a stipend in exchange for teaching English as a second language to students of all ages from youngster to adult (depending on the job at hand). In most cases you need a university degree to be considered for these positions, which include visa sponsorship.

Where to get a Working Holiday Visa

The countries you can visit with a working holiday visa and the terms of acceptance vary according to your nationality. For US Citizens, you can visit Work Permit.com for up-to-date information. Here are the requirements for a few popular countries for US Citizens to visit:


The working holiday program in Canada is administered by the Student Work Abroad Program (SWAP). To receive a 6 month visa, you must be under the age of 31, and registered as a full-time student in the States. SWAP.ca has more information, as does the Canadian Visa Bureau.

New Zealand

You must be between 18 and 30 for a one-year working holiday visa, and must demonstrate that you have funds available for living costs, and a return ticket home. See the New Zealand Immigration site for more information.


Ireland's working holiday visa requires you to be enrolled in post-secondary education, or have graduated in the last 12 months. You need to prove you have funds for living expenses, a return ticket, in addition to a 250 Euro visa fee.

Ireland also has a Student Work and Travel program which allows students to work and travel in Ireland every summer. Ireland Immigration has more information on both programs.


Full-time university undergraduates who are 17-30 years old can work for up to six months in Singapore. There's also a Training Employment Pass for foreign students to don't meet the above criteria. See Singapore Immigration for details.

US Citizens unfortunately don't have access to as many working holiday opportunities as residents of other countries do, in part because the States doesn't offer working holiday visas so there's no reciprocity. However policies do change over time, so keep an eye on resources like Transitions Abroad and Work Permit for information on how you can enjoy a working holiday abroad.


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Nora DunnNora Dunn

Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo: a full-time traveler and freelance writer. She is a contributing writer under the CareOne Debt Relief Services Life Balance blog. Having sold her business and belongings to travel, she has been on the road since 2007. She travels in a financially sustainable manner, taking advantage of creative volunteering positions. As a former certified Financial Planner, she is financially responsible for her actions along the way. She believes there is a fine balance between planning for tomorrow, and living for today. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services. You can follow Nora on Twitter @hobonora

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  • Very Informative post. I am 32. and I am willing to get working holiday visa. Is there any flexible plan for my age?

  • @Peter - Sadly, most working holidays are for people under 30. (I think Canada is the most flexible on this one, and depending on your citizenship you can be up to 35 years old).

    If you want to teach English abroad, it's a little more restrictive and requires some educational requirements, but age isn't a deterring factor.

    Hope this helps!

  • This is really good opportunity for those who are planning for immigration. Thanks & Keep Posting!!

  • NoraDunn, so the canada working holiday is for american student from 18 - 35 ?

  • You missed Australia.  Its requirements are pretty much the same as New Zealand, except you have pay a 250 AUD fee.

  • @Choonie - As far as I am led to believe, the SWAP Canadian program is for US students under the age of 31, but they may have since extended it to 35 since the writing of this post. You can get up-to-date information through the provided links.

  • @David - In my research at the time, I couldn't find any Australian working holiday visas available to Americans (only Canadians and Europeans). Do you per chance have a link with more information about Aussie working holiday visas?

  • This is so very helpful. Very informative. Thanks for sharing this post. :)

  • I'm from Bangladesh 30 years old and having  BBA & MBA and also have 6+years  local work experience(Poor Salary). In our country there are many Overseas Most of them are cheater.I have no sufficient fund. Could i get Canadian visa for work permit? Then how?

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