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How to Find Grunt Work While Traveling the World

How to find work abroad as a manual laborer? How to find a job when traveling? Hello Steele, There is probably one rule for finding work abroad: knock on doors and ask around. If you make it known that you will work for bottom of the barrel wages, you will find work — especially since [...]

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How to find work abroad as a manual laborer? How to find a job when traveling?

Hello Steele,

There is probably one rule for finding work abroad: knock on doors and ask around. If you make it known that you will work for bottom of the barrel wages, you will find work — especially since you seem adept at manual labor.

Look first to the farms. Just walk as your mode of travel through the countryside and knock on farmhouse doors. Often, farms all around the world will have quarters for migrant workers. You may need to be persistent, but if you don’t take no for an answer right away, you may find yourself with a bed, food, and work. If all else fails, offer to work for just a bed and board — you will probably be vastly more successful this way, and if you strip of these expenses your traveling will be very cheap.

Make sure you know the harvest season of the region that you want to travel in. In the agricultural areas of Europe, I know that there is often a cafe in rural areas that serve as meet up points for farmers to find workers. If you see a bunch of grubby dress, tough looking men with tools standing on a corner at 6AM, they are probably waiting to be picked up and taken to work — stand with them, find out what is going on.

Another alternative to paid work may be volunteering on farms. For a few hours of work a day, you can get a free bed and food. These pages have more information on this, WWOOFing good way to travel, Travel and work on farms, Farm work for travel funds. You mentioned that you want to travel around your home country of Australia first, and it is my impression that this is one of the best places in the world to find migrant farm work.

Another way to find grunt work is to inquire at construction sites. This will probably be a little more unlikely avenue to find employment — as you probably will not be legally hire-able — but it will not hurt. Many illegal migrant workers take this route in many countries. Again, look for groups of men with tools standing on a street corner early in the morning in urban or otherwise populated areas, stand with them and don’t take no for an answer.

When looking for work, remember that there is nothing that you cannot do, there is no skill that you are not a master of.

If you want to venture out of the realms of grunt work, there are many opportunities for teaching English under the table in many parts of the world. You can find these jobs by reading expat magazines

Couchsurfing.org is also a good way to find under the table work while traveling. Just make an account and put up postings on the message boards in the places you want to travel to. You may be able to turn up some good short term work this way.

In all, just ask around. Ask at hostels if they need some more staff, as at bars if they could be interested in hiring a bartender. If you see a wall in a restaurant that looks shabby, offer to paint it; if you see a bunch of people moving out of their house, offer to help for $10.

There are possibilities everywhere, just keep your head up, and throw yourself to the wolves. Make your intentions known to the point of being ridiculous — ask everyone you meet, “Do you know where I could pick up a little work?”

Read more about working when traveling

I hope this helps. If you have any more questions, please do not hesitate to ask.

Walk Slow,



Original question about how to find grunt work abroad

Hi, right now im a keen camper and labourer, but am dying to get out on the road. the only problem is money, i keep reading about people that work while travelling but i much prefer grunt work. i live in australia at the moment and wish to see that first before venturing out, but with all the tickets and files etc. that must be paid to obtain work; i cant see this happening soon with my income. my question is do you know how i can find work without the need of all these irrelevant government forms?


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Filed under: Farming, Money, Travel Help, Travel Tips, Volunteering, Work

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 91 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3722 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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  • Turner March 7, 2012, 4:19 pm

    Hey Wade,

    I too have found knocking on doors to be the best way to find work. Couchsurfing is also good for that. It is how I found my current gig: Timeshare sales.

    If you are interested in long-term travel I have found you need a job that you can do in a lot of different locations, so most people might advise teaching english, travel blogging or some other kind of job that makes money online.

    I have been selling timeshares for the past few months, and you can also do that long term and actually make money at it. Timeshares are in 100 different countries and it is fairly seasonal, so you could do 4 months in one beautiful spot in high season then go to another for their high season when the season ends. Here is my latest blog post on how to get a timeshare sales job if you are so inclined.


    best of luck,

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