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Travel and Work in USA

How can I pick up work while traveling in the USA? Hello Patrick, Funding your travels across the USA by working en route is a very feasible strategy. Though I must say that it is a travel strategy that will require a decent amount of preparation. It is my suggestion that you may want to [...]

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How can I pick up work while traveling in the USA?

Hello Patrick,

Funding your travels across the USA by working en route is a very feasible strategy. Though I must say that it is a travel strategy that will require a decent amount of preparation.

It is my suggestion that you may want to look for room and board/ work exchanges nearly as much as paid employment opportunities.

First and foremost, I would recommend doing farm work on your journey across the USA.

Ideally, it would be best if you could plan your travels in accordance to the harvest seasons around the country. In the north of the USA the competition for jobs between yourself and other migrant workers — who are professional farm hands and can probably work far faster and more efficiently that you — may be slimmer. Do research into when and where certain crops are being harvested — sugar beets between August and October in Minnesota, Blueberries in Maine in late summer etc.

For many of these harvests, the season is short and the farms only need workers for a couple weeks at a time. Employers also tend to advertise for these jobs on their websites, which means that it would not be too difficult to get confirmation of employment before traveling across the country. I have included some harvest employment links below. This is probably the best way to make the most money while traveling across the USA.

If your travel schedule does not match the harvest seasons, look for work/ home stay opportunities on organic farms. Many organic farms across the country will offer you a place to stay and food if you work for a few hour a day. I hav also found that many organic farms have websites through which you can make contact with them directly.

Alternatively, you can register with WOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) and get a packet with the addresses of organic farms across the world that offer a bed and food in exchange for work.

In travel, saving money is often as good as making money.

Or you can just drive out into the countryside and knock on farmhouse doors. Say that you are traveling through and was wondering if they could be in need of any hired hands for a couple of weeks. Your rate of success may not be too high from this strategy, but it could work. Also, you may consider finding a feed wholesaler or tractor/farming supply shop and hang out there talking to all of the farmers that come in and out to inquire if they would be interested in taking you on for a short term.

Websites for farms and seasonal farm work

Another option besides doing farm work to make up some travel funds on the road, is day labor. There are over three hundred Labor Ready offices around the country, and they are only just one of many day labor organizers. It is not too difficult to pass the hiring criteria, and you can often get paid on the same day you work.

Labor Ready website

For finding day labor work with Labor Ready, all you have to do is go into an office and fill out the paperwork, take a test that basically shows that you are not an alcoholic, a drug addict, and that you do not often fight with your coworkers or steal from your employers and are able to lift 50 pounds, and you are in.

Though you should make sure that the day labor office that you will like to work through is taking applications — some of them are occasionally all filled up.

Also, it is not really possible to walk into a Labor Ready office and work the same day. You often need to make an appointment and fill out the paperwork for each individual branch that you want to work for. I would say that you should plan on around three or four days of preparation before you will be ready to take on work with Labor Ready, so I would recommend finding a good place to camp for free outside of the town where you want to work or a good place to sleep in your car before trying this option.

Day Labor Center websites and further information

Another suggestion for finding temporary labor is to do it on the fly. Stand outside of a hardware store and ask customers coming out if they could use a cheap hired hand for a few days, or canvass all of the construction company offices that you can find, walk from pizza restaurant to pizza restaurant to see if they could be in need of a delivery person, or hang out at UHAUL offices and ask anyone renting a truck if they need help moving.

Pre-trip preparation

It is my impression that the best thing that you could be doing before your hobo trip across the USA is to learn as much about doing manual labor as possible. If you have not already worked on a farm before, then seek one out. If you have not done day labor before, then try it out before traveling.

The more working experience that you have now, the easier finding work while traveling will be.

Additional resources on Vagabond Journey.com

I home this helps.

Thanks for reading Vagabond Journey.com!

Walk Slow,


Original question about how to find work while traveling in the USA


I am trying to figure out how to pay for my travel around the U.S. I currently live in Florida, and plan on moving to California after the new year. I do not have much money saved and wanted to explore this great country for a while before heading out west. I have been looking for short term job ideas and currently have not found to many options. Looking for some way to keep my bank roll while I travel, so when I end up in California I have the same amount of money. Not real sure how long I am going to travel for and not real concerned on a time frame. I just want to have enough money to enjoy everything that I can. Any advice would be greatly appreciated to keep my traveling alive as long as possible.

Thank You,
Patrick Stone

Filed under: 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 3705 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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