So you’ve marked the departure date on the calendar and packed all your precious belongings away. You’ve plotted a route to follow the sun for a few months or more, bought your vehicles and are about to hit the road.
There is one not-so-little hurdle… your bank balance! It is not a bottomless pit and you know you are going to have to top it up along the way. But how do you do this? Where is the starting point?
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Here are a few tips to get you started. There are some bits and pieces you will need to get stored on your hard drive and printed out before you leave your fixed abode, or you will need to get them posted to you.
These pieces of paper will help you get the jobs that you are seeking; and as long as you’re not afraid of hard work or getting dirty, all you need is some experience, a resume, references – and then you can hunt around and apply. Some jobs do require certified tickets or licences and/or experience, so make sure you have all the necessary documentation with you.
Other than collecting all your certificates and tickets, you will need to get a very important police clearance certificate and a Working with Children certificate. Most places ask for these… and even if they don’t, it’s a bit of extra credibility that will give you an added advantage. All you need to do is head over to the relevant websites, pay some small fees and the documents will get posted to you. It’s as simple as that!
It is also a good idea to get an ABN – always useful if you have a hobby or the skill to run a small business – and if you are a tradie, don’t forget to pack your qualifications and your tools!
It’s not all about being a labourer to get work. You can use your hairdressing, teaching, nursing and admin skills, and so many more capabilities. Really, you can take any job you have worked in with you onto the road – and use it to put food on your table.
While you are waiting for your certificates to arrive in the post, it’s time to do a bit of homework. Check the seasons and harvest hotspots to make sure you are following the work trails. It’s no good wanting to work on farms when it’s their dry season or growing season… you won’t find much work at all!
While fruit picking can be back-breaking work, there are plenty of less demanding jobs available on fruit farms. You can drive machinery (having a forklift licence is useful, and it only takes a weekend to get one), grade fruit, or do pruning and weeding.
Keeping an open mind is imperative, and the willingness to learn is a must.
The next question is: How do you find the work?
There are so many ways to do this! If you have a skillset and a small business, then advertise! Get a sign made for your van. Everyone needs a mechanic, a hairdresser or even an accountant… utilise your skills and don’t be shy.
If you are in town for a while, noticeboards and local newspapers are good places to advertise your skills and find work.
In reality, finding work on the road is exactly the same as looking for work if you are settled in one spot – you have to search and act in the same way. The only difference is, in this scenario you are seeking short-term work.
If you are not a social butterfly, now is the time to make a few changes and get out of your comfort zone and socialise… you have to talk to people around you. Word of mouth is invaluable in finding work. Chat to other travellers around the campfire. If you are in a caravan park, the laundry is like the office water-cooler… everyone goes there.
Many places don’t advertise but are often on the lookout for casual staff. Always have your up-to-date resume or business cards available, and become a chatterbox!
There is an incredibly useful booklet called ‘The Harvest Trail’ and it’s an invaluable aid to getting work on the road.
Google is your friend… search on Gumtree (yes, Gumtree has lots of regional and local jobs), and sign up to many of the Backpacker sites to get their weekly newsletters.
There are plenty of websites out there offering backpacking work. They put it out there for ‘backpackers’ but really anyone can apply.
If you are only looking for a bit of extra money to help you travel for a little bit longer, you can look at turning your hobby into a little earner. It may not bring in bucketloads of cash but every dollar helps. If you can sew, knit, paint, write, make jewellery or cards – any hobby can provide an income through selling at local markets or even selling online!
A good site to bookmark is a community-based employment agency called Madec which has offices throughout Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales. All you have to do is go to an induction and sign up, and you can apply in all three States. Madec sends you off to a farm or place of employment and this keeps you a little bit safer as you won’t need to go to dodgy places and get ripped off. Sadly, it does happen – there are people out there who take advantage of travelling workers, so keep your wits about you and don’t be afraid to ask questions and check for credibility.
Caravan parks are also good places to look for employment. Not only in the caravan parks – but the managers or owners are local people who have their ears to the ground and know all the community rumbles, so make friends with them and ask them if they know of anything.
It is always good to check with parks about special rates if you are working in the area; they often have a ‘stay seven nights pay for six or five’ if you are staying for a month or more.
There is also the option that they might offer you an opportunity to do some work in the park, in lieu of accommodation costs.
Don’t be afraid to ask people for help, don’t be afraid to push your limits and don’t be afraid to try new things. Just go out and have fun!
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