Want to take a gap year abroad but can’t quite afford the “luxury” backpacking life? You can still take a gap year and work in exchange for room and board! Yup, you read that right—there are many places around the world that offer you free housing in exchange for work. Awesome? Uhh, yeah! This is also a perfect time to submerge yourself in another culture AND get some work experience. Maybe you will even pick up a new language while you work abroad for a year. Tight on a budget but still itching to explore the world? Find gap year work exchange programs now!
Gap year work exchange programs are found ALL over the world—even so, some just do it better Here are some popular locations to work abroad for a year, but don’t let that steer you away from following your goals and interests!
Hawaii. Yeah, yeah…Hawaii isn’t necessary a “country.” Still though, Hawaii is secluded enough to make you think that it is. Gappers here can easily find opportunities to work abroad at organic farms, in the classroom, or with marine wildlife reserves. YUM. Hawaii is also a jaw droppingly gorgeous cultural melting pot; you can make a lifetime of memories while working away for a year. AND there’s no work visa woes. Awesome.
Costa Rica. Want to diversify your language skills while doing gap year work programs abroad? Sí! ¿Cómo se dice "duh” en español? The clear accent of the Spanish dialect here makes finally learning another language and improving your basic Spanish high school skills easy. Do so while working abroad at a rainforest lodge of a wildlife reserve, or marketing causes that help protect the natural world 🐢 🐢 🐢 . Costa Rica is also well known for its surfing and scuba diving—more opportunity for YOU to find gap year work programs. We highly recommend you check out gap year work exchange programs—and master pura vida—in Costa Rica!
France. Ever dreamt of going to Europe when you were growing up? Find a work exchange program in France to indulge in art history, traverse streets full of stunning architecture, learn la belle langue, be in close proximity to a handful of other countries, or work in wine country. This could be your life for a year; find work exchange programs now. In France, there are many ideas to find paid work during a gap year.
Everything else you need to know about gap year work exchange programs
Costs. FREE! Well, sorta. The nifty part about work exchange programs is that you work in exchange for room and board, experience, and a great chance for personal growth. Some work exchange programs are part time, which leaves with with down time to explore the surrounding area. However, since you won’t be making cash for your work, you’ll need to come up with another option to help fund the fun factor in your life. FundMyTravel is a perfect solution for that! FundMyTravel can help you save up for initial costs like flights and last-minute gear.
Accommodations. Checkmate. The whole point of work exchange programs is that you get free housing in exchange for working! You might get your own room or stay in shared living accommodations depending on the program. Maybe there were even be a chance for bungalow living or hanging a hammock near the beach. Confirm with the work exchange program that you are interested in to get a better feel for where you’ll be crashing when you aren’t working and having a great time working abroad.
Visas. Check ahead before you leave to figure out what kind of visa you will need in the country you are doing a gap year program abroad in. Since you are working abroad, you might qualify for a special type of work visa. Check out GoAbroad embassy directory to find out what you need, along with reaching out to your work exchange program.
Safety. The good thing about doing a gap year work program is that you will probably be in a single location for a while, meaning you can do in-depth research about this area and any safety concerns. Most work exchanges will do their best to ensure nothing bad happens to you. Since you might be a little secluded from the outside world, be sure to think in advance about how to handle emergency situations—bring an unlocked iPhone, confirm whether or not your placement has WIFI, etc. Keep your wits and you shouldn’t run into any problems.
GoAbroad's Inside Scoop
Work exchanges were MADE for people with that infinite wanderlust spirit but a tight budget. You get the chance to be part of a new community, especially since you’ll likely be living in shared accommodations with them. This gives you easy access to learning a new language, making lifelong friends, and getting hands-on work experience while living a simple life. All without sweating too much green!
It’s recommended that you save up some extra money before you leave or get another part time job while you are doing your work exchange program since you aren’t getting cash for your work. This lets you still have some spending money to take care of any recurring bills that you need to pay off (if only those could be put on hold) or go out and explore the land!
If you want to get extra work experience or you need a cheaper way to travel, working away for a year is path for you!
Keep reading about how to maximize learning during your work exchange gap year program.