Increasingly, many travellers are opting to include paid work into their travel plans, to help their budget stretch further, and allow them to be away for longer – or voluntary work to help a worthwhile cause and do something both interesting and rewarding.
Work can be done throughout their travels, or for just part of it, but there are a myriad of both paid and voluntary opportunities out there. It is definitely worth doing your research into which visas are available to allow you to do this, and if plans are going through an intermediary – look for one that has a good reputation for delivering what is promised, being good value for money, and for helping to make real and worthwhile changes to the lives of local people, animals or the environment.
Below, is a case study for one of our past Working Holiday policy holders, who was kind enough to share insights and experiences from her time working and travelling away.
Name – Mhairi
Age – 18
How long have you spent away from the UK? 3 months
What did you do and where did you go on your Working Holiday?
I volunteered in Cambodia at a primary school with 160 pupils, 30 km outside of Pnomh Penh. I am the only native speaking English volunteer, all the rest are German or French. I teach a variety of subjects, some of which include Drama, English, Music and arts and craft. I teach to pupils from the ages of 7 – 15 years old. We all live in a Volunteer House. The conditions aren’t very good (showering and washing the dishes with dirty water) when you think about how we live in the UK, but when relating it to Cambodian living it is very good. In leisure times, I have travelled around Cambodia. At the end of my time volunteering, I am going to Thailand for 2 weeks.
Tell us more about the job you’ve been doing:
I am volunteering in a primary school with 160 pupils. The school has a nursery and a regular primary school. I am currently rehearsing the simplified play ‘Animal Farm’ with the children in the top 2 grades. My time here has been challenging but I’ve enjoyed every minute of it and will be missing all the children when I leave.
How did you get this job and did you have any previous experience in a similar role?
I had researched for a volunteering position that wasn’t asking for a lot of money. It took me a long, long time to find this primary school as many companies request a lot of money and I often questioned where does this money go to? I found this school on the ‘Giving Way’ website. It has many different volunteering positions on offer that don’t ask for a lot of money, mainly only to cover your accommodation and food. I had always wanted to volunteer abroad, mainly in a primary school, but it has to be one of the best decisions I have made. I have volunteered in Scotland before at toddler’s clubs, special needs youth clubs and elderly homes, so I already had a bit of experience before leaving. The best part of volunteering is getting the reward that you have taught them a bit of something new every day, or even just seeing a wee smile on one of the children’s faces.
Did you have a Working Holiday visa?
I didn’t get a working holiday visa. The director of the school set my visa up, so all I had to do was collect my visa at the airport in Phnom Penh.
What advice would you give someone planning a Working Holiday, that you wish you’d known beforehand?
I would advise them to bring a lot of mosquito repellent out with you if you are going to a country like Cambodia. I got bitten alive when I first arrived. Now it is calming down though. I would also advise you to do your research in how to control a class and keep them quiet etc. if you are doing a similar project like mine. This is one of the most challenging aspects, so finding out little tips and ways will put you ahead of the game.
What were your favourite things to do and places to go whilst away? What are the ‘stand-out’ highlights of your trip?
I loved Koh Rong Sanloem, an island off the South coast of Cambodia. It was just out of the movies, absolutely stunning beaches, with clear blue waters and jungle. I also loved Mondulkiri, where I did a jungle trek and got to see elephants up close and live with a local family. Siem Reap was also amazing. Angkor Wat sunrise was beautiful, and I loved the city as a whole.
How do you think that your Working Holiday will help your future employability and personal growth? Is a Working Holiday a good way to experience another culture and see another part of the world?
It’s been the best experience of my life. I have learnt so many new things and experienced an entirely new culture. It has definitely allowed me to find myself and build up my confidence. Before I left, I relied on my parents quite a bit, but now, after having to live, cook and rely on only yourself has really allowed me to become independent.
What are your future travel plans?
I would want to revisit this country but wouldn’t want to emigrate. Yes, I plan to take a working holiday once I have got my nursing degree and go and work or volunteer in another country as a nurse. I would like to travel all around the world with this degree.
If you’re heading abroad to TEFL (teach English as a foreign Language) or do any kind of paid or voluntary teaching or sports coaching, our bespoke Working Holiday policy is perfect for you. Taking out this policy means that you have the reassurance that any unexpected medical expenses (including repatriation back to the UK, if necessary) will be covered. You can take a look here or complete a quote request form and we’ll email you back with a great-value quote to meet your personal plans.