Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

Working as part of travelling

Posted by Connal on 13/7/2014 at 11:10

Hi guys,

I'm planning on going travelling around SEA for several months starting around November with my partner. The problem is that we don't have a massive budget (maybe around £7000 between us) which needs to cover everything, including flights, visas, vaccinations, food, accommodation, etc. The length of our trip is really dependent on how much money we can scrape together.

So to extend our trip we are thinking about finding some paid employment out there to generate some additional funds. The possibility of finding generic low paid employment in Australia has occurred to us, but by the time you buy a £230 visa and £650 flights to and from Aus, we wouldn't see much profit from a couple of months work (we'd like to be back for around August at the latest so working for longer isnt really an option).

Other things we are pondering about include, wwoof-ing or TEFL but we don't know that much about how they work. For instance TEFL seems to require you to either work for 12 months (not a possibility) or pay for an internship.

Has anyone had any experience working for a few months in SEA or wwoof-ing or anything similar? I'd really appreciate any advice.

#1 Connal has been a member since 13/7/2014. Posts: 3

Posted by magicFly on 13/7/2014 at 17:43


how long and which countries do you want to go? I think 7000 for two people isn't that bad. SEA is really cheap. You can get a proper meal for about 2 pounds and a proper room for two people for 8 pounds. If you need a bed only its even cheaper.

Unfortunately I don't know TEFL, but some good friends of mine did wwoofing in Australia and Europe. Mostly you will be working on a farm. Half a day for free food and accomondation. You can find job openings on the wwoofing website. To get the contact informations of the host you must be a member of the wwoofing network. There is a littlre registration fee (I think about 30 EUR) to join the network. Everything else is negotable with your host. Hope this helps a little.


#2 magicFly has been a member since 13/7/2014. Posts: 61
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Posted by exacto on 14/7/2014 at 21:02

Hi Connal,

I'm not so sure that working your way through Southeast Asia is an option like it is in other parts of the world. Wages are pretty low, so unless you've got a specific high-end, in-demand skill, I doubt it would be worth your time and trouble to pick up casual work - even if you could. The few folks I've seen doing it tend to be English teachers and dive instructors, and even there it is a bit more of a long-term commitment than it looks like you'd be making. I've seen lots of folks helping out at their local girlfriend or boyfriends shop/restaurant/guest house too, but as you are already a couple...

The good news is that SEA is still very affordable, just as magicFly says. You can extend your trip by staying in more out-of-the-way places, not moving around too much, eating where the locals eat, and not drinking as much alcohol (or at least not from bars). Beer Lao may be the exception there, as it is still ridiculously cheap and I-wish-I-were-drinking-one-right-now good. Don't cut back too much, however, because having fun while you are out is exactly the point.

If keeping expenses low isn't your style, then perhaps plan for a slightly shorter trip. This might give you time to earn a bit more money before you leave and help stretch that money over the time you are on the road. Plus, as Fly noted, you've got a good chunk of money for two people.

Couch surfing or similar might be a way to save money on accommodation.

Don't forget travel insurance.

I hope that helps. Have a wonderful trip. Cheers.

#3 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,759
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Posted by Captain_Bob on 15/7/2014 at 09:07

So if you spend (at most) £1000 each on return flights from the UK you have £5000 left, which on a modest backpacker budget should last around 6-8 months or if you really pinch pennies maybe 10 months tops. There are of course millions of local people who get by cheaper but they have the advantage of family/friends local knowledge, etc. I wouldn't count on working in the SEA region to support your travels. Very hard (and in many cases illegal) to drum up unskilled work, and wages aren't generally good enough to justify shutting down travels. Minimum wage in Thailand, for example, is 300 baht per DAY (just over 5 quid) which is barely livable. Most decent/legit jobs open to westerners are as English teachers, which generally requires a teaching certificate (TEFL, etc.) and a Uni degree in many cases plus experience, and then you usually need to commit to a whole school year. Already thousands of qualified expats competing for those jobs anyway. I've seen backpackers working at bars in Laos and Cambodia, but it was generally in exchange for room and food, not a way to top up travel funds, and they generally reeked of desperation. Then there's the issue of visas and how long you can get away with staying. Potential earnings are way better in Australia, NZ, etc. but prospects in SEA not so good. Bring your well-earned dosh and enjoy as long as possible. ;-)

#4 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,950

Posted by exacto on 15/7/2014 at 10:06

What Bob said.

I did forget to mention, however, that when we were on Gili Air , there was a place called H2O that offered accommodation in exchange for a few hours of chores a day. I don't think this type of exchange would extend your trip by all that much, but it seemed like a decent place to stay if you are on Gili Air anyway, and there may be other, similar places elsewhere. Good luck and have a great trip.

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