Though its roots go much further back, The Working Traveller in its current blog format turned four years old yesterday. It is no exaggeration to say this site would not exist had I not once picked up a copy of Susan Griffith’s Work Your Way Around the World.*
Wanting to go travelling soon after leaving school but hobbled by empty pockets her book taught me the procedure for getting a work visa and tax number in Australia, that picking grapes in France might pay my way around Europe, and yachts leaving British marinas in late October could need crew for a journey to the Caribbean.
Circumstances dictated that I never did go travelling that summer. I didn’t fish for prawns off Australia, plant trees in the Yukon or sell ice cream in Cape Town but the ideas suggested in her book kept alive the dream that travelling was a realistic option for people with little money.
Seeing my own name in print for the first time in her book also helped push my career path into writing and publishing, and working for myself. My work added to the cumulative effort that is the internet but before that anyone who wanted information on working abroad – the mostly low paid, unskilled and temporary kind, rather than becoming an expat – turned to the books of Vacation Work.
This small Oxford publishers turned out dozens of books on working abroad, including Teaching English Abroad, Your Gap Year and Gap Years for Grown Ups* – all also by Griffith – but the bible on the subject is Work Your Way Around the World.
Unlike other guides that focused solely on listing the places where applications for jobs abroad could be sent, Work Your Way deals as much on leads, strategy and suggestions, often sent in by its loyal and long standing readership.
The now simple idea of mixing up the dry data of contact addresses and job descriptions with real life experiences made her book a thing of dreams that could come true if you use your initiative. The extracts from the letters she reproduces brought to life a whole new world where it really was possible to leave home and travel the world picking up jobs as you go.
When Roger Blake, one of her contributors, writes he has been down to $50 more times than he’d care to remember but always seems to come right you realise the same could be true for you too.
Equally, advice such as Tim Bruckner’s assertion that in some countries the best place to find a job is to head down the pub and network with well off locals and expats helped to put far less emphasis on trying to find work before setting off.
And by delving into black economies from Spain to Singapore, her guide swept aside the notion that work permits are always essential, while never shying away from the consequences of not having one. This makes Work Your Way Around the World almost as useful to Americans or other nationalities looking for work in Europe as it is to Europeans.
Other informants, as Griffith calls them, have included an American photographer who took English teaching jobs to extend her portfolio, an expat in Crete who passed on reports of temporary job opportunities on the island, an adventurer in Mauritania who talked an English language centre into giving him some teaching hours, and an organic farm worker in Denmark who, after a three week enforced vegetarian diet, headed straight to McDonalds with his earnings for helping to build a pyramid shaped greenhouse.
Today, for those that want to work their way around the world there is plenty of advice and information on the internet but none is as easy to read, comprehensive or useful as her guide.
Though we barely make any money from books any more since Amazon’s commission rates plunged we always make sure to keep a link to Work Your Way Around the World on our sites as we believe anyone serious about working abroad should know about this book.
The latest edition* is the 17th incarnation of the guide. We cannot recommend it enough.
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