Runaway Backpacker Jobs

by The Runaway Guide on September 16, 2011

Most people believe that in order to work abroad, one must first obtain an expensive work visa. While this is true for most types of professional employment abroad, rarely is it necessary for backpacker jobs.

Backpacker jobs are off the record cash in hand jobs, and can be found just about everywhere. While some backpacker jobs can be lucrative and painless, others can be backbreaking and pay next to nothing. Nonetheless, whatever the pay, they are sure to make for some awesome experiences.

In the following guide, you will find a list of various backpacker jobs ideal for actual runaways, intense budget backpackers, and even African immigrants.

1) Day Work On A Luxury Yacht

Crew members cleaning the yachtLike luxury cars, luxury yachts are always in need of cleaning and maintenance and who better for the task than your self. Pay is usually high in Europe, around 15 to 20 Euro and hour, and work generally consists of painting, polishing, cleaning and varnishing. Just head to any port, meander the docks at dawn, and simply ask if there is any day work to be had. For more information, check out How To Work On A Luxury Yacht.

2) Work In An Eastern European Hostel

A backpacker party in a hostelEastern European hostels are ideal for the runaway backpacker because more often than not, their business is run off the books. This means they are accustomed and more willing to hire wanderers like your self. Hostels generally look for people who can clean, bar tend, manage the books, and keep guests happy. Prepare to do a lot of drinking and partying. The pay is generally low but room and board is usually provided. To get a job in a hostel, just send your resume to one of millions of hotels listed on

3) Work The Yachts In Eilat, Israel

A sailing yacht in Eilat IsraelIsrael is abundant with jobs for the migrant worker. And in the resort port city of Eilat Israel, almost every worker is an immigrant or backpacker. All you have to do to get a job is simply ask around. Since workers are constantly coming and going, you can almost always get a deckhand position aboard a party charter boat.

Although you receive free room and board, the rooms are reminiscent of slave bunks and the board is comparable to war rations. The work is grueling and the hours are long, and monthly pay is only around 300$. However, morning swims with wild dolphins definitely make up for it.

4) Work In A Hotel In The Middle East

A budget hotel near the bus station in amman JordanThere are quite a few privately owned budget hotels in the Middle East. You can usually find them around the buss and train stations of Istanbul, Damascus, Amman and Cairo. Though it is not common for foreign backpackers to work here, due to extremely low wages, you shouldn’t be turned down should you approach the manager. If you are hired, expect no more than a few hundred bucks a month. Work, not unlike hostel work, will generally range from acting as receptionist to cleaning toilettes. Talk about some serious cultural immersion.

5) Work On A Farm In Europe

An immigrant farmer picking orangesThroughout history, the farm has always been a haven and source of employment for the nomad. And today, not much has changed. The best way of finding employment on a farm is by asking around. If you’re lucky, a friend of friend will own a farm and be in need of laborers. While some farmers in western Europe will ask for working papers, most will gladly turn a blind eye.

Farm work can include picking fruit, planting trees, erecting fences, or caring for animals. Though it depends on your arrangement, room and board is often factored into your paycheck.  The most lucrative countries for farm work are those of Scandinavia, while pay in the rest of Europe is considerably less and can vary greatly by country.

6) Pick Grapes On An Italian Vineyard

picking grapes in italyIf you enjoy fine wines, and eating fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and olive oil, picking grapes in Italy is the backpacker job for you. The best time of year to seek out work on a vineyard is during harvest, which in Italy is from late August through October. Pay will depend on how many grapes you can pick. So if you’re looking to save up, this will mean a lot of picking. No matter how much you make, the experience is well worth it.

7) Teach English

Japanglish signsWhile you won’t be able to work at a proper school without papers, you can always teach English lessons privately. Believe it or not, craigslist is one of the best ways for students and teachers to connect. This is especially true in Japan, Korea and China, where there is a large demand for private English tutors. In East Asia, it is not unreasonable to charge anywhere between 15 and 50 dollars an hour.

8) Work Construction

an old construction siteNeedless to say, most construction work is backbreaking labor and generally pays minimum wage. To find work in construction, just walk up to any construction site and ask to see the foreman.

Other and potentially higher paying day labor opportunities can be found with private contractors who are working on house construction. To get these jobs, simply be on the look out for houses under construction and inquire.

9) Work A Sail Boat On The Nile

An ancient egyptian sailboat on the nile riverAll along the Nile river are beautiful working replicas of the ancient Egyptian sailboat known as the Felucca. While in the past these vessels were known to transport goods, today they primarily serve tourists.

If you don’t speak Arabic, getting a job aboard a Felluca will prove quite difficult. However, if you do manage to convey your intent and are hired, you won’t regret it. Though pay can be as low as 20$ a month, the experience of sailing the Nile, constantly surrounded by ancient Egyptian temples, and drinking tea with your shipmates is well worth it.

Conclusion: These are only a few of the countless backpacker jobs that lay waiting for you. For more guides on working abroad for the runaway and intense budget backpacker, check out my Work Abroad section.

Good luck & employment filled travels,



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