12 roles to consider when looking for backpacker work

Updated 28 September 2023

Travelling to and staying in amazing places around the world is a dream for many people but is generally affordable for only a few weeks at a time. One way to enjoy travelling for longer is to do paid work as part of the experience. Understanding the most common roles on offer can help you decide whether this option is right for you. In this article, we list 12 examples of backpacker work you can do while travelling, including the different responsibilities and average salaries of each role.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing. Salaries‌ ‌may‌ ‌‌vary‌‌ ‌depending‌ ‌on‌ ‌the‌ ‌hiring‌ ‌organisation‌ ‌and‌ ‌a‌ ‌candidate's ‌experience,‌ ‌academic‌ background‌ ‌and‌ ‌location.‌

What is backpacker work?

Backpacker work means finding a job abroad that lets you work for a few months before you pack up and move on to a new location. It's a great way to see the world and is ideal for those who want to taste life in a different country without making a long-term commitment. There are countless opportunities for you to work your way around the world, with jobs ranging from the hospitality and tourism sector to teaching.

Related: How to work abroad: benefits and step-by-step guide

Benefits of backpacker work

Working while travelling is a fantastic way to combine travel with earning a living. Here are a few more reasons why finding a job abroad may work for you:

It enables you to travel

You may only have enough money to buy your first airline ticket or train pass, but knowing that you can work while you're away means you can stay longer. Finding a backpacker job lets you see the world in new ways. You can travel in your time off and explore the country, discovering places you might not otherwise have seen.

It develops your language skills

Working abroad lets you learn a new language, which can benefit your future career plans and professional development. Learning a second language can open up exciting new work opportunities. You can also use the experience to demonstrate to potential employers that you have a good understanding of the world around you and broad interpersonal skills.

Related: How to include languages on your CV

It lets you work in exciting roles

Many of the fun backpacker jobs are only available abroad. Roles like ski instructor or summer camp leader are far more common in holiday destinations. Other jobs, such as a holiday rep in a hotel on a tropical beach, are only possible in foreign locations.

It improves your CV

Working in a variety of different roles can help you decide what you want to focus on in future. You may have the opportunity to work in roles you couldn't find in your own country, which may lead to better prospects when you return home. Working abroad can demonstrate to future employers that you have transferable skills, initiative and a willingness to work outside your comfort zone.

It develops your networking skills

Travelling and working abroad lets you meet new people from different backgrounds and cultures. You may decide to swap contact details and make friends for life. Building a network may benefit you when developing a career back home and even lead to new job opportunities.

Related: Examples of travel and tourism degree jobs (with salaries)

12 paid jobs for backpackers

Here is a list of jobs you might consider when looking for work abroad:

1. Holiday representative

Find holiday representative jobs

National average salary: £7.71 per hour

Primary duties: Holiday representatives (or holiday reps) look after groups of holidaymakers and guests at hotels, lodges and other types of holiday accommodation. Holiday reps greet guests, help with translations and assist with health or safety issues. Other responsibilities include liaising with travel companies, acting as a guide, providing local information and booking day trips.

2. Holiday camp leader

Find holiday camp leader jobs

National average salary: £9.36 per hour

Primary duties: Holiday camp leaders work with groups of children during their stay at a summer camp. Camp leaders plan and schedule activities, explain how to use equipment, demonstrate techniques and answer questions. The camp leader supervises groups and ensures the safety and wellbeing of children in the camp.

3. Restaurant staff

Find restaurant staff jobs

National average salary: £9.54 per hour

Primary duties: Numerous opportunities exist to work in restaurants across the world. Speaking English may be advantageous when looking for front-of-house staff roles in popular holiday destinations. This role involves greeting guests, showing them to their tables, serving food to guests, cleaning and setting tables, taking payment and making bookings.

Related: Roles and duties of the front of house in a restaurant

4. Hotel receptionist

Find hotel receptionist jobs

National average salary: £9.96 per hour

Primary duties: Hotel receptionists greet guests when they arrive at the hotel, check them in and out and help to sort out any problems they may have with their rooms. Hotel receptionists give guests the keys, prepare bills and answer questions about the hotel. They may also book taxis, local trips and attractions and restaurant tables for guests.

Related: 5 hotel receptionist interview questions (with answers)

5. Hotel housekeeper

Find hotel housekeeper jobs

National average salary: £10.00 per hour

Primary duties: Housekeepers clean hotel guest rooms, change towels, strip beds, make up beds with clean bedding and clean communal areas. They also replenish amenities like the contents of the minibar, tea and coffee, or toiletries. Hotel housekeepers work quickly to avoid disrupting guests' stay and provide good customer service.

6. Bartender

Find bartender jobs

National average salary: £10.66 per hour

Primary duties: Bartenders serve customers alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks from the bar in hotels, bars and restaurants. They pull glasses of beer on tap, mix cocktails and make custom drinks, track inventory and order stock. Bartenders maintain a clean bar, tidy up and wash glasses while supervising customers and helping to resolve any conflicts.

Related: 5 popular summer jobs abroad (plus benefits and tips)

7. Fruit picker

Find fruit picker jobs

National average salary: £11.09 per hour

Primary duties: Working as a fruit and vegetable picker is a common job for backpackers in many parts of the world. The role involves working outside in the fields to harvest fruits, vegetables, berries or other farm produce, with shifts often starting very early in the morning. Some employers pay according to the amount of produce picked.

8. Tour guide

Find tour guide jobs

National average salary: £11.20 per hour

Primary duties: Working as a tour guide can be a rewarding way to meet new people and share valuable experiences. Tour guides show visitors around places of interest, such as museums, historical monuments, wildlife parks and cultural sites, and may lead adventure trips, such as river rafting, mountaineering and hiking expeditions. The guide provides facts and interesting information about a place of interest and is responsible for the comfort and safety of guests.

9. Builder's labourer

Find builder's labourer jobs

National average salary: £12.87 per hour

Primary duties: Working on construction sites abroad can be a good way of earning a living while travelling. A builder's labourer completes manual tasks on a construction site, including digging, mixing concrete, laying bricks, fitting windows and operating machinery. Australia and New Zealand may provide good opportunities to work as a builder's labourer, provided you have the right visa and follow strict health and safety guidelines.


  • New Zealand jobs for foreigners (with relevant visas)

  • Jobs in Australia for foreigners (With tips)

10. Ski instructor

Find ski instructor jobs

National average salary: £11.45 per hour

Primary duties: Ski instructors teach skiing to students of all ages. They provide instruction on indoor and outdoor slopes and may travel around the world to follow different ski seasons. Many ski schools require instructors to have a teaching certificate, but it may be possible to study for this at the ski resort.

11. English teacher

Find English teacher jobs

National average salary: £17.12 per hour

Primary duties: Language schools all over the world employ native English speakers to teach students learning English as a second language. Duties include preparing lessons, teaching groups of adults and children and explaining the grammar, vocabulary and use of English. Some language schools require teachers to have a qualification, or you may be able to find work as an online English language tutor while travelling.

Related: How to teach English abroad in 5 steps (plus definition)

12. Outdoor activity instructor

Find outdoor activity instructor jobs

National average salary: £21.31 per hour

Primary duties: Outdoor activity instructors work with adults and children to lead outdoor adventure pursuits, such as kayaking, climbing, hiking or orienteering. Activity instructors explain safety procedures, assess risks and advise and demonstrate the activity, such as explaining how to climb into a kayak or how to clip into a safety harness. Activity instructors may work outside in the countryside and coastal regions, whatever the weather, and plan activities according to the group's ability.

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