Extended travel can be taxing on your available resources, particularly money. To slow the drain or extend your time on the road, many travellers look for supplementary income or ways to reduce their costs.
The hospitality industry is the land of opportunity. While your days of pouring pots at city chic hotels may have well and truly passed, many outback stations and caravan parks are always looking for mature, reliable staff. Jobs vary from cleaning the amenities, fixing taps and toilets, cooking, kitchen work, or in some circumstances, running or assisting in managing the park.
Jeff and Karen Brown have managed caravan parks for the last seven years. It all started after a season working as general hands at the Mac Range caravan park in Alice Springs, something that came about as they needed a break from travelling.
They completed a Caravan Park Management Course soon after, a course filled with retirees or near retirees all seeking an opportunity to work in the industry. With the certification and the previous work experience, they picked up work back In Alice Springs, in a park on the Hawkesbury River, did five years at the Mt Dare Hotel, and now manage the Tennant Creek Caravan Park.
Jeff said, “If you’re looking for work, be honest about your capabilities. We had a woman work for us with arthritis in her wrists which limited some of her activities. This was fine as we knew about it in advance. We’ve also had workers who weren’t as forthcoming with information, including a cook who couldn’t grill beef and a barman who couldn’t wear shoes because of feet problems.”
Jeff added, “last year we had traveller seeking a break from travelling. He did 3-4hrs work a day in lieu of accommodation and spent the rest of his day kicking back and mixing with other travellers.”
Other than earning money, there may often be opportunities to save money through free accommodation in lieu of part time work. If you’ve ever been interested in volunteering on an organic farm, this might be the gig for you. WWOOF (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) brings together volunteers and farmers. You’ll work a set number of hours in exchange for room and board and generally speaking, no previous farming experience is required.
Other conservation volunteer groups can often provide free board for volunteers. Such positions provide an opportunity to mix with other likeminded travellers and gain some new knowledge about conservation.
If you like mixing with people, camping in the wilderness and doing a few odd jobs, acting as Camp Host could be for you. Camp Hosts help Parks staff manage popular camping areas by distributing information, managing overcrowding and keeping facilities clean. Camp Hosts generally only work for a month at a time, camping at no cost and accrue further national park camping credits for future use. Many hosts we met on our travels were retirees and moved from one location to the next during the tourist season.
Another great resource is Workout Australia, connecting travellers with casual, seasonal, part time and permanent work around Australia. There are heaps more links listed online; it’s just a matter of Googling “Working while travelling Australia.”
We ran into plenty of musicians on our travels, mainly playing at the outback stations during the tourist season. Col Fitz navigated his motor home to El Questro station in the Kimberley one year. By day, he works as a station hand managing the campgrounds, while some evenings he entertains the travellers at happy hour with his guitar set of bluesy rock.
Trades people always seem to be in high demand. If you are touring in your work vehicle with your trade and contact number plastered down the side of your vehicle, you’re likely to do very well, particularly when camped at caravan parks.
Alternatively you can use a small sandwich board at your campsite advertising your services.
If you are handy with a camera and can string a few sentences together, there may be an opportunity to write for a travel magazine such as Caravan World. We were lucky enough to score a regular writing gig for Caravan World and its sister publications during our big lap. It’s a great thrill to see your work published, to share your experiences with others, and get paid some pocket money for your troubles.
The secret is to finding work is to talk to people, be it those at the information centre, caravan park managers and other travellers. There are many ways to make money on the road or at least save a few dollars along the way. Be realistic with your expectations, don’t go in with any preconceived ideas and just enjoy the experience. It’s all part of the journey!