The Ultimate Plan for Working Abroad: Destination Research
Location, location, location – do your research!
As mentioned in the previous post, we will be looking at ways to help you plan and prepare for your first working holiday. First things first, research…
Some of you may have always dreamt of going to a certain place overseas. Personally, I had always wanted to go to Australia, since being a child. Being from the UK, the land ‘down under’ seemed like a completely different world, the seasons are turned upside-down, bugs on steroids, animals that can kill you and all that red rock. Not to mention, exotic rainforests, the vibrant great barrier reef and all those never-seen-before kangaroos! So, for me, it was not a question of which country to research, but more down to which location in Australia I wanted to begin my journey in.
For others, you may know that you want to travel abroad, yet aren’t sure exactly where to yet. The world is a big and beautiful place and you may be swaying between one place and another, what if I choose the wrong one? The answer is, whether it is a country, city, or single farm in the countryside, everywhere has its pros and cons and the best way to ensure you end up right where you want to be, is to research the location to death!
How do I get a good overview of a travel destination?
The most important thing is to get an overview of your chosen destination from many different sources and platforms, to get a real feel for the place. Some websites may be biased and want to advertise a location, on the other other hand, you may hear some negative feedback from a traveller who had completely different motives for their visit. The more research you do, a closer idea you will get of whether the spot will suit your individual needs.
If you have not already chosen a specific location, will need to short list some countries you would like to visit and work in, to research further.
Where to begin researching your working holiday:
Look on your chosen country’s tourism site. For example, Australia’s is www.australia.com, but you can use Google to search any others. From this point, you can search around to see which town or city stands out to you as a great destination to live and work. Be aware, that of course, a tourism site is created to bring in visitors and therefore will be painting each place in a positive light. This is why we will be doing some further research into your chosen spot.
Word of mouth
If you are lucky enough to know someone who has been to your dream work location, then this is one of the best ways to gain information about a place. Talking one on one, asking questions and getting a real feel for the atmosphere can much easier to deduct in real life than in written text and pictures. Of course, remember that everyone is different, people have different motivations to work or travel and what may be some people’s cup of tea, may be someone else’s worst nightmare.
A great place to get an idea of some person experiences are travel blogs. These are usually written first hand by someone who has visited your working holiday spot and therefore they will have a good insight into the lifestyle there. Comments on a blog can also be a fantastic way to gain more information and ask questions. Blogs such as Local Adventurer will give you independent reviews and tips of individual places.
It can be a brilliant help to find out information about a working holiday from a travel agent, such as STA Travel or Trailfinders. They often have specialists and the tools needed to tell you all you need to know about a place and sometimes jobs too. Once again, be aware that most are making commission, so will be trying to sell you products and may not always have your best interests at heart. They also could be more costly that going direct. Ensure you research all other areas before making a commitment to buy anything!
Travel Guides, magazines & newspaper inserts
To get a idea of the bigger picture, it could be worth looking on government sites, from your own country of origin and that of the place you would like to live and work. This will give an overview of the culture, climate, wages, crime, any potential illnesses, conflict or natural distastes you might face. It is important to also look at immigration pages to ensure you’d be granted. We talk in depth about visas later in this series.
Factors to think about when choosing a work abroad location:
- Working conditions
- Noise at night
- Do you have friends or family there?
- Cost of living
- Pay rates
- Tours and activites
- Landscape or cityscape
- Natural disasters
- Cultural differences
- Distance to travel back home
Remember, the jobs climate is VITAL!
It is also important to ask about the jobs/work climate, to ensure that you will be able to find employment. You could look on job sites, forums or even contact companies directly through their website. Its a similar to location research, in terms of looking into many sources, as well as asking others about their own experiences. This could be someone you know, or using reviews, testimonials and blogs online.
Teaching English abroad is a career that is in high demand in many countries and can open doors to places you have always fantasised about visiting. You can find out about how to become a qualified English teacher with the most widely accepted TEFL, the Cambridge CELTA here. If you already have a TESOL certificate, you can also check our current job postings here.
We will have more information on job hunting techniques later in this series.