Tag Archives: working holiday

The Working Holiday

Ah, so you’re interested in this thing called a “working holiday”. Some holiday! I had to work! Anyway, here it is. It started in Australia, extended to Asia and then back into Australia before a return to Canada. This journey is a work in progress so you’ll have to check back for more.

Australia: (Expectations, ImpressionsSydney, Coonabaraban, Langhorn Creek, The Great Australian Grape Harvest, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Jerramungup, Alice Springs, Uluru, Daly Water, Darwin, (The Tractor Gallery)
Indonesia: (Bali) Sanur, Nusa Lembongan, Ubud, Kuta; (Java) Jakarta, Bogor, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Bromo
Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur, Taman Negara, Malacca, Ipoh, Johor Bahru, Georgetown
Singapore: Singapore
Thailand: Krabi, Hadyai, Songhkla, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Pha Ngan, Bangkok
Myanmar (Burma): (Expectations, Impressions, Getting Going) Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake, Mandalay

The Working Holiday

Ah, so you’re interested in this thing called a “working holiday”. Some holiday! I had to work! Anyway, here it is. It started in Australia, extended to Asia and then back into Australia before a return to Canada. This journey is a work in progress so you’ll have to check back for more.

Australia: (Expectations, ImpressionsSydney, Coonabaraban, Langhorn Creek, The Great Australian Grape Harvest, Adelaide, Melbourne, Perth, Jerramungup, Alice Springs, Uluru, Daly Water, Darwin, (The Tractor Gallery)
Indonesia: (Bali) Sanur, Nusa Lembongan, Ubud, Kuta; (Java) Jakarta, Bogor, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Bromo
Malaysia: Kuala Lumpur, Taman Negara, Malacca, Ipoh, Johor Bahru, Georgetown
Singapore: Singapore
Thailand: Krabi, Hadyai, Songhkla, Koh Phi Phi, Koh Pha Ngan, Bangkok
Myanmar (Burma): (Expectations, Impressions, Getting Going) Yangon, Bagan, Inle Lake, Mandalay

An Introduction to Busking

Kobzar in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Kobzar in Kyiv, Ukraine.

As a follow up to my post about Some Uncommon Jobs Abroad in which I mention busking, I thought I’d elaborate on the subject. Stretching from ancient history right up to the present time, “busking” or, more commonly known as “street performance,” is a popular and cheap method for artists in all disciplines to display their craft while honing their skills and reaching new audiences at the same time. By putting on a good show or, maybe, simply playing a few songs, you can earn a few coins to keep your travels going.

Starting out with a basic idea of what you want to do, you need to build a show around your talent. Many performers make it look as if they’ve already had donations by placing a few coins or bills in their performance case in front of their “pitch”. For musicians, learn a few songs beyond the regular ones (which include the Beatles, Bob Marley, U2 or The Eagles) will help immensely in securing those hard to earn coins. Classical music is always in fashion and will garner some attention, although there is a picture of some famous guy playing some famous piece and no one pays him anything. Tough crowd, I guess. Some folks prefer the karaoke route, either singing or playing over top of a bed track. The djembe is also a popular percussion instrument though they can be cumbersome to carry around and, really, if you’re just going to play one instrument and not put on a show your results will vary greatly.

If you’re just going to play one instrument and not put on a show your results will vary greatly.

Street Performer 001
By Pastern (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Some cities require busking permits since they are highly sought after. “Pitches” that require a permit typically also have a time limit to allow for multiple performers throughout the day. London, Paris, Sydney, New York, all require permits in some parts of the city. Other cities have yet to be regulated: Bangkok, Seoul, Kiev. Some places hardly ever see musicians so most people would probably be confused by your presence. Musical busking and backpacking go well together since all you really need is a guitar or a drum and a few good songs. Maybe even painters can carry their stuff easily enough.

Costumes are a good idea and will help you stand out from the crowd. There is a huge difference between performer who looks as if he just woke up after a night out drinking and a well groomed, neatly dressed performer. (Though, that’s not to say that the well-dressed folk didn’t imbibe a few or more the night before.) Those performing magic or optical illusions enhance their performance with costumes. Then again, for some a costume would just get in the way. Check out this drummer…

YouTube Preview Image

What about money? I’ve talked to a few people about their experiences busking and the general consensus is that some days are good, others aren’t. Having a product, such as a CD or a painting, might help, though it comes with added security problems. CD ripping and burning technology has gotten to the point where most home made CDs can be played by anybody, although a professionally produced disc looks better. However, if you’re just starting out you might just need to get your work out there and see if it gains any traction before committing to the larger cost of a professionally produced disc. And with the availablity of the internet, offering extras by way of free downloads or blog posts about your travelling can be a great way to entice people to purchase your work. Last but not least, if you do make it, those first albums you made will become rareties and collectors items in their own right.

The general consensus is that some days are good, others aren’t.

Finally, if you’re just starting out as a busker you might be intimidated. I’ve been advised that all you need to busk is good weather and a good attitude. Don’t worry and don’t be afraid to make mistakes, it’s all a part of the learning process. Many famous musicians got their start on the streets, one of the most famous examples is Cirque Du Soliel based out of Montreal, Canada. The worst mistake is not to have tried in the first place!

Many famous musicians got their start on the streets, one of the most famous examples is Cirque Du Soliel based out of Montreal, Canada.

If you’re looking for some idea of what it’s like to busk around the world, check out The Busking Project. They travelled the world and interviewed hundreds of performers. Their Vimeo page hosts a bunch of clips of performers. Soon they will be releasing a DVD and a book about their journey.

All this is well and good so you might be wondering, Steve, why don’t you busk?

Well, I have. In Poland I tried my hand at it and made all of 3.50PLN (about a dollar) and a lollipop. I wasn’t really expecting to make much since it wasn’t a busy day and it was cold. I simply wanted to see if I could do it. I found that after 30 minutes of playing my djembe, I got bored. Sure, it was neat to be playing on the street but I felt I needed to do more than just play one drum. The quest continues to figure out what that is.

If you’re interested in busking around the world you can read my post about Some Uncommon Jobs Abroad.

The Three Golden Rules of Working on a Farm

Working on a bike.
Working on a bike.

Sooooo, you applied and received your working holiday visa and now you’re headed to Australia, or maybe even Canada, in an effort to rustle up some work, hopefully well-paid. Well, good on you. Now, how can you ensure that you keep that well-paying job and, at the same time, increase your chances of getting another job? Below I discuss three “golden rules” given to me by my uncle when I worked on his farm.

First, understand that getting a job is not a right, it’s a privilege. Approaching any job with that mindset gives you the proper frame of mind for tackling any task you are asked to do and, more importantly, any mistakes that may occur. And there will be mistakes, it comes with the territory. Do your best to minimize them and, if you do make a mistake, take action right away.

Second, although I’ve written these rules with respect to working on a farm, they can be applied to just about any job out there.

Now for the three golden rules of working on a farm.

Rule #1: Don’t make work for the boss

This one is important because you, as a farm hand, are there to make life easier for your boss. If you break something, such as a fence post, angle grinder, or tractor, you’ve just made more work for your boss, not necessarily because he’s going to be the one to fix it (though often times he’ll have to), but because it delays greater work project. It’s true, there’s always work on the farm and that’s usually because something was broken and needs to be fixed. That being the case, when you mess up, don’t be afraid to confess. It’s better to say something earlier than wait for Mr. Boss Man to find out later on. Finally, if something does break, just remember that it is a farm and your boss didn’t become smart by not making mistakes. I’m sure if you asked those around him you’ll find out some of the things that your boss broke in his early days.

Rule #1a: Don’t make work for the boss’ wife

I received this one from my employer’s wife in Australia and it is equally as important as Rule #1. On some farms you might have someone make your meals for you and this should be seen as a privilege. It makes sense since you, as a farm hand, will be out in the middle of a field working and won’t have access or the time to make your own lunch. Treat this with respect. Further, after dinner, it’s not a bad idea to help clean up. Some folks will say you don’t have to but it doesn’t hurt to do a little more than expected than a little less.

Rule #2: Don’t run unless there’s fire

This rule, of course, should be taken in context. Things fall, animals charge, operators can’t see everywhere around the machine they’re driving, oil streams out of an engine, etc. There are times to hustle but, more often than not, running just adds risk. Although I try to follow this rule pretty closely, especially when rounding corners or with large machinery, some bosses will yell at you if it looks like you’re taking your time. Use your best judgment and be careful, but, please, unless it’s an emergency, don’t run.

Rule #3: When in doubt, stop and think

Oh the things that could be prevented if this rule was ingrained in the brains of any worker. “When in doubt, stop and think” is very important on the farm. You might be required to drive big machines that, with the slightest touch, can knock out power lines, fences, stake a cow (~$700 worth of hamburgers) or worse. If you don’t know if you can take the tractor through the gates (Australia has lots of gated paddocks but in Canada it depends what kind of farm you’re on), stop and think, “Can I make it through?” If not, consider your options. Bear in mind that if you don’t stop and think you might end up breaking Rule #1, which is don’t make work for the boss.

Bearing the above three rules in mind will greatly increase your success and make both your travels and work enjoyable. Good luck, have fun, and stay safe!

Some Uncommon Jobs Abroad

So far I’ve covered some common jobs abroad in two articles, one here and the other here. In this post, however, I want to cover some uncommon jobs abroad. You don’t find these ones talked about too much, well, except maybe consultancy, but it seems everybody is a consultant these days. One thing that my Dad is always fond of saying is that there are jobs available for those who want them. It confused him why, when I returned home from my first trip abroad, that I wouldn’t go pump gas at the local gas station. Well, after seeing the possibilities out there, you might sympathize with me on why I didn’t. Next time, however, maybe I won’t be so reluctant. So here we go, some uncommon jobs abroad.

The sky's the limit.
The sky’s the limit.

Boat Work

Ever wanted to cross the Pacific on a boat? I have but have yet to find the time, and the money, to do so. Lame excuse, you might say, and rightfully so. However, I’ve never worked on a yacht and may have been on one once… in a museum. So I gotta find someone who’s willing to take on a newbie AND that doesn’t care that I’m not female, single, and broken hearted. That being the case, you don’t often meet folks on yachts because, well, they don’t sleep in dorms if they have accommodation already. I list some links that were suggested to me but I’ve never used them before.

  • Find A Crew – This could be your starting point. Free registration, but you’ll have to pay to see the phone numbers, etc.
  • All Cruise Jobs – A comprehensive website dedicated to lining up employers with employees. It’s kind of a big middle man so I’m not sure how much luck you’ll have applying online. That being the case, it can be great to check out what’s needed on cruise ships, etc. I’ve ben told of one cruise line, Princess something or other, but they go through an agency in North America. Basically, find a cruise ship agency, register and wait, or…
  • Your nearby port – Singapore, George Town (Malaysia), Phuket (Thailand), Bali (Indonesia), lots of Australia, the list goes on. Call me dumb but I never even thought about this until I met one sailor who suggested it. If you’re interested in sailing and/or looking for work on a boat, walk on over to the local port and ask around. You might find work or you might at least find a trip to your next destination. I’ve been told $20/day is the typical fee boats charge for transportation. Haggle and you might get a better deal, or none!

Consulting

Before you start consulting, you need to have some sort of specialty. I’ve seen quite a few people offer “lifestyle design” consultation. I don’t really understand what’s involved with that specialty but it seems to work. Or you could get a few books on how to manage your life. Either way, “consulting” is a broad term that covers a lot of area. Pick an area that you’d like to specialize in and start looking for clients. Chances are, if you know something about your subject, there’s someone out there who would probably pay you for your knowledge and experience. Experience, ah yes, that does count, too. After all, if you were looking for a consultant yourself you would want someone who’s “been there done that” and that you can learn from. Further, consultation doesn’t have to be a stand alone business, you can run it in conjunction with another. In my last post on more common job abroad I listed a few websites that can also be examined for their consultation services, if only as an example.

  • Business Backpacker – Brooke Ferguson is now set up in southern Thailand but she continues to consult in addition to writing about her travels.
  • Lifehacker – Website dedicated to “hacking” life. Basically, it’s down-to-earth advice on how to do things to make your life easier.
  • Chris Guillebeau – Author of a few books on how to go into business for yourself. His website offers lots of useful free advice.
  • Professional Hobo – Same same as mentioned before, but she also offers “life style design” consultation.
  • Fluent in 3 Months – Offers language learning consultations.
  • You – One of the basic tenets of consulting is that you have to consult. I can’t remember where I read it but the gist was that you don’t need anything fancy to start consulting, just a client or two. Ask them for referrals, give them a percentage of the profits and badda bing you’ve got yourself a multi-level marketing scam scheme to bring in more clients.

Music
ViolinistAnother uncommon job simply because it is difficult to make money as a musician! With rampant piracy and unauthorized copying going on unchecked and unmitigated, you have to wonder why anyone would become a musician. Not only that, because of our modern capabilities at making things easier for people to do just about anything they want, anyone, and I mean ANYONE, can become a musician! Fantastic, no? Or is it so difficult? Remember that we all like to hear quality music and see quality performances and for that, we will pay. I WILL PAY. Geez, I walk into CD stores in SE Asia and just pick whatever cover looks pretty in two or three different sections of the store. Ranting aside, there are a few ways to make money as a musician as you travel the world. First, create a band and tour. I’ve met a few folks who have done accomplished this. Second, make music on your computer, just remember what I said about quality and performance, okay? Third, busk. I recall seeing one image of some famous violinist playing some famous piece and everybody was aghast at how no one dropped any coins into his hat. At first it bothered me too, then I realized the guy was simply standing at the entrance of a subway and expecting people to just throw money at him. Nuh uh, if you’re going to perform, you gotta put on a show! So #fail to that shit right there. In any event, supermarkets, libraries, cafes, small towns, there are lots of places to play. Sometimes you’ll make money, sometimes you won’t. Fourth, cruise ships. Getting in is probably your toughest part but once you’re in you can start networking and demonstrate to your agency just how great you really are. More resources are below under the “street performance” topic.

  • Musician Wages – Excellent resource on the music business. From teaching online to working on cruise ships, this site is extremely informative.
  • Music Think Tank – Another music website dedicated to the working musician. Helpful articles.

Street Performance and The Arts Non Musical

Do you know how to poke needles through your nipples and hang weights from them better than a Therrapuist monk in Malaysia? Do you know how to spin fire sticks better than the rookies on Koh Phi Phi? Can balance thirteen things on your head while eating a sandwich? Or can you simply make people laugh while juggling a few balls… in the air? If so, you might be more employable than an ESL teacher! Joke’s on them, ain’t it!?!? Hahaha! Anyway, busking, or street performance as it’s commonly called, is the art of prostituting yourself on the streets except without the explicit sex. Instead, you display your talents, whatever they may be, and people choose whether or not to pay you for your performance. Painting, human statues, juggling, clowns, the list is endless and all potentially profitable if you are able to draw the crowd and get them to give you a few coins or more. It’s presentation skills, it’s showmanship, it’s a bit of work and it still may not go your way. That being the case, who needs an office when the whole world is your market place, right? Here are some links to get the ideas flowing:

  • World Busk – Resource site for those interested in street performance.
  • Busker World – Another resource site for those who want to perform on the street.
  • List of Busking Locations – Updated by Wikipedia users, it gives you a good idea where people have had success before.
  • The Busking Project – A documentary team travelled the world and interviewed street performers. Helpful, free resources in addition to their DVD.

Pump Gas

Alright, I’ll put it in here as a tip o’ the hat to the old man and just in case you’re really stuck for work. Forget the bloody cafes in Australia or New Zealand what people need are pump jockeys to help them fill up their LPG tanks. Have you ever seen one of those things? Anyway, if you’re hurting for work, inquire at the local gas station to see if they need someone to attend the pumps. Works best in heavily industrialized nations that consume vast amounts of oil and gas, such as Canada, United States, Britain, Europe, Australia and New Zealand. I’m sure there are others, too. Geez… I never thought I’d admit that my Dad would be right, especially in writing.

  • Co-Op, Petro Canada – Canadian gas companies. My Dad likes to mention the Co-Op whenever I go back to Canada. Hmmm, maybe next time.
  • Shell, Esso – Multinational gas companies.

Stock Trading

what-my-friends-think-I-do-what-i-actually-do-traderWhen my brothers read my last post on common jobs abroad they mentioned that I sounded like Dad, the only thing missing was a mention about trading stocks. Well, here it is. I have traded stocks with some success but I’ve had my failures, too. Let me tell you something, trading stocks isn’t as easy as it sounds and most people who try fail miserably and then jump on the conspiracy bandwagon. Lordy lordy lordy if I had a dollar every time someone got all hot under the collar about how the market is corrupt and this and that I’d be rich! One of the first things to figure out is if you yourself should actually be trading. Some people just aren’t disposed to it, and that’s fine, get someone else to do it for you. So I’ll make you a deal. If you want to bitch about the conspiracies of the stock market, send me $50 to my Paypal account (stevensirski [at] gmail [dot] com) and give me a call. I’ll listen to what you have to say. How long can you last? One hour? BUT, if you want to learn how to trade stocks, shoot me an email and I can try my best to explain. (NB: My brother talked me out of charging an exorbitant consulting fee.) Now, I’m not a certified financial guy and I don’t dispense financial advice, but I can tell you a little about how the market works, point you in the right direction and help you find and use the appropriate tools to make better investment decisions. Your call, just don’t bitch to me about how the market doesn’t care, that’s been known for quite some time. Yes, it is possible to make money in the stock market and yes anyone can do it. There are a variety of methods out there but I can tell you it comes down to focus and discipline. If you don’t have either of those then maybe you should get somebody else to do it for you.

  • Me – stevensirski [at] gmail [dot] com. I’ll do my best to help you understand the markets a little better.
  • The Backpacking Investor – A website dedicated to understanding and profiting from markets around the world.
  • Day Trading Academy – Run by the WanderingTrader, (his real name is Marcello) the site aims at teaching folks how to day trade.