Remember that scene in Titanic where Rose’s uptight snob of a mother grills Jack at the dinner table? After he talks about how he’s been to so many places, she makes a subtle dig at his poverty by asking, “And how is it you have the means to travel?”
He then replies, “I work my way from place to place, you know, tramp steamers and such.”
Despite the fact that the movie was set more than a hundred years ago (1912, to be exact), 21st century travelers can still do a Jack Dawson if they’ve got limited funds. Accommodations, for instance, arguably eat up the biggest chunk of your travel budget. Especially in a place like New Zealand, where you’ll be lucky if you find decent rooms for under USD 173 per night.
Fortunately, you can find a place to stay for free on this island nation if you’re willing to put in a bit of work. Here are five different gigs that can save you from having to sleep on a park bench if you’re running low on cash:
1. Au Pair.
It’s basically a fancy term for a live-in babysitter.
This sort of arrangement typically suits single women who plan to stay in New Zealand for quite a while and don’t mind looking after young children in exchange for a place to stay. It’s also a great way to supplement a degree in Early Childhood Education and Development with actual childcare experience.
As a bonus, it’s also got potential as an excellent cross-cultural exchange for both the host family and the au pair.
2. Waged Jobs in the Hospitality Industry.
If you aim to hang around New Zealand for a few months, you could try to get a job at the local hostel, hotel, or motel. Working the reception desk or a handful of housekeeping shifts a week could mean a free bed to sleep in and some extra pocket money to boot!
No, this has nothing to do with pretending to be a dog (although you may find yourself making a few new furry friends in the process).
WWOOF stands for “Working Weekends on Organic Farms,” and it involves volunteering to work on a variety of organic properties for about 4-6 hours a day. Manual work is clearly involved, but you’d be doing so in a safe and perhaps even scenic environment, and the hosts typically provide shelter AND food.
Aspiring socio-preneurs and food sustainability advocates ought to find the experience extremely educational and rewarding as well. Learn more about WWOOF here.
4. DOC Volunteer Work.
Speaking of volunteering and the environment, another option involves signing up with New Zealand’s Department of Conservation (DoC) and helping out with their efforts to preserve and restore the country’s historic buildings and wildlife sanctuaries.
Some projects include free accommodation for volunteers, and you can visit the DoC website to find which of the ongoing ones would suit you.
5. Sailing Crews.
Fancy going all Pirates of the Caribbean on New Zealand’s most pristine waters AND scoring complimentary board and lodging?
Log on to Find A Crew, and look for a captain who’ll take you on as part of the crew on their floating vessel! Trips brokered on this website typically last for an entire week and usually come with a free bed aboard, or at the very least, a small fee in exchange for the same.
Okay, so you might argue that a working vacation is no vacation at all. Still, if you look at the jobs listed above, most of them actually offer great opportunities to get to know the country and its people better, potentially resulting in a more immersive experience. And how many travelers can claim that they’ve managed to do that while savi quite a bundle in the process?