Is Spain calling to you?
Is there some other life you know you could be living?
You can daydream forever about hiking the Pyrenees, running with the bulls or finally learning Spanish, but the truth is, there’s no excuse not to go for it! If you want to see Spain as more than just a tourist, there are plenty of ways to travel there and still work while doing it.
Take a look. Obtaining the romantic lifestyle you’ve been craving might be simpler than you think. That’s what I found when I decided to move to Spain.
¡Vamos! (Let’s go!)
Why Work and Travel in Spain?
A rich history of romance and adventure
Spain has been a promised land for for travelers and adventurers since long before Ernest Hemingway went to Pamplona. The beautiful Mediterranean landscape and the storied cities and villages have drawn writers, artists and musicians for centuries.
A unique culture ripe with new experiences
Spanish culture goes back millennia. It’s filled with tons of traditions and customs influenced by the Romans, Moors, Catalans, Castilians and more.
There’s architecture, music and ancient festivals. Maybe best of all, there’s world-famous Spanish food like tapas, empanadas and paella.
Plenty of opportunities for foreigners to work and travel
Spain packs a lot into a space smaller than Texas. You can travel from the beach to the mountains, from quaint villages to historical cities in only a few hours by car. There’s also a great train network and plenty of budget airlines.
As you’re about to see, there are a lot of ways for foreigners to work to fund their travels, too.
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Necessary Documents to Work and Travel in Spain
The good news is you probably don’t need to secure a visa ahead of time to enter Spain. In fact, you probably don’t need anything other than your passport. Americans, Canadians and Australians can all receive a 90-day tourist visa upon arrival in the country.
The bad news is that if you want to stay longer than three months, you have to do the paperwork for another kind of visa. Luckily, you have a few options.
Spain gives student visas to people studying abroad or otherwise enrolled in Spanish universities. The government also issues this type of visa for certain types of professional programs, such as the Auxiliares de Conversación (Conversation Assistants).
While these visas usually last a short period of time—six months to a year—they do normally allow visa holders to request a part-time work permit.
Work and residence visas
The Spanish government issues work and residence visas for a variety of situations. People with close family members in the country have the easiest route, but you can also request a work visa if you have a company willing to sponsor you or if you’ve been paying into the Spanish social security system through part-time work or other means for a certain amount of time.
Because these visa processes are so complicated, it’s best to discuss your options with an immigration lawyer who knows the applicable laws.
¡Vamos! Check Out These 5 Jobs You Can Work to Travel in Spain
1. Find a Volunteer or Internship Position
Volunteering and internships are great ways to travel and gain experience for later in life.
In Spain, you can volunteer for numerous causes, from education to ecology, with reputable agencies such as GoAbroad.
You can also intern for major companies. Spain has a large tourism industry, which means placement agencies like Worldwide Internships can find you positions in the hospitality, culinary and entertainment industries.
Volunteers and interns usually aren’t paid, but some programs may offer free room and board or even a small stipend. This way, you don’t have to worry about supporting yourself and can spend your money on travel.
2. Become a Yachtie
Situated on the Mediterranean, Spain is home base for a lot of yachts. The Balearic Islands, as well as coastal cities such as Barcelona and Valencia, are popular ports for boats from all over the world. You can take advantage of these locations to support your travels.
Since I moved to Spain, I’ve met tons of yachties, mostly down in Santa Catalina, telling stories on the cafe terraces while they wait for their ships to set sail again. From a South African surfer to a Dutch Caribbean islander who worked a butterfly farm on her off season, they’ve always been some of the most interesting people around.
To join a yacht crew, you’ll need certifications. You can take these courses before you leave for Spain from a reputable school, such as Bluewater Crew Training, then make a Spanish city your port of call once you’ve found a yacht to work on.
Service experience and flexibility are key to finding a job, but your biggest asset is a good repertoire of languages. If you want to work out of Spain, you should specifically study up on German, Russian and, of course, Spanish.
3. Land an Au Pair Gig
If you want to work in Spain while still being able to travel, being an au pair is a good option.
Many Spanish parents need people to care for their children. They love hiring international caretakers so their kids can experience a different culture and language at a young age. And they know you want to experience a different culture and language, too! These positions are usually flexible so you have weekends and some vacation time to travel around Spain or the rest of Europe.
It’s important to conduct due diligence and set yourself up for success when you au pair. Find a reputable au pair agency that will place you in a situation you’ll enjoy.
4. Work as a Digital Nomad
One of the best ways to support your travel lifestyle is by taking part in the digital economy. Whatever your particular skill set, there’s probably a way to do your work online.
You can work as a freelance writer, travel photographer, graphic designer… you can even work in fields like customer service remotely! As long as you have an internet connection, you can keep up with your clients over email or even hold video calls by using programs like Skype or Google Duo.
Wondering where to start? If you want to be a travel writer, you could see your name in print right here on the FluentU Travel Blog! Check out how to apply to be a long-term travel blogger here.
You can work for a few weeks out of Spain and then continue on to your next destination. Or maybe you’ll fall in love with the country and decide to stay.
5. Teach English
English is in high demand in Spain thanks to its role as the modern global lingua franca. The country lags behind a lot of Europe in English education, though, and they need as many qualified native-speaking teachers as they can get. As a result, there are numerous ways to work and and fund your travel adventures by teaching your native language.
Here are your best options:
After World War II, the United States began the Fulbright Program to encourage international exchange. It’s currently administered by the U.S. Department of State, which gives 137 prestigious Fulbright Fellowships per year for Americans to teach English in Spain.
I was a Fulbright Fellow for the 2012-2013 school year and had one of the most enriching experiences of my life.
Auxiliares de Conversación (Conversation Assistants)
This program is similar to Fulbright but is run by the Spanish government. Every year the government provide thousands of positions for Americans and Canadians to teach English part-time in Spanish schools.
This is my third year as an Auxiliar in Mallorca. That should tell you something about how amazing the program is! I can’t emphasize enough how great this program is for starting your time in Spain. Needless to say, I plan to renew for a fourth year.
Since Spain needs so much English education, there are a lot of private organizations that provide part-time teaching positions in addition to the government.
While there are numerous opportunities, be careful and do your research before committing to anything. Reputable companies like Meddeas place you in a great school with professional support on par with the state-run Auxiliares program.
If you’d prefer to be your own boss, you can always try to teach English freelance. Many Spanish people look for private teachers to tutor their children outside of school or to help them with their own English for work.
Your first obstacle is getting the right visa. You have to register as self-employed and make sure you pay taxes as you’re legally required. Then you can print fliers, post on websites like tusclasesparticulares.com or go by word of mouth to build your client base.
I almost didn’t come to Spain. It was a major change, and I was comfortable living in my own little bubble back home.
I did come, though, and I’m thankful every day that I did. As you can see, there are plenty of ways to work and travel in Spain. All you need to do is take the leap.
Christian Monson is an American living and working in Mallorca. After studying English and German at the University of Arkansas, he was a Fulbright Fellow in Germany before moving to Spain. He speaks German and Spanish and an ever-increasing amount of Catalan. You can learn more about his articles and fiction at christianmonson.com.
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