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Top 5 Short-Term Work Adventures. What’s on your list?

Posted by on April 10, 2011

Surely it isn’t our destiny as humans to work in cubicles and grind away the hours.  Days turn into weeks, weeks into months.  I’m quite sure we aren’t supposed to be just “trying to get through” the week.  In a perfect world, we enjoy the workweek and it is looked at as an event leading up the weekend, not how we “earn” our weekends.

Alas, believe it or not there are lucky bastards out there who pass the time on the weekend waiting for Monday to start.  They do what they love, they don’t take it all so seriously and for that we dedicate this post to them.

The following is a list of my top five destinations for working short-term across the world.  Short-term can be defined as less than a year in this case.  Obviously, training and certifications in some circumstances are necessary but because this is the internet we’ll pretend I’m qualified in everything.  Hard to fathom, right?

Resort Worker in Hawaii

The only one on the list I’ve checked off.  You earn your meager paycheck by scrubbing pools, handing towels to super pale people from Chicago, and convincing the 37 year old guy with a bowling bowl belly that he better wait for low-tide to try out his new boogie board.

"Excuse me pool boy, this towel isn't nearly soft enough"

The Advantages

Besides the fact that you get to live in Hawaii?  The tips can be astoundingly great, people on vacation are happy and happy people tip.  Your workplace is filled with palm trees, breaching whales, and girls in swimsuits.  I don’t think I need to explain any of those three.

The Disadvantages

Yes there are some.  The hours can be very early (4 a.m. pool scrubbing) and very late (2 a.m. luau clean-up) and you will always be working weekends as you have zero seniority upon hiring.

Believe it or not people actually call you “pool boy.”  “Pool Boy, here’s my key to my room, I need my sunglasses.”  “Pool Boy, make the whales come back, I didn’t have my camera.”  Both real requests folks.

Besides the hours and the catering to rich folk, this can be a great job for someone who loves the beach.  No matter how stressful the people made you, if you were off work at 5 p.m., you were sitting on you surf board in the line-up of a world-class break at 5:10 p.m.  And no, I can’t make the whales come back.

River Rafting Guide in the Grand Canyon

The mountains, the sunsets, the rapids.  Anywhere there is a river, there is an outfitting company who will take you on that river if you pay them enough money.  Contrary to my original thinking, I found out most bigger rivers don’t actually let you float down them with swim muscles on, you actually need a permit and need to be with a guide.  Go figure.

Yeaaah, so everyone can swim pretty well, right?

The Advantages

No cars, no buildings, no pollution.  Your workplace is technology-free and your main assignment is to get 6 people you don’t know down a river safely.

Most guides I’ve seen have a great tan.  Anyway…moving on.

The Disadvantages

People’s lives are in your hands.  There are relaxed times, but there are also times where you must be on top of your game or people can get seriously injured or worse.

Aside from getting people down a river safely, you have to cook and set up their shelters for them.  There is also no place to go if the people you are assigned annoy the shit out of you.  You can’t go for a “walk” to cool off, you can’t “turn the damn raft around” either if the kids are screaming in the back.

Scuba Dive Instructor in Australia

Those that dive can attest to the magic that happens below the surface.  There are no problems when you are scuba diving (unless you run out of air) and the world is care-free.  Schools of thousands of colorful fish accompany you as you explore reefs the size of countries.  You’re going to pay me to do this?

No, you can't ride the dolphins.

The Advantages

You are on/in the ocean almost every day.  You meet a vast array of different people on a daily basis who all share the same love that you do for the ocean and its inhabitants.

Your co-workers include turtles, manta-rays, schools of fish and the occasional curious shark.

The Disadvantages

The pay is universally quite terrible.  Upkeep of the equipment and lugging it all around can be tiresome.  The monotonous mandatory pool sessions for new divers can become…monotonous and once again, you are responsible for the lives of others 80 feet below the surface.

Fishing Guide in Alaska

Each summer thousands of people flock to Alaska in search of seasonal employment.  The jobs range from front desk at a hotel in Denali National Park to fly-fishing guide for 20 lb. salmon in remote streams under towering mountains and everything in between.

You'll smell like fish all of the time, but look at your "job site"

The Advantages

I have heard of great tips being thrown at guides who can help anglers land the big kahuna.  Fishermen do crazy things in the euphoria that takes place after a dream catch.

You get to eat world class salmon or trout on a nightly basis, usually prepared at no cost to you by the chef who works at the resort.

You get to fish, every day, for months.

The Disadvantages

Ever tried to clean a fish?  How long did it take you to rid your hands of that smell?  Now imagine cleaning multiple giant fish on a daily basis, good luck finding a girlfriend.

Working at a lodge in rural Alaska means no tequila shots with 18 year old college girls, no HD-TV broadcasts of your favorite college football game and no IMAX screening of Avatar.  But if you are working in Alaska, I’m not sure those are big priorities of yours to begin with.

Deckhand on a Sailboat Crossing the Pacific Ocean

My personal favorite.  I find myself wondering aloud what the stars must be like as you lie on your 48 foot sloop gazing up as you head towards Tahiti at 3 a.m.  Are there better stars anywhere in the world?

You share the same toilet with 6 other strangers but the sunsets are epic.

The Advantages

You catch fresh fish off the boat on a daily basis and plow through books like Dawkins while getting your tan on like Snookie.  Yes, I just referenced Richard Dawkins and Snookie in the same sentence.  This website will explode in 10 seconds.

You get to see the world from a different perspective.  Ports of call from Tel-Aviv to New York City, the oceans and seas are your highways and the itinerary based only off of your crazy captain and possible storms.

The Disadvantages

Very little pay combined with the fact that you are on a 40 foot boat with 6 other people.  That comes out to roughly 6 feet of personal space.  You share a kitchen, you share a bathroom, and you undoubtedly will share a bedroom/bunk.  You had better pick your crew and captain wisely.

Pirates.  A very real concern that has captains across the world planning and changing their itinerary accordingly based on reports.

No internet, no telephones, isolation.  Trouble in the Central Pacific Ocean means you had better be equipped.  The nearest ship that could offer aid could be days or even weeks away.  If isolation isn’t your thing, pass on this.

What’s on your list?

Backpacker Acker would like to hear from you, the readers.  What adventures (paid and short-term) do you have on your list?  What crazy job would you want to do?  Let us know in the comment box where, how, and most importantly, why.


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