Our guide to finding work in the hospitality industry on your gap year.
Working in bars, hotels, restaurants and resorts is an obvious way to earn money while you are travelling. Hotel, tourism and leisure companies need most staff during school holidays, at Easter and Christmas. Resorts have the highest demand for staff in the summer (just remember the seasions are the other way around if you are heading to the Southern Hemisphere!).
Keeping your black and whites at the ready is a sure way to impress catering agencies and upmarket restaurants. If you do not have room in your rucksack, budget for a pair of tailored black trousers, a plain white shirt and some black shoes when you get to your destination. Black shoes should be plain, preferably lace ups, and should cover the whole of your foot (don’t turn up in sandals!) Bars and restaurants love experienced staff - the more bar and waiting experience you can get before you leave, the better, as competition is likely to be stiff in the most popular destinations.
If you have worked in an upmarket restaurant before, you stand more chance of getting work in a place with good tips. Beware though – tipping isn't as common in some countries as it is in others.
A la carte experience is something that ads for waiting staff frequently require. It basically means you will be expected to show the customer to their table, hand out menus and take orders from the table. Silver service looks good on your CV too.
If you can make a cappuccino or espresso using a proper coffee machine, you will be able to get a lot more work in cafes and bars as a barista.
Bear in mind that if you want work in Australia, then the RSA (Responsible Serving of Alcohol) certificate is useful if you are planning on doing a lot of bar work. Hospitality agencies will charge you a fee to do your course, which takes around 4 hours to complete. Many bars and restaurants in Australia require their staff to have this qualification, particularly in New South Wales.
If you have good references bring them with you to show to employers. It could give you the edge over other applicants having them to hand. Remember that you need to be sure that you are working legally even if you are just doing a temporary job. Find out what visa you need well in advance of booking your flights.
Wherever you choose to work in the world you stand the best chance of getting work in hospitality if you look presentable, have a good attitude, a commitment to great customer service, and a smile!