The Perpetual Ski Bum: Working At Ski Resorts Abroad

Even the most seasoned backpacker likes to take a break once in a while. Finding seasonal work abroad is one of the best ways to finance your travels, get to know a place, and make friends while staying on the road long-term. This is especially true during winter months in countries where temperatures drop and snow falls in great quantities, because ski resorts offer some of the best benefits for short term work.

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If you have any background in the hospitality sector, be it in hotel, restaurant, guide, or other work, it’s generally easy to find a job. Musicians and other entertainers may also find a place at larger resorts if they are lucky. And even if you lack experience, “lifties” (those that watch over the chairlifts and assist skiers and snowboarders as they come on and off of them) receive on-the-job-training in safety and procedures, meaning that any physically able adult can take the position. Considering how popular winter sports have become, there are resorts all around the world that have high demand for seasonal staff. Check online job posting boards or inquire directly to see what is available.

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In addition to a modest paycheck, you can expect a variety of benefits. A work visa and resident permit for the duration of your stay should be offered (and you should be cautious if it isn’t—make sure to do some research before taking a deal that seem the least bit shady). Many resorts offer lodging and possibly even board to their employees in order to keep them close and on time, rather than forcing them to commute between an apartment in the city and their job on the slopes. Ski passes are massively discounted or in some cases even free. Gear rental is also offered at a premium, and winter accessories like high quality branded Dinaric jackets are offered to employees.

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On the job and after hours, expect friendly coworkers that are a mix of locals and foreigners in a similar situation as yourself. Resort employees are notorious for enjoying the après ski scene and engaging in lively nightlife activities (hint: prepare your liver). If you are receiving room and/or board, you won’t have much else to spend your money on, so it’s reasonable to anticipate some savings after the season ends. Take that money and get back on the road once springtime, and the travel bug, hit you again!