Work and Travel in Finland
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN FINLAND FOR TRAVELLERS
Finland is a country that sits at an interesting crossroads of geography and history. A decidedly Nordic country that also shares a border and former political relations with Russia, modern-day Finland possesses a complex culture all its own.
Named year after year as the “happiest country on earth”, working and travelling in Finland can be a rewarding experience. But it’s important to keep in mind the climate, language, and cost of living before deciding to make the move.
Dive into our travel guide below for everything you need to know about working and travelling in Finland as a backpacker.
1. Teach languages to Finnish people
Many Finns already understand English, so if you speak English as well as another language, such as Russian, French, or Spanish, you may find opportunities to bestow that knowledge onto others. This instruction could be either informally in someone’s home or through an official school.
2. Natural building projects in the countryside
Like many other Scandinavians and Europeans, eco-minded Finns are returning to traditional building methods. Knowledge of sustainable building techniques using straw bale, cob, or clay plaster can make you a valuable asset as a working traveller in Finland.
3. Work with huskies in Lapland
The artic wilderness of Lapland is one of the country’s biggest tourism destinations. If you have or want to get involved in animal care or tour guiding, consider joining up with a business that gives husky dogsled tours.
The work can be physically intense, and the elements cold, but while cleaning and feeding the dogs you’ll learn all about training them and running a successful tour company.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR FINLAND
Finland is part of the Schengen visa area - most Western nationals don’t need a tourist visa for stays of less than three months. South Africans, Indians and Chinese, however, are among those who need a Schengen visa. For more information, contact the nearest Finnish embassy or consulate, or check the website. On this website, you’ll also find more information about obtaining a residence and work permit for Finland.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN FINLAND
The growing season begins in April in southwestern Finland, May in the interior, and June in Lapland. We recommend joining in with a farm project in this season to see the whole process of maintaining a farm - the preparation and planting.
If you have mechanical repair knowledge, spring is a good time to head to farms or seasonal resorts, so you can help hosts repair and prepare their farms or resorts for the summer.
Summer generally lasts until mid-September in Finland and is characterized by “polar days” - days when the sun won’t set at all.
Now is a good time to work and travel in conservation projects helping unique Finnish animals such as the reindeer or ringed seal.
Alternatively, in summer many tourists head to lakeside B&B’s like Lake Saimaa in southeast Finland. You’ll likely be able to find paid work in these places - cleaning rooms, doing dishes, cooking, etc.
Finland’s first snowfalls occur in September or October, so now might be a good time for backpackers to transition to community projects teaching languages, working with children, or helping to close up summer retreats for the long winter.
Winter is the time of “polar nights” - days when the sun barely rises above the horizon. But tourism can be high this time of year, as people come to witness the northern lights or take sleddog tours.
As a working traveller, you should try to get booked up with a tour group for winter. You could be based in Lapland if you’re running the tours and taking care of the accommodation, or in Helsinki, if you are working more on the administrative side.
Taking care of horses in wintertime and chopping wood for home heating are two other skilled areas that backpackers can find work and travel opportunities in winter.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN FINLAND
Finland does not yet see as many backpackers passing through as nearby Sweden or Norway, but that may soon be changing. Lots of opportunities are opening up for working travellers as tourism slowly increases.
Like other Nordic countries, discrimination is low and you shouldn’t face safety issues travelling around Finland. However, the cost of food and accommodation can be high if you don’t have a work exchange worked out. Also, keep in mind that Finns aren’t necessarily as charismatic as some other cultures (until you get to know them)!
Why not get started on your Finnish work and travel adventure today?
- Edited on Jun 15 2021 by
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