Work and Travel in Georgia
VOLUNTEER AND PAID WORK OPPORTUNITIES IN GEORGIA FOR TRAVELLERS
Georgia is the leading nation involved in the tourist boom in the Caucasus. Despite this, it’s a country that still has a lot of poverty and a country that needs outside help. This opens up lots of volunteering opportunities for anyone who wants to work in Georgia.
As well as being a nation that’s simply beautiful, there are volunteering jobs in Georgia for everyone. Depending on the time of year you arrive, you can find work and travel in Georgia in a variety of roles. If you have any specialist skills you’ll be in high-demand, but the growing number of hostels and guesthouses mean that there’s high demand for unskilled foreign volunteers.
This guide is going to show you some of the options you’ll have when you work and travel in Georgia.
VOLUNTEER WORK VISA / PERMIT REQUIREMENTS FOR GEORGIA
Georgia is a unique country because the vast majority of nationalities are able to enter visa-free for up to a year. This goes for all Europeans, the British, Australians, Kiwis, and even Russians. There are very few nationalities that can’t enter visa-free, and those countries that don’t benefit from visa-free travel can still get an electronic visa.
From September 2014 Georgia overhauled its visa system, creating five categories of visa. They have also simplified the process of getting the necessary documentation to volunteer in Georgia. In order to volunteer here you will need to apply for an Ordinary visa. This comes under Category C, which is exactly the same as the tourist visa.
For unpaid work, volunteer roles can be carried out under the ordinary tourist visa, so that means for the majority of nationalities you don’t have to do anything to take on unpaid work completely legally.
Take note that for paid work the process differs, so if you have any expectation of financial compensation you should go through the proper channels before arriving in the country.
SEASONAL BACKPACKER SKILLS NEEDED IN GEORGIA
The main type of seasonal work you’ll find in Georgia will be in the vineyards of the country. Georgia is famous for its wine and vineyards are always looking for a few extra hands. Spring is the first part of the year where vineyards need people who want to work in Georgia.
Backpackers in Georgia will mainly be involved in creating and maintaining the wires to help the vines grow. It might seem like a thankless task, but it’s also the most rewarding because if the spring season doesn’t go according to plan it can ruin the harvest for the entire year.
Summer in Georgia takes in relatively hot and sunny months, which is when most tourists visit. Beware that the lowlands can be extremely hot and humid during July and August, so it may be worth heading for the highlands or the coastline to escape the heat.
Most summer jobs in Georgia relate to the tourism industry. You’ll be able to find plenty of seasonal work in Batumi, Georgia’s main city on the coastline. There are also lots of jobs in the tourism industry in Tbilisi, the capital. The majority of tourists will come through here because it’s a main transport hub in the Caucuses.
If you don’t fancy working in a hostel or guesthouse in one of the main Georgian cities, you may be able to find similar work in the rural areas. There are many new guesthouses popping up. They open their doors in the summer and close for the rest of the year.
September is perhaps the best month for working in the vineyards of Georgia. Working travellers in Georgia can enjoy the bright colours and fresh smells of the vineyards as the vineyards began their second major intake of foreign volunteers. September is the harvest month and the month where the vineyards need extra hands to pick the grapes when their aromas are at their most potent.
Bear in mind that many vineyards in Georgia still harvest the grapes by hand. No machinery is employed at any point in the process.
Autumn is also the traditional time for new English teachers in the country. Like most countries, the Georgian government has seen the benefits of teaching English in the country. Working travellers who want to work in Georgia may want to consider taking up an English-teaching job.
You will normally have to commit to a minimum length of time and you can be placed in schools in urban and rural areas. There are both government-sponsored and non-government programmes available.
Winter sees large amounts of snow fall on the country. This allows one of its biggest industries to open its doors: skiing. The skiing destinations of Gudauri, Bakuriani, and Mestia are some of the most popular and qualified volunteers are always welcome here.
You may be able to volunteer as a ski instructor, or just as someone who welcomes new guests to the resort. These ski resorts take in their fair share of both Georgians and international tourists, so fluent English is a coveted skill to have in this part of the world.
Take note that the majority of posts at ski resorts are filled long before the season actually begins. You should go out of your way to make sure you apply to work in Georgia well in advance.
Most other industries, including the vineyards and coastal tourism, close down during the winter months. This is also when most long-term volunteers decide to travel themselves, putting many programmes on hiatus.
ATTITUDE TO FOREIGNERS WORKING OR VOLUNTEERING IN GEORGIA
Georgia is growing wealthier every year, but many people in the rural areas still live in poverty. Despite this, Georgians are known to be some of the friendliest people in the region. You should have no problems working and travelling in Georgia.