Work and Travel in Turkey

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Turkey has long been the gateway to Asia and the Middle East for intrepid backpackers. It’s also one of the most liberal countries in the Islamic World, which makes it a great introduction to a different culture.

Due to the high number of tourists and the sheer size of the country, volunteer opportunities in Turkey are relatively simple to find.

Despite the on-going political issues in the country, this is still a place that’s welcoming backpackers from all over the world. So if you want to work and travel in Turkey, don’t worry because nothing has changed on that front.

Read this travel guide to Turkey and you’ll be well-equipped for uncovering the heart of the old Ottoman Empire.

1. Volunteer with Camels in Cappadocia

In Cappadocia you’ll likely see plenty of camels being used to pose with tourists. Most of these camels aren’t treated well, but it’s not how it is across the rest of the area. There are animal parks where the camels are well taken care of, and most of these run on volunteers.

If you want to work and travel in Turkey and you’re an animal lover, this is your chance to get up close and personal with these creatures.

You’ll be helping to take care of them and you’ll learn about how these animal sanctuaries work to protect camels from the people who use them for the tourism industry.

2. Teach English in Istanbul

Many of Turkey’s young people are quickly leaning towards the West, especially in Istanbul. Young Turkish people want to learn English so they can understand pop culture in the West and emigrate there. There’s a big market for teaching English in Istanbul.

The majority of this work is on a voluntary basis, but you can also find paid work if you manage to get a private client. It’s not usually necessary to have a TEFL qualification to teach English in Turkey, but it helps.

Typically, most paid work requires you to have a qualification.

3. Work with Refugees in Southern Turkey

As part of its agreement with the European Union (EU), Turkey opened its doors to almost one million refugees fleeing the Syrian War and other conflicts in the Middle East.

If you want to work and travel in Turkey, head to the south and you’ll have the opportunity to work with refugees in a variety of roles.

The majority of these positions require you to have some sort of specialist skill or training, but backpackers can still find positions. It may be as simple as passing out food, playing with children, or teaching refugees how to speak English.


Travellers who want to work in Turkey will find that the country has an inconsistent visa policy. Germany and France, for example, can enter for 90 days without a visa. But Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Belgium, and the UK all require the eVisa to stay or 90 days.

Americans and Canadians also have to apply for a Turkish eVisa. Yet Mexicans who want the same eVisa can only stay for a maximum of 30 days.

Australians also have to apply for the 90-day eVisa, but Kiwis can enter for 90 days without any form of visa. Japanese citizens and citizens of South Korea are also exempt from having to apply for a visa.

Russian citizens can stay for free for a total of 60 days. South African citizens, on the other hand, have to apply for a formal Turkish visa in advance.

Visa requirements for travel in Turkey are all rather complex, so look up your country on an individual basis to check the latest visa requirements.



The east of Turkey is the place to be in spring, where the heat is bearable and you don’t have to deal with the inconsistent weather of the western half of Turkey.

In spring you’ll find ample opportunities to work in the rural areas. Homestays with Turkish families are popular at this time of year in the conservative areas of the country. You can also find volunteer positions that involve helping with construction work.


Summer is best enjoyed along the Mediterranean. This part of the country sees a large influx of tourists and many volunteering projects begin to spring up at this time of year.

Work and travel in Turkey in the summer and you’ll find plenty of English teaching opportunities and the chance to work in hostels.

You can also spend your time working in orphanages or with underprivileged children in the low-income urban areas.


Autumn doesn’t require any specific backpacker skills. You should refer to the previous section for more information on what you can do in the autumn time.


Believe it or not, travel in Turkey in winter and you’ll find it can get extremely cold in the western parts of the country.

Head down to the coastlines, especially along the Black Sea, and work in one of the resorts there. Europeans love to travel to these regions at this time of year so there’s ample work available.

It’s also a good time to go south and help with the refugees there. With many volunteers leaving Turkey in the winter, you’ll usually find some open positions.


Work and travel in Turkey is an experience of contrasts. Places like Istanbul will very much remind you of Europe, both in culture and mind-set. But move across to Eastern Turkey and you’ll find it becomes much more conservative. You should always be respectful of the more conservative form of Islam there.

Turkish people have become so used to foreigners that you’re unlikely to experience any issues in the country. Just make sure that you don’t voice your opinions about current politics and you’ll get along fine.

To succeed in Turkey you just have to be mindful of the region you’re in and how distinct it is from the rest of the country.

Do you have what it takes to work and travel in Turkey?

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