What it’s like on a working holiday in the UK

what it's like on a uk working holiday
Day in the life: what it’s really like on a working holiday in the UK

If you’re unsure about embarking on a working holiday in the UK, you’ve come to the right place. Spending a gap year living out your dream abroad seems great, and is definitely an exciting opportunity. Apart from the fun stuff – the travelling, the meeting people, the making memories – what will your actual day-to-day look like? Well, here’s an inkling of what to expect on your working holiday in the UK. 


Depending on what kind of job you land yourself, your mornings might look a bit different. If you’ve got a job that’s shift work, lucky you – you might get a few free mornings to explore your local surroundings. A stroll around Hyde Park, a long brunch at a cool cafe, or even a fitness class at your local gym.

If it’s the weekend or a day off, then your mornings can be spent exploring like this.

For those of you who have to get up and at ‘em early doors, work will usually start around 9 a.m. (10 a.m. in some places).

Most pubs won’t open until about midday, however, if you’re working in a hotel the morning shift could be even earlier to prepare for the breakfast shift.

what it's like on a uk working holiday

Lunch in the UK is slowly becoming a more foodie affair, but for most, it’s usually still what is sadly termed “al desko” – supermarket-bought sandwiches eaten in a break room. However, you’ll have anywhere between 30 minutes to an hour to enjoy your lunch break (usually). So it’s a good chance to stretch your legs and get out into the local neighbourhood.

If you’re working in a town or city, there may be a few good lunch spots to get to know, and more than a few places to stroll to walk off your lunch. A lot of Brits also take a packed lunch to work, so finding a green space to take a sandwich (or whatever you’ve made) and chill out is a great move.

Many pubs will also provide discounted meals for employees. You might want to make the most of this and enjoy a warm, pub lunch before or during your shift.


Afternoons may be the time you’re heading to work in a bar or cafe. Or if you’re working at the front desk of a hotel, it might be check-in time which is usually pretty busy. The bonus of shift work like this is that you may get mornings where you’re free, plus you’ll be travelling to work at a quieter time of day (rush hour on the tube is not fun).

The working day usually gets wrapped around 5 or 6 p.m., after which there may be an after-work event you need to go to, or something more casual like a visit to a pub. The post-work pint (or two) is an institution. On Thursdays in particular, media sorts pile into London pubs. It’s the new Friday.

what it's like on a uk working holiday

If you do finish work at 5 or 6, then the evening will be yours to do as you wish. You’ll be able to make the most of your life living in another country. 

In cities, there’s a lot more opportunity to get out and about and enjoy the ever-growing dining scene. Or you could see a show, head to a late-night opening of a museum, or check out the latest art exhibition. Music and comedy nights are a big deal, and in London especially there are tons of venues to see either of these live shows.

If you’re working a shift, then you may be working way past sociable hours and into the night. Things don’t stay open late, so you should have meals prepped for when you return home (or survive on takeout).

Weekend evenings are usually fun-packed affairs, unless you happen to be working. Brits head to their local pub and go out for dinner. If it’s a sunny day, many will head to a pub in the afternoon, drink, eat, and drink some more, and won’t move until closing. After all, summer nights are long here.

Ready to get going? If a typical day looks pretty good to you, then check out our Working Holiday opportunities. We’ll set you up with a job and accommodation so you can hit the ground running. 

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