Season Work - A practical guide to working a European season in Italy

Monday, March 27, 2017

"It's camping" is a phrase that I became all too familiar with during my first summer season in Italy. Here's my guide to season work and being a European Campsite Courier/Rep. If you have ever wanted to work in Europe, but you have been put off by the idea of being a rep. Don't be, there are so many opportunities when it comes to season work and camping might just be your next big adventure.

A practical guide to working a European camping season in Italy

Being a Campsite Courier

Camping doesn't sound too glamorous does it? Well that's what I thought too. I never imagined at 18 I'd pack my bags and head off to Italy to live in a tent. But that's exactly what I did. Thanks to a great opportunity through my higher education college course, I got to learn about the campsite courier world through my studies. So somewhere between turning 18 and dropping out of sixth form I found myself on a Tuscan campsite in the height of the Italian Summer. An adventure was born. 

Camping and season work came into my life at the perfect time. I was 18 years old and ready to explore. My first summer in Italy was essentially what gave birth to my love of exploring and travel. This was the first time I really got a taste of the freedom that comes with being out of your home country for a long period of time. 

Camping in Europe is big. Hundreds of thousands of families take self-drive holidays to campsites all over the continent to enjoy the sun, fun and the simple life that is associated with camping. Yes, I admit it's a little more than pitching a tent in a field but the principal is the same.

Season Work - Its Camping
A standard reception tent on a campsite

If you're looking for a secure job role in a foreign country that doesn't involve moving to a Spanish or Greek party island camping may also be perfect for you. 

Season Work

Season work is what it says. It’s a job that lasts for a particular season. Camping lasts the summer season in Europe from May - October usually. Season life is weird and wonderful. You will find yourself surrounded by the strangest but greatest group of like minded people all hoping to have the summer of their lives. If you're into that then camping is probably a great choice for you. 

The season varies but most of the time the work starts just before the European summer and ends just after the European summer ends too. I found myself arriving in Tuscany as a 'High Season' Courier sent out the fill the void created by the peak holiday season and lack of other couriers. Your average camping season can start anywhere between April and June and continue to as late as October.

Season Work - Its Camping
Selectcamp girls team on Union Lido

The usual season for most beings when the weather gets warm in Europe - aka the perfect time of year

Roles in camping jobs vary and from Low to High Season Couriers to Park Managers, Assistant Park Managers or even Kids Club Reps. There are jobs to suit all, even maintenance and reception jobs depending on your language skills.

My first role on Camping Village Park Albatros was that of a Campsite Courier, Season Rep to you and me but the industry much prefers the term courier to rep. I guess a rep is associated with the streets of Magaluf and Malia and doesn't real scream family campsite.

Season Work - Its Camping
Park Albatros - Pool area on a hot Italian day

Season Work - Its Camping
The guest accommodations on Park Albatros
Season work is perfect for people who want to travel whilst making money, it comes in all shapes and sizes after being offered a role you are swiftly transported to some of the most spectacular countries Europe has to offer. Italy, Spain, Slovenia or France?

Venice, Côte D'Azu or Sardina? The opportunities are endless and thanks to the European Union I didn't even need to gain the right to live and work in Italy during my time in Tuscany, Venice and Lake Garda. I don't know if I can say the same for future generations.

You must be over 18 but if you are thinking of working during the summer 

Season Work - Its Camping

Choosing a company for your season job

Whether you're British, Dutch, German or Danish you can apply for the vast majority of European Camping specialist companies. Selectcamp was my first choice and I spent two seasons with them before moving over to Happy Camp, which I now believe has changed name. It was considered one of the better companies a few years ago and might be worth checking out. 

Season Work - Its Camping

Season Work - Its Camping
My first season - Photos from our 'live area'

Kids rep jobs are harder to get and places fill up quickly 

Campsites employ directly but not usually for campsite courier jobs, they mainly employ for jobs in hospitality. Which is another option if you don't like the sound of campsite courier. 

Try Al Fresco, Eurocamp or Canvas Holidays websites for roles, they usually become available after Christmas and interview throughout the early spring. You should always check out and apply for a few companies and you can easily decline offers until you get the best deal. The pay is pretty even across the board and almost all companies pay for your flight out to your season and home at the end of the season. A great website for tips and job openings is Season Workers.

Season Work - Its Camping
Same girl, different season, different live tents

Season Work - Its Camping
Reception duty - Part of your day-to-day role

Check out all companies and don't be afraid to apply for more than one position at a time, there's always a high volume of applications but there's enough positions to go round

The best campsites

Italy? France? Spain? Big sites or small. You unfortunately don't really get a say in where you are sent to on your first season but that's part of the fun. I was lucky enough to be sent to one of the biggest campsites in the region on my first season and I spent the summer surrounded by other reps, swimming pools, fine Italian restaurants and my own freedom.

Season Work - Its Camping
A Tuscan Summer, Italy 

Season Work - Its Camping

Season Work - Its Camping
Photo from a day trip to Rome, Italy

Usually on your second season you will get more of a say in your destination and campsite - this is one of the perks of already having a job for the following season

Depending on where you end up your season may be different to the experiences I had. I was lucky enough to always work on large campsites that offered staff lots of perks and discounts. I even managed to get myself a free trip to Rome.

Season Work - Its Camping
More from a trip to Rome, Italy
The experiences I had were filled with long fun-fueled nights and making friends for life because of the campsites I was sent to. On Marina and Albatros I worked alongside 30+ other couriers at any time and got to enjoy on-site bars 'Disco's', club openings and day trips all over Italy. You are given one and a half days off a week, which sounds like nothing but when you live in paradise and are only required to work a few hours each morning before heading to the pool, it isn't really all that bad.

I also worked on campsites that were located right on the beach which is quite common. Most of the campsites across Italy, France and Spain are either on the beach or close to a Lake like Camping Bella Italia which is on Lake Garda.

Season Work - Its Camping
The Union Lido Team, Venice, Italy

Campsites I have worked on include

Camping Village Park Albatros, Tuscany

Marina di Venezia, Venice

Union Lido, Venice

Bella Italia, Lake Garda

Park Albatros and Union Lido were my favourite campsites, but don't restrict yourself to Italy like I did, there are incredible campsites in Spain and the South of France. Did someone say St Tropez?

Season Work - Its Camping
Camping Bella Italia, Lake Garda

Marina di Venezia Camping, Venice, Italy
Some of the smaller campsites are located in rural areas and only have a small number of camping companies based on them. These ones are usually quieter even in the high season. Most of the larger campsites have all the major companies on them and usually even have a private live area for couriers. Live areas get grim, lots of people partying and living in a small space can be like that. If you prefer a more chilled experience a smaller campsite may be more suited to you. Its always worth suggesting that in your interview to avoid an unwanted wild experience.

Living on a campsite in Italy

Now I understand tent life is not for everyone, in fact, I never thought it would be for a girl like me at 18 either. But there's something so enjoyable about the simple life that comes from living in a tent with another person.

All accommodations whether it's a tent or a mobile home have private rooms. In a tent there will be two separate 'inners' which zip up and form two rooms within your live tent. The inners are completely private and also keep and insects out. There is enough room for a double bed small table and a small wardrobe to keep your belongings. Like I said, its not luxury - expect a simpler version of living.

Season Work - Its Camping
Camping Union Lido, Venice, Italy

Season Work - Its Camping
Camping Village Park Albatros, Tuscany, Italy
All courier accommodations also come with cooking facilities and a fridge and when you're paying nothing to be there I believe that's pretty good going.

Mobile homes do have bathrooms but tents don't, the on site shower blocks on most campsites are cleaned around the clocks for the campsite guests and many campsites pride themselves on their pristine facilities. Don't be put off by not having a bathroom.

The average day of a Season Worker

As I mentioned earlier most days require a few hours work from a campsite courier. Season life is a gift in that sense as each day varies. Reception duty happens each morning and afternoon and usually lasts one to two hours. This just means being available on your companies reception for guests.

Season Work - Its Camping
Life as a campsite courier
The main role of a campsite courier is to look after guests, this could mean anything from giving restaurant advice to changing a light bulb at 10:00pm. The other element of your season as a campsite courier is the cleaning. How much you do depends entirely on the company you work for. EuroCamp is a fun company to be a part of but they don't take deposits from guests and a lot of their couriers tend to spend most of their time cleaning.

Season Work - Its Camping
Sound Beach opening party, Summer 2012

Top tips for surviving a camping season in Italy

Drink the frizzante wine, kind of like prosecco but nothing like prosecco

Mosquito repellent is life - being covered in bites is not a great look

Learn to ride a bike - your courier bike will become your best friend during your season

Become a chef - not really, but learn to cook pasta if you don't already know how to and get used to it

Cancel your phone contract - a £360 phone bill is a waste of money

Season Work - Its Camping
Enjoying season life in Italy

Season Life

Season work isn't for everyone, especially the camping kind. Living in a tent and using a shared bathroom is something I never thought at 18 I'd enjoy but like everything in life you won't know unless you give it a go. Why not try a camping season this summer?

Fill your days and evenings with new friends for life, frizzante wine, pizza's galore and the occasional drunken bike ride to a courier party in another town. I found my time in Italy to be some of the best times of my life. Everyday I was reminded of the freedom an opportunity like season work gave me and it was the real beginning of my romance with travel. What could be more perfect than a free summer in Europe?

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