Work & Travel California 2016


“Are you actually working there, or just travelling?” – people asked me those kind of questions watching my story on snapchat. Some people were working 70 hours per week and saved a lot of money for their trip and there is nothing bad about that. I honestly wanted to spend it every week for some trips and enjoy my whole time in States.

Today I’m gonna tell you where and how I worked. If anyone ever wanted to go to the same place I was, you can find a lot of informations in this post.

Every year a lot of people from whole word come to Santa Cruz participating in “Work&Travel” program. That year there was mostly people from Poland, Slovakia, Bulgary, Serbia, Macedonia and Jamaica. We all had accommodation from work. Some of us lived in a little better conditions, some worst. An ocean view was enough for me. Each one of us worked at Boardwalk – an old school amusement park on the beach. This place has brought thousands of tourists every year for over 100 years. Locals actually hate it but in the same time can’t live without it because their business work very well during the season, thanks to that.

At boardwalk there are a few departments you can join to: games, tickets, rides, shops or food service. I was pointed to the last one and I worked at typical american fast food called “Dipper Dinner”. They gave us special uniforms: ugly T-shirts and high-waits pants which I hated from the beginning. My first day was awful. They told me to throw out the rubbish and swipe dining room similar to Mc Donald one. I though “What the f*ck am i doing here?”. But hard work pays off. Thanks to it, I could be in this amazing place and honestly the work wasn’t that bad. It was very easy, they explained literally everything to us, like we were little children. They put me on the cash desk right away where I was taking orders. I admit that I didn’t have much interesting conversations with clients, but that was better for me than hiding in the kitchen. In my departament we earned 25 cents more than in the others, we also could win some money prices. At the end I got $525 extra! Moreover we could get our employee meal so everyday I had chicken with tomatoes, lettuce and ranch. Unfortunately I’m not a big fun of burgers! I had a nice crew at work, this is where I’ve met Nikolka, Justine and Dario-  friends who I travel with. There were a lot of young people from Mexico as well. We earned about $10 per hour and $15 per over hour so that’s not bad at all for a polish student. The accommodation coasted us $60 for a week which is very good for high prices in Santa Cruz. We also could use any ride in the park for free and had 20% discount for everything in stores (food and clothes). Boardwalk guaranteed about 30 hours per week, so most of the people found second job straight away. I got over 40 hours with some over time and that was enough for me for a while. Then I bought a camera and needed more dollars. Some of people worked at the restaurant on the wharf and lived just from tips. Others cleaned rooms at hotels. I got into a small coffee shop called “West Side Coffee” with a polish owner (which was a total coincidence – we found out during a conversation). The place was full of surf boards and only locals came there. I was making coffees, bagels, serving very nice customers and resting from the Boardwalk noise.

Almost every evening a lot of W&T people were hanging around on the benches in front of “La Bahia” – one of the building where most of us lived. It’s funny that drinking alcohol on the street is forbidden in California and just once police warned us during the time we were there. Other times they were just driving next to us like they didn’t see a thing. Sometime we went out to the pub or club, but most of us finished shift when the party was almost over. The average closing time for the club was around 1 o’clock… We went to see a few live concerts but we had to go there before 10 p.m.

If you type “Santa Cruz Boardwalk” into google graphic the first thing you will see is one of the ride called “Sky Glider”. It’s colorful chairs which goes above whole park. This one is my favourite. I rode it couple of times during sunset and caught some good shots.

In general it wasn’t the most ambitious job I’ve ever been doing and haven’t learned much. But I spend a great time with my crew from “Dipper Dinner”. If anyone can’t speak good english they probably can learn there. Lot of Americans told me that Americans are very stupid. People at work had problems with solving unusual problems. Everybody sticks to the rules and if you break it they don’t know what to do. But I was late everyday anyway and somehow always had 2 days off next to each other so I can go on a trip. Moreover on my first month I went surfing almost every morning. When I had 2 jobs it wasn’t that easy anymore- only on my days off.

And this is how our time flied working and drinking on “the benches” with the same people every night when the end was coming no one could believe how fast the time goes. Couple of goodbye parties and suddenly it was time to say goodbye.


One week before the last day my friend- Beatka joined us. A polish girl, who I know from the mountains. She was on other program called “Camp” in Massachusetts and she wanted to travel around California, so I invited her to our place so she can chill and surf and than go on a trip with us. We were planning to rent a car for 2 weeks and travel through state. We decided that we were going to leave at 8 a.m. on 8 September. After very intensive packing, cleaning the room, saying goodbyes to others milion times and surprisingly getting all our deposit back, finally we left Santa Cruz at 6 p.m.

We had one aim for this afternoon – see an epic sunset on Big Sur. But we were obviously late and that became our tradition for whole trip. But we didn’t miss amazing views.

After a short discussion we decided to drive just a little bit of Big sur and spend there a night in a car, so we can wake up early in the morning, continue our drive and admire stunning shore.