They say that when it comes to getting work done, you can pick two of the following three – fast, cheap and good. Yes, any two – but you won’t get all three in one package.
I feel it’s the same with travel.
The typical New Zealand path is to head off to London after getting in a year of two of work experience. It’s a bit of a gamble at the moment – with the economy the way it is it’s a struggle to find good jobs.
A friend who recently booked her one-way ticket (and has now been over there doing random temping work for a couple of months) told me she wasn’t going over in order to further her career, but for an adventure. Which is totally legit. My own case of wanderlust is intensifying by the week. But I’m having trouble facing the possibility of toiling in a café or a mindless cubicle when I’ve been able to do jobs I love ever since graduation.
It’s a wonder anyone can afford to leave this country. Flights to the European or American continents are a couple of grand alone. And our dollar doesn’t exactly go very far in other currencies. That’s what you get when you live at the bottom of the world. Then again, maybe that’s precisely why we want to get out and stretch our feet.
A while back, I read an article about a young professional who took extended leave to do a big trip around Europe. Work hard during the year, accumulate some cash, then take off to sightsee (and presumably, eat fabulous local food). And that is exactly what I want to do.
I’m not in a ladder-climbing kind of field, but I am at this stage reluctant to risk my financial position (BORING! But true) to pack it all in and go live and work abroad. It’s not like I have wads and wads of cash lying about, but I finally feel like I’m on the way to getting my shiz together money-wise.
Some friends are currently in the UK on the traditional OE: none of them have found it easy. Personally, I want to use my savings for a house rather than scraping by while I scrabble for a data entry job living in a hovel in grey London. (Seeing status updates like “It’s 3.30pm and black outside!” strike pure terror into my heart.) I’m a planner and control freak by nature, and I don’t want to fly thousands of kilometres across the world if I don’t have a damn chance of being happy when I get there.
There are plenty of lifestyle design types bootstrapping it around the world (be they life coaches or business coaches peddling courses and ebooks, writers, web designers, online marketers) in very cheap countries. But what if you actually want to spend time travelling, not just spending your time working in a different place? Or what if you want to come back to a job? To buy a house? What if you want to visit pricey places like western Europe?
I wish I could say I have the answer, but I don’t.
In an ideal world I would be able to work, say, nine months out of the year and spend the rest traveling. Or manage to get some kind of international transfer (but I’m not in a field that’s in demand overseas and it’s certainly not going to score me a lucrative job abroad. The thing about fun jobs is everybody wants to do them; the boring jobs pay well or they wouldn’t attract anyone).
With those options out, how else could one do it?
Work a 9-5 and travel in your allotted holiday time. Work insanely hard, save up, then take six months or a year off and do all your travelling in one hit.
Set it up so that you can work from anywhere, thus earning money to support yourself while you travel. Digital nomadism is a thing now, didn’t you know? Lifestyle designers include coaches, writers, developers, designers, marketers and all other manner of freelancers/solopreneurs.
Bootstrap it through WWOOF-ing, Couchsurfing, house-sitting and similar setups with free accommodation (and in some cases, working for food/housing).
Get on board with a volunteer programme – there are thousands and thousands out there. Note that some of them do charge money to set you up with a placement. Once you’re over there, most of your expenses should be covered. Similarly, look into industry programmes that might be available to you – for example, a local organisation here offers a number of unpaid media internships abroad that run for a few months at a time.
Teach English – there are opportunities all over Asia and Europe. Some teach English overseas programmes will take pretty much anyone with a bachelor’s degree. Or you can get TEFL-certified on your own time and dime. (Personally, I’m not taken by any of the particular countries on offer, but it could definitely be an experience and get me closer to the places I do want to visit.)
Check out grants and scholarships – in Delaying the Real World, author Colleen Kinder details examples of securing funding to go overseas to conduct your own research projects. No joke.
Get a sweet job with a travel/tour company or something else in the industry. A friend of mine who did this has gotten to travel to some seriously amazing countries in the name of work.