I was just a small town girl living in a lonely world. Before I took my first journey, my dad told me only kids with trust-funds can travel. I refused to believe this and I knew I could make my dreams of seeing the world come true even if it meant doing something unconventional. Going alone to Europe in 2014 was one of the hardest and scariest decisions to make. Since 2014 I have traveled extensively through Australia, NZ, Japan, Indonesia, and Europe even though I don’t have rich parents. In this time I’ve learned about ways to travel even if you haven’t saved much and you have debts to pay! Don’t fret about the debt. Instead, read and research the ways you can travel without going into more debt. Some hard work, street smarts, and the right resources will have you backpacking around the globe in no time.
Do a Working Holiday
If you are under 30 (sometimes 35), you can do what is called a working holiday. This is a visa in which you can apply to certain countries to work and travel and live in that country. Each country has a different agreement so where you go will depend on from which country you have the passport.
Be a Digital Nomad
With technology in today’s world, there is a high demand for tech and customer support workers. I have met several travelers who work remotely doing anything from coding to freelance marketing work online. If you have a specialty like “information technology” or are interested in getting into this field, you can find jobs abundantly–particularly as an American citizen. I’ve met people in my travels who have no experience in these fields but they still got jobs. If you think you can do it, I suggest looking into it!
http://www.glassdoor, http://www.indeed.com, and http://www.upwork.com are common websites for finding these jobs. Networking is also really useful. If you are in the states, you could try to secure one of these jobs before traveling. They are harder to find once you leave.
You can work for accommodation and food as an aupair, farm hand, hostel receptionist, or other random jobs through websites that connect “volunteers” with locals.
For example, in New Zealand I worked for six weeks at a hotel as a cleaner in Tauranga. I worked 1-3 hours each morning “cleaning” (chatting with co-workers and enjoying music while we hustled to get rooms ready for guests) in exchange for a room and surfboard/wet-suit at a small hotel right on the beach. Just be clear how many hours you’re expected to work before accepting the position. I’ve heard of people working much longer because they were afraid to stop working. As long as you have good communication and the local has good reviews, this is a great way to learn about the culture, live a local lifestyle, save money, and really learn about a country and culture. Some websites you can look for this work include the following:
http://www.aupairworld.net –site that connects families with future aupairs. It’s free for aupairs to make a profile and send applications.
http://www.woofing.com –here you will find more farms and gardening style work but this is what I used in NZ to find my hotel jobs. Each country has a separate site so you will have to pay joining fees for each country if you want to message hosts. Typically it is 4-5 hours work a day in exchange for food/accommodation with one day off in the week.
http://www.workaway.com — I haven’t used this one personally yet but friends have used it and found it useful. It tends to include a wider variety of work than woofing
http://www.helpx.net — his is similar to workaway and I have had friends who used this one and recommended it to me as well
**note, still working on figuring out why the links are showing up as they are. Sorry for this inconvenience but you can still find it by typing it into Google.
Couchsurfing is a way to fully integrate yourself with a local by staying with them at no cost on their couch. Sounds sketchy, right? Well, some of my best times have come from Couchsurfing and I have had some very unique experiences! I have been to the best parties, events, and met such fascinating people through couchsurfing.
I experienced more “danger” in hostels than couchsurfing. Often you will meet laid back, open-minded fellow travelers. Don’t be afraid to try it out! I’ve surfed at different times throughout my trips and have had some amazing experiences. Stay tuned for safety tips on CS! I can’t recommend that naive females stay with guys (especially when they are over 30). You should be smart, strong and independent with clear boundaries. Typically you will have no problems but of course it comes with a slight risk of a bad experience if you are naive. Couchsurfing has changed in the past few years and so it’s good to get advice on what to look for in potential hosts and how to stay safe. I will write a blog on it soon!
South Korea, Japan, China, and Dubai tend to offer a reasonable salary for English teachers. Typically contracts last a year and can be renewed. This is an excellent way to experience a new life but still be able to save some cash. For these jobs, you will need a TEFL certificate paired with any bachelor’s degree. If you want to be paid well, it’s worth looking into CELTA and TRINITY which cost more but will help you get more job offers and higher pay.
A Penny Saved is a Penny Earned
The best advice is to follow the American expression of “a penny saved is a penny earned”. In my case, I worked hard, I found ways to support myself, and I invested my time and money wisely. This is how I can travel the world for years with only small jobs and no trust-fund or support from family. Every financial situation is different but if you listen to (or develop!) the voice inside your head that says “do you really need that? How is that going to benefit you and your future?” it will help you in all financial situations and can reduce stress in general.
Hopefully some of these resources will pave the way for you to travel the world like I have. If you have debt and don’t have savings, you will need to work more than I did but it is still possible. Stop waiting around. Go! Book your flight!!
Feel free to read my blog article about how I managed to save and stretch my money long enough to travel for years. I hope that this will inspire you to realize that you can do it too! The only thing stopping you is your own self-doubt. If you dream of traveling the world, please stay tuned for more entries, insider tips, and information. Start thinking about your travels now and remember that time is money and money is time. Where are you spending yours?