As the months pass by (way too quickly) on my travels, more and more people back home in the USA are asking HOW i’m doing what I’m doing.
I was sending messages to every curious person, via Instagram, Facebook, by email, etc, just super excited that others were interested in this way of life.
Now I decided to write a blog post so I could reach more people.
If you’re reading this, you made it. This is the first step.
Now read on-
A bit of background…
From the first time I studied abroad outside of the United States, I knew I wanted to live my life “abroad”.
Not that travel wasn’t a part of my life, it always had been.
I am originally from Romania, and always tried to keep pieces of the culture with me.
Throughout high school my family spent spring breaks outside the USA, south of our usual latitude.
My last year of high school I went on a school trip to Costa Rica with students from the West Coast. Here I realized that even across the USA people are so different! I was a bit shocked by the mannerisms and personality of these newfound friends, in the best way possible!
I suddenly wanted to explore more of the US and meet ALL its people!
How my journey(s) started…
In high school I’d said if I study abroad it would be in Spain.
I had been taking Spanish classes for a few years, and thought to continue learning the language in college, even in another country.
But it wasn’t really a must-do. I just an ‘Oh that would be cool’.
In my sophomore year of college, Fall 2013, began studying Spanish again, first only to fit a requirement in my schedule.
I then quickly decided to pursue a Spanish minor, remembering how much I loved the language.
By the end of October, I decided I would complete my Spanish minor in Spain next year, Fall 2014.
Fast track 9 months later, at the end of summer 2014 I was hesitant to go.
I had just gotten into a relationship and had a part-time job offering from my summer fellowship.
Well, fast track to 1 week in Spain, and those feelings of attachment quickly passed.
One month into my Spain semester, I was already planning to study abroad in Italy the spring semester of 2015.
One month into my Italy semester, I was planning to study abroad in Thailand the fall semester of 2015.
And that’s how I spent 3 semesters in 3 countries abroad.
Come January 2016, I very reluctantly returned back to the USA to finish my final semester.
I had 2 jobs during my semester (cocktail waitressing & working for a nonprofit), knowing I would be back abroad soon.
I bookmarked articles, nostalgically looked through pictures;
I daydreamed of traveling once more.
May 2015 was my graduation. The moment I’d been waiting for, the beginning of freedom.
I took the summer off, and from October I waitressed at some restaurants for nearly 5 months, my line of sight directed on a return to Asia.
Every time I wanted to splurge, I thought of Asia. Every time I would say ‘that’s only 1 dollar’ I would remember that a meal in Thailand is also 1 dollar.
And YES, I did save a lot of money before I left. Why so much?
Well, I went to college in the United States, so I’m sure you’ve guessed it… student loans.
I wanted to make money while still in the USA, to make sure I can pay the loans, and travel for a while without needing an income. Waitressing was perfect for that (tips are high in Connecticut and aren’t taxed!)
Without further ado, here are some tips for how to travel (cheaply & long-term)
I’ll begin with presenting my preferred travel style…
1) Slow Travel
This means that I spend as much time in a place as possible; interacting with locals, finding my favorite places to eat, learning different languages.
It is choosing experiences over sites. It is a way to make anywhere ‘home’.
Above all, slow-travel is actually a way to travel cheaply!
Even though you are spending longer in a place, you are not rushing to see specific sites, taking expensive tours, or buying last-minute flights and train tickets across the country just to spend a couple of days there… you are just enjoying life!
Slow travel can include working, volunteering, being a digital nomad, etc. There’s more detail for you below!
2) Travel where your budget allows
Although I’m one to believe that if you want something you’ll find a way in the end, (even if money seems to be an obstacle)… I do believe you should have a budget in mind!
It’s better to have as much fun as possible and make the most out of an experience, than to worry about money.
I myself have spent quite a bit of time in Southeast Asia because it is relatively cheap to live there (in nearly all aspects– food, transport, accommodation, etc).
3) Be a volunteer
There are some amazing websites that are now gaining more and more traction.
It is becoming essentially easier to live around the world, and perhaps without the complication of work visas.
This is a way to see different aspects of the country or culture you are in. As a volunteer, you are living there and helping out with something relevant, whether that be in tourism, farming, or charity work.
You can share your skills or interests in exchange for a place to live, and food.
As a volunteer, I spent 1 month working as a receptionist in a hotel (Italy), 2 months bartending and painting for an eco-resort on an island (Cambodia), and 2 weeks being a bar promoter in a seaside city (Cambodia).
Something to watch out for is being overworked, as you are just a volunteer and there are no contract conditions.
Some people don’t mind working more than they initially believed, because usually they are volunteering with something they love.
But still make sure to discuss hours in advance in volunteer situations! And it’s not a contract commitment, so you can leave anytime.
3) Be an aupair
If you know english well enough, or any other sought-after language, this is a wonderful option.
Au pairing is a way to immerse yourself in another culture completely, but also effectively because you are not winging it by yourself, you are living with a family.
(It might not even feel like work!)
Au Pairing is how I spent six weeks in Switzerland and two in Italy with an Italian family, teaching their daughter English.
I had my own room, received 3 meals, and went wherever the family went (visiting different cities, lakes, etc).
The family originally lived in Italy, but moved to Switzerland over the summer, so I got to experience a variety of landscapes and culture 🙂
I absolutely loved this experience, because when you travel long-term, you might miss the closeness and comfort of a family and having a place to call home.
It is no replacement, but I got really close with my family and enjoyed my time with them, and the daughter so much I didn’t consider it to be a job.
Here’s an great au pair example from Angela.
Sign up for these websites:
Look in the local papers! I found my Italian family in the classified ads. 🙂
4) Teach English abroad
This is more strict than au pairing in that it usually requires a working visa.
You could take the risk and get a part-time job teaching, without a visa, but perhaps don’t make it known that you’re doing so.
I did this.
In Seville, Spain I found a family who wanted weekly English lessons for their 3 children. This included playing games, simple lessons, and laughing alot. I got paid 10 Euro an hour.
In Bangkok, Thailand I worked a couple hours a week for a private English company. I taught groups of 6-15 children also with games and lessons relating to the “theme of the week”, and got paid 12 dollars an hour.
Neither the family nor the company wanted a working visa… but i’m not sure about the legalities regarding this.
So back to the legal teaching jobs.
You could work in a private language school, daycare, vocational school, or a public school, and need credentials if you sign a contract.
(Most) places want 3 things:
- A 4-year college degree
- A teaching certification (TEFL, CELTA)
- A native English speaker (not always, but you will be better paid if you are from the USA, UK, Australia, Canada, etc.)
Teaching English is especially well-paid in areas of Asia and the Middle East.
Here are the best places to teach outlined!
I myself plan to do a year teaching in several of these countries.
5) Try house-sitting
I myself have never done it, but there are plenty of options out there!
These longtime house-sitters give you some tips.
Here is one website to get you started.
6) Find (paid) work abroad!
Does this sound too easy to be true?
Well, sometimes you can find part-time work and sometimes even without a working visa.
Do you know how to scuba dive? You can work for a company on a Thai island.
Do you like the hospitality industry? You can work for a hotel’s restaurant.
There are 2 ways to go about this.
- You can go to the country and find part-time work on your tourist visa
- Get hired in advance and enter a country on a working visa. It all varies country by country and of course with the type of work too! You may need different credentials in different places.
- Search job boards online!
- Get into contact with expats or employers in facebook groups!
- Use an organization (usually you will pay for placement & help)
7) Develop a blog/vlog
I’m doing this now, and it’s alot of work, but really cool if you like writing or editing videos.
This kind of stuff is not something to be underestimated, but something that takes commitment 🙂
Here are some blogs I like-
And neat vlogs-
& follow mine of course 😉
8) Work from your computer
There are many people making their living remotely nowadays. (Ever heard of the term “digital nomad”?)
Don’t worry if you don’t wish to have a blog or a vlog of your own, you can always be a brand influencer, write articles for websites, or even work as a translator!
9) Travel cheaply
I think traveling cheaply is amazing because it gives you alot of options when you’re not focused on a certain level of luxury 😛
I’ve slept in overnight buses, sleeper trains, in train stations, even in airports.
Sometimes I had an awful time… sometimes I got an amazing night’s sleep. But in the end, it was always an experience and always a story.
Here are some great travel websites with info on budgeting too!
& this article.
Remember, travel is only as expensive as you let it be, it all depends on your tastes…
You do NOT need to break the bank; you’ve got this 😀
Still not convinced you can travel cheaply?
Are you thinking of setting off? Have you been a traveler for a while? In either case, these tips are bible-like. An amazing article. (My favorites- 1, 3, 5, 10, 17, 18, 21, 24.)
Please let me know any questions you have regarding my travels or other resources!
And my overall advice?
Just do it.