If you’ve been following the Two Drifters for awhile, you know that travel is not only our greatest passion, but that it makes up the focus of our lives. Our goal is to travel as much and as far as we can, because we have a burning desire to explore everything possible on this beautiful planet. But we didn’t quit our jobs to travel. And you don’t have to either.
If it were possible, of COURSE we would quit our jobs and just travel the world. Oh, can you just imagine what a perfect life that would be? Nothing to do but wake up every morning with adventures and exploration ahead of you. No bills to pay, no bosses to answer to… nothing but the big wide world at your fingertips.
Yet, the reason this is not possible is because, last time I checked, we were not living off a trust fund, we weren’t self-made millionaires, and the global economy is still dependent on something crucial known as money.
Money is always the number one issue when it comes to travel. It’s most would-be travelers’ hesitation, and it is a real concern. There are entire blogs out there devoted to traveling for less. While traveling on a budget is definitely something we’re familiar with, we know that no matter how you stack it, traveling takes money. So, is there any way to travel without having a job?
I think that some travel bloggers advertise their own methods of long-term travel a bit falsely. The slogan “quit your job and travel the world” is admittedly enticing. Especially if you’re feeling stuck working a job you despise.
Should you quit your job?
Whether or not you’re planning on traveling, quitting your job is a massive decision that should not be made lightly. I might sound a bit like your parents here, but quitting your job with no plan is not always the wisest course of action. It can be freeing (and makes a helluva story) but will it actually help you reach your goals?
If your job is a soul-sucking, time-wasting pit of misery, by all means quit. But if at all possible, have a plan in place. Find another position on the DL, or stick it out while you save up your pennies. Then when you quit, you’ll have a big wad of cash and the next step in your plan already laid out and ready.
If you’re aiming to hit the road and do some traveling, you can certainly quit your job and go travel the world…for a limited time. Eventually your money will run out and you’ll either have to head home or figure out some way to keep the travel going.
So what are your realistic options? These are the ways you can truly travel long term.
Finding Work Abroad
One fun and totally doable option is to find work abroad. There are many options. Depending on your skills and career experience, you might be able to find something full time. This is more challenging, but is a possibility. This would entail a longer-term commitment abroad, but is a great choice for people who definitely don’t want to quit their jobs, they just want to find one elsewhere! Visa requirements differ for each country, so some may be easier to score than others. When applying for a work visa in many places, you also sometimes have to show proof that you have enough funds to cover your stay. Another good reason to save a bit before hitting the road.
For shorter term gigs that allow you to travel more readily, working as a bartender or server is always a good option. Even with little experience you can often snag these jobs, but professional bartenders can do seriously well.
A very popular option these days is to teach English abroad. In countries like China, Thailand. and South Korea, especially, English teachers can make solid money and have a rewarding job. English teaching generally requires a Bachelor’s degree as well as a TEFL certificate, which can be obtained online. Some English teachers go abroad and find they’ve been given their dream job. And many are able to save significant amounts of money, or even pay off student loans.
This is what we do. Working remotely, I must admit, is the dream. It isn’t for everyone, but the fact that I can sit on my bed and earn money in my pajamas is everything I ever wanted. I love not having to deal with crabby bosses, or slog through a daily commute. I’m my own boss and it’s perfect for me.
I work online as a freelance writer and copywriter. Nathan works as a copy editor. Did we get these jobs through special training? Nope. Although we both have college degrees and experience in these fields, this kind of work is doable for anyone who has a solid grasp of writing. The Internet is a waiting treasure trove of knowledge; you could truly start from scratch and work your tail off to become a professional copywriter making great money. But working online is definitely tough, and it can be a great challenge getting started.
Writing and editing aren’t the only options for online work: you could also manage social media accounts, sell homemade items, design logos, build websites, or develop apps. It’s the heyday of online entrepreneurship, and tons of people are building businesses and being truly successful. You could be one of them.
Yet, it’s not all roses and sunshine and fancy lattes.
The pros of working online:
- No real bosses
- Wake up and work when you want
- Work anywhere
- No dress code
- Make all the money
- No one will make you get up and work
- Being your own boss is tough. Discipline!
- One word: TAXES
- Unusual hours
- Handling ALL the details of operation
- Challenging clients
If you wanna try your hand at working remotely, check out the following resources to get you started:
Wanderful World – tips on how to begin and where to find clients
Alternating Work & Travel
This third option is a solid one, but you’ll need a job that gives you ample time off for traveling. In this approach, the ideal way to proceed is to work like crrrrrazy during your on months, and then travel like crazy as well when you’re “off”. The “work hard, play hard” mentality is applicable here. People who like to give 100% in every pursuit might enjoy this way of incorporating travel into their schedule.
We have combined the method above with our remote work, and will likely to continue to do so as we travel, employing slow travel. Staying for a few weeks or months as we move from place to place is preferable, as it lets us really have a deeper experience in each location. It’s also a lot less stressful than moving to a new city every few days.
If you opt to work, save, travel, repeat, just be prepared to live frugally, even while you’re employed.
Being an Insane Super Budget Traveler
Adventurous Kate has a fantastic article which looks at extreme budget travel. When I was backpacking Europe in 2011, I would have used a lot of these tactics myself. It was all about stretching my dollar further and seeing as much as possible.
Now, I know that I’ll never see every city or even every country on earth. Instead, I prefer to maximize my time in each destination and make each travel experience more meaningful, and Nathan feels the same. This doesn’t equate necessarily to spending more money, but now I definitely recognize that I want comfort and amenities when traveling. It’s not that I won’t stay in a hostel now and then, but I prefer having more space to myself and spending a little more money for privacy and a touch of luxury.
However, travel is doable in any way you see fit. You could be really extreme, hitchhiking and Couchsurfing your way around the world. That’s not for everyone, and it isn’t for me, but it is an option. Even if you don’t go to that level of commitment, you can still stay in the most inexpensive hostels, eat plain pasta nonstop, and only opt for free activities. You’re still seeing the world, although it is a totally different experience than luxury travel or another approach. It’s all about perspective and what you’re comfortable with…as well as what you’re seeking from your travel experiences.
Tips for Affordable Travel
No matter what approach you take to making travel part of your life, most all travelers seek ways to make travel more affordable. To that end, here are some of my favorite resources for finding good deals and traveling the world without breaking the bank (and without necessarily quitting your job!)
Searching for Affordable Flights:
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