Travel addicts usually have seen a long and impressive list of cities and sights. Whether Machu Picchu or the Eiffel Tower, it’s hard to uncover a world wonder that some people haven’t seen. So, the question is, after many years in the business of international travel, what’s next? Long-term travel! Whether for just a couple weeks or an entire year, staying and living abroad is perhaps one of the most satisfying life experiences that someone can give him- or herself. If you’ve got the time and the interest, here are five ways to keep busy during an extended journey abroad!
1. Work: If the bad economy paired with student loans or a mortgage are holding you back from fulfilling your international wanderings, working abroad could be a viable option. Remember that great trip you took to Costa Rica, or the wonderful experience you had in Vietnam? Live it out all over again in a whole new, extensive way, all while still earning an income and having a purpose. Examples: ESL Teacher, Hotel Receptionist, Camp Counselor, Freelance Writer, Au Pair, Web Designer, International Business(wo)man, Piano Teacher, etc.
2. Work Exchange: Work exchange is a relatively popular trend emerging amongst budget travelers around the world. How does it work? In exchange for answering phones or milking goats, hotels or home stays will hook you up with a free place to stay and meals. If working on a farm just isn’t your thing, get creative! If you’re willing to lend your professional skills, create a persuasive cover letter and send it out to some hotels in the city of your next destination. They might just be looking for a web designer or consultant around the same time you’re planning your trip! Examples: Farm Hand, Hotel Receptionist, Nanny, Barista, Bartender, etc.
3. Volunteer: An issue you’re passionate about becomes much more real and powerful when you spend some time working in the field. Arrange in advance, or if you’ve got extra time, just show up and get the feel of different organizations upon arrival. Whether you volunteer in a new city, state, or continent, volunteering is undoubtedly one of the most meaningful ways to dedicate your time and connect with local community. Examples: Health Clinic Worker, English Tutor, Editor, Orphanage Volunteer, Trail Cleaner, Guitar Teacher, etc.
4. Learn: Yoga enthusiast? Cooking wiz? Salsa dancer? What better way to hone your favorite skills than to practice them at their point of origin? Jump into an intensive week-long course or get your professional certification abroad. Often, the course itself is cheaper, and allows you to step out of your normal life and focus your efforts closely on your new trade. You’ll come home with a newly developed talent and knowledge of the local context. Now that’s expertise! Examples: Learn Yoga in India, Study French Cuisine, Get your Scuba Certification in Indonesia, Study Spanish in Argentina, etc.
5. Document: Whether you consider yourself a creative or not, everyone can wield a point-and-shoot digital camera, a FlipCam, and a pen. If you want a memorable way to document your vacation for friends and family, or even the world, spending some extra time abroad can be a fun opportunity to create a final project. Pick a topic, get to capturing moments and be prepared to work until it’s finished! Examples: Make a Video, Create a Slideshow, Print a Photo Book, Keep a Blog, Freelance for Magazines, etc.
If you’re planning your next short-term vacation or hoping to get away for a while, keep in mind that there are always opportunities to connect with locals and learn, no matter how long you have! Start off with some fun Gray Line sightseeing tours to get the lay of the land, enjoy the local food, explore the museums, experience the natural beauty, and then set aside some time to learn a new skill or volunteer your time, even if you only have a day. It will give you an interesting new perspective on a place and make for a vacation you’ll never forget.
And that’s a vacation worth my time and money!
What’s the coolest job abroad you’ve ever heard of? Let us know in the comments below! (If you can’t see Facebook comments, click here: Live & Learn [Abroad]: Five Ways to Live and Work Abroad)