Jobs. We hate them. We need them. I’ve received a few messages from some wonderful readers, a first for me, and I would like to take this opportunity to answer one them here. And, as you’ve guessed, it’s about work and what you need to start.
In the ‘Landscape’ portion of this website I make the bold statement that you need to find your skill, find a way to make it work for you, and get out there and live! That line is meant to bolster excitement and open up the doorway for potential! In reality it requires doing some odd jobs or work that you may not want to do. The lifestyle comes with some drawbacks. It’s not all backpacks, exotic lands, and crazy hostel moments. Those are the stories you share and the memories you keep forever. The dull parts will fade but they are equally important.
Frugality. This is a key concept of world travel. Peace Corps is not an organization you join if you’re looking to make a lot of money. When you’re in the Peace Corps you’re payed at the same rate as your community, often below the poverty level of America, and this does not bode well for traveling. Before I left for Ukraine I worked as close to my home as I could, saved money on transportation, and curbed my social outings as much as possible. Once you’re abroad traveling between countries is fairly cheap, but you have to get there first. And it’s always important to save money incase of an emergency. I highly, highly, recommend that you get Traveler’s Insurance. If there is ever an emergency you’ll have healthcare coverage and a ticket home. I know someone whose life was saved because of traveler’s insurance.
Flexibility. There is a love / hate relationship with planning. Too much planning and you stifle your journey and may actually cripple your ability to get from point A to point B. There are so many variables you just won’t be able to account for and a lack of flexibility can become costly and highly stressful. People don’t function at their best when they begin to get bogged down by stress. So, before you start any grand adventure you need to make sure you have methods for dealing with high stress because you may not be able to fall back on your usual coping strategy.
Sacrifice. There is probably a better name for this category but I like to think of it as a sacrificial offering of myself to the Travel Gods. Before I left for Ukraine I worked at an NGO (Non-Government Organization) and then for a high-end rock climbing / yoga clothes studio. Now, as I am preparing to head to China, I am working two different stock jobs, one in the early morning and another that starts at midnight. It’s not ideal and it’s not a ‘field of work’ that I’ve ever strived for, but it pays the bills and allows the opportunity to save money.
Working odd jobs between trips can be stressful, particularly for an American. In the States we put a high value on a person’s profession after they receive their degrees and it’s often a point of comparison and competition. There is a work mentality in America that permeates daily life and most conversation. I read an interesting article that in France the first question a person will ask you is, “What kind of books do you read?” or something along that vein, whereas in America it’s often, “What do you do for a living?”
If you choose to travel often you need to always be thinking of what your next move is going to be between trips. This also means lying in interviews and accepting jobs you know you are going to be quitting in just a couple months, unless you find a temp job from an agency. Find a decent excuse for quitting and leave on the best terms possible, you never know if you’ll need it again in the future.