The reasons why people should travel the world a bit barely need to be explained, and understanding how to travel seems to be an innate skill. Just hop on any given mode of transportation and hit the big wide world. But some of us develop a never-ending desire to keep seeing the world, and when that travel bug strikes, it’s best to have some kind of strategy in order to maintain a budget, to travel responsibly, and to travel with passion and purpose. Here are a few ways to travel more deeply, while saving some money at the same time.
Work: English as the language of communication around the world has created endless opportunities for education-minded college graduates who want some adrenaline-fueled excitement along with their job. Teaching can be a very unique experience when you’re facing a room full of eager students who share a language and culture completely different from what you’re used to. It’s almost guaranteed that you’ll learn more than they do.
Before teaching abroad, it’s best to acquire a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Certificate. These can be obtained through organizations such as Oxford Seminars or WorldTeach. If you’re applying to a job that doesn’t require TEFL certification as a minimum requirement, the school probably doesn’t have high standards overall, and is a place to avoid.
Besides teaching English, there are endless opportunities for jobs abroad. Work on an ostrich farm in Australia, pick strawberries in Denmark, or cocktail waitress on a cruise ship. These are all real jobs, and not so impossible to obtain. A long-time standard resource to find out more about such opportunities is Susan Griffiths’ book, “Work Your Way Around The World.”
For fun seasonal work in the U.S., check out www.coolworks.com. They feature job listings such as working as a bartender in Cape Cod, or a front desk clerk near Yellowstone National Park. If nothing else, it’s a great way to spend the summer.
Sleep on couches: Limiting the amount of cash you spend on hotels can really free up your budget. Couchsurfing considers itself a hospitality exchange service and allows like-minded travelers to connect with each other. If you’re heading to a new city or country, hop onto www.couchsurfing.com and do some research. You’ll find hosts around the world who have offered their couch, air mattress, or spare bedroom to travelers. On the other side of things, you can open your home to travelers by offering a place to sleep. Why would strangers allow you to crash on their couch? To meet new people, share their culture with travelers, and generally make the world a smaller place.
Volunteer: Voluntourism has become a buzzword in the travel industry, and ads abound of bright-eyed college graduates eager to make a difference in the world. Among endless projects around the world, volunteers can donate their time building community centers for the local population, rebuilding towns hit by natural disasters, or assisting in creating a clean water infrastructure for the millions of people globally who lack access to clean water. If you love kids, you can volunteer your time and affection in orphanages or teach in an educational setting. This is not one of the cheaper ways to travel, since organizations that set you up on volunteer trips usually charge a fee; a lot of that money often goes into rooming and boarding volunteers, as well as the local community that it serves. However, you’ll get see things and meet people that you would miss if you were just passing through. Do some research before you go; make sure the organization is reputable, employs people from the local community, and does not exploit the same people it is trying to help.