You see it every day on Instagram, a news article, or Facebook…
Someone traveling the world—posing at impossibly perfect beaches on an island you never heard of, so beautiful, you’ve only seen them in movies, or meandering ancient temples in Indonesia and Cambodia…
And time and time again you think, “damn, they are so lucky.”
But let’s get one thing straight. They are far from lucky. Luck means something happened by chance. The fact that they had the means to go to these places is not luck (unless they literally won a contest or something). They worked for it. They gave up things to save the money. They made the effort to prioritize travel. This isn’t luck. This is priorities.
The thing is, there are plenty of ways to save to travel more. It takes a lot of work, don’t get me wrong, but it’s possible. And nearly anyone can travel nowadays.
But what’s better is that you can travel, live and work in the countries you’ve only seen in a small box that you’ve double-tapped on your phone. It seems far-fetched, but it’s the best way to travel. Well, at least in my opinion! Maybe yours too?
If you’re curious why living and working abroad is the best way to travel and how to actually do it, you’re in the right place…
1. You Get to Be As Close to Local As You Can
If you want to experience life as a local in a new town, no matter where in the world it is, get a job. You’ll adapt to the lingo, pick up on social cues, and adopt the local habits. When you’re “just visiting” an area, acclimating to daily life is tough, even for a social butterfly like me.
When you get a job with locals, your coworkers can quickly become your buddies, clue you into all the local hangouts, the places tourists often never find out about, and help you navigate foreign systems.
You can also get a big picture view of life in your newfound home that you wouldn’t get as merely a visitor. As a bartender, English teacher and even a retail assistant, I got to hear about the town gossip, the job market, and the everyday things like how schooling goes or what insurance for locals is like (the US still ranks at a pitiful level by the way.) I wouldn’t get this insight if I popped by for only two days.
Language and Culture
Even if you’re in an English speaking country, working locally teaches you the slang, how people use different expressions, what’s offensive, and what’s local. In a non-English speaking country, you’ll pick up a foreign language so much faster as a worker bee.
Same goes for culture. Culture is language, so if you’re slinging drinks or picking fruit with locals on the regular, you’ll be picking up on all kinds of region-specific quirks.
2. You Don’t Need To Worry About Having Enough Money to Travel
People complain they can’t travel because of money. I call BS!
Wait tables, tend bars, work for Doctors Without Borders, or sell t-shirts on a website. You can literally do anything you are currently doing at home, but you’ll be doing it in an extrinsic location. There’s a slew of jobs abroad or online that you can do.
The United States is one of the most expensive places to live in the world. If you make enough money to have a computer or phone to read this article right now, you can find work and thrive in a foreign country.
Of course, this isn’t to say all countries have the same opportunities but if you’re from an English-speaking country with a strong passport—YOU are definitely blessed with the upper hand.
3. You Can Work in Many Places Around the World
Even the countries with the most rigid immigration laws are reasonable when you keep it legal. I got a working visa in Australia, supposedly one of the hardest countries to immigrate to. And it was easy!
Many countries need immigrant labor for unskilled jobs that their citizens would rather not do.
Remote work is even better. If you can work from your laptop, blogging, designing websites, whatever—your options for travel are unlimited.
4. You Will Travel Cheaper This Way
If you set up shop in one spot, you’ll save a ton of money. You’ll learn where to get cheap food, how to save money on transportation, and where to get the cheapest drinks.
You’ll also find affordable long term rent. The longer you stay, the more money you can stash. Then, when you’re ready to pack your bags, browse for the cheapest flights to your next destination and go.
Plus, you’re working! So you won’t be spending your savings. In fact, you may end up saving even more. I saved thousands while working in Australia.
5. You Get to Travel For as Long as You Want
You’re working. So no rushing back to your parents’ basement or your buddy’s couch because you ran out of money. You’re making the money you need to continue to travel indefinitely. There’s legit no end to the number of unskilled jobs you can find, and even more jobs you can find with a specific skill.
With a little bit of planning and ingenuity, you can wait tables through New Zealand and deliver food by bicycle in Canada. You could teach English while traipsing through Bolivia, learning Spanish along the way, then maybe hop over to Portugal and work at a surf camp.
Save up a little cash beforehand, head to a major metropolitan area, and make a potential employer fall in love with you.
6. You Don’t Even Need Regular Work
The great thing about planning to work abroad is that you don’t even have to work that much. I spent one year working in Australia, and yes, I busted my ass working two jobs at a time, but man was it worth it. I had a great time, and now I’ve got a little cushion to explore regions where work visas are not as easy to get.
Do your research and figure out where getting decent paying work will be easier and where it will be harder. Check out the cost of living in countries you are interested in and plan accordingly.
You could work a season back home and live and travel cheaply abroad or even find seasonal work abroad and find yourself working only a handful of months a year.
7. Because You Only Have One Life
Realize that not many do this—that you know of—but it’s totally possible. This is the life people only talk about while they sit at their desk job. This is the life people write about in magazines. And it could be yours. Right now. You can change your entire life by simply handing in your two weeks’ notice and booking a flight (after saving money first, of course).
Even if you only do it for a year, you get to have this story for the rest of your life.
How to Get Started Living and Working Abroad
- Just go. Your best bet is to get a passport, pick a spot that calls you, someplace you’ve always wanted to go, and look into the immigration and working visa process for that country. If you can’t, you can find work online so you can sustain yourself in said country.
- Often, it is much easier to get a job once in the country than before you leave. You can try both. I did. But if you can’t find work from home before you leave, do not let that discourage you. Just be sure you take a couple thousand dollars for a cushion until you find work.
- You can set yourself up to travel for almost free at first and see where that takes you. Join the Peace Corps or another volunteer organization. Look into your local church outreach programs; you could be building houses in Tijuana in no time. You could house swap or house sit for someone in a foreign country. There are many ways to get started with limited funds and no job opportunities.
- Buy a one-way ticket. Trust me on this one. Once you get started, you are not going to want to stop, so pick your spot, get your papers in order, and buy the ticket.
- The best part is, you don’t need experience to get a job abroad. But you do need to find something that will start you off and then teach yourself skills that helps you work towards something you really want to do. I’ve done over 10 jobs abroad and I had experience doing none of them.
The main thing to remember is, long-term travel by working abroad is much more possible than you think. The more you travel, the more apparent this comes. Right now, you may be thinking this is a load crap and only a select few people can do this but let me urge you to have more confidence in yourself, your capabilities, and your drive.
Make your dreams come true by working for them. It’s the only way they will manifest.
As mentioned, those with the “luckier” passports have more of an advantage but make no mistake, there are people from the Philippines, India, and Malaysia living this life too. The may have an extra hurdle or two, but they didn’t let it stop them.
This won’t happen tomorrow or the next may, but if you find work abroad or online that speaks to you, make it happen and let nothing stop you.
Are you motivated to live and work abroad? Let us know how you’re going to make it happen in the comments!
Nina Ragusa is an expat nomad and travel blogger. She’s been abroad and epically failing at the American Dream since 2011. Her blog, Where in the World is Nina? is all about how to live and work abroad and remotely. With this lifestyle, her legendary adventures around the world don’t need an end date. Want the same life? You can follow and learn here: Facebook | Instagram