I made a promise to myself back in 2012 that I would travel outside the country every year. Thus far I have broken that promise once. I’ve recognized that in order to accomplish my goals, I have to start my day with good intentions; smaller goals that lead to the larger goals. I’ve experienced a number of setbacks, which explains why I didn’t travel outside of the US in 2013, but I’m resilient, and I’ve bounced back with a vengeance.
My friends tease that I habitually complain about not being where I want to be career-wise, but somehow manage to travel more. What I’ve learned over the last few years is that when it comes to travel: a) You don’t need to have tons of money to travel b) When opportunities come a knockin', you better hop on them and c) I’d much rather travel than live my life wondering what stories I could have told after X, Y, Z trip. I’ve been afforded a number of opportunities that have allowed me to travel with little to no money, and no, it’s not because I’ve found a “Sugar Daddy.” I had to recognize that I have education and skill sets that are applicable anywhere and I just need to use them.
As a human being living in modern society, I have encountered bouts of unemployment and often felt that without a job I wouldn’t be able to fund my travel desires. I often felt like I was part of the minority, not making enough money to pay rent, student loans, and the rest of my bills. I have two degrees and felt like the “Great Job” that was promised to me as a child if I went to college was playing a great game of “Hide-N- Go-Seek” and I was definitely losing.
Thankfully, I recognized that I wasn’t alone and needed to be creative when it comes to accomplishing my goal of international travel, which also requires me to get clever in terms of employment. I have been fortunate enough to serve as a volunteer, working with varying companies and organizations which afforded me international travel and the ability to use my skills. This is a win-win as far as I’m concerned because I not only gain career experience but also passport stamps (Most important ☺). There are websites like World Packers (worldpackers.com) and World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms (www.wwoof.net) which allow you to volunteer in exchange for basic housing and meals (options vary). Of course, there’s always Peace Corps, but some people aren’t comfortable making a 2-year commitment, and I definitely understand. There are also some lesser-known programs such as USAID’s Farmer-to-Farmer Program which seeks volunteers for a variety of assignments (and they’re not always directly related to farming). Point blank, you will have to do your research and network if you truly have a passion for travel.
There are sacrifices one has to make in order to live this type of lifestyle, and the extent of those depends on the individual. Growing up my father would always say “Remember, the world is just as much yours, as it is anyone else’s. Go explore.” I definitely took those words to heart and have been on a roll. Perhaps it’s my innate explorative nature, the quest for adventure, or thirst for knowledge and culture, but I’m determined to make a name for those of us traveling without the financial backing of our dreams because I know that travel is not limited to an elite group of society.