How I worked my way around the world
For most people, I would say the biggest reason they never get out and see the world is money (or the lack of it.) Coming from a rather large family, the most exotic trip we ever took growing up was to the nearest campground in Northern California. Now if you’re the nature loving, tree hugging, go to all the national parks sort of traveler then that’s perfectly fine, but my point is that the vacations to Hawaii and Europe in my family were non-existent. I’m not complaining (in fact I loved those camping trips) but I knew if I wanted to see more. it was going to require a little creativity.
So the first plan was working my tail of for the next few years, save up as much money as possible and then hit the road. The problem with that was the amount of time it was taking. With student loans to pay off and the normal cost of day-to-day living, it seemed to be taking forever. I didn’t want to become one of those people who worked my whole life so I could retire and take a few cruises when I was 70 years old. I am much more active (and impatient then that) and I had to find a faster way. In college I went through the trouble of sending in applications to reality shows like “Survivor” and “Amazing Race” (which I’m assuming got lost in the mail as I’m still waiting for the callback.) When that didn’t work, I got into real estate and network marketing in hopes of becoming a self-made millionaire, and then traveling the world. (Still working on that one.) The lottery (at least in Utah) is non-existent, and the handsome billionare husband never showed up to sweep me off my feet. (Men!) I finally accepted that if I HAD to work, then why not travel at the same time?
I began brain storming, and the list of usual suspects came up; teaching overseas, becoming a flight attendant, I even heard about people who picked fruit and worked on farms in certain rural areas for room and board. Although some jobs were not as glamorous as others, they were still options and would certainly add a more “cultural” experience to my travels. With no immediate prospects in sight (but a handful of possibilities) I renewed my passport (which of course had expired as I hadn’t left the country in over 10 years) and got to work on updating my resume.
As luck would have it, a friend of mine in South Florida introduced me to the yachting industry. Even in a down economy, there were still people with money that needed crew members to work on their beautiful yachts. Unlike working on a cruise ship (which just seemed too big for my liking) this was a little more up my alley.
I pictured Kate Hudson in the movie “Fools Gold,” and thought it was a little more glamorous then picking berries in the boiling sun or scooping up manure (especially if Matthew McConaughey was swimming around the blue waters of the Caribbean.) So with a few safety courses and some courses in flower arranging and napkin folding (which I found I actually had a knack for) I jumped in feet first.
So here I am 17 months later working on another yacht in the mediterranean to add a little cushion to my travel funds and will soon be on the road again when the season ends. It’s not all “cupcakes and ding-dongs” as one of my mentors used to say, (and I still haven’t managed to find Matthew McConaughey) but I’ve seen some pretty incredible things along the way, learned how to live and work with people (which sometimes does feel like the perfect setting for another travel reality t.v. show) and I am fulfilling my dream of travel ( for the most part on somebody elses dime.) In between seasons, I travel on my own and spend my hard-earned money in the hopes of seeing the rest of the world. Last winter, I saved even more money by working in a hostel in Budapest during the coldest months (and if I ever make it to Australia, will still consider the berry picking if the need arises.)
I know everyone has different circumstances but there’s always a way to make something happen. For ideas on how to make your money stretch while traveling check out my tips page. Other great resources I’ve come acrossed are fellow travelers and bloggers who have a wealth of experiences and resources based on their own circumstances. Check out Legalnomad (an attorney who took a break from her career to travel the world. There’s also tips for family traveling, as well as traveling debt free. Just like anything else in life, if you want something bad enough, the world is literally full of possibilities. Now get out there and go see it!
A few books that were handy to me: