More and more people are starting to pick up on the secret of how to afford and fund long-term travel. The fact of the matter is, if you want to travel longer and further than ever before, you simply need to spend a period of time living and working abroad. And move to a continent where countries are connected through several means of transportation and 2 hour flights north, east, south, or west, would land you in another country.
With the Euro(€) at a decade-low and the U.S Dollar($) at a decade-high, you’re literally getting more bang for your buck on travel expenses such as hotels, flights, and food. So now that you’re about 90% convinced that a year abroad is exactly what you need to re-freshen your perspective and find your zest for life again, somehow, the idea of the big move is still just a tad bit overwhelming.
So we’re about to do some soul-searching to determine if this is indeed exactly what you want for your life. Get out a journal or open up a Microsoft Word document (because, 2015) and physically type/write out the answers to the following questions. And then I want you to email them to GlobetrottinGlo@gmail.com so you can have an accountability partner. Be honest with yourself. It’s YOU who you’re trying to convince after all... not me.
How independent do you consider yourself?
Does the thought of being on your own scare you or excite you? Do you always need someone to help get you out of sticky situations? Can you go more than a year without being in a relationship? These are serious things you need to consider, because no one will hold your hand through job searches, visa paperwork, or break-ups. Life happens to everyone whether in the comfort of your hometown or halfway across the world. I’ve had to cry on my own shoulder, pick up broken pieces, and figure out plans many times on my own. It’s all a part of your journey and you become so much stronger in the end. But know that this part of the journey is inevitable, so be ready when it comes.
What do you want to gain from this experience?
Besides seeing as many places as humanly possible, traveling without a purpose will leave you emptier than your wallet. You want to make sure you’re doing this for the right reasons. Not to find love. Not to make your friends jealous. And not to make your liver hate you forever (although, that’s a byproduct of this lifestyle). You need to find the deeper value in what you’re about to embark on, so that you don’t come back with your money depleted and an opportunity wasted.
How will you fund yourself/travels?
In between traveling, you need to find a side hustle. What can you do or offer others to help sustain yourself on your travels? Do you own a digital camera? Are you a social media guru? Do you have a musical talent? Can you sing? Can you paint? Are you multilingual? All these are legitimate skills that can make you side money whether on the streets or doing freelance for a major business or company. Never rely on just one income when living abroad, because you need a backup for your backup when your backup is backed up ;)
What’s your Plan B? No, not that kind. I HOPE.
If you’re like me, your Plan B might be to keep trying Plan A until it works. This is by the book, the actual definition of insanity, and I’m 100% okay with that. But again, life has a funny way of working out sometimes, and you need to be prepared to switch gears and take a detour if that’s necessary.
What is one thing you’ve always wanted to do before you die?
And can this be fulfilled while traveling? What better time to do this while on the road creating memories of a lifetime anyway? I think there’s a liberation you gain from traveling in general, and that idea that we should wait for the right time to reach our goals is something that people take to their grave and never end up fulfilling. Use this time abroad to accomplish as many of your bucket list items as possible!
How can this experience impact your next chapter?
How can you use this experience to land your next job or plan your next trip? How can you format this on your resumé or CV to make this experience look like a million bucks to a potential employer? Never underestimate the power of life abroad when talking to CEOs upon your return. That experience says so much more on paper than a 4.0 GPA, and there’s a global market for just about anything these days. Network to get work my friend.
Will the job you have now still be there when you return?
If the answer is yes, then good. If the answer is no, then even better! Chances are, you’re in a job you’re not too passionate about anyway. It pays the bills and gets you by, but do you rush to get out of bed every morning?
Didn’t think so.
What second or third language can you pick up?
Outside of the UK and France, most people you meet in Europe will speak (at minimum) 3 languages. It’s amazing. It’s inspiring. It secretly makes me sick, ha. So many doors of opportunity and communication open up when you’re able to connect with more people of more cultures. If you have the time, try picking up another language before you move. Studies show it takes a good 3 months to get the basics and 6 months for intermediate proficiency. Also, these so-called “studies” are based on one person -- myself. Haha. So there’s that.
What “luxuries” can you cut back on now to help pay for the flight and initial cash to get you on your feet after the move?
You’d be surprised how little you actually need to survive. It’s crazy, but there was actually a time Starbucks didn’t exist. Or nail salons. Or overpriced gym memberships. But someway, somehow, people managed. Cut back on your Starbucks coffee and brew your own at home. Quit the nail pampering and buy $1 polish that will last you over 2 months. Cancel the gym membership that you haven’t used in a year and buy a home work out DVD and a couple weights and bring the gym to you. BOOM! What’s up new savings of $300/month. I see you!
And most importantly - Are you ready for your life to be changed forever?
To take the good with the bad and remember no matter what happens, this experience, this moment, and this journey is something you wouldn’t trade for the world.
It’s hard to imagine what I thought of the world and life in general before my fifteen countries of globetrotting so effortless ripped my mind apart. It tore up all the narrow-minded stereotypes and replaced it with gems of light, compassion, and understanding, to help me see people and life with a new perspective. Life abroad is every bit of what you make of it. And I choose to make this life nothing short of extraordinary.
Gloria Atanmo is an American travel blogger, overseas basketball player, English teacher, photographer, and professional risk-taker currently living in Barcelona, Spain. She's a lover of life and all things wine and Nutella. Follow her adventures on Instagram: @glographics