For a lot of people, it’s an appealing fantasy – quit your job and travel the world.
Millennials are increasingly burnt out from work – from long hours to low pay and an unfavourable housing market, not to mention the toxic ‘hustle culture’ that preaches how if you’re not working 18 hours a day, you’re simply not working hard enough. Sometimes it seems like there’s no solution.
There is, however, one universal escape – travel.
It isn’t uncommon to go through a quarter-life crisis in your mid-twenties, where you re-evaluate your goals and where you are in life. For those who feel stuck or trapped without any hope of progression, travelling becomes an increasingly attractive option.
Of course, we’ve all read accounts of someone who quit their job and saw the world. You only have to have an Instagram account to see stunning pictures of white sand beaches and azure waters, with the person behind the account waxing lyrical about how they did it, and so can you!
It all seems so easy doesn’t it?
Just pick a place, save up some money and go. But in some cases, stalled career progression or drained savings can lead to regrets.
Luckily, there are ways of keeping your career going while you travel so that you can reap the benefits of both.
However, if you want to get things right, you’ll need to plan ahead – after all, diving head first into a fantasy is a recipe for disaster.
So, with that said, here are a few ways of balancing international travel with career progress, all while earning a bit of extra cash in the meantime.
How To Travel Without Putting Your Career on Hold
Choose your hours by freelancing
Depending on your sector, freelancing can be a great way of keeping your career afloat while travelling, and it’s part of how I’ve sustained myself for so long on the road!
Copywriting, IT, web design, and editing (amongst other things!) are all skills well-suited to remote work, so why should it matter whether you’re at home or not?
When you’re a freelancer, it is you who is in control of your daily schedule.
To make freelancing work for you, simply set out a time that allows you to get the work done whilst still making the most of wherever you are in the world. You might want to wake up early and get your work out of the way before spending your afternoons exploring, or maybe, like me, you’re a night owl and prefer to carve some time out in the evening to dedicate to your work.
Going freelance is a whole other kettle of fish and it can be difficult to know where to start. A good first step is to sound out opportunities through any industry contacts you might have made already (it’s not what you know, it’s who you know, and all that jazz). Outline your ability to work flexibly on a part-time basis, then see what’s available.
For some firms, working from a different time zone will actually be a bonus – it ensures they’ll have somebody on-call practically around the clock. Put together a portfolio of work and put it out there – and if all else fails, advertise yourself on social media!
One word of warning, though. If you’re looking on social media for ways to make money online, then do proceed with caution. Scams and predatory business models thrive on social media, and sometimes it can be difficult to tell what’s actually a genuine opportunity and what’s just another get rich quick scheme.
Multi-level marketing schemes in particular tend to prey on the young and recently graduated, offering the chance to make lots of money while setting your own hours – perfect for someone travelling abroad.
The reality however, is that these sorts of offers are almost always too good to be true, and people who’ve experienced them often speak of debt and financial insecurity. Here are a few of the reasons why MLM companies are so terrible.
Take on some seasonal work
No matter where you go in the world, you can always develop your career with some seasonal work. In the warmer months, this can include working as a tour guide or as a summer camp counsellor, or you might be planting and harvesting crops. In the winter, seasonal work can include working in the hospitality industry or as a guide at a ski resort.
Even if your seasonal work doesn’t precisely align with your career path, you can still draw out a few transferable skills like adaptability and teamwork. And where you can, it’s always better to keep your CV gap-free. Not to mention that you’ll be making some money to fund your adventure as you go!
There are plenty of websites online that will help get you set up with seasonal work, including backdoorjobs.com, WWOOF, and Anywork Anywhere (you can see my Resources page for more volunteering opportunities!).
Try international work experience
Another option is combining travel with work experience for a blended international experience. In fact, if you want to boost your career prospects more generally, there’s no better option than an internship.
By day, you’ll be developing your skills and industry knowledge, and by night and in your free time, you’ll explore the city around you, taking day trips out to local attractions or nearby cities. Not to mention, you’ll still have that unmistakable holiday feeling even while doing something as simple as popping out for lunch.
The benefits of internships are well-known. Firms are always more likely to employ successful interns than outside applicants, and that makes sense: they’d rather employ someone who has already demonstrated their professionalism and hard work. Not only that, but you’ll also be building up a network of professional contacts to take advantage of when you return home.
A good place to start is with organisations like Beyond Academy who work with over a thousand firms worldwide to provide tailored international internship programs for those looking to boost their career prospects. Whether you’re looking for Journalism and Media internships in Barcelona (yes please!) or Finance internships in London, interning is a great alternative to generic work experience that simply fills a gap in your CV. Interning allows you to gain relevant industry experience and transferable skills that advance your career prospects.
You don’t need a degree to teach English abroad, but a Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) qualification is highly recommended. Practically all reputable companies and establishments ask for one, so plan ahead.
Courses cost anywhere between £700 and £1400, and will take anywhere between 120 and 200 hours to complete. They’re definitely hard work, but once you’re qualified, you’ll be able to teach English practically anywhere in the world – all while you travel.
You don’t even need to speak another language. In fact, once you’re in the classroom, you’ll be speaking English exclusively, aided by some visual cues to bridge any language barriers.
And if you’d prefer, you can also teach English online. This style of teaching has exploded during the pandemic, and is a way of connecting students with teachers anywhere in the world. So you can teach your students from the comfort of your accommodation.
If you don’t want to become a professional English teacher, programmes like Angloville and Just Speak allow you to help people improve their English in an informal way in exchange for a free hotel stay and all your meals. As the programmes are less than a week long, you have the option of joining back to back programmes and travelling around, or squeezing one in if you ever feel the desire to travel but don’t have much money!
Either way, teaching English abroad is a fantastic way of demonstrating your ability to bridge cultural and linguistic divides while adapting to a new environment; all skills that are highly attractive to employers.
How To Travel Without Putting Your Career on Hold | Final Thoughts
Balancing your career with international travel is exactly that – a balancing act.
It’s all about your individual circumstances, and what works for one person won’t always work for another so you should always think hard before making life-changing decisions.
That means that although quitting your job and going travelling without a future plan will be right for some, it isn’t always the right choice for others.
And of course, you’ll gain huge benefits from volunteering, interning or working while travelling.
If you’re freelancing, you can maintain and build up your network of contacts while keeping your skill-set up-to-date. You’ll also be able to work the hours that best suit you, leaving you with time to enjoy yourself.
An internship abroad is a good middle ground. You’ll be living in a brand-new foreign city, which is a fantastic adventure in itself, all while gaining work experience in your field of choice. You’re also more likely to be employed by your firm after your internship ends, which will help get your career off to a great start.
And if you’re undertaking seasonal work, teaching English as a foreign language, or volunteering, while perhaps not directly related to your career path, will still demonstrate to future employers a range of valuable skills, including adaptability and resilience. Plus, you’ll probably be gaining a bit of money on the side, which always helps!
So if you think about your circumstances carefully and plan ahead, you can seamlessly blend travelling around the world with career advancement!
Which of these options is your favourite? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
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