You want to see the world. You’re also broke. Is there a solution to this problem other than binge-watching Bollywood films? Yes! The solution is to make money, or at least break even, while you travel. Some of the most popular options are teaching English, working in childcare, taking a job in the airline industry, or doing some form of work exchange.
As English grows into a global language, countless organizations are working to match English teachers—even without previous certification or experience—with schools across the world. Mallory Siebers, 24, is currently teaching English in a “hagwon” (after-school academy) in Seoul, South Korea. The organization that Siebers works for, Adventure Teaching, pays for plane tickets, housing costs, and teacher salaries. The job can be difficult and demanding. “Moving abroad is a really big life change,” Siebers says. “And there are days when you’ll want to quit.” This is why Siebers recommends having valid, personal reasons for taking an international teaching job. Siebers’s own love of Korean pop culture is one of her reasons for teaching in Korea. She has loved being able to afford concert tickets for her favorite bands.
When Arizona native Tylene Nichols was 19, she applied to be an au pair on an international website. She was offered a job in Rivarossa, Italy, to nanny a family’s three daughters. Nichols paid for her own plane tickets, but her salary allowed her to keep her spending low while in Italy. Nichols traveled on weekends, and spent her free time during school hours in Rivarossa or neighboring Turin. “I could easily take a train or a bus into Turin and spend the day at museums or out with friends,” she explains. She particularly enjoyed her relationship with her employers. “I was able to become part of this family,” she says. “I did not feel like ‘hired help’ at all, more like a big sister.” She is planning a return visit to Rivarossa in the near future to introduce her Italian family to her husband and baby daughter.
“The job is great, if you can handle it!” warns flight attendant Kate Barry, 22. “Because it’s not just a job, it’s a kind of lifestyle.” Flight attendants work shifts at all hours and in all time zones, living in a constant state of jetlag. They deal with emergencies, difficult passengers, and a plethora of other stressful situations. For Barry, however, the crazy lifestyle is worth it. “I love being able to go all over the country and the world. I not only get paid to travel, I can also travel in my free time because of the flight benefits.” She recommends the job to anyone who is young, physically able, loves to travel, and is preferably single (since the job requires so much time away from home). “If you have a patient personality and can deal with high-stress situations, this job is for you!”
Websites like HelpX.net connect travelers with short-term work in exchange for room and board. These jobs can include seasonal farm work, housekeeping in hostels, landscaping, etc. Korrin Cheatwood, 21, used work exchange to fulfill her dream of living in Ireland. She spent a month of her 90-day visa on a dairy farm, a month as a nanny, and a month traveling. Typically, no money changes hands during the work exchange program—it is a straight exchange where someone works for a place to sleep and possibly a few meals. Unlike the previous options, work exchanges won’t beef up your savings account, but jobs can be found anywhere, and you can move on whenever you are ready. Looking back to her time on the farm, Cheatwood realizes that she worked more hours than was fair (typical exchange is four to six hours a day), and that she should have just found another option. “This is your vacation,” she says. “If you’re not happy, you leave. That being said, I still recommend it. Overall, it was an amazing experience.” Another excellent form of work exchange is house/pet sitting. Sites like TrustedHouseSitters.com help pair up potential house sitters with locations worldwide.
Being broke isn’t the end of your travel dreams—it is motivation to be creative and find ways to pay for travel as you travel. Working in a new country helps you meet friends and potential travel partners. You might even pick up a new language. So turn off the Bollywood film and book your ticket to India.