How I Prepared for a Year of Travel, Part 2: Working Overseas

Written By
Paul Tracy
Updated January 16, 2021

For some couples, it’s a lavish house or boat. For others, it’s purebred show dogs or a live-in chef. But after our honeymoon in Italy, my wife and I agreed the opportunity to travel would be the main reason we would strive to save money. 

If you missed the first installment of this series, “How I Prepared for a Year of Travel, Part 1: Saving,” I’ll help you catch up. In this four part series, you’ll learn how my wife and I got ready to travel the world for a year. The most important first step was cutting our expenses. We moved in with family and stopped going out to eat. But without revenue coming in once we departed, we knew “living the dream” wouldn’t exactly be glamorous. So for the second part of the series, I’ll tell you how we planned to make money. 

My family and friends often ask me while I'm overseas, “So, what do you do all day over there?”

I hate to disappoint them if they think that my extended travel means I am on a 24/7 vacation sipping fruity drinks next to the lapping ocean, but I have to tell them the truth.

“Well, most days, I work just like you do, but during the evenings and on weekends we have free time and enjoy where we are,” I say.

Chances are -- regardless of how frugal you are before you embark -- you won’t be able to save enough money for your entire long-term travel experience. So that means you'll have to find work, on the road.

Ideally, you won’t have to change jobs at all. Increasingly, employers are finding the value of a remote workforce. So, if you work primarily at a computer and don’t have to interact with a team or clients face to face, you could convince your boss to allow you to work from outside the office full time. Perhaps you could tell your boss it would allow you to be more flexible, giving you the ability to perform last-minute emergency assignments more often – You could work on nights and weekends via computer when others wouldn't -- and you would do it happily.

But, if there's no convincing your boss, there are still options.

1. Freelance 

Many companies are looking for workers to perform writing, graphic design and programming duties there that can be done from anywhere. If you have any of these skills, you can start building a client base before you leave, so when you go out on the road, you won’t have to start from scratch. Here are some places to start:

Odesk.com

Elance.com 

Mediabistro.com

AllofCraigs.com – search all Craigslist locations.

Here is a comprehensive list of freelance job sites that offer plenty of options.

2. Temporary Work in Your Field

You might be able to find a temporary position that requires skills you already have. For example, if you are a school or social counselor, work with children or work in a company that has offices throughout the world, you can look into working temporarily at a different location. Writers can always look into English language newspapers, websites and other publications that might need help with proofreading and translation. Check with industry publications, conferences or connections you have to find out what opportunities exist in your field.

[InvestingAnswers Feature: The 5 Best Places in the World to Retire]

3. Service Oriented Work

You don’t have to be an international businessperson to land a job in a foreign country. Most international cities have English-speaking "Expat" bars, or English-speaking tour companies that could use service workers.

There are also plenty of schools abroad that could use English teachers. We met a woman while traveling who was working as an admin for a Spanish language school in need of an American to help with their expat clients. While these positions might be totally different from your current profession and tend to be more long-term in nature, they serve as viable options for making money on the road.

There are also opportunities all over the world to work on organic farms in exchange for room and board. The work isn’t easy and it doesn't pay much, but it's a good way to cover many of your basic expenses and learn about organic lifestyles. You could always tutor other employees in English for extra cash

4. Reminder: Don't Forget About Your "At Home" Expenses

The income you'll need to bring in will depend on your expenses, but it will also determine if your trip is tenable. Nothing stomps a dream faster than realizing you can’t afford the trip you want. 

If you want your money to last, you have to make a realistic budget. The first step is to look at non-travel expenses you still have at home. For us, that included our storage space rent (we don’t want people to go “Storage Wars” on our stuff), car insurance premiums (lapses in coverage are not good), health insurance premiums, international travel insurance premium (check into getting this) and other ongoing bills like student loans

We tried to trim as much of the fat as possible so we could free our budget for expenses on the road. For example, my wife and I had a global cell phone that could make international calls, but we decided to nix it and use Skype or Google Voice instead, for a fraction of the cost. 

Ongoing bills and obligations are permanent and will follow you wherever you go, so make sure you can cover these along with your living expenses abroad before you decide to embark.

[Make cuts now to see the world! How I Prepared for a Year of Travel, Part 1: Saving]

The Investing Answer: Long-term travel on savings alone requires a large nest egg that may be hard to build. Instead, most people will have to find a job working "on the road" to pay for living expenses abroad. 

You may end up working in a field you never thought you would work in. But with creativity, hard work and diligence, you can and will find a destination-job that suits your skill set and makes your travel dreams a reality.

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