Travel tips for work, study, and leisure
Everybody should read and travel. Reading enriches the mind and traveling enriches the soul. That’s just how I feel. There are many things that I have never been sure of in life, but one thing I always knew was that I would travel. I didn’t care where I would travel to or how I would travel, I just always knew that I would.
I feel that traveling is quite accessible to most people regardless of income. With some research and preparation, it can be done. I will explain in detail, with the help of other travelers (thank you for your contribution guys), exactly how this can be done. If you are looking for specific information please scroll down to the title that you want. Let’s begin.
1. Work and Travel
When I was 19 years old I ran away from home (with the help of a friend), to volunteer full time at a youth centre. At the time I didn’t know that there would be some traveling involved. Now can you imagine how excited I was when I discovered that I would be going to Lesotho and Swaziland! Even though those countries don’t technically count as leaving South Africa because they are within South Africa, I was excited about getting my first passport.
Volunteering with outreach programmes is a great way to travel. It’s free, you do something that you love with a group of people who share the same passion as you. I have to point out though, that you need to be genuinely interested in the volunteer work that you will be doing. Traveling shouldn’t be the reason – just part of it. And remember that you will not get paid.
Various work through agencies
The benefit of using an agency is that they have a track record so you can do a background check; make sure the agency is legal. Also, they know about positions for more than one company and they can find the most suitable match for you. You could also apply directly to a specific company using their website. I applied directly via the Marriott website for my job in Qatar. It was a shit job, hopefully, not everyone will be as unfortunate as I was.
Some agencies will need you to pay an admin fee, pay for your visa or any other costs. Some will ask for quite a bit of money upfront. If you can afford it, think it’s worth it and feel you will gain more in the long term, then it’s up to you. Do some research, ask questions, get in touch with people who have been successful with these agencies.
Gourmet Recruitment International, Steiner Leisure, Viking Recruitment, Awesome Travel, Overseas Visitors Club, Culture Care, Blue Ensign, Work Away, Canyon Ranch.
Most of these agencies are based in South Africa for cruise ship, hospitality and au pair jobs, however, information for any country is readily available online.
Non paid agencies
Agencies which specialise in a certain field or want to fill positions which require more skills and experience are usually non-paid. If there are international companies looking for your specific skills, they will usually cover most if not all costs involved as long as you are willing to relocate. Sometimes your company may have positions available at one of their international branches, you can find out from Human Resources.
It’s really up to you to be open-minded. Somebody contacted me looking for a job opportunity, luckily for them, a company owner had given me their email address a week prior and told me that they were looking for people. The lady who was looking for a job asked me if it was not a scam. Good question, but no, I am not involved with any human traffickers. It’s Good to be vigilant but not to be paranoid. Also, it’s not good to literally ask the question “Is this a scam?” Rather ask about wages, benefits, etc. to gather information.
Benefits of working/living abroad
Firstly I would like to make it clear that working is just challenging in general. The same challenges you encounter at home, you will encounter abroad. Now add language barriers, cultural differences and being away from family and friends – working abroad can be more challenging in some ways. Now that we have the bad news out of the way, I’ll get on with the good news.
“Most of all I’ve gotten more independent. Small stuff as doing my own laundry.”
“Traveling has reinstated what I’ve always known about myself, which is that I love spontaneity, trying new things and having good clean fun.”
“Made my heart bigger and stronger. To know what to let into my space and energy, and what not to do.”
“It’s constantly put me outside of my comfort zone. I believe that you don’t make any significant personal growth unless you are just that.”
“After several years of working for my employer in the US, I was offered an opportunity to transfer into a client’s headquarters in the Middle East for about a year. That meant higher pay, major living expenses covered, a significantly lighter workload and much easier/ cheaper access to destinations in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Europe. So the conditions for travel were about as perfect as I can imagine.” (Ade, United States)
2. Travel and Study
As with finding work abroad, you need to conduct your research. There are scholarships (partial or full), for studying overseas. You could possibly find information at your college or university, even your high school about opportunities to study further in another country. Be aware that the application and visa process for studying and working abroad can take a few up to several months. You may also need to learn the local language. I remember a Kenyan scholarship student telling me that he had to take German lessons for a year to qualify for his German scholarship.
Nomsa Benzane quit her job to pursue her masters abroad. With the help of her brother, she managed to find the Stipendium Hungaricum Scholarship in Hungary. She recently celebrated her graduation with her proud brother and classmates in Hungary.
“Be inspired. She is just a girl from South Africa like any other girl from a village.” (Nomsa’s brother)
3. Travel for Leisure
It’s really unfortunate how many people don’t even explore their own neighbourhoods. Traveling for leisure is so doable regardless of your budget. The main thing is prioritizing.
It used to kill me inside when I was working as a bartender and I used to see how much people spent on alcohol in one night. One person could blow a crazy amount on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. In one weekend, one person could spend enough to go on a decent seven-day cruise!
How much can you spend?
So the number one tip for traveling for leisure is to prioritize! My sister and I planned our trip to India for a while. My sister is a single mother with as many expenses as the next person. Her colleagues think she has a sugar daddy (giggle), but all she did was just cut down on unnecessary expenses and save.
“The biggest thing for me is my budget. I developed a pretty strict budget that allows me to travel roughly once a month. That’s actually been great for travel because it helps to focus my ideas on where to go, what to do and how often.”
Start Small and minimize the touristy stuff
You don’t have to go all the way across the oceans. You can go on a road trip to the next city. Travel in a group, backpack, visit relatives and friends. Use taxis, buses, and trains. Book to travel during the off-season. You can have a more enriching experience and save some money if you visit people’s homes. See how they live, eat their food. This brings me to the next tip.
Basically, just be decent to all human beings even at home. I’ll tell you why; because sometimes, those human beings that you’re nice to have roots in other countries. And sometimes those human beings go back to their home countries and you find yourself wanting to visit a particular country and you’re like, “Hey I know so and so from such and such, let me call them up.” And they host you and it’s great. And maybe one day you host them too. I have been hosted in Germany, Austria, Lesotho, Texas, Chicago, and what lovely experiences. I’m so grateful.
But be nice to people because it’s the right thing to do, not for free accommodation.
You can find affordable accommodation by booking directly with hotels and guest houses during the off-season. Hotels need bums in beds to make revenue so their prices can be really discounted when it’s not busy.
Check currencies, exchange rates, and visa requirements
I mentioned in my previous post that at first, my sister wanted to go to Germany and I laughed. I was like “Euros, no thank you.” It only makes sense though, you can do more in a country where your currency is stronger.
You can travel to countries where you don’t need a visa or the visa is quite affordable. Depending on the passport that you hold, visa requirements can be an absolute pain. So do some research on that.
The last and most important point is to enjoy it. Whether it’s a small trip or a big one. Travel with an open mind, for the experience rather than to prove something. Enjoy planning the trip, enjoy the road, enjoy stopovers, enjoy the destination.
You deserve to travel; you deserve the open-mindedness, growth, joy and all those wonderful things that traveling has to offer.
“I’ve learnt that I love my country with its many issues and downsides. There is no place like home and no one will get you like your people! Most importantly, I have learnt to do what makes me happy because, at the end of the day, I am stuck with me all the time.” (Khanyi, South Africa)
“I value Sweden much more now too. When you really get to know another country and culture.” (Michelle, Sweden)
“Since all my travel has been in developing countries, it’s been interesting and eye-opening as an American to see how European and American economic/military power have shaped the world. And of course, I’ve had to face my own position of privilege because of that.” (Ade, United States)
“I have grown so much mentally and emotionally. It has made me want to travel more, especially my home country.” (Jade, South Africa)
“Traveling abroad has really taught me to acknowledge my abilities and strengths. My patience, my tolerance, and my positivity have been put to a regular test.” (Melinda, Denmark)