How To Score Long-Term Travel After Returning Home
This is what I was told after coming home from studying abroad in Ireland and traveling to ten different countries in Europe: “You’re so lucky to have had that travel experience at this age, because soon you’ll be married with kids and a house and you won’t be able to do anything like that again.”
While this person was being realistic and reminding me that life does get filled with different adventures that may not include travel, I was not about to believe that my one semester abroad would be my last time living abroad.
If you’re a student like me who gets a sinking feeling in your stomach at the thought of being stuck in your home country forever, let’s work toward getting abroad again together. Here are a few ideas to consider and goals to make that will keep your travel dream alive and kicking:
Ask yourself when it might be possible to go abroad again and for how long.
Starting with this simple question can help make your dream more concrete and attainable. A dream without a plan will always just be a dream.
Analyzing your current circumstances will help determine the answer to this question. Are you still in school, or working full time, or have things that can only be accomplished in your home country? Is your family in need of your presence at this time? Do you have a significant other with whom you have made plans? Considering your financial status (especially if you’ve just returned home from a long abroad experience) is also a major part of the answer to this question.
It’s important to note that while this part of the process is challenging, it isn’t meant to beat down your dream with facts from reality. Assessing your life now will help you plan for your dream, including when and how you could make it come true.
Start saving money now.
This is the next most difficult part of the dreaming process especially as a student or recent graduate. It’s easy to say “start an adventure jar” in an attempt to never underestimate the value of loose change. But of course, that tactic alone is not going to get you abroad again.
Saving money usually requires sacrifice. Cut out spending on coffee and fast food, lower your entertainment budget, pick up extra hours at work, get a second job, or try getting paid for your side skills like photography or repair work. Also keep in mind that one man’s junk is another’s treasure, so through your closet and sell that collection of sweaters you never got around to wearing or that out-of-date Nintendo gaming device.
Keep connected with foreign friends.
They’re already where you may want to be one day, so why not continue to chat them up about what’s going on over there? Talking with someone from a foreign country with whom you have an established connection can give you motivation for getting abroad again – maybe to visit (or even stay with) your friends.
And you never know who they may know, too. Tell them you’re thinking about going abroad again and ask if they have any ideas for reasons you may want to consider going to their home country next.
Network with people who travel for their job.
People who are already knowledgeable about traveling as a career or a side gig will have the best advice to give about getting abroad. They may not necessarily help direct you towards getting a job exactly like theirs, but they can inspire you and give you hope that getting abroad again is possible as an older adult.
Research ways to get abroad like it’s your job. Here’s some things to consider:
- Go study abroad again!
The choice to simply study abroad again depends largely on your degree plan and your budget, but it can be a great addition to your transcript and resume. If you are studying foreign languages or business, studying abroad more than once can be a great indicator of your willingness to understand and immerse yourself in more than one language and culture. Studying abroad for a second time can also give you the chance to do things differently and you will have more experience stepping outside your comfort zone despite the sort of country in which you choose to study.
- Volunteer abroad.
Volunteering is an opportunity for students to make a difference either during a gap year during school or following graduation. There are so many different routes you can take when deciding to volunteer and although you would not be making an income, some volunteer opportunities can even help defer some of your student loans if you have them. Teaching abroad, long term mission trips, and becoming a part of the Peace Corps are just a few examples of amazing volunteer experiences.
- Intern abroad.
Taking an internship abroad is one step above studying abroad. You get to test and apply your skills from your studies and get a feel for what it’s like to work outside the classroom in a foreign country. It’s not always guaranteed that internships abroad are paid, and some will require that you pay a fee to participate in the internship, but deciding to intern abroad can be a great step towards a career abroad.
- Nanny abroad.
Surprisingly, there are dozens of countries out there asking for young adults to apply to be a nanny for a family with small children. You’ll be paid quite well and can truly live abroad. This does come with a lot of responsibility, as you will be in charge of another person’s children. But, as an added bonus, you may even become one of the family!
Remind yourself that nothing is impossible if you have an adventurous heart.
Adventurous hearts are not quiet and passive things. They are not meant to stay in one place or settle for the norm or walk away from a dream. Be smart about your next abroad experience, but don’t put limitations on yourself. Getting abroad a second time can be a challenge, but I believe it will be the most rewarding. Cheers to big dreams!