The Downside of Traveling For a While

The Downside of Traveling For a While

Friendships are like plants, they require water. If you go abroad for a year you might come back and find that you’ve lost your social circle. A lot will have happened and you’ll be left trying to play catch up. Also, you’ll have less in common with your friends. You spent the last two months in Cambodia, driving a scooter and getting tan. Your friends have been up to the usual and you’ve missed it.

Also, you might find out that you’re not as interested in hanging out with your old friends. You tell them about how cool Spain is, they nod and smile but there’s no spark. You say that you should all buy some plane tickets and go to Colombia for a few weeks in the winter. They look at you like you’re crazy.

Family relationships can also suffer. When you spend a significant amount of time abroad you can fall out of step with what’s happening at home. Cousins get married, people move, drama ensues, etc. All that happens while you’re listening to techno in Berlin, questioning whether you’ll have any hearing left when you’re 50.

Temporary Friendships

When you travel you’ll meet cool people who believe in adventure, have great spirit and think that Colombia in the winter sounds like a blast. Unfortunately, most people you meet are going home in two weeks and they live 4,600 miles from you. You can keep in contact but it’s damn difficult to build a virtual relationship. It’s not impossible, but for any given person the chances that a deep and meaningful relationship form are slim.

Do it While You’re Young

These things happen but screw it. I combat it with a few simple things, like making an active effort to hang out with my friends when I’m home. I stay in contact with my family and keep them in the loop. When I go abroad I always try to visit a few international friends. I’m still an outlier in terms of normal lifestyle, but I make an effort to mitigate that.

All that being said, I think the most important thing to remember is this. If you’re traveling and you find it lonely you can always come home, you’ll have the rest of your life to enjoy long relationships. However, it’s much harder to settle down, create a life and then leave it all behind to travel for a year.

5 Ways to Travel the World for a Year

5 Ways to Travel the World for a Year

On April 8th, 2016 I flew into JFK airport in New York City. I had been abroad for 21 months straight. After that epic trip more than a few people asked me how the hell I could afford such a thing. In short, I taught English, worked online and lived cheap as hell. And honestly, traveling the world for a year or two is not nearly as hard as many people think. Hell, the legendary Cal Fussman traveled for 10 years straight, before the internet! So there’s really no excuse. Here are 5 easy ways to travel the world for a year.

1. Save Money

Saving money to travel is obvious. What’s not obvious to people who haven’t been to Eastern Europe or Asia before is how cheap shit is. In a country like Vietnam or Cambodia, with just $800 a month you can live like a king. Going out to eat every day, taking taxis and staying at the nicest hostels. That’s well within an $800 dollar budget for some of the cheaper countries in South East Asia. In fact, if you want to watch your budget carefully you can even do it for less. As a personal challenge, I lived on $500 in Vietnam for a month.

For more expensive countries like Thailand, or the more expensive parts of Indonesia, you’ll need closer to a $1,000 a month to live comfortably. If you’re earning money in a first world country that’s still not a huge sum to save. While volunteering at a hostel in Ukraine, I met a 28 year old Canadian guy who had managed to save $80,000 and was on a two year trip around the world.

2. Work Online

I’ve written quite a lot about working online, the different types of jobs available, and how to get started. There’s a lot more work out there than many people imagine. Honestly, I believe that one of the largest problems with online work is getting people to understand what exactly it entails. I feel that when many people hear about online work, they think it’s either a scam, or it’s easy as fuck.

I’m hear to say that it’s not a scam, it’s not easy as fuck, but there are jobs out there that will suit you. Working online is just like having a regular job. You do work, you have clients, and you get paid for it. The only difference is that the internet gives you total freedom. I’m writing these words in Bali but I could just as easily be in Budapest. You’d be surprised how many opportunities there are out there to earn a respectable income through the internet, which can easily give you the chance to travel the world for a year. I wrote quite a bit about this on my old blog.

3. Teach English

Teaching English is a fantastic way to fund a trip around the world, so long as you’re a native speaker of English. You can easily work for 9 months or a year, saving the whole time, and then take off across the globe. When choosing a country to teach in, there are two schools of thought. Choose for passion or choose for cash?

I chose Russia because I wanted to learn the language. I accomplished that, and even with the downturn in the Ruble I was still able to save about $5,000 in eight months. That’s about average. I believe that most teaching jobs pay about as much as mine did, and expenses in many countries are about the same.

Another option is to choose a position because they pay more. Saudi Arabia offers a beautiful salary often in excess of $25,000 a year, housing included (as in, you’re expenses are almost zero so you’re saving almost all of that $25,000). Japan also offers a higher salary, although the living expenses are reputed to be very high. If this sounds interesting to you, I wrote a post: How to Get Your First Job Teaching English.

4. Work in Australia

It’s not uncommon to meet someone who has done the Australian work thing. The visa is easy to get, there’s lots of work, and it’s high paying. People will work in Australia for a year, aggressively saving their money, and by the time they leave they’ll have enough money to travel the world for a year or more.

The catch is that the work is difficult. In order to get the visa you have to agree to work on a farm for a certain amount of time. Nine months one French named Luc guy told me, but you should look into it yourself. It may be hard work, but it pays handsomely. Luc said that at times he would earn $300 to $400 in a single day. I wrote more about this in this post, Work in Australia then Travel the World.

5. Live Cheap as Hell

This isn’t really a unique option, so much as something that can be used in combination with the others. When travelling you’ll always have the option to live cheaply. This can come down to where you choose to go, and how you choose to live. For example, in Oslo you can easily pay $50 for one night in a dorm. In Bali, $20 will get you a beautiful single in a great hostel. If you’re on a budget then you’ll have the choice of spending three months somewhere expensive, or a year in cheaper places.

Another option that can help you to stretch your dollars is Workaway. With Workaway you can stay with hosts all across the world and live for free in exchange for a few hours of work every day. I found work with Workaway two different times in Ukraine and it was a good experience. When looking at potential projects, you may want to check whether they provide food or not. Some do, some don’t. If you’re really trying to keep your expenses down so that you can travel for longer, then you’ll want to find a host that provides meals in addition to a place to stay. If you’re nautical, FindaCrew offers a similar service, although the membership fee is rather pricey.

Whatever option strikes you as the best way to fund a trip around the world, the most important thing is to get out there and do it! Set dates, make commitments, don’t put it off. Travelling is awesome and the internet provides so many fantastic opportunities to make it easy. You may also be interested in my post: How Much Money do You Need to Travel Abroad?

Work in Australia then Travel the World

Work in Australia then Travel the World

You’re graduating college soon, you’d like to travel the world but you’re not sure where to start. Teaching English is a popular option with unlimited employment opportunities if you’re a native English speaker. Just head over to Dave’s ESL Job List and you’ll get a feel for all of the jobs available. However, being a teacher isn’t for everyone. As the new guy you’ll be teaching kids, you’ll spend a dozen hours learning grammar and standing in front of a large group of people isn’t for everyone.

That being said, I’ve met plenty of people who love it and do it for years! I suppose it all depends on your temperament. If you’re outgoing and gregarious, it’s a natural fit. If your talents lay in other areas, worry not. There’s another awesome opportunity waiting for you. Do farm work in Australia!

Getting Your Hands Dirty

Working in Australia is a great way to start travelling the world. As soon as you get off the plane you’ll be immersed in a new culture. A culture that’s not terribly different America, but still exciting. While you’re there you’ll meet lots of other international travelers and I’m sure your weekends will be anything but dull. Most importantly, you’ll make good money!

I was surprised to learn that the minimum wage in Australia is $16.88 an hour. In the United States, in New York State at least, minimum wage is currently $9.70 an hour. That’s enough to survive but not quite enough for a down payment on a 7 Series.

With the high wage there is a catch though. In order to get an Australian visa you will be compelled to do farm work. Picking fruit, tending to the orchard, sorting vegetables, that kind of thing. It’s tough, hot work but the upside is big. A French guy I met in Malaysia said that once in a while he would make as much as several hundred dollars in a single shift. In time he was able to save enough money to travel for six months.

However, his journey included some time in Europe. If you took that same money and stayed in Asia, you could easily leave for an entire year. Beaches, seafood restaurants and so many dollar beers that you’d be ready to join Alcoholics Anonymous.

So the short and sweet of it is this. If you want to travel the world, you don’t have much money and you don’t want to teach English, working in Australia is the way to go. The work is difficult but from first hand experience I can promise you, teaching disobedient 9 year olds is no walk in the park either. If you’d like to learn more about doing farm work in Australia a simple Google search will tell you everything you need to know. Jobaroo also has a great guide on the subject. I’m looking forward to seeing you out there!

3 Reasons that Travelling Alone is Awesome

3 Reasons that Travelling alone is awesome

Travelling alone gives you the best chance to learn about yourself and grow as a person. Not only that, but it’s fun as hell! When you travel alone you have a bunch of unique experiences that you wouldn’t necessarily have if your buddy was tagging along. Of course travelling with friends is great too, there are some real advantages. However, if you’ve never gone solo, it’s something that you definitely need to cross off of your bucket list. Here’s why..

1. You’re Forced to Meet New People

When you’re solo, if you want to get a beer at the pub, do a two person adventure or sleep with a cute girl, you have to be social. I think that’s great! Studies have shown that our friends are often not the people who we’re most suited for. The average person builds friendships out of convenience. We meet people in class, at work, or through our social circle. We don’t select friendships so much as fall into them.

When you travel the situation is different. You know that anyone you run into on your journey is going to have similar interests and they’re going to have the tenacity to turn their aspirations into reality. Many dream of drinking beer on the beach or hiking across Europe, few actually make it happen.

2. You’re not Worried About the Other Person

If the trip is your idea and you bring someone along, there may be some anxiety. If something goes wrong it’s going to feel like your fault. When you’re alone none of that matters. So long as you choose a place you’re passionate about, you’ll have the motivation to get through the inevitable obstacles.

3. You Have 100% Control of the Trip

On an inspired journey part of the joy comes from not knowing what’s next. When you travel alone you have the flexibility to embrace sudden change. If you want stay longer in one place or leave somewhere else earlier than planned, you’re free to do so. You don’t have to think about what your buddy wants to do.

Picture this, you’re staying at a hostel when you meet some awesome German guys. They invite you to backpack through the mountains with them for a week. Unfortunately your friend thinks this sounds like the worst idea ever so you have to pass it up. If you were travelling alone this would have not been an issue, you could have gone on that awesome trip.

While travelling with friends can be an incredibly rewarding experience, I think that solo travel is something that everyone should do at least once. It will test your character and show you that you’re capable of more than you imagined.

Travel for Pennies on the Dollar with Workaway

Workaway is the website that let me live in Ukraine for two and a half months, learn Russian, and spend about $400 in all. The concept is similar to Couchsurfing, except that you stay with your host longer, food may be included, and you’re expected to volunteer a certain number of hours every week. The best feature of Workaway is that you can find a host in most countries. For example, a quick search shows the number of hosts in some of the countries I’d like to visit,

  • Sweden – 304
  • Norway – 324
  • France – 3,088
  • Japan – 148
  • India – 418

Of course you might not get your first choice due to scheduling or a bad fit, but if you send out enough messages there’s a high chance you’ll find somewhere to stay. When I was looking for a host in Kiev there were only 8 choices and I was able to find a great place.

How Much Money Can you Save?

A lot.. Especially if you’re traveling in an expensive country like Britain, Switzerland or Norway. In these countries a hostel can cost upwards of $50 a night, especially if you book it last minute. By staying with a Workaway host you can save all that money as accommodations are free. In some cases, not always, food is also included.

Is it Safe?

Most of the time you’ll be staying in a group setting like a family or some kind of community, rarely will a host be living by themselves. Also, plenty of hosts will have multiple Workaway volunteers at the same time, giving you an even greater assurance of safety. Finally, you can read reviews left by past volunteers and even contact these past volunteers if you have specific questions. So I believe that it’s a very safe way to travel. In some situations it may even be the safest option because you’ll be living with a host who can tell you about local scams or unsavory areas.

How Hard is the Work?

Every situation is unique. I talked to someone building a hostel in the jungle of Thailand. That would have been hot, hard work. On the other hand, in Ukraine all I had to do was teach an hour long English lesson every day. Ideally you volunteer with a host where the work is to your liking and so it’s no big deal.

Is it Tough to Get My First Volunteering Job?

When you sign up it can be harder to get your first volunteering position because you have no feedback. Any host who has been on Workaway long enough has had a problem with a volunteer at some point and all of them are eager to avoid that again. Some tips that can help you if you’re new.

  • Bring in feedback from other websites like Couchsurfing or Airbnb. In your profile mention that you’re new but you’ve had positive experiences in other places and then copy and past that feedback.
  • Write a longer description. Hosts read these and they’re interested to learn more about you. Take an hour to write up a nice profile complete with good grammar and spelling. It shows attention to detail and that matters.
  • Personalize your message when you write a host. Tell them why you would be a good fit, what experience you have that will be helpful and why you’d like to stay with them. This takes more time than spam messaging half a dozen hosts but the rewards are worth it. You’re probably going to spend several weeks or a month with this host, it’s worth doing it right.

I really encourage you to check out Workaway. You can browse all of the available experiences for free and if you want to take the next step and write a host, a yearly membership costs $29. Have you had a positive Workaway experience in the past? Leave a comment below and share it with everyone else!

How to Learn a Second Language in Your Bedroom

Learn a Second Language in Your Bedroom

Learning Russian taught me how to effectively learn a second language. I’m now using this method to learn German in my bedroom. I’ve been studying for 15 months and I’m about 6 months from being fluent. While this method doesn’t bring fluency as fast as living in country and chatting with native speakers every day,  it works no matter where you live and it’s inexpensive.

Key Points

  • Study every single day. Failing that, a bare minimum of five days a week. The benefits of studying 30 minutes a day heavily outweigh that of 10 hours just one day a week.
  • In larger cities Couch Surfing and MeetUp offer events where you can connect with native speakers. I’m currently not attending these events for German, however, I attended them regularly when I was learning Russian.
  • Learning a language can take years. Embrace the process, celebrate small victories and know that you’ll get there eventually.
  • There are some really cool language learning channels on YouTube

    There are some fascinating characters in the language learning community. Luca has a great YouTube channel, as does Benny. Tim Ferriss has also released an excellent guide.

My Learning Process

  1. Find an online translation dictionary that has high quality pronunciations in your target language. For German I use Linguee. They have other languages as well, I’m not sure about pronunciation quality. If you can’t tell which is best, ask a native speaker.
  2. Learn as many pronouns as possible. I start by memorizing I, she, he, they, you, your, his, her, their, it, etc. This can be harder than it sounds because you have no ear for the language. You’ll be surprised how many times you can forget a simple sound.
  3. Begin listening to the language every day. I’ve found that Spotify has awesome playlists for German. YouTube is also good, as are live stream radio shows from that country. These are easiest to find by typing in the capital city + radio. For example, “Berlin talk radio“.
  4. Find a Skype tutor. The website Preply is the best choice, I’ve used it to find my Russian and German tutors, both of whom are excellent. For German I pay $14 a lesson, twice a week, which adds up to about $120 a month (my Russian tutor only cost $6 a lesson). That’s a steal compared to a paying for a college class. Also, it’s more effective. With a Skype tutor it’s 1 on 1 and the lessons are catered to your needs.
  5. Keep notes during the lesson. While me and my teacher are speaking I write down each new word. Over the next couple of days I’ll review these words in the following manner. I type them into the German dictionary and listen to the pronunciation multiple times, mimicking it. Then I’ll write down the word in my notebook along with examples of the word used in context. I often spend as much as 5 minutes working with a single word.
    *In my notebook I write solely in German, I don’t write an English translation next to the word. Instead, when I review the words 90% of the time I can figure out the meaning based on the context sentences I wrote. I find that that writing only in the target language creates a more immersive experience. 
  6. Input all new words into Anki. This is a flashcard App that I use to review the words. After I’ve written down all my words into my notebook, I input them into Anki.
  7. Write a sentence or two for each new words. This is the third time I’m looking at my list of new words in the space of a couple of days. It can be somewhat repetitive but that’s the point! The more you review your words, the more you remember them. I take all my new words and write sentences with them in Google Docs. At the start of each lesson my tutor reviews these sentences and corrects any mistakes I’ve made.
  8. Repeat this process. This is my entire strategy for learning a language. It can be done anywhere in the world, so long as you have a good internet connection. Of course hanging out in country and chatting with native speakers it the fastest way to learn. However, if that’s not possible then this is a viable alternative.

Dealing with Deficiencies 

I was able to learn Russian in 13 months because I lived in Country. However, that’s not necessary

The major pitfall of this approach is that your speaking ability tends to be weaker. You’ll be spending a majority of your time writing, reading and listening to the language, not speaking it. To compensate for this it’s essential to try and speak as much as possible during your Skype lessons and to practice the language whenever you can.

Planning a trip to the country is always smart, especially if you can live there for a few months. In most places this can be done for a surprisingly small amount of money, which is a topic I cover in my article: How Much Money do you Need to Travel Abroad?

How to Get Your First Job Teaching English

How to get a job teaching English

Teaching English is the easiest way to live abroad. As long as you’re a native speaker and you’ve got a university degree (any subject), many places want you. Popular options include,

  • Japan
  • China
  • Indonesia
  • Vietnam
  • Cambodia
  • Thailand
  • South Korea
  • Russia
  • Ukraine
  • Poland
  • Turkey
  • Colombia
  • Mexico
  • Etc.

Most countries pay a salary which is low by America’s standards, however, the salary will typically be good for that country. For example, I taught English in Moscow. My apartment was paid for and I made about $900 on top of that. I lived well and was still able to save $450 a month. Many jobs also offer additional benefits,

  • Local health insurance
  • Reimbursement for airfare to and from the country
  • Accommodation
  • Paid holidays
  • Paid training


In class teaching experience is a must for a TEFL course

Most English schools require you to be a college graduate (any degree, it doesn’t have to be teaching). However, you will need to take a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) course. These typically run between $1,500 and $3,00. It’s important to find a course that offers classroom teaching experience. Online only courses are inexpensive but some schools do not accept them. Also, you want to teach your first lessons in a program. Stepping in front of real students with zero experience is inadvisable.

The most prestigious (and expensive) course is called CELTA. It’s rigorous but once you pass you’re all but guaranteed a job.

Finding a Job

The quickest way to find a job is Dave’s ESL Job Board, multiple listings are added every day. Before you start applying to jobs, make sure you have an updated CV that includes the name of the TEFL course you’ve completed or plan to complete. Some jobs may ask for a photo head shot. This is normal for positions outside of America.

If you send out 5 applications you’ll almost certainly here back from 2 or 3 schools. After a few emails they’ll typically ask you for a Skype interview. If that goes well they’ll offer you a position. Choose the best job and you’ll be on your way to a new adventure. Most jobs will arrange to pick you up directly from the airport, making the transition even smoother. Good luck!

*If you have any other questions, feel free to send me a message. Also, if you’re interested in teaching in Russia I wrote a free eBook about finding a good job there. 

How Much Money do you Need to Travel Abroad?

How much money to travel abroad

Less than you think. Most men who haven’t traveled abroad have a skewed perception of the cost. I think there are several reasons why.

  1. Travel websites exaggerate the expense. They base their estimates on living in a hotel, taking taxis, eating at restaurants and doing expensive tourist activities. If you cut out all that crap you can live much cheaper.
  2. Americans don’t understand how cheap other countries are. For example, I lived well on $800 a month in Thailand. In America that kind of money gets you the questionable distinction of “extreme poverty”.
  3. There are lots of ways to stretch your dollar. You can volunteer at a hostel, volunteer through Workaway, get a temporary job teaching English, or Couch Surf.

Assuming you’ll be travelling on savings (no online income), $5,000 to $10,000 is the sweet spot. This provides a large enough buffer to feel safe without forcing you to save for years. Of course it also depends where you’re headed. $5,000 in Thailand is good for 4 to 6 months. $10,000 in Switzerland might only get you 3 to 5 months.

Don’t Sweat over Money, You’ll Figure it Out

If you’re abroad and you start running low on $$$ you’ll learn that there’s always a solution. On my epic trip around the world I never had more than $5,000 in savings. I stretched my budget by volunteering at a hostel, volunteering with multiple Workaway hosts and doing freelance SEO work. Towards the end I was briefly penniless in Bangkok. I couldn’t eat for 36 hours. It sucked but I survived. You will too. Between your savings and an emergency credit card there’s no situation you won’t conquer.

When I was learning Russian I spent two weeks living on a commune in rural Ukraine. Total $$$ spent for half a month… About $50