There are so many articles out there about how to quit your job and travel the world. It’s a concept that sparks passion in so many people, and a whole industry has been created to make it happen. While this has meant that more people than ever have been able to pack their bags and jet off on an adventure, it has also caused a commercialization of industries such as voluntourism, package travel, and gap year experiences.
Fortunately, there are still ways to have a more authentic full-time travel experience! You don’t have to pay a hefty fee to work on dodgy community projects to travel long-term anymore. These five creative ideas will allow you to become a part of the communities that you’re visiting, give you a genuine cultural experience, and maybe even enable you to do some good while you’re at it!
- Nurture Your Inner Artist
If you have a creative flare, then this is one of the best ways to visit different places and truly experience different cultures. If you’re a budding musician, taking your instrument along means you can busk almost anywhere, just be aware of the licenses requirements in the various countries. You can also use the internet to link up with foreign event managers to get gigs abroad.
This is also true for theater practitioners, filmmakers and even visual artists. Street performances are becoming much more popular worldwide, or there are numerous programs where theaters, galleries and arts festivals offer grants or payments for international work. Check out tips for working overseas here. The article is aimed at musicians, but applies to all mediums!
- Genuine Eco-Travel
While there is an unfortunate plague in the eco-tourism industry at the moment, it is still possible to work around the world and have a genuinely positive effect on the planet. There are many WWOOFing posts offering incredible opportunities that exchange accommodation and food for volunteer work.
This summer, I worked in a tiny eco-village in the mountains of New South Wales, Australia. Alongside spending every day on an organic farm for a few months, being one of the only four non-inhabitants in the entire place, we were given incredible insight into the realities of sustainability and community living. I can honestly say it changed my life!
- Make Friends
In all my years of traveling experience, this is the greatest piece of advice I could ever give to people who want to travel long-term. The traveling community is a beautiful thing. The mutual understanding of the need to continue the journey means that there are countless like-minded people who will house and feed you, as long as you would do the same.
In my opinion, this is the best type of travel. Integrating yourself into someone else’s life is the greatest way to understand a culture and the nuanced differences between us as human beings. You aren’t stuck with tourism guides for what to do or over-priced restaurants to taste the local cuisine. You get insider knowledge and home-cooked food! Just be sure to show your gratitude: wash the dishes, clean their place, cook for them at least once, buy them a thank you card and always return the invitation if they’re ever around your way.
- Practice Self-Sufficiency
Once you’ve had a bit of practice, it’s possible to travel for almost completely free. Hitchhiking has changed with the advent of the internet, and ride sharing is becoming safer than ever, as you can opt for drivers with a trusted online presence (e.g. reviews, lots of photos, comments with friends, etc.). Similarly, couchsurfing.com lets you find hosts who will put you up for free! This is a great resource as it gives you a local perspective on the place you’re visiting, and you might even make a new friend.
Regarding food, there are many places worldwide that will swap meals for a few hours of work. This can also apply to hostels if you need somewhere to stay on short notice. If you’re dedicated to helping the planet, there are lots of permaculture projects where you can learn valuable skills about sustainable food production in exchange for some truly delicious, natural meals!
Another great financial strategy to support you while traveling is to start your own import/export business. This is a great option because you can operate at almost any scale you want. I’ve met many wandering travelers who fund their journey by buying jewelry, or traditional art, from one country and selling it in another.
The internet provides a great platform for distributing a product, with sites such as eBay and Etsy giving you incredible international visibility. Just remember that if you chose to set up an online shop, you’re going to have to get a Virtual Private Network for your computer to get past geo-blocking as you move around the globe. It’ll also help to keep your investments safe on dodgy WiFi networks, so check out more information here.
Depending on how you address this pursuit, it can also be a catalyst for doing good! If you work intimately with local craftsmen, you not only learn about their native culture but can also get them a better price for their work overseas than they could get at home. Just look at how popular Eastern symbolism and accessories, such as Indian jewelry, harem trousers and crystal amulets, are becoming in the West.
There’s a whole world out there and endless ways to explore it. If you have any more ideas for creative travel plans, then be sure to leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your ideas.
Be sure to follow Jess for more exciting tips on Twitter @JessTripelio