Every single thing that has ever happened in your life is preparing you for a moment that is yet to come.
– Author Unknown
Most every long-term budget traveler has experienced the necessity to replenish depleted bank accounts, that is unless you are self-funded in some way shape or form, and while my plans were not to stay in Korea for an undetermined amount of time in doing just this, my plans have been significantly altered due to a recent break up with my girlfriend and now I’m looking to make the best of the situation. I wanted to discuss several options for other long-term budget travelers as ways to earn money, not just in order to survive, but for wages that will allow for savings and the ability to continue the perpetual status of travel or making a future plan for living abroad. While the vagabond lifestyle is one of excessive freedom, with this freedom does come with it a price of responsibility, and my Spidey-sense has kicked in telling me it’s time to replenish funds and continue saving money. Even though I’ve reviewed my current financial situation and could potentially continue traveling for another year or even two, I’m still not quite the bohemian-carefree person that can wait until I’m down to single-digit dollar amounts in my accounts but am still a bit of a planner in this category. The realistic need to stop and earn money through methods of staying in one location for a given period of time is important when planning for long-term travel, especially when no return date is planned. This time frame can be everything from a few short months with seasonal jobs to committing to up to six months or a year in some cases to save thousands of dollars before moving on. While the end of my relationship was unexpected, I am thankful to be in Korea where work is highly available to foreign talent, especially those from native English speaking countries. Here is my short list of five ways of earning an income while traveling:
TEACHING: Native English speakers have an advantage over most, but teaching any foreign language is still generally sought after. A university degree and/or any other certifications or experience will also set you above the competition when securing a teaching job. Dave’s ESL Café is a great site as well as and be sure to check out my links page to see other potential sites for volunteering or paid work.
USING PREVIOUS SKILLS: I’ve said this many times, but having ANY skill becomes a commodity for financial gain when traveling. Construction, computer skills, photography, bartending, cooking, or in my case my previous professional career of broadcast television with some graphic design work has provided this opportunity. Taking the time to ask around your current location for any need for paid opportunities is always a plus. You may end up cleaning someone’s home, translating a restaurant menu or signs, or doing a form of manual labor, but just asking is the first step and being humble enough to accept a job that you may either be unqualified for or may seem beneath you is a life lesson in itself.
UTILIZING SKILLS GAINED: As a long-term budget traveler I have experienced a variety of new skills that I continue to add to my repertoire including; hostel management, social media, tour guide, promotions, bartending, serving, volunteer service with orphanages and schools, and most recently substitute teaching at a public school.
ENTREPRENEURSHIP: Don’t be afraid to start a new business abroad, whether that is a traditional business or one that is remote. Often opportunities will present themselves through people you may encounter traveling and you may end up in business ventures you might have never considered. I’m currently in the process of entering into a business profession that anyone that knows me would scoff at the idea because it seems very far fetched, but I’ve shared this with a few people and while they agree that this is something they would never have seen me in, they do understand the potential earning and how I would like to utilize my time if it becomes lucrative in the future. I would mention what category it’s in, but at the moment I’m negotiating a non-disclosure agreement with my other business partners and until the necessary contracts have been completed it’s hush-hush, especially after having some rough business partners in the past.
SEASONAL OR CONTRACT JOBS: This is a consistent form of employment that can be utilized for travelers, ski bums, or freelance workers the world over. This list consists of a large diversity of professions and can be selected from based upon how much time you are looking to commit and the amount of money you are hoping to earn or save. For the seasonal jobs there is; tourism resorts and hotels, the array of ski resorts around the world, fruit picking in Australia or New Zealand at $15 or more per hour, and a variety of other jobs. In the sector of contract jobs foreign teachers are always a necessity, cruise ships, IT or other industry projects, event coordinating or planning in countries that cater to leisure travelers from your home country or region, and many more. With the proliferation of job postings online, there seems to be an almost endless source of listings to choose from.
There are certain aspects of my personal life that I prefer to keep more private than others, but knowing that several people have been curious what it’s like and if it’s possible to have a relationship while traveling or when one spontaneously occurs I’ve decided to share my most recent situation, especially with the fact that it’s no longer a part of my current life. This has also been one reason why I haven’t posted new blogs more frequently as it’s been a lot to take in emotionally as well as adjusting future life plans in a very dramatic way. Upon my arrival in Korea on the first day of April and after spending several months in countries with limited or extremely weak Wi-Fi capabilities, I began with a Skype conversation with my girlfriend, Pamela, in Costa Rica. This however resulted in her decision to end the relationship and cease communication, which I expressed to her was not the best way to handle the situation by closing the door to future communications, but there was no room for negotiations and what was done, well, was done. Originally my plan was to return to Costa Rica after spending the summer months (May-August) in Alaska where I was looking to earn $12,000 to upwards of $20,000 or even $50,000 in just a short period of time salmon fishing with my friend Quinnan, but after this bombshell was dropped it caused me to reevaluate my future plans. My plan to return to Latin America after Asia was always the plan, however, selecting a specific date was an adjustment, because of the heavy-sets of emotion I continued to feel being Asian-American and this being my first experience where I was no longer a minority. The decision to return to Korea had several factors in this decision, the first being I wanted to see my birth family one more time since I was unsure when I may be back on this side of the planet as well as begin the process to recover my lost Korean citizenship thereby allowing me to posses two passports. Unfortunately, I feel that my girlfriend did not understand the importance and significance of this decision and how personal it is to me, which understandably also meant a delay in my return to Costa Rica, even when I attempted to ask her how she would feel if she never knew what it was like to be a Tica and suddenly years later met her mother, discovered her culture, and more. This is often why I say that other than Korean adoptees (KADs) I doubt anyone else can fully understand what it feels like, and I think that’s also a reason why the KADs that have returned to Korea tend to be a tight group because regardless of where we all grew up we are Korean and we have shared many of the same experiences, often the painful side of things. This also reminds me why I love backpacking because it is a bit similar in the sense of walking into a hostel solo and typically making new friends immediately. Regardless, with the sudden and unexpected break up, the first few weeks back in my home country were felt with depression and questions of what to do next. I knew that regardless of the situation at hand I had to begin making plans as this would affect where I would be a month from now: Alaska or Korea. Looking back I suppose the decision was not nearly as difficult, especially when it was made for me, and I was prepared to make the most of it, because rolling with what life throws at you is all part of the journey even when it feels like a punch to the gut.