Travel to Live

Don’t Quit Your Job to Travel, Quit it to Live

Travel to Live

By Matthew Williams

In the past couple of months, I have seen a number of posts on my Facebook and Twitter feeds titled ‘How I Quit My Job to Travel’ (BBC Travel) or ‘5 Reasons to Quit Your Job to Travel’ (Huffington Post).

When you’re sat unhappily in your office or out in the rain trucking away at a monotonous task, this sounds like a wonderful idea. Days, weeks, and months stretch off into the distance without a care in the world aside from where you’re going to eat your next meal and which beach to go to.

Don’t get me wrong, backpacking across new continents and foreign lands is incredible. But towards the end of your trip, you know it will all come to an end and those 6 months spent traveling through South East Asia will invariably lead to 6 months back at home with little money, trying to find a job. There’s a good chance you’ll end up back at your old career, sitting on Facebook staring at pictures from you travels and reliving those experiences.

That is the reason I believe working abroad is the answer. Rather than travel through those foreign countries, why not live and work somewhere for an extended period of time – embracing the culture, indulging in the food, creating an amazing network of friends (both locals and expats), while being paid to do it.

Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) is one of the most common ways that young professionals make that jump abroad. Few qualifications aside from a college degree are needed. You have job security, your housing is provided, and you have the opportunity to save money and travel throughout the country. I loved my time out in South Korea for those very reasons, but again, towards the end of my contract, I started to get the familiar feeling of ‘what the hell am I going to do with my life?’

Though being abroad will provide you with incredible personal growth, your experiences teaching aren’t going to help you find that life-altering position back at home. At best, you’ll be able to transition to an entry level position that you probably would’ve been able to obtain had you never left the country. I’m sad to say that I have some intelligent, well educated friends, who have ended up living back at their parents houses competing for entry level positions with recent graduates.

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We believe that career-relevant work experience abroad is the new trend for recent graduates and young professionals. Towards the end of your contract there’s no feeling of despair, only of how you can move forward from here. We think your forward momentum can take you in two directions:

1) – You head back home with money in your pocket, a year’s worth of memories and an incredible resume to boot. You’ve worn multiple hats at your role, you’ve created marketing campaigns, spearheaded sales drives, or analyzed data that has helped change the focus of a business, while your peers back home have continued living for the weekend and hoping for that promotion.

2) – Your eyes are opened to the international job market. There are opportunities available everywhere you look. Not every economy is still recovering from the recession. Do you continue working for your current startup? Do you work remotely using your new experiences and international networking as a driver for business? Or do you move on to a different country and find a new challenge?

In both of these cases, you’re now in control of your life. You made that jump that few others would and now you’re reaping the benefits.  You can sit in interviews knowing that you probably have just as much or more professional and worldly experience as other candidates.

Traveling and working abroad rocks. Do it properly and it’ll change the rest of your life.

About the Author:

Matt has spent the last 7 years backpacking, teaching ESL, living, and working abroad. Following his love for travel, getting passport stamps and eating his way around the world, Matt co-founded BrainGain, where he helps young professionals find career relevant jobs in emerging economies.

Feature image jumping into ocean via shutterstock

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