Do you dream of leaving the "rat race" behind? Why not make that dream a reality? Today on GoAbroad, Ayesha Cantrell shares her experiences of following her dreams to move abroad and becoming a scuba diving instructor.
Do you have what it takes to make YOUR international dreams come true?
If you are reading this blog then the chances are high that you are dreaming of foreign climes.
It seems to be once you have the travel bug it’s difficult to shake. Many people return from an extended backpacking trip finding it difficult to settle and start planning and saving for their next trip immediately. This was certainly my experience. Inside a year of being back in the rat race, I was manically clawing at the cage to escape. I needed a plan and fast.
Back then there weren’t the multitude of websites teaming with ideas of how to take your show on the road or numerous blogs extolling the ease in which it’s possible to make money from your own travel blog. Regardless, sitting behind a computer was one of the things I wanted to get away from!
I can remember my moment of clarity as if it was yesterday. An offhand comment from someone I had been scuba diving with. “If you want to get away that bad, why not become a diving instructor?” Now why hadn’t I thought of that? It was glaringly obvious! I loved diving, loved tropical locations and it was just about crazy enough to work. What did I have to lose?
What Are Your Options?
If like me you are stuck, don’t wait for your own shining epiphany to occur, instead give it some thought. Ask yourself if your current skill set could travel. If you are a yoga teacher, acupuncturist, physiotherapist, school teacher or currently work in the travel industry this could be quite easy to achieve. If your current career doesn’t translate then you could consider teaching English, becoming an Au Pair or like me, taking the plunge into the deep water.
TIP – Whatever you decide, make sure you check out the visa restrictions on working.
Are You For Scuba?
If the deep blue calls to you too then there are some things to consider. You do have to have a certain level of fitness but you don’t have to be an Olympian. Further, understand that certain medical conditions can preclude you from diving so make sure you read through the standard medical diving questionnaire.
If you have never dived before, take your first course before burning your briefcase and see what you think. Like re-training for any career it’s going to take some investment and time. Expect to be investing at least GBP3000 for your training and possibly up to GBP2000 for your equipment. You can actually retrain in as little as 7 months but you will want to consider the cost of living while you are training too.
TIP – Think carefully before signing up for internships where you can work off your fees for your courses. Sometimes the work you are asked to do is not anything to do with diving. You have to support yourself both throughout your courses and while you are working to pay them off - this can end up costing you quite a lot and maybe more than just paying for the courses in the first place.
Location, Location, Location
You may have an idea of where you would like to train but maybe not. Clearly you want to think about the type of diving that’s available in the location that you are going to pick. Also think about the number of divers and student divers that pass through. Part of your professional training will involve learning form experienced instructors teaching courses. Make sure you choose somewhere with enough divers passing through for you to gain a wide experience.
Consider the overall costs including flights, visas and cost of living and not just the cost of the courses. Choose a climate and social environment that you are going to enjoy; you are going to be there for a while so make sure it’s right for you.
TIP - You don’t have to do all of your training in one place. This way you can get experience of different locations and dive environments plus a new set of contacts for when you are qualified and looking for work.
After my dawning realization, life got very simple. Handing my notice in was the best thing I ever did, even though everyone thought I had finally lost the plot. It was extremely funny watching everyone’s reactions, my boss actually thought I was going to work for a competitor and that scuba was simply my cover story!
I had saved enough to jump right in however you should think carefully about your finances. Not only will you need to pay for your courses, travel, gear, food and accommodation you will need a contingency fund too. Remember if you are sick you can’t work. Ask yourself what you are going to do after you have qualified. Will you stay and work in this location or will you want to travel to work elsewhere, make sure you have back up for that too.
On the Surface
For me it was the best decision I ever made and I have no idea why I didn’t do it sooner. I have never looked back and never wanted to return to ‘normal life’. Diving took me around the world, I have seen some amazing sights and lived in some truly awesome locations but this lifestyle is not for everyone. You won’t get rich, you won’t have designer clothes but you will be waking up and actually wanting to go to work !