Better bust out that yoga mat and start doing some downward dogs because one of the challenges of working and traveling abroad is finding the right balance between your job and your travels (the type of balance not even your favorite yoga instructor can teach you). Since you're an adventurer who doesn't like to go broke, your end goal is probably to work for a significant part of your stay so that you don’t run out of money, but not work so much that you have zero time to dedicate to exploring a new place.
It's not THAT easy, but it is achievable, especially if you follow our advice on how to work and travel successfully. We’ll step into the yoga pants for now to share with you some tips and suggestions of how to find that perfect balance between working and traveling—namaste.
Why work and travel abroad in the first place?
For some, the chance to eliminate PTO from the travel equation while a full-time employee is a dream come true. For others, it is a logistical and formidable challenge. In reality, the opportunity falls somewhere in the middle.
Working abroad is an awesome way to immerse yourself in another culture for a longer period of time. And if you work while traveling, the income allows you to stick around for much longer than just a holiday. Working abroad opportunities also give you a chance to make friends with locals and become part of the community rather than a temporary tourist.
Who wouldn't want to stick around for longer to dive deeper into a new place / have more opportunities to eat delicious local cuisine? Since you've probably already bought into the greatness that is working while traveling, here's how to make sure your employment is an asset to your life abroad—not a major drag.
5 tips to help you work and travel abroad like a pro
1. Prioritize Which Parts of the Country You Want to See
Slow down there wannabe Phileas Fogg, not all of us can go around the world in 80 days. The operative word in working abroad is “working.” So, chances are you won’t have time to explore every. Single. Square. Inch. Of your host country when you're working while traveling (at least, not right away)however, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see the destinations that are the most important to you. Before you depart to live the dream and work while traveling, do some research (and Instagram stalking) and write down a list of the top five or 10 must-see destinations that you’re the most excited about.
Whenever you have a chance to travel, you can head straight to one of these high-priority destinations and make all of your Snapchat followers jealous from your “oh I’m just casually sipping margaritas on a white sand beach in Australia with my new pet kangaroo” pics.
2. Take Short Weekend Trips to Places Nearby.
You don’t always have to take a week off from work to explore a different city; you still have to keep up your attendance at #werk! Instead, you can master the art of the “spontaneous weekend adventure” while still clocking in enough hours at your job. If you’re working abroad in England, catch a bus up to Edinburgh, Scotland after work and spend a weekend eating haggis, listening to bagpipes, and enjoying the art and culture of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. You can also take day trips on the train to other nearby cities to see what they have to offer.
While 48 hours is not always enough time to truly soak up the culture of a city, it’s certainly enough to see the highlights—especially when time is limited and you're working while traveling. Look around for destinations that are only a few hours away, so that you can head out on a Friday night and have all day Saturday and Sunday to explore before that dreaded Monday rolls around.
3. Make a Master List of National Holidays, Bank Holidays, and Your PTO.
This pro-tip goes hand in hand with making your must-see list. Of course you’ll need to know the days you have off in order to plan the best weekend getaways! Mark in your calendar the amount of vacation days you have, holidays, bank holidays, or any type of day off in general. This’ll help you keep organized (and pumped) for prior trip planning and that way, if you’re one of those who like to plan their big trips months in advance, you can refer to this handy list of vacay days!
Making a list of days off is also helpful to avoid taking off any days you absolutely don’t need to; in other words, nothing sucks more than calling in “sick” (we’ve all done it before, let’s be honest) just so you could go to that once in a lifetime concert in Amsterdam. Except – oops – you didn’t need to fake cough over the phone because the weekend of the concert was actually a holiday and you had the day off anyway. Always remember: organization is key!
4. Give Yourself Extra Time Before and After Your Work Trip
Another strategy you can use to really ensure that you check all the destinations off your bucket list when working while traveling is to leave yourself some extra time before and/or after your period of employment. For example, if you have a working holiday visa for New Zealand that’s valid for 12 months, you can work for 10 months instead, and schedule a month of travel before you start your job and another month of travel afterward (genius, right!?). If you spent the month prior to starting work traveling the North Island and the month after your work ends traveling the South Island, you’ll have lots of time to get a great taste of what this beautiful country has to offer.
5. Work in Multiple Locations
When you are searching for working abroad opportunities, try to find a job at a company that exists in several different locations around the country (hostel franchises, ding-ding-ding!). If you do, you can ask to be transferred to another branch of the company in a different city partway through your stay, giving you a chance to explore a bit more. Having multiple home bases = maximum adventure.
Yes, you can travel the world while working
You say, "I want to work and travel!" We say, "Awesome. That's how to actually do it."
You can also find a job abroad that allows you to work while traveling. For example, there are multiple companies that will hire and pay you to travel around. That’s right - you can get paid to travel! This can range from writing articles and taking photographs to driving around to different cities and collecting donations or making sales calls for a company. A job that requires traveling around the country can act as a great way to see sights while earning money at the same time (that, my friends, is what we call a double whammy).
With these tips of how to work and travel abroad successfully, you’ll find the perfect working abroad opportunities for you in no time, and you’ll return home having seen the country and also having worked enough to cover your expenses. Finding the right balance between working and traveling can be a challenge, but when it comes down to it, the perfect arrangement will be totally unique to you and what you want to get out of your experience.