I’m not sure I agree with everything mentioned here, and I certainly didn’t do this kind of due diligence before I set off on my travels, but you might find this interesting.
The fact of the matter is, if you want to travel longer than just your standard paid time off, you simply need to spend a period of time living and working abroad to take advantage of budget airlines and cheap intercontinental travel.
But even if you’re 90% convinced that a year abroad is exactly what you need to refresh your perspective and find your zest for life again, somehow, the idea of the big move can still be just a tad bit overwhelming.
So we’re about to do some soul-searching to determine if this is indeed exactly what you want for your life.
Get out a journal or open up a document on your screen and physically write out the answers to the following questions. Then send them to a friend — someone who can be your accountability partner. Sound good?
Here are the 10 questions you need to ask yourself before making a big move abroad.
1. How independent do you consider yourself?
Does the thought of being on your own scare you or excite you? Do you always need someone to help get you out of sticky situations? Can you go more than a year without being in a relationship?
These are all serious things you need to consider because no one will hold your hand through job searches, visa paperwork, or breakups. Life happens to everyone whether in the comfort of their hometown or halfway across the world. I’ve had to cry on my own shoulder, pick up broken pieces, and figure out plans many times on my own.
It’s all a part of your journey and you become so much stronger in the end. But know that this part of the journey is inevitable, so be ready when it comes.
2. What do you want to gain from this experience?
Besides seeing as many places as humanly possible, traveling without a purpose could leave you feeling emptier than your wallet.
You want to make sure you’re doing this for the best reasons. Not to find love. Not to make your friends jealous.
You need to find the deeper value in what you’re about to embark on, so that you don’t come back with your money depleted and an opportunity wasted.
3. How will you fund your travels?
In between traveling, you need to find a side hustle. What can you do or offer others to help sustain yourself on your travels? Do you own a digital camera? Are you a social media guru? Do you have a musical talent? Can you sing? Can you write? Are you multilingual? Do you like teaching kids?
All of these are legitimate skills that can make you some side money whether on the streets or doing freelance work for a major business. Never rely on just one income when living abroad because you need a backup for your backup when your backup is backed up.
4. What’s your Plan B? (No, not that kind.)
If you’re like me, your Plan B might be to keep trying Plan A until it works. This is the definition of insanity, and I’m 100% OK with that. But again, life has a funny way of working out sometimes, and you need to be prepared to switch gears and take a detour if necessary.
Whether a local employer is going out of business or you have a minor injury that inhibits your ability to get around, life happens to all of us, so always hope for the best, but definitely prepare for the worst.
(2bags – I recommend having a Plan B and a Plan C, and be ready to formulate a Plan D and E, if necessary. Plan A rarely works out as planned and Plan B might also fall apart unpredicatbly. On to Plan C. In other words, be flexible and ready to change your plans or your approach.)
5. What is one thing you’ve always wanted to do before you die?
And can this be fulfilled while traveling? What better time to do this than while on the road creating memories of a lifetime anyway?
I think there’s a liberation you gain from traveling in general, and the idea that we should wait for the right time to reach our goals is something people take to their grave and might never fulfill. Use this time abroad to accomplish as many of your bucket list items as possible!
6. How can this experience enhance your next chapter?
How can you use this experience to land your next job or plan your next trip? How can you format this on your résumé or CV to make this experience look like a million bucks to a potential employer?
Never underestimate the power of life abroad when talking to CEOs upon your return. That experience says so much more on paper than a 4.0 GPA, and there’s a global market for just about anything these days. Network to get work, my friend.
(2bags – This never entered my thinking, as I had decided to retire. But, then, I did secure a job in Indonesia and my traveling history – and skills – played a role in getting that job.)
7. Will the job you have now still be there when you return?
If the answer is yes, then good. If the answer is no, then even better!
Chances are, you’re in a job you’re not too passionate about anyway. It pays the bills and gets you by, but do you rush to get out of bed to get there every morning? Didn’t think so.
8. What second or third language can you pick up?
Outside the U.K. and France, most people you meet in Europe will speak (at minimum) three languages. It’s amazing. It’s inspiring. It secretly makes me sick!.
So many doors of opportunity and communication open up when you’re able to connect with more people of more cultures.
So if you have the time, try picking up another language before you move. I’ve found it takes about three months to get the basics and six months for intermediate proficiency. So there’s that!
(2bags – I couldn’t agree more with this, as communication has been the most difficult aspect of my global journey. The fact I am terrible with languages hasn’t helped, but I have had to pick up some language skills in six different countries. People who can learn the local language have a big leg up on success.)
9. What “luxuries” can you cut back on now to help pay for the flight and getting on your feet after the move?
You’d be surprised how little you actually need to survive. Believe it or not, there was actually a time Starbucks didn’t exist. Or nail salons. Or overpriced gym memberships. But some way, somehow, people managed.
Cut back on your Starbucks coffee and brew your own at home. Quit the nail pampering and buy $1 polish that will last you over two months. Cancel the gym membership that you haven’t used in a year and buy a home workout DVD and a couple of weights. BOOM! What’s up, new savings of $300/month? I see you!
(2bags – This might be the most difficult challenge for most. But you would be amazed at how many “things” you can do without on the road. If you are willing to live simply, adjusting to what is available in your new home, you will find your old lifestyle was maybe too preoccupied with those things.)
10. And most importantly: Are you ready for your life to be changed forever?
Are you ready to take the good with the bad and remember, no matter what happens, this experience, this moment, and this journey is something you will never regret?
It’s hard to imagine what I thought of the world and life in general before globetrotting across 30+ countries so effortlessly ripped my mind apart.
It tore up all the narrow-minded stereotypes and replaced them with gems of light, compassion, and understanding. It helped me see people and life with a new perspective.
Life abroad is every bit of what you make of it. And me, personally? I choose to continue making this life nothing short of extraordinary.
(2bags – And this is so, so, so true. There is nothing like getting out of your cocoon, your box, to learn about mankind, other cultures, people of all types, and yourself. My six years on the road have been the most-educational time of my life, providing me with perspectives on things I knew nothing about previously, and sharpening those I did know with new information.)