If you’re close to graduating college and spend more time dreaming about where you want to travel than deciding which career you want to pursue, you’re not alone.
The good news is that you can do both: traveling not only helps to develop soft skills, but also can translate to excellent experience for your resume, too. As a freelance travel writer, I’ve been earning my living while living abroad for the past few years. Here are a few tips on traveling the world while also earning a living and building professional experience.
1. Test drive potential careers
When I graduated college in 2012, I had only vague ideas about what I wanted to do. I was interested in teaching, but wasn’t sure I wanted to commit to it quite yet. So I found a job teaching English at a private academy in Busan, South Korea. Not only did I get to live in Asia and earn money while I was doing it, but I gleaned an important bit of information: teaching wasn’t for me! Learning what you don’t want to do is just as important as learning what you do want to do, and opportunities like this one are a great way to explore that.
2. Put your skills to use
While living in Malaysia in 2014, I signed up on a freelancing website on a whim. I started getting writing gigs here and there, and was soon making a living from it. Don’t get me wrong—it took an enormous amount of time and effort to build my client base, but I loved that I could make my own hours and work from anywhere in the world. From writing to graphic design, there are so many careers that allow you to work remotely now. Use that to your advantage by pursuing those lines of work while traveling.
3. Take a leap
Traveling requires a leap of faith. What happens when your flight gets canceled last minute, or you come down with a case of street meat-induced food poisoning? Globetrotting is not without its headaches, but these difficulties are part of what makes it so powerful and potentially life-changing.
Whether it’s working in a hostel or becoming a local tour guide, there are opportunities to earn money while traveling that you might not discover until you arrive. Last May, I bought a one-way ticket to Cambodia and moved there by myself. It was terrifying, exhilarating and unlike any other travel experience I’ve ever had. Sometimes you just have to take the plunge to find out what’s on the other side.
Tara is a freelance travel writer and the blogger behind Atlas Abandoned. When she’s not buying one-way plane tickets on a whim, she enjoys watching her beloved NY Mets and diving into a good book.