Published on February 11th, 2013 | by Woody Evans0
Around the World in 5 Years
How to Break Out of the Daily American Grind, Take Off Media-Imposed Blinders, and Get Out of Debt While Seeing More of the Planet You Live On
The world does not work the way they tell you it does on MSNBC or Fox News or NPR. RT lacks scope (and of course is very biased), and Wikinews lacks authority. To have any hope of knowing how life works outside of our own federal waters, we have to go and see for ourselves. Here are some points on getting out and travelling around the world.
1. First, Get Rid of Your Debt
I think it was Mastercard that sent me a bright green credit card in my freshman year of college. I didn’t really understand “credit,” but I knew having some credit was meant to be good, so I bought groceries and books with it. Soon I was in debt. I took out student loans. More debt. Debt piled on debt, and later I’d have nearly $100,000 in hospital bills to work off. It was tough going.
First, you have to pay off your debt. Second, you must avoid new debt. Once you do that, you’re free to go. Budget to save (hold off on beer for a month, and put that money toward a plane ticket, etc.), and spend it on the cheapest flight to far away. It goes like this:
Show up in a foreign city. Get lost. Get found. Come back home and share what you saw. Once you can afford it again, repeat the process.
2. Work Abroad
You don’t absolutely have to get rid of debt first if you can find a lucrative foreign gig that lets you pay debt off as you travel (they do exist).
You might make a lot of money canning fish off the coast of Alaska. You might make serious bank from tips tending bar in the Azores. Possibilities abound; from roughnecking in foreign oil fields, to managing the night shift for Starbucks in Mumbai, jobs are waiting for the ready outside of the US.
Certain qualities will help you to get a job abroad. You’ll need to be a quick adapter. You need mental agility, especially when it comes to learning culture and language. And (probably the toughest qualities to cultivate) you’ll need to be able to bounce back quickly from culture shock and say goodbye to familiar comforts without mourning them for long.
The hot spots for good money will depend on what skills you have to offer. If you can teach English, look to Brunei, the UAE, Taiwan, China. If you’re good with logistics or money, you might follow the new boom in Middle Eastern and Asian airlines. Usually, you won’t pay US income tax.
3. Be a Global Scholar
A good gig, if you can get it, is to be a professional student. Even if you have to take out student loans and go into debt (uh-oh! See above!), a year abroad as an exchange student or in a foreign language program can change your life.
The real utility of studying abroad is your long-term exposure to the host culture, without being bound to an 8-5 job. (This is often lacking when you work in a boomtown / nouveau riche environment like Dubai, where the host culture is hidden under a few layers of bling, and you work a helluva lot.)
So exams were yesterday, and you clubbed hard last night. You could sleep it off till noon on Tuesday, or you could catch a train to Brittany and wander the stone circles. The extra leisure time gives you such opportunities.
4. No Roots?
But people will miss you, and you will miss your people. It’s damn hard to drift listlessly on the earth, just renting rooms and riding trains your whole life. A man begins to long for an acre of his own, and a dog to patrol it with. Home and hearth hang out there in front of you somewhere, ghostly, beckoning. Will you ever get home again? And if you do return, how can you be sure you won’t take off once more in a year or three?
Such concerns can eat at you. And when loved ones are sick and need help, it hurts all the worse that you’ve chosen to live so far away.
5. Getting Around the World Has Its Costs
Go change yourself. Go see for yourself. This world is way too big and strange for us to live on it without really knowing it.
Image by Flickr user Devil.Bunny