Explore your Options!

Travel Series: Volume 2

img_0289

I have many friends that seem to be travelling at a younger age and I was curious how they could afford to travel abroad when they were just establishing themselves.  So I asked them how they did it.  Turns out, they didn’t sweat the small stuff. Travel was a priority for them. They listened to that wanderlust calling and followed their hearts and their dreams and the got creative with how to make it happen.

Missionary Projects 

Some were able to go on missionary work trips to a foreign country. These trips usually consist of a small group of people that go with a specific work goal in mind. The trips are often paid for by donations or fund raising activities of a church. Sometimes they are sponsored by individuals who can’t go themselves, but support the cause. When on these trips there is plenty of extra time outside of the project to see the area and take in the sites. Often times participants on these work trips stay among the locals and are deeply immersed into it’s culture.  It is very common to return to the same area on multiple trips and develop strong ties to people there.

 My Mother-in-law and Father-in-law were part of a group at their church that took many missionary trips to Malvern, Jamaica.  There was a sister church there that they planned projects for and they would bring a team to do the work and share devotions with the people.  As a young man, my husband went on one of the very first trips and in addition to helping improve the lives of the people there, he got to have fun and see some beautiful  sites too.

Educational Opportunities

Colleges often offer “study abroad” international travel opportunities. Students travel to another country where they complete 1-2 semesters toward their degree. While in the host country, they either stay in dormitories, apartments or are guests of local families. It is a great opportunity for them to interact with people their own age on a daily basis while furthering their education and taking in everything the area has to offer.

Jon travelled to Brazil through a college program. He taught English as a second language to kids there.  He did sucha a great job that the company that organized the program invited him back for 2 additional years as a Team Leader.  It was a great chance for him to really fall in love with the culture and atmosphere.  He says that the most important thing he gained through this experience was becoming a Global Citizen.

img_0308

Cortney participated in a Year Abroad program to Guatemala through the university she attended.  She worked on a project there called Gods Child.  While there, she met Katherine, who she has sponsored for 7 years.  Cortney has returned to Guatemala 8-9 times since her first visit.  It has given her a real connection there and become a home away from home of sorts.

Jobs that include travel

There are jobs out there that include a lot of travel. My son, Mason, works for the sports media department for a large university. He has had the good fortune to travel all over the country and to Europe as part of his job. Since starting he has learned to manage time on those trips to include plenty of time for exploration as well as work.  He has been to LA, Memphis, Charlotte, Phoenix, New York and many other cities all over the United States.

Last October he travelled to Germany with the Men’s Basketball team and in May he will be travelling through several countries with the Women’s Volleyball team.  Although he is actually working on these trips, he still finds time to enjoy the sites and always the local food and nightlife.

Short-term Internships 

Some college programs and employers offer opportunities for people to take on short term internships in another country. They work in an area that pertains to their career or field of study and live among the locals. With Internships you may get a stipend toward your living costs or be offered low cost housing while staying in the host country. These programs provide an interesting insight into how differently your field applies in another culture or social environment. Because these programs are usually independent opportunities and less group based, one must make sure to follow all rules, customs and guidelines to ensure their personal safety. These trips are another great way to do a deep dive exploration into a specific area.

Savvy Planning

Other friends I have talked to that didn’t use any of the above programs, shared a plethora of suggestions for how to travel cheap, how to get the best deals and great ideas for funding. It’s all about how much you want to go, how committed you are to making the plan work, and how creative you can be with the details. They weren’t afraid to take small spontaneous trips within the country nor were they afraid to plan for an adventure across the world.

Cody and his wife Michaela carefully save up time off to use for their adventures.  They keep a travel savings account and deposit into it regularly.  They also add to it for special occasions in liu of gifts.  They grab great deals through Deal Vendors and sites like AirBnB, VRBO or Home Away and pair them with their travel savings from using Travel Rewards cards.  With careful planning and choosing economical options they are able to stretch their travel dollars further to see and do more on their trips plus travel more often.

The biggest thing I learned while talking to these friends, is that they were brave enough to take chances.  They grabbed opportunities, took that leap of faith and went for it.  FDR said “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” How true that is.  Don’t be afraid to find your window of opportunity and take that adventure!  I hope you do.

Next post we will discuss the difference between vacation and real travel.

* * *

Be sure to follow this blog if you want future posts sent to you each week via e-mail.