It has been 1,460 days since I first stepped foot oversees.
For me, going abroad wasn’t something that I had always dreamed of doing. I actually got pushed into it full force and started out fighting it every step of the way.
The first time I stepped onto foreign soil I was absolutely petrified. From a series of unfortunate events, I ended up in Central America completely alone and in absolute hysterics. I had no foreign currency, no international data plan and no enthusiasm or appreciation for being in a new country.
Fast-forward three years from that dramatic episode in my life and I had willingly moved across the pond to a country in which I had no previous training in the language and made it my mission to go to a new city or country every weekend.
The desire to travel grew more and more with each border I crossed. The addictive part of travelling isn’t the stamps you add in your passport or cool location tags you can put on your Instagram pics (although both are added perks); rather, it is a constant itch to see more to better understand and appreciate the world you live in.
Since I started to travel—I mean really travel, not just go on “vacations”—my perspective on life has completely transformed.
This perspective is something that is impossible to describe in words, but one that I hope everyone has the chance to understand for themselves at one point or another.
However, I have found that often when I am trying to convince loved ones that it is okay to get bit by the travel bug, a list of hesitations immediately come up.
So, in order to combat your doubts and fears of travelling, here are seven travel myths debunked from my personal experiences:
Myth #I have to quit my job to see the world.
FALSE. Thanks to social media and the thousands of travel blogs out there, it is a common misconception that you have to quit your job to see the world. This has been one of the most cliché and overused phrases and completely misguides what a life of travel really is.
Unless you are one of the extremely fortunate social media gurus who get paid to travel, you will most likely want to have a job that pays for your experiences. Having a job in a foreign country is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in a new culture and build your foreign network of friends.
Myth #2 I have to be rich to travel.
FALSE. You don’t have to wait until you win the lotto to see the world. In fact, you can earn money while you live a life aboard and your options are pretty much limitless .
Well, as long as the job falls under the stipulations of your visa. However, here are some jobs that I myself have done while oversees that also allow maximum travel opportunities:
- Aupair/nanny—Okay, this one is two-fold. The pro to being an au-pair is that you don’t have to worry about accommodation; the con is that you are basically an on-call babysitter making minimum wage. So while this is not a permanent solution, it is a great stepping stone to building a life abroad.
- Language tutor—take advantage of being a foreigner and offer to teach your native tongue. Most countries really value having a language taught to them or their children by a native speaker and you can usually earn really good money from these lessons. You also have the option to tutor through an agency or as a freelancer.
- Special skills—whether you are a skilled in sports, arts, music, ect, sell your talent! I offered private swim lessons on expat forums and the response was way larger than I had expected.
- Anything—as long as you can get by on the native language, finding a job in your desired industry isn’t impossible. You actually have the advantage as not only can you offer technical experience but you also come with an extremely valuable international perspective.The trick is just making companies aware of you! Don’t be afraid of literally knock on doors—it’s not everyday that a foreigner walks through a company’s door and it is a sure way to be remembered.
Myth #3 Visas are complicated.
TRUE. But It just depends on where you want to go, what you want to do and your luck of the draw with who receives your visa application. I have been on both sides of the spectrum—I have had my visa approved in less than 24 hours and I have also had my visa denied after two months of processing and having undergone a very detailed medical examination.
In general, here are the different types of visas you can apply for:
- Visitor visa—depending on where you want to go, most countries will let you in automatically for a designated amount of days solely based on the country your passport is from. Make sure to check out the specifics before trying to enter though!
- Student visa—if you are accepted to a certain program or university, this visa is usually a breeze in the park to get. Just beware that sometimes there are limited working hours you will be entitled to
- Working holiday visa—if you are under 30 years old, you will most likely be entitled to a working holiday visa for up to two years. Whether it be America, Europe, Australia or New Zealand. These can usually be applied for online.
- Partnership visa—Okay, so not everywhere has this visa. But if you happen to fall in love with an Aussie or a Kiwi, you can apply for a partnership visa, which usually also entitles you to a working visa.
Myth #4 I can’t travel because I have bills/loans to pay.
FALSE. We live in a digital age where everything is made simple by a click of a button! Don’t let having bills/loans at home detour your from exploring the world. Even if you are now making money in a new currency, you can always Paypal it back to your home-based account. Also, make sure to talk to your bank as many offer debit cards that hold multiple currencies.
Myth #5 It is hard to make friends abroad.
TRUE. I’m not going to lie, it can be really difficult to adjust to a life in a foreign land. One of the trickiest parts is leaving behind all your friends and family back home. But when you are in the “travelling” mindset, you are never too far away from a like-minded individual. I have met some of my best friends while travelling and it just so happens that they also make some of the greatest travel buddies.
Myth #6 The further you go, the more well-traveled you are.
FALSE. You don’t have to fly thousands of miles to truly “travel”. You can even start by just exploring what’s in your backyard! Each country, city, town, village and remote location of the world has something special and unique to offer.
Once you develop that traveller’s perspective, anywhere you go will seem like an adventure, even when you go back home. It wasn’t until I left the U.S. that I developed an itch to actually explore more of it! Plus, it is always fun to play tourist in your own hometown.
Myth #7 Travelling is addicting.
TRUE. Oh man, it is so addicting. It is a blessing and a curse to have that constant desire to go on adventures. While your bank account might not always like this travelling addiction, your heart and soul will never feel more fulfilled.
So book that ticket, pack that bag and go! (and make sure to plan a stopover to visit me in New Zealand while you’re at it!)