What are you going to do over there? What about work? How are you going to make money? If you’re one of these people, I can’t bring myself to apologize for what I’m going to say next, but…life isn’t all about work! I graduated from college a year early in 2011 and since then I had been bouncing around, spending six months to a year at a job or internship. This time may seem short, but I’m pretty sure one can vibe rather quickly whether they can tolerate something for the foreseeable future, or not. I chose to not waste my time, often.
Since graduation, I held roughly six (unpaid) internships in metropolitan NY with none of them leading to a position. I had about four or five part time jobs, not including the ultimate back-up of substitute teaching. I tried the whole modeling/acting thing and did a work study for a year at a production theater company. My improv skills are lit. I even went alternate route to obtain a teaching certificate in NJ; which I now have and was later, unable to get a teaching position in almost the entire state. I would apply to full-time positions, nationwide, daily. I probably hit somewhere near fifty applications a week, with little to no response.
Betwixt trying on new careers, I continued to travel extensively. Let’s mull a moment on that since people are always in my bidness about it as well (which is normal I guess, since social media basically permits excessive nosiness). My Mom got the travel bug as a teen and after her first trip (Kenya & Tanzania) she has yet to look back. She was the type to have a backpack and passport at the ready next to her door. My first domestic trip was at four months and my first international trip was several months later. Since then, we have traveled together with my dad and usually a friend of mine, to at least one other country annually. Since I’m (at this writing) twenty-four, that’s at minimum twenty-four countries. We can thank my mom wholeheartedly for my wanderlust.
Road tripping the Pacific Northwest, was something of a catalyst. I was entirely fed up with applying to jobs that I had no interest in, but felt I had to apply so that I could say “I HAVE A JOB!!!” to the world. I do not have an inkling as to why it’s taken twenty-four years for me to figure out that maybe a career in travel would be ideal, but here we are.
I researched around and found an awesome website that connects travelers (mainly backpackers) with opportunities to obtain room, board and maybe food for free in exchange for working a few hours a day/week. I had heard of this before with the increasingly popular WWOOF, but that organization is solely focused on agricultural work. Which is dope, but wanted more hospitality-type work. I looked on workaway for work exchanges in countries all over the world mainly in hostels.
I love the community that a traveler finds in hostels. Usually worldly, open minded, approachable, sustainably minded. That’s the niche in tourism that I want to formulate a career in, and what better way to start than obtain experience in that sort of situation? I contacted the owner of the hostel in a small town in Oaxaca, Mexico and it was on from there. Purchased three flights to get there and when I arrive, I’ll be working one to five hours a day, six days a week in exchange for room, board and daily breakfast. It is the absolute cheapest, easiest and semi-stress free way to travel if you’re open to adventure.
Some people work exchange their way around a country, continent, or the world and I’m glad I’ve found out this well-known secret. Well known though, to only a certain group of people. I plan to work exchange for at least the next six months and I’ll reevaluate in Spring 2015!