It’s hard being stuck in one place long term and that’s probably one of the main reasons why so many of us suffer from wanderlust all the time. That and everyone else’s incessant posting on social media about grand adventures… damn you Instagram!
If you’re getting tired of your job or have a few months to spare, I highly recommend seizing the moment and going travelling. Short of money? No problem. Here are eight unconventional ways to go abroad without spending too much.
Deutschland! The country with the most powerful passport in the world is actually really fair to foreigners as well. The government welcomes international students with open arms – and no tuition fees.
You read that right. As of October 2014, no tuition fees are charged for undergraduate students in all public universities within the country. Before you start packing your bags though, it’s probably advisable to learn some German.
The Goethe-Institut Singapore can sort that out for you in a couple of months, and in the meantime, you should be applying to all the Unis of your choice! While you may not need to pay tuition fees, the German Universities do require a symbolic fee (or semester contribution) of about EUR150 to EUR250 (approximately S$227.88 to S$379.79). This is mandatory to cover administration costs and Uni maintenance.
That sounds like a pretty fair deal to me. The best part? Studying in Germany would mean having the rest of Europe at your doorstep. HELLO to cheap flights and weekend getaways!
The “easiest” way to go overseas on a budget seems to be through volunteering. I say “easiest” because there are so many organisations offering volunteer programmes throughout the year, but I stress that this isn’t an undertaking that should be, well, taken lightly.
Fulfilling your desire to travel is one thing, but volunteering also means that you’re helping something or someone in one way or another – and this requires commitment. So please don’t be one of those people on a “gap yah” who volunteers for the perks of cheap travel and free accommodation and ends up wasting everybody’s time.
So, if you truly are keen and want to make a difference somehow, check out some popular volunteering websites and who knows? By this time next year you could be volunteering with Buddhist Novist Monks in Laos or even be on a Marine Conservation Expedition in Fiji.
Speaking of volunteering for a good cause, why not sign up to be a research assistant? There are always so many ongoing research projects that require a team of dedicated individuals, and one of those people could be you.
In fact, most research assistants even get paid for their help, so imagine being able to travel and experience things ordinary folk wouldn’t get to and all while earning a few bucks. It may take a bit of work finding a project that suits your interest and that will be willing to take you though, so perseverance is key!
But picture this: you could be monitoring penguins in the Arctic or recording the pH levels of seawater off the Maldivian coast – the possibilities are endless! Just keep a look out for availabilities on your preferred search engine.
Now that’s one way to travel.
Another “easy” way to get abroad and travel would be to teach English. Now, I know we all hear this a lot but what does teaching English abroad actually entail?
Firstly you of course need to speak English fluently and should preferably have good English grades to show for it. You may also need a TEFL degree, depending on which country you want to work in.
This option is ideal though, since you’ll probably have the freedom to travel around the region on your days off and immerse yourself in a completely different culture. Since you’ll be interacting with the locals on a daily basis, you’ll also be getting a travel experience like no other.
Once again, this isn’t a commitment to take lightly since you should naturally be invested in your role, but if you’re driven, want to travel and make a difference, then this is right up your street. Some of the best places to teach English include South Korea, Japan, Prague, Spain, Taiwan, The Middle East and China.
If you want to travel and experience a different way of life altogether, why not try “working” on a farm? This option does require actual labour and you won’t be paid, but meals and accommodation will be provided.
I’m talking about WWOOFing – World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Many countries are in on this revolutionary organisation which connects people who want to travel and experience something different, and all the farms that need help.
Most hosts are actual organic farmers, but other types include organic food shops, farm cafes, timber working places… the list goes on. It’s similar to volunteering, except that you’ll be given the chance to stay with a host family and undertake a vocation you’d probably never even consider in your home country.
I’ve heard great things about WWOOFing in Japan, with hosts providing exceptional hospitality on farms that are surrounded by the most beautiful scenery. You could be put to work picking fruits or planting vegetables and all while learning about the Japanese way of life.
If you love children, have a lot of patience and want to travel, why not become a nanny! Or an Au Pair, which is the more recognised term for this international position.
In this day and age, many parents require help looking after their children, mainly because of conflicting work schedules or other commitments. And that’s where you come in. Au Pairs tend to be 18 – 26 year olds who are able to come and live with the family for a period of time, performing childcare related duties.
It obviously helps if you have prior experience but it’s not always necessary. Families also tend to hire English-speaking Au Pairs who can help their children with the language. Taking on such a role to go abroad may sound unconventional, but it’s a travel opportunity like no other because you’ll get paid and can explore a whole new city on your days off.
We’ve all heard of people becoming flight attendants to achieve their travel dreams, but what about signing up as a yacht crew? This lesser known profession is one interesting way to get yourself overseas – and not just to one country.
Working on a boat can take you across the seven seas, depending on what you sign up for. There are so many well-to-do folk who own yachts and who love travelling, and you could be the one joining them on these private adventures.
You’d need to get yourself certified first and can do so by joining one of the monthly courses in Phuket, Thailand. After which, it’s up to you to scour popular sites for available jobs. You could always get yourself certified and use this as an opportunity every few months to get away from your mundane 9 to 5.
I’m not even kidding. Someone once told me that if you “never try, you never know”. While many of us scroll through Facebook every day and scoff at some of our friends who share posts about travel contests, there are people out there winning these contests.
That person could be you. If you’re reading this right now, just think about all those wasted opportunities. There’s no harm in trying because someone has to win right?
This would be the ultimate low budget way to make your travel dreams come true. Unconventional, yes, but you’ll be surprised! Maybe just don’t tell your other friends so you stand a higher chance.
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