Perhaps long-term travel's greatest gift is its ability to give you room to experiment with what you want your life to look like.
This isn't just true of backpacking, but of working abroad. After all, moving to another country isn’t about transitioning your existing life to a new location; it can be about embracing a whole new way of being.
I learned this lesson in late 2018, when I moved to New Zealand on a working holiday visa. The plan was to find an apartment, rent a desk at a co-working space, and create a relatively nine-to-five existence for myself. In other words, do exactly what I'd been doing, but in a new place. (Yawn.)
But when the reality of a competitive rental market set in, I started housesitting instead. I now move every three to six weeks, a lifestyle that's allowed me to meet Kiwis from all walks of the life, intimately get to know communities across the South Island—and save a ton of money in the process.
It also gave me a rare opportunity to meet one of our bloggers in-situ. When I met up with Franklin Smith and his partner, they were on their way through Christchurch, having fully embraced van life.
“Van life is truly a choose-your-own-adventure novel—the more spontaneous you are, the more fun it becomes,” he wrote in his blog post on the topic. They were also just about to head back to the North Island for a work exchange, where they’d be working aboard a sailboat in Auckland’s harbour.
“These work exchanges give you the kind of travel experiences that money can’t buy,” he writes.
Shrita Pathak is also embracing her work abroad adventure. Chances are, the Internet wasn’t her go-to for making friends back home in New Delhi—but now that she’s moved to Italy, it’s helping her to both socialize and to learn the language.
“I never thought I'd use social media to make friends,” she writes in one of her blog posts. "This group helped broaden my social circle: had I been in my usual setting, rather than online, I would have likely stuck with a crowd of 20-somethings. I have since met people of all ages and have had some amazing conversations with them."Add this article to your reading list