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How to Travel While Working Abroad

The sun sets over Perth, Australia.

Living abroad is the perfect excuse to explore. Here's how to make it happen.

One of the things I’ve found the most difficult since settling in Perth is that while I am living and working in one place, my mind is still wandering back to the days of backpacking. I miss having the freedom to pick up and go wherever I like. And you really can’t replace the amazing feeling of arriving in a brand new place every few days; the excitement of a new adventure.

They call it Itchy Feet. This infection that every backpacker seems to catch once they have to return to the real world. And can you really blame them? After being able to move from one place to the next on a whim, never needing to settle down, never being stuck in a boring job for long or with roommates who drive you crazy.

I find myself on Skyscanner.com pretty much every day searching for my next adventure. But the reality for me now is that I can’t just jet off whenever the urge strikes. I’m on a salary now with a limited number of vacation days available to me, and more importantly, a limited amount of funds! Once you settle into a city with a job and a life there are so many other responsibilities that have to come first. You can’t feed your travel addiction every time it rumbles or you’ll soon find yourself without a job and without a home.

Sure, there are definitely benefits to settling down. I have a job that I am able to turn into a career, with a company car and laptop and cell phone. We have our own apartment right across the street from the beach. We have a television, furniture, a barbeque. And, I have lots of nice pairs of high heels.

Would I give these things up in a second to go back to exploring the world? I’m often tempted. But in the meantime, I have a few tips on how to feed your travel addiction while working and living in another country.

1. Explore the city you live in.

Once we settle into a city we forget that we moved there for a reason. There is usually a lot going on right around you that you might never have thought to explore.

I love going on tourist websites that recommend the top places to check out in and around the city, but sometimes the websites by locals for locals are even better. This is where you can find out about events, concerts, exhibitions or even a secret restaurant you never knew existed. I’ve been living in Perth for 20 months now and there are still plenty of corners of the city that I haven’t explored.

2. Make the most of long weekends.

If you do want to go away but don’t want to eat up all your vacation time (or don’t have enough days in the bank), make the most of long weekends to give you that extra day or two to spend in a new place. I like to look up the calendar of public holidays wherever I’m living and use that to plan when I can get the extra days off and work out my trips around that.

3. Make a list of the places you want to see and budget time and money towards them.

One problem I’ve faced is that I want to go everywhere and see everything! But with all the dreaming I end up going nowhere and doing nothing because I haven’t planned for it. When you’re backpacking it’s easy to just pick up and go but when you’re living and working somewhere making a solid plan will help ensure that you actually take those trips.

Pick out a week or weekend (see point 2) and mark it in your diary. Ask for the time off if you need to, set price alerts, and start putting away money every paycheque towards that trip. Then it will be easy to get up and go when the time comes.

4. Use your resources.

I don’t even want to mention how much I regret not getting a rewards credit card sooner. It makes me feel sick thinking of all the points I would have accumulated if I had booked all those flights and paid for all that furniture and my groceries on a credit card that would actually give me something back instead of just draining my account. So don’t make my mistake. Get yourself some sort of rewards credit card sooner rather than later. The points don’t have to go towards travel, as long as you are getting some sort of reward for your purchases.

5. Use travel websites and price alerts.

I’m sure this goes without saying, but travel sites such Skyscanner.com for flight searches are extremely handy. Not only can you set price alerts, but many of these sites also now include a price trend chart that shows you when the flights will be cheapest. Others, like Kayak.com, even have a section that tells you whether they think the price is likely to drop in the coming days. These alerts and tools can help you save big bucks on flights so you might as well make the most of them.

This is of course just the tip of the iceberg, but for anyone who has settled into a new city but still has a serious case of itchy feet like me, these new tips just might be what get you on your next great adventure.

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Published in Work Abroad Blogs
Gillian Arfin

Gillian Arfin is from Oakville, Ontario. After years of travelling and backpacking and constant itchy feet, she has found herself settled in the most isolated city in the world--Perth, Western Australia. Curious what it’s like to live on the other side of the world? Read what Gillian has to say about it.

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