How can we learn to live in the moment?

While still traveling the world

Living in the moment is damn-near impossible. At some point, while growing up, we all forgot how to enjoy the moment we’re in. We start looking forward to the future, start imagining all the ‘what-if’s and ‘what will be’s, and forget to enjoy what we’re doing. 

Do you play a sport? Instrument? Video game? Do you cook? Do you have a pet, like a dog or cat, that you enjoy cuddling? These are just some of the easiest examples of living in the moment. Time where nothing else matters outside of what is happening in that very second—not the future, or the past.

Before traveling, it can seem like every moment abroad will be like that. Every moment will be doused in color and life, imprinting itself on your mind forever.

Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. In my experience, it’s rarely the case. Traveling is a long series of micro-decisions. Are you hungry? Do your feet hurt? What time does the bus arrive? Should we go left or right? Answering these one way can make you end up in front of the Eiffel Tower, or waffling between two restaurants that both sell falafel. Because of all these little decisions, desperate trying to think a move ahead, you might not always remember where you ate, or what you saw, but sometimes, you will remember standing in a Subway and watching your travel partner play peek-a-boo with a kid who just couldn’t look away.

When Darcy and I travel, we tend to plan out the next month, or at the very least, the next two weeks. Flights, lodging, busses, trains, etc. Everything is done at least two weeks in advance. Of course, this means nothing once we actually hit the road. One missed bus, or train, and the plan falls apart, we find ourselves taking a train to an airport an hour after our flight left, and we regret leaving home in the first place. So we begin to adapt. Take in new information and create new decisions, again and again, with no chance for ‘living in the moment.’ Or so it seems. But these are the perfect chances to live in the moment. There are moments in these hectic dashes through airports and countries, moments where we can pause and ask ourselves, “Where am I?” 

If you can capture those moments, and enjoy them as they happen, without thought for what came before or what will come after, you will never regret your decision to leave home.

Big (and ever-growing) list of jobs to work while abroad

If you’re on the road, or hitting it soon, you might be looking for work. Some of the jobs listed will have certain requirements, like a visa or a certification, but if you haven’t left home yet, try and get what you need!

  • Cruise Ships

If you don’t mind the fact that cruise ships are usually registered to country with little-to-no environmental regulations, and account for massive amounts of untreated or minimally-treated sewage, look no further for work than cruise ships! Not only are there a variety of available jobs usually found on ships, cruise lines also hire restaurant workers, performers, bakers, fitness instructions, spa technicians, and hundreds more. It’ll be easy to save money since the only place to spend it is on board. You will also be working in an environment based on cheap alcohol and sex (not kidding.) But, you often visit beautiful locations. On the flip side, you’re probably going to be inside during a beautiful day. There’s very little privacy, as you are bunking with a number of other people. You’ll also be contributing to worsening a bad ecological state.

  • Volunteer

Although it doesn’t pay, volunteering is a great to meet people and spend your time. Steer away from ‘voluntourism,’ though. Usually there’s a large upfront cost, and it doesn’t always do what they advertise.

  • Bartender

If you can pull beer and mix basic drinks, you can probably find work. Usually you’ll need some type of ‘working holiday’ visa, but if you find a little mom-and-pop shop that will hire you without one, as long as you keep your mouth shut, go for it. Hostels also have bars, usually, and you might be able to trade work for a place to stay.

  • Waiter

This job would require you to speak the language and answer questions, more than a bartender would need (after all, most countries I’ve been to outside America has one option at a bar, and it’s ‘beer.’ Which means ‘whatever beer sponsors you and supplies your coasters, glasses, and the sign out front.’), Again, having a ‘working holiday’ visa is pretty important here, as there will probably be fewer people who will hire you without one.

  • Hostels

There’s a bit of a tradition of working for a place to stay in a hostel. If you’re okay scrubbing toilets, doing the laundry, and making beds, then ask around to see if there are any availabilities where you are. It might make you a daily stipend, and a place to sleep, if nothing else.

  • Import/Export

Okay, this one is a bit silly, but some people have luck with it. If you find something you think would sell well in another country, try purchasing it from one place and reselling it in another place. This could be anything from food, to little tchotchkes, to clothes. This might work better if you’re sending it all to yourself, back home, and selling from there. After all, this is how import/export businesses get started. All groundwork.

  • Translator

Can you read and write in another language? Try out your skills locally!

  • Interpreter

Same goes for being able to speak in another language.

  • Tour Guide

Some places have guidelines as to who can have a tour guide license, but if you’re willing to go through the hoops, being a tour guide can be a great way to make money. Especially if you’re speaking English in a foreign country. Many tourists look for a tour guide they can easily understand, and one who will make jokes they understand. Not only can you charge American prices, but it can also be a great way to make friends for when you go back to America.

  • SCUBA Instructor

Of course, this only works when you actually have the certifications. But if you have them, try looking for work on a beach somewhere. SEA and South/Central America are both popular locations that are looking for English-Speaking instructors to give lessons.

  • Skiing/Snowboarding Instructor

Same idea, but with snow. If you know how to ski, or snowboard, and are willing to give lessons, ask around and see if a ski lodge is hiring, or go solo as a freelance instructor.

  • Au Pair

Probably one of the most famous foreign-worked jobs. If you like kids, know how to cook, and know a few words of a foreign language, look into being an Au pair. The field is heavily dominated by women, since most families look for women, however the few times I looked for a job, I had tons of offers because they had ‘two young boys who needed someone with lots of energy to throw them around.’ Needless to say, I passed on those jobs. Usually, being an au pair will come with a weekly stipend and a place to sleep. I would only recommend it only if you like children. More often than not, the stipend is far below what you’re worth and the lodging is either a room, or less than a room. (I once couch surfed with a friend who was an au pair in Paris. She had her own ‘apartment’ that was smaller than a car.)

  • Resort Worker

Resorts in both beach locations and snow locations are always on the hunt for English-speaking workers for the season. If you have a ‘working holiday’ visa (or found someone to give you work under the table), a resort can be a great way to pass a season.

  • Timeshare Salesperson

Kind of a joke. But, if you happen to be living near a timeshare resort, and a have knack for selling, there is money to be had in selling timeshares.

  • Teach English

More often than not, people who teach English will have a college degree and be placed through a program. If you have a degree, and don’t mind working with a program, try teaching English. Most programs will also help you sort out lodging and visa issues.

  • Camp Counselor

This can be anything from a summer camp in Upstate New York, to a high-end resort camp for wealthy children. One of my old teachers found summer work teaching wealthy children photography. It paid $2,000 a month, for 3 months, and came with free weekend trips to different cities. A job like this can be had if you have a skill to sell. You don’t need to be amazing, just better than 10 year olds.

  • Yoga/Tai Chi/Qi Gong Teacher

If you’re in good shape and you have a knack for flexibility, try getting a yoga teaching certification, if you don’t already have one. Cruise ships, resorts, and hostels will sometimes offer classes, and you could be the instructor. Or, if you prefer, you could offer a class in a local public park with a drop-in price. This seems to work very well from what I see when I travel.

  • Surfing/Windsurfing/Parasailing Teacher

Again, if you have the certification, you can try your luck finding work at a resort, or on a beach. If you have the start-up cost, you can work for yourself, or work for another company if you don’t have the funds.

  • Circus

Europe still has traveling circuses! If you don’t mind some physical labor, try applying to one of these. Won’t lie to you, though. Most of these don’t treat the animals well, to the point they’re actually banned in some towns/cities.

  • Mule

Want to transport things that aren’t drugs? In America, there are companies like Roadie that offer a way for buyers to get their purchases without paying for air or ground freight. For instance, if you buy a sink on EBay that’s local pickup only, you can hire someone through Roadie to pick up the sink and drive it to you. If you have a car and are planning on a road trip anyway, this can be a great way to cover gas costs.

  • Barber

Can you cut hair? Beards? Have your own set of tools? Try setting yourself up as a barber! Some people do this in hostels, offering the hostel a cut of every sale they get. And if you find enough people who need a cheap and easy haircut, you can make easy money with minimal work. (For this to work best, I recommend only offering certain styles, and something that is quick and easy. This would be geared towards the budget traveler trying to stay presentable. For anyone with a little spending money, it’s in their best interest to get a shave locally.)

  • Massage

Some certified massage therapists go freelance while traveling, either offering their services to a hostel, or to people through advertisements placed at community boards. Some massage studios will hire you if you can demonstrate skill.

  • Cook

Probably one of the best jobs a cook can have is cooking on a private yacht. Surprisingly, the jobs are easy to come by, pay well, and you visit tons of locations. Usually, you’re hired by a private yacht company who charters yachts for a specific timeframe. So you’ll be a cook for lunch, breakfast, or dinner, only for a specific group of people. Then, until you get another group of people, your only job is feeding the crew.

Kitchens in other countries will also hire kitchen help, especially if you have a ‘working holiday’ visa.

  • Cargo Ship

Less glamorous than cruise ships, cargo ships will hire deckhands to do basic work, and they will also hire cooks to cover the cooking and grocery shopping.

  • Transport Companies

Like Roadie, you can also find work in America moving rental cars for different companies. When a company has too many renal cars in a small town, they will pay you to drive an extra car to a larger city, and pay you for the time. Really only works for America, unless you’re lucky enough to find the work in Europe, and it’s a great way to only see highways. But if you want work that lets you listen to audiobooks and eat road trip food, this is it.

  • Yacht Crew

There are a number of ways to get work on a yacht but the easiest are: hang around yachts OR get certified then apply to yachts. Most yachts are looking for people who know how to sail, but some will take people who don’t know the first thing about sailing but are willing to learn. It can be a great job, with good pay, and great locations. But it can also be stressful, no-privacy, and long-stretches of working with the same people.

You can also find short-term work on a yacht. A captain will sometimes hire people just for an evening cruise, so you can easily rack up experience, and not have to leave where you’re living.

  • Guy in China

For years, and still today, small Chinese businesses will hire white men to dress like an American businessman. It makes it seem like they have international connections, and increase the likelihood of funding or investments. So if you have the look of ‘American Business Owner’ this could be great job that pays exceptionally well. (Usually $1000 per event.)

  • Act in Bollywood

Bollywood extras come from many places, and sometimes off the street. There are a number of stories of travelers walking around India, usually Mumbai, and being offered work acting. It’s one day, in a costume, dancing in the background (or just swaying.) It pays little, but it’ll look great on your IMDB profile!

  • Street Performer

Do you know how to blow fire, juggle, perform acrobatics, or anything else that would allow you to set up on a street corner and make money?  Although not legal in every country and city, this could be a great way to make money on the move. Also, if you do have skills in this category, and you don’t mind working on a cruise ship, look around for different job listings. Performers, even in a lower level on skill, are still highly sought after for cruise ships.

I will update this list as often as possible, and add links to different websites and job listings as I find them. Good luck on your travels!

Traveling Alone or Bringing a Partner

For the last 4-5 years, Darcy and I have been traveling together. Before this, I spent a few years traveling solo. I thought this section could be important to anyone who was going to bring a Significant Other, a friend, or a kid/parent. By and large, most people tend to travel alone, and pick up partners along the way if they’re going to the same place.

It’s my own personal philosophy that everyone should take at least one trip by themselves. There are few ways easier to see your flaws so clearly than traveling alone. On my solo trips, I learned mountains of information about what my limits are, what my fears are, and how I respond to different problems under different stresses.

With a partner, you can mitigate some of these problems by splitting the load. But with one person, it’s on you. Waking up at 3am, catching a 4am flight, not arriving until the same time the next day, trying to find your hotel on 3 hours of airplane sleep. It’s difficult, but once you do it, you’ll think, ‘Now I can do anything.’

Whether or not you’ve been traveling before, you have probably heard someone run down the list of why traveling alone is great. Amazing. So much better than bringing anyone.

  • Meet more people

This one has some merit to it. I’ve heard that people are more likely to approach you when you’re by yourself. However, I find it the opposite. I find that I’m trusted more traveling with Darcy (whether it’s because she’s a woman, or there are two of us, I don’t know.) However, when I traveled alone, I was more outgoing, intent on meeting people and making the most of the experience. With Darcy I find myself less outgoing, and less earnest to make new friends.

  • Go where you want, when you want

Sure, this one is true. But Darcy and I have never run into the problem of wanting to go to two places at the same time. I’ve already talked about how we decide where to go in the section ‘Deciding Where to Go.’

  • Save money

In my experience, this is categorically untrue.

  • Have a more unique experience

Eh. How can an experience be more unique?

Although I think everyone should take at least one trip alone, I do think that traveling solo is lonely. Especially if you’re an outgoing person, you might find solo travel to be especially depressing. I’ve known a handful of people who end up coming home after a few weeks, telling me they just couldn’t handle it.

And this is okay. Some people are incredibly well adjusted to traveling alone, and they end up quitting their job and traveling solo full time, hopping from place to place. This isn’t everyone. If you find yourself floundering on your first solo trip, don’t panic. You aren’t alone. You can always go home.

And when you set out again, you might want to go with someone.

  • Fights

Strange thing to stat with, I know. But we had more fights, or arguments, in that first month of traveling than a year and a half of living together back home. When you’re traveling with someone, and both stretched to your limits, fights happen easily, and they happen fast. But you learn. Not just about the other person, but about yourself. What sets you off. Behavior you have that went unnoticed by you. How you act when you’re tired, or hungry, or are faced with the prospect of having to sleep outside. And you work through it. I will say, after that first month, the arguments became rare, and easier to manage because we had already been through so much together.

  • Cheaper

Traveling with a partner is cheaper. Not half as cheap as by yourself, but pretty close. A hotel room for $70 a night is now the cheaper alternative to a $50 a night hostel bed. Even eating. When traveling alone, I always bought bread and cheese as a staple. And by day two, the bread would be hard and the cheese sweaty. But when there’s someone else to eat, we buy food more often, and therefore its fresher. Flights are sometimes cheaper when you purchase two at a time, instead of one. Rental cars are far cheaper split between two people. I used to spend nearly $750 a month while traveling. Now I average around $450. So, not quite half, but pretty close!

  • Security

With two people, once person can always be on watch. Whether it be taking turns sleeping on a long train, or using the bathroom in a dodgy bar, or even at airports when you want to walk around, you’ll always have someone to watch over the bags, and vice versa.

  • Stress

Surprisingly, it’s far less stressful to travel with a partner. Not only are there two pairs of eyes looking over every reservation and ticket, there are now two people looking for those reservations and tickets. When traveling alone, it’s easy to make mistakes and not catch them until too late. I can’t count the number of times I boarded the wrong train, or bought a ticket for the wrong date, or went to the ‘Hotel Sacre Coeur’ and not ‘Hotel de Sacre Coeur.’ Having someone else can reduce the stress simply by having the person there, and knowing the chance for mistake can be mitigated by them.

  • Sharing the experience

This is probably the biggest reason to travel with someone, even for a short time. I can’t remember all the amazing experiences I had while traveling alone, primarily because there was no one lese there to experience them with me.

I found that when I returned home the first time from traveling, at the ripe old age of 18, that most people didn’t care, or didn’t understand what I experienced. And that’s what I realize every time I go back to where I used to live. The only people who understand the rush of seeing the spice markets of some North African medina for the first time are the people who have been there. The only people who understand the stillness you feel when seeing a sunset over a foreign ocean, are the ones who felt that same stillness.

It’s not gatekeeping, saying if you haven’t traveled, than you wouldn’t know. But if you haven’t traveled, it’s difficult to listen to someone who has talked about their travels. And, subsequently, the person who traveled (you, in this case) feels disillusioned by the whole thing.

When you travel with someone, you can share all experiences with them.

I won’t say one way is better than another, flat out. However, I have found that I enjoy traveling far more with a partner than I do by myself. Now, I can stop and have a coffee or a drink in a dingy Parisian bar, and I know there was someone there to enjoy it with me.

So if you can, take someone. Don’t just go alone.

But if you’re the type of person who appreciates being by yourself, then dive in headfirst!

If you enjoyed this, follow me! I’ll be posting a different post on traveling when I can