How To Travel

A more woolly version of me about to suck marrow out of some cow knees with my students

This is the second post written to promote the Meet, Plan, Go! conference in New Orleans where I’ll be speaking on October 18th. The first post gives my case for why you should travel.

These are just my travel preferences. I can’t pretend that my preferences are objectively better.

I’ve enjoyed traveling the most when I’ve been established in one place for while. I’ve had a reason to be there besides just wanting to travel, like work or study. Working or studying gave me an automatic connection to the people working or studying with me. Being there longer gave me an opportunity to make friends the people who live there. It gave me time to appreciate the subtler aspects of the lifestyle and pick up more of the language.

At the risk of sounding ungrateful, I have not enjoyed backpacking nearly as much. By the time you start feeling like you have your bearings, met a few people, and become comfortable, its time to leave and do it all over again. So much time and money is spent getting from place to place. It gets exhausting. You are naturally drawn to spending time with other travelers from similar cultures rather than the people who live there. You can certainly see a lot more this way, but that in itself left me feeling like I was a collector of travel experiences.

The advantage of moving around is that if you don’t like a place, you can just leave. If you are committed to doing something, getting yourself out of an unpleasant situation becomes more challenging. On the other hand, the choice between travel and career becomes a false dilemma if you’re willing to stay in one place for a while. Whatever you are interested in doing, you can probably do abroad. Working abroad is a great way to see the world and avoid the anxiety of a hole in your resume. Think of it as an exciting career diversion instead of a career sabbatical.

Maybe the idea of living out a backpack for months on end horrifies you. Riding in a bus full of chickens isn’t your idea of a good time. You can’t muster up the courage to put your career completely on hold. Fear not. There are ways to travel for you. I’ll be sharing some specific recommendations and opportunities at the conference, so if you’re interested in learning more, buy a ticket to the New Orleans Meet, Plan, Go! event.

  • Anonymous

    Working abroad was one of my most fulfilling things I did!

  • Ryan Bleek

    I once “moved” to Korea for three weeks. I went alone and without a job in place, and so I didn’t have a built-in network of co-workers to ease the transition. I wasn’t prepared for depth of loneliness I felt and so I came home. I’ve never forgiven myself. 8 years later I still have 3000 korean won that I carry in my wallet as a reminder to strive to make the bolder, more-difficult choice. I tell anyone who will listen to go work abroad.

    • Anonymous

      I have a similar story. I left China before my contract was up the first time I went. I too regretted it and went back again to make things right for myself (among other reasons).

      One of my good friends taught in Korea, and he is generally positive about the experience. He worked for a public school and really appreciated having a solid support system in place. I’ve heard many tales of people teaching there to pay off student loans with the high pay and relatively low cost of living. I’ve considered going to Korea on more than one occasion. I’m sure you’ll have the opportunity to make good.

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