A while ago I made a post about how to deal with with depression, apathy, and feelings of emptiness. One of the pieces of advice which seemed to resonate with a lot of guys was to travel. I got PMed with a lot of questions about the practical side of this, so here goes. This will be part one of a series, in which I will attempt to advise young men on how to satisfy their wanderlust, and do it well.
Some of you more experienced men will probably see a lot of this as common sense, but this post is mainly aimed towards very young and inexperienced guys who have it in their head to do some travelling but have no idea where to get started.
Yes, I am aware that international travel is a luxury, but I think the “luxury” aspect is way overblown. There are ways that you can get paid to do it. It is WAY the fuck cheaper and easier to take a month in Cambodia than it is to have a LTR, get married, or have a kid, and yet no one accuses those people of wasting time and money. And, put simply, if you aren’t already doing something more important and meaningful with your life at this moment (can’t tell you what that might be, but you know it if you have it), then you should absolutely drop what you are doing and get out of the country for a few years.
I’d go so far to say that if you aren’t working towards an elite career, and you don’t have a wife and kids, there are few excuses not to be travelling, particularly as a young man.
I’m fairly biased, because at about twenty two years of age, staring down the barrel of a massive recession, recently torn to shreds by my fiancée meeting and fucking a line cook at her job a month before our wedding, and facing a massive emptiness in my life: I dropped my last savings on a ticket and a small certification that allowed me to spend the next decade travelling and getting essentially paid to do so.
In short, travel fucking saved my life. So, I’m going to go into a little detail about what I learned from that experience and how I would advise young men with wanderlust and few obligations to proceed. If you are an older, veteran traveler, please chime in with your own experiences/tips/suggestion. I’m particularly interested in hearing from guys who used the military/armed services to see the world (because I have 0 experience with that form of travel).
Working abroad as an English Teacher
If you speak English and have a college degree, one of your best options for getting out there into the world, and collecting a paycheck while you do it, is by teaching English, or “ESL”.
Now, in a lot of places, you can do this by just by showing up and having a pulse (Think Vietnam and other “Wild West” type countries). But if you are like me you like to have a slightly better game plan. So, what is the first step to spending a few years teaching English in a foreign country?
Details about the CELTA
The CELTA is the “Cambridge English Language Teaching of Adults” certification. It is based around a month long class that is held all over the world. When I did mine I went to Prague, lived in a communist era block apartment for two months, and studied my ass off. The certificate costs about 1000 pounds.
It is a super intense experience, and a great way to pop your cherry and get ready to teach as well. You are thrown in with other travelers from all over the world, and spend about 12 hours a day teaching locals and being critiqued while you do so. At the end of it you have a certificate that can get you a job pretty much instantly across the world (with the exception of Western Europe, if you are American). Honestly, it was one of the coolest experiences of my life.
If you are American, the chances of landing a decent ESL job in Europe is pretty slim. It might be possible, if you are on the ground with your CELTA in your hand really hitting the pavement, but the issue is that most places would rather hire a British citizen. It’s just easier, though I’m not sure how Brexit might effect that.
Honestly, you don’t want to live in Europe anyway as a low-paid English Teacher, as you will be super poor and struggle to enjoy yourself. Much better to get a job in Asia, save your money while living like a king, and then spend a few weeks in Paris next summer. Which brings me to my real suggestion.
Without a doubt, my recommendation is that you take a job in Asia: China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan. If you want to be a little more adventurous (and a little more poor) you can also try one of the Southeast Asian counties.
Personally, I worked in Korea for about five years and it was simply phenomenal. I started at a shitty cram school (they still paid for my ticket and about 2k a month US) and by the time I left I was basically the equivalent of a college professor, working 20 hours a week, with 7 weeks’ paid vacation a year to jet off to Phuket or whatever, full health insurance, a fully furnished apartment on campus (for free), and a whole lot of other benefits.
The women are sexy, the food is healthy and delicious, and the countryside is magically beautiful. Yeah, I had no interest in spending my whole life there, but it an experience I wouldn’t trade for anything. Plus they don’t play that American PC bullshit, which is a nice bit of lagniappe.
Dave’s ESL Cafe
So how do you get started? I found my first job here: http://www.eslcafe.com/jobs/
Honestly if you have a college degree, the Celta, and a clean criminal record, you’ll have a pretty easy time of it. If you want more details about this you can email me.
Teaching English isn’t going to be for everyone, honestly. It is simply the avenue that allowed me to travel and thus the method I know most about. But let’s say you aren’t down for all that, but you still want to just hop on a plane and go somewhere for a little while, no strings attached, but you feel yourself hesitating. Let’s talk about practical stuff. Where to begin? My point is not to tell you a bunch of super obvious stuff, but I think just reading and thinking about this will help a lot of guys to sort of fill in the blanks in their travel fantasy, and that is my goal here.
Getting the time off from work?
This is tricky, and it is probably the biggest obstacle to travel. You can do the normal google research on how to go about this. Decent article.
But as I don’t know your situation, it is hard to give real specific tips.
My main advice is that if you are planning to do a serious trip you need to plan way ahead, scrimp and live Spartan for a while, go into monk mode, work overtime while you save and build yourself up. These days a lot of people jump around from job to job, company to company. So far as I know a gap in your work history of a few months is not a huge deal to employers. From what I’ve heard a lot of travelers even play up “how much they learned during their travel experiences” on their resumes to great effect.
I’m going to post images below of some ticket prices. I know you can use google, but I really want you to just realize how attainable this stuff is, if you’ve never given it a lot of thought before.
Cost of tickets to Prague:
Cost of Ticket to Tokyo:
Notice these tickets are in the “off season”, that is NOT SUMMER. This seems to hold true for the northern hemisphere – tickets are cheaper in fall and winter.
Multi City Jaunts:
One way to get much more epic trips at lower prices is by booking short flights that stop in interesting places along the way and then staying in cheap communal-room hostels. This really works out if you have more time than you have money.
Say I’m trying to get from Sydney to Beijing. Well, a direct flight is going to be a lot more expensive than If I fly to Bangkok, stay a few days in a 10$ a night backpacker hostel, and then catch a flight to Beijing. This is usually true. Not always.
By playing around with the algorithm, I was able to go from Seoul, to Beijing, to New Zealand, to Fiji, to LA for ALMOST the same price as a direct flight from Seoul to LA. This won’t always be the case, but if you have flexibility on dates and you toy with the algorithms a lot sometimes you can work it out and get a real adventure booked.
Using http://www.bootsnall.com/ you can easily arrange multicity trips. I’ve used them a lot in the past and they are awesome for helping out with visas and things like that.
So you’ve got your ticket and now it is time to start getting ready for your big trip. What do you need to prep? That’s going to be in part two, coming soon.