What's a 6month adventure that will pay for itself?
May 1, 2007 2:32 PM   Subscribe

I would like to quit my job and go on a self-sustaining adventure. By self-sustaining, I mean that it would mostly pay for itself, cost very little, or both. I have money saved, but I will need it as a buffer when I return to the real world and look for a job again. For argument's sake, let's say I can put $1500 toward this adventure. My time frame is 2 months to a year. I'm open to anything from being a frieght train hobo to volunteering in a far-away country to flying to Sweden and finding a job washing dishes.

I'm male, 28, and currently work in the Internets. I'm in serviceable physical shape.

I'm looking for specific suggestions. I've already got the general genres of adventure pretty well covered.
posted by anonymous to Travel & Transportation (25 answers total) 147 users marked this as a favorite
Good question! Looking forward to the answers. I remember reading articles in mens health or somewhere about a couple that traveled from country to country; worked wherever they could get hired for a few months, saved some cash, and moved to the next place.
posted by striker at 2:36 PM on May 1, 2007

Check out wwoof, you can fly to a country and stay on a farm in exchange for some of your labour. It sounds really neat and I plan on checking it out later this year.
posted by glip at 2:36 PM on May 1, 2007

Work a fishing job in Alaska

Go wwoofing in New Zealand

Guide rafts in Colorado

Hop Trains

Bike Cross Country and Read tarot cards along the way

I'm sure there are lots of humanitarian ways to go about this too, but I'll leave that to others.
posted by craven_morhead at 2:40 PM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by not that girl at 2:41 PM on May 1, 2007

If you work in the internets you might look into Geek Corps.
posted by phearlez at 2:51 PM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Would you like to become a ski bum? Follow the snow, come down to NZ for the winter, earn some cash working in a bar or cafe or anywhere really and then play the rest of the time. If New Zealand is a consideration though, I would suggest getting down here soon!
posted by teststrip at 2:53 PM on May 1, 2007

I know a guy that did a stint fishing up in Alaska. He got some deal where he lived on a very remote island, with a couple of guys, and they took a small boat out and fished every day. (I don't know how typical this is; it may not be at all.) I think they were fishing halibut, but I never really got the details.

At any rate, if you want to really work out on the fringes, there are certainly opportunities to do it, if you look.
posted by Kadin2048 at 3:06 PM on May 1, 2007

Invest the $1500 in getting an English-teaching certification in the amazing city of your choice, then work teaching English somewhere.

That's what I did for about a year. It's awesome and challenging and fun every day and I actually made enough to save money, take cool vacations near my workplace and get a sweet laptop when I got back.

It's also, I think, a really beneficial thing for the people you teach - because oyf your school, they can work abroad and earn more money, or go to college, or get a better job in their home country.

Also - if you're a US citizen, check out these working holiday visas for New Zealand.
posted by mdonley at 3:13 PM on May 1, 2007 [3 favorites]

Oh, PS - teaching English isn't just for, um, teacher-y types. We had Royal Air Force vets from the Falklands and recent US/UK college grads, as well as local teachers. And you don't have to speak the language of the "host" country, either!

E-mail in my profile if you're curious.
posted by mdonley at 3:16 PM on May 1, 2007

Hike the entire Appalachian Trail.
posted by Ugh at 4:09 PM on May 1, 2007

The Roughguide "X on a Shoestring" Guidebooks always had hints on where and what the good seasonal jobs were in each region/ city/ country...
posted by stratastar at 4:15 PM on May 1, 2007

fruit picking, grape picking, asparagus picking... every country needs labourers to collect produce.

shit work, shit pay, and largely seasonal, but usually guaranteed work.
posted by kisch mokusch at 4:21 PM on May 1, 2007

I was talking to my friend the other day, he mentioned that Doctors without borders also look for uh, non-doctors, to support their infrastructure. I haven't done any research so I dont know how accurate that is. Something to take a look into for sure.
posted by aeighty at 4:24 PM on May 1, 2007

Looks like there's a brand-spanking new edition of Work Your Way Around the World coming out soon. What good timing for you, Mr. Anonymous.
posted by Otis at 4:54 PM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

You don't say what your long term plans are, but you might want to keep an eye on this.
posted by grateful at 5:11 PM on May 1, 2007

I can recommend running away to sea - see my question on this from 2005. Despite some people's concern about my adventure, I did survive the entire Pacific crossing from Panama to Australia. I began with no sailing experience, but got plenty! I did suffer from seasickness - and contrary to what some say - some never get over it, but I enjoyed it once I got my drugging regime under control. It was the most amazing adventure, stopping off at many islands along the way and fairly cheap. I did it on a shared expenses basis (eg all the people on the yacht split the cost of food/fuel/port fees, but not boat repairs) and it probably cost something like US$70/week (plus whatever I spent when we were onshore for internet, beer etc). Many yachties will take crew on with this sort of deal, although some may charge a daily rate make it easier (which is ok if it is $20, but much higher than that I think is not such a good deal). Some other yacht hitchhikers had free rides - just depends on the resources of your skipper. Only those with experience have a chance of getting paid.

Look at the Thorntree's Life on an Ocean Wave forum, 7 Knots and Find A Crew. You can also just turn up to an appropriate port and look - but you need to be mindful of sailing seasons so you are in the right place at the right time.
posted by AnnaRat at 6:17 PM on May 1, 2007 [4 favorites]

I did this for about a decade -- technically, I guess I still am, 18 years after leaving Canada, since I never went home permanently.

During my wanderings, I washed dishes, tended bar, programmed, managed hotels, picked fruit, dug ditches, taught English, crewed sailboats (AnnaRat's advice is good -- I took off from La Paz in Baja Sur), did pyro/lighting, consulted in IT, project managed, and a bunch of other stuff.

The earlier, younger, more menial stuff, I just found by wandering about and meeting people. I found that it was always possible to find enough work to keep life and limb and bar-tab together, and save for the next trip. Later, it was mainly through friends I'd made in those earlier years of travel that would hook me up with work. Much of it was under-the-table, some was legal and visa'd up.

But I'd say that $1500 is a pretty small grubstake to get started. Not impossible -- it just means that more intensity of getting by without a safety net.

The only universal advice I can give you to make a go of it -- be a good and friendly guy/gal, meet lots of people, be generous even if you're poor, and don't take advantage of other people, and never be afraid to cut your losses and head home for a while to recharge the batteries/bank account, if you've got safe harbor there. At least back 10/15 years ago, that was enough for the global nomad to be successful at the lifestyle.

Keep in mind that 28 is still young enough for a working holiday visa for some countries (Australia comes to mind), I think. These are extremely useful to get going -- show up with one in hand, sign up with a temp agency or hit the farms, and you can get your feet under you.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:35 PM on May 1, 2007 [4 favorites]

I have a friend who is currently volunteering at an organic farm in Costa Rica. She's loving it.
posted by changeling at 6:50 PM on May 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

In Australia my brother worked at a sheep shearing ranch in exchange for room and board... he did it for about a month while passing through. Google or a travel agent can probably dig up more info.
posted by Operation Afterglow at 8:31 PM on May 1, 2007

Whenever these questions come up, I have to recommend A Walk Across America (and its sequel The Walk West).

The author did exactly what you want to do, but in the 1970s. A lot of his experiences and advice should still be relevant, and anyway, it's a really enjoyable read that should be doubly interesting for you.
posted by booksandlibretti at 12:10 AM on May 2, 2007

Bike tour.

$1500 is next to nothing, FYI.
posted by beerbajay at 2:31 AM on May 2, 2007

Here in Australia, especially in my state (Western Australia), there's heaps of need for labourers and barworkers and suchlike, but you will need to get here of your own accord and organise a working visa, which can be a tad tricky from the US.
posted by jasperella at 4:10 AM on May 2, 2007

A friend of a friend of mine went to Italy for six months to learn Italian. He did not have much money, and didn't really work much either.

His strategy was chat up middle aged women at grocery stores or markets, and ask if he could come to their house to learn how they cooked a dinner in Italy. That got him free food and possibly free lodging every day, along with free Italian lessons and free cooking lessons.

If your the kind of person who could do stuff like that, befriending strangers and getting them to help you out, I guess you could travel whereever you want and figure things out as they come along.
posted by cheerleaders_to_your_funeral at 7:26 AM on May 2, 2007

Check out helpx.net, a place where you can work in just about any area of the world in exchange for room and board. If you're looking for cheap accommodation and a great way to meet people, look at either hospitalityclub.com or couchsurfing.com where people (graciously) offer up their couches for a couple of nights.
posted by damnthesehumanhands at 2:37 AM on May 11, 2007 [2 favorites]

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