10 Ways to Enable Your First (or Fifteenth) Trip Abroad

If you’ve never traveled abroad (or even if you have) going from initial thought to boarding that first flight can be a really daunting task.  The sad truth of the matter is that whether its the cost, uncertainty, time or whatever, many people never take that dream trip they’ve always wanted.

Well that doesn’t have to be you.

Taking a trip or spending a time abroad is actually much easier to do than you might expect, and with a little pre-planning you could be on the beach in Cannes or the mountains of Switzerland in no time.

Here are ten of the most useful ways that I’ve found to plan and prepare for a big trip abroad:

1) Start a side business. One of the biggest reasons people use not to get out there and travel is that they don’t have enough money .  While I think this is primarily a matter of priorities, starting a side business can help you earn a little extra money that you can save  to put towards your time abroad.  This can be something simple like starting an affiliate business, doing a bit of consulting, or even freelance writing.

The most important thing to remember is that once you start bring in a little cash, you need to save it if you are really serious about traveling.  This should take priority over that new pair of Seven jeans.


Disclosure: The following are affiliate links

  • The Beginners Guide to Affiliate Marketing. This is an excellent new program from Corbett Barr of Free Pursuits.  I’ve gone through each of these modules, and definitely recommend it as a great entry point for people looking to get involved in affiliate marketing.
  • The Unconventional Guide to Working for Yourself.  The very first time I ever met Chris Guillebeau he gave me this book.  Now look where I’m at.  This is a great introduction to learning how to make a little extra money on the side.  If you are really serious about working for yourself over the long term, then you’ll want to check out his Empire Building Kit.
  • How to Live Anywhere.  I met Karol Gajda one night in Bangkok a few months back, and was immediately impressed by the live he has made for himself.  Through affiliate marketing and a variety of other businesses he has figured out exactly “How to Live Anywhere”.  This guide is an excellent way to to figure out how to do just that.  If anyone is qualified to teach you how, it is definitely him.

2) Figure out how much you need. What good is starting a business if you don’t have goals for how much you want to make.  Sitting down and making a detailed budget can not only get you excited by making the trip seem more real, but it will help you set a timeline as well.  If you project you can bring in an extra $500 a month, you can get a sense of how quickly you can take off (which is probably much sooner than you think).  I think Mint.com is an excellent resource for this, check out my upcoming guide about Mint.com hacks and tricks to budget for major changes (more on that to come).

3) Find a Friend. When I first decided I wanted to get outside of the United States, I talked about it all the time with my buddy Ryan.  He had a world trip planned for January of 2010. I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if he had the experience of a lifetime I had to sit back and watch from the sidelines.  We talked all the time about places to go, businesses to start, and ways to make things happen.  Having someone to talk to about this stuff who was going through the time things I was made all the difference in the world.

Sean Ogle and Ryan Martin on Koh Phi Phi

Ryan and I on Koh Phi Phi at the start of his world trip

Having someone else to travel with can also be really beneficial, especially if you haven’t done much traveling yet.  Not only does it give you piece of mind to know that there will always be a familiar face around, but don’t discount the value of having someone to be able to reminisce with and remember all the good times you had.

4) Meet People Living Abroad. The bottom line is, travel is easier if you know someone where you are going.  The more you travel, the more people you know, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get to work now!  Facebook, Couchsurfing, blogging and any number of other sites make this extremely easy.  Decide on a few places that you really want to go, and then get to work sending emails and see if you can find a digital pen pal.  My friends Mariana and Maira made sure we had the time of our lives upon visiting them in Rio de Janeiro last year.

5) Look for a sponsor. This one can be a little bit trickier, but if you have a brilliant idea for a travel project, maybe you can find someone to sponser you?  At the very least you can probably get some free stuff out of it, but in a best case scenario you could get much of the trip paid for, as well as building a name for yourself in the process.

Take Andrew Josuweit and Evan Shoemaker for example.  They are working with Student Universe and are getting paid to travel around the world and live an awesome lifestyle.   I met up with these guys while in Ubud, Bali and it’s safe to say that they are doing some really cool stuff.  Check out the adventure at Student Universe.

6) Start a blog. I’m never going to stop evangelizing for the benefits of starting a blog – sorry, deal with it.  By writing and networking you will have a chance to do (almost) all of the above in one fail swoop. You will meet people  from all over the world, find new friends, and potentially turn it into a business.  The opportunities here are huge, so I’m just going to leave it at that.

7) Find a job abroad. If you’ve decided you want to travel or see a different part of the world, this may be the easiest way to transition into doing so.  Each year, thousands of people take jobs teaching English all over the world.  I know dozens of people who have done this and have loved the experience (ok, and maybe a few that haven’t).  But you’ll make a little bit of money, meet a ton of awesome people, and you can safely bet it will be a memorable experience.

For those of you not wanting to teach, consider taking your new business overseas (see tip #1), or check out the job boards in your city of choice to see what they have available for English speakers (Craigs List can be a good place to start).  You may be surprised at just how many opportunities there are in various cities around the world.

8) Start telling people about your plans. When you start telling everyone you meet about your plans to travel abroad, something begins to happen – you begin to really feel like that’s what you are going to do.  For a year or more, I told everyone I met that’s what I wanted to do.  Eventually it morphed from that’s what I “wanted” to do, to that’s what I’m “going” to do.  This approach will also help you find people that can help you along your way.  If I met someone today who was planning to go to Thailand, I’d recommend all sorts of places to stay and things to see, and more importantly put them in touch with people in the city who could help out once they arrived.

Note: When telling people about your plans, this should also include your boss.  If you plan on taking vacation time to go abroad, their blessing is very important.  I told my boss about my Brazil trip nearly 10 months before I left, and it was still a stretch to get the time off.  Needless to say, the sooner you can give them a heads up, the better.

Photo of Iguazu Falls with blue sky background

Maybe you want to go to South America on your next trip?

9) Research. Some people will tell you this isn’t important and that you should just go with the flow while traveling.  While I believe this is true to a point, if you’re still working up the courage (or money) to go, doing a bit of research accomplishes a few different things:

  • Helps you narrow down your scope. Is this a two week trip? Two months? Two years?  By researching the kind of travel you want to do, you can more easily decide what it is that you really want to get out of your trip.
  • Become a resource. Someone with a lot of knowledge on a specific subject can be useful to a lot of different people.  If all of a sudden you know everything there is to know about backpacking in Australia, you’ll be able to make a name for yourself as the go to person for that information.  Sure this is more beneficial once you’ve got the time abroad to back it up, but it never hurts to prepare…
  • Set your mind at ease. The prospect of taking a long (or short) international trip can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you haven’t done much of it before.  The more you know about the places you are going, the less stressed out you’ll be when it comes time to leave.  Couple this with having met a couple people in your desired destination, and you’re good to go!

10) Make a Bucket List. Lots of people will argue that there isn’t a ton of value in doing this, especially as so many similar ones are popping up all over the place.  While I admit, I need to do a little updating on mine, I think that creating a bucket list is an extremely useful exercise.  Detailing the things you want t o accomplish in this life will help you to constantly strive to push your limits and live a fulfilling life.

Here are a few resources from the Location 180 Archives:

Hopefully this list has got you thinking about some ways you can start planning for your next big trip.  And well, if it hasn’t then shoot me an email and let’s see if we can find something that does work for you!

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TheInfoPreneur August 9, 2010 at 7:45 am

Hey Sean,
Great tips here.

I always enjoy your stuff and look forward to hearing from you. Any advice for those with kids? Cyber schooling. 🙂

PS…can you believe I was in Brazil..not once, but twice…and didn’t get to the falls? I was there setting up a plant near Sao Paulo (Santa de Parnaiba…also made it to Jundiai) Really cool place.

Take care,

Zac | The Carry On Life August 9, 2010 at 7:11 pm

Great post! Extremely relavant to my goals right now. Do you have any tips on getting out there (long term) while finishing school?


Karol Gajda August 10, 2010 at 1:07 am

Thanks for the shout out Sean!

And I fully agree that starting a blog (#6) is a great idea. Whether someone wants to travel abroad or not, the opportunities a blog brings are countless. We never would have met without or respective blogs! haha


Nate August 10, 2010 at 5:26 pm

I’ve done numbers 8 and 10, and these are all great tips! While I’m not going to be doing any travel abroad for a while, until after I’m done with the walk across America, it’s still something I talk about, dream about and plan frequently. Nice post, Sean! Hope all is well.

Lach August 11, 2010 at 12:40 am

Nice. #5 + #7 for sure. I’ve had international travel subsidised by clients — it’s pretty sweet 🙂 Don’t assume you need to fit your travel plans around your work either: do it the other way around. Finding employment where you are travelling, or a job you can take on the road with you is much more rewarding (and cheaper!) than trying to scrape together the cash for a brief holiday at the end of the year, while you continue to finance the rest of your life “back home”. Like Tim Ferriss says in 4HWW: “I saved thousands of dollars by travelling around the world instead of staying at home in the states”; or something like that.

Michael Ziarko Musing August 11, 2010 at 5:32 am

Sean, your post are always insightful and well-written. Keep it up mate.
Long-term travel is a big dream of mine that I hope to fulfill (or at least get out of my system) in the next 1-2 years.


Jenna August 12, 2010 at 11:44 am

Also, be prepared to be uncomfortable. Food, safety, shelter are all different. Having friends around to share in the adventure make it easier to bear. And pack accordingly.

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