Americans notoriously have the worst vacation policy in the world and those few weeks off a year just doesn't seem to cut it in terms of quenching your thirst for adventure. If you're stuck in the corporate drone: there is another option that's becoming more and more popular with the 20 something set - to leave America completely and become an expatriate. An expat is one who adopts residence in a new country. If it sounds crazy, it's not a lifestyle for everyone, but for some, it's an exhilarating idea to uproot yourself and challenge norms. Think of the people you will meet, territories you will discover and living a more meaningful life. They say knowledge is power and there is no better way to attain it then immersing yourself in different cultures and surroundings. An expat lifestyle creates a whole new spin on coming back different.
Whether you want to teach English abroad, start a virtual business or your company is deciding to send you overseas, you will need to prepare both mentally and physically. However, do not get bogged down by the details. Half of the adventure is learning and adapting on the fly. Most importantly, understand some background information about the country such as cultural norms. Also, keep an open mind and a sense of humor. There will be many times when things become confusing or frustrating but when you figure it out on your own, it is that much more rewarding!
Save Money and Eliminate Debt
Most people are afraid of long-term travel for financial reasons. However, in some ways it can save you money and with the proper research, your travel experience does not have to break the bank. Thanks to the World Wide Web, there are several resources and tools to help you save money on the road. Couchsurfing.org was created for travelers looking to crash for free. Basically, the site is a social networking tool for travelers and people willing to host them. Couch surfing goes beyond a place to stay however. It gives you a chance to learn from locals and visit the off the beaten path places you never would have discovered on your own. I recommend ManVsDebt.com where Adam Baker describes his travels with his wife and 3-year-old child. He blogs about eliminating $18,000 of debt, selling everything unnecessary, traveling the world and passionately pursuing entrepreneurship. Not to mention he does it all while raising a family. Getting rid of debt before you hit the road decreases your chances of accumulating more debt once you move.
While saving money is important before you take off, what if you could make money once you were there? Your dream of traveling the world can be fulfilled. One option is to acquire a TEFL certificate, which would allow you to teach English in any country. GoAbroad.com provides information on TEFL certification programs as well as job opportunities in your field. If you are interested, there are volunteer and student options, as well. If you are a budding entrepreneur or aspiring to make your business remote, check out Chris Guillebeau's 279 Days to Overnight Success which explains how to create your own success with your own project. Chris has plenty of fantastic advice on traveling cheaply by building frequent flyer miles without ever getting on a plane.
When traveling, less is always more. Most people make the mistake of taking way too many things and end up lugging massive bags through airport after airport. It is possible to take one bag when planning for long-term travel. Karol Gajda, an entrepreneur who helps people from all over the world achieve 'ridiculously extraordinary' freedom, gives a break down on how to travel with his Ultimate Light Packing List. This can be especially helpful for solo female travelers.
Wherever you go and whatever you do, document it all with pictures and videos to share with family and friends. The benefit of living in the age of social networking is that even when you're across the globe you still can stay connected.