So I recently decided that I’m in dire need of shaking up my life, and what better way to do this than a solo European adventure! There are millions of ideas running through my head so I’m looking for some guidance, and possibly a little inspiration on how to go about it.
Here are the facts –
- Age 28 (male) in a job/career that I don’t particularly care for, but has good benefits – will take a 6 to 12 month “career break”.
- Looking to depart Australia for Europe in early September.
- Will have approx. AU$20,000 savings with 7 weeks paid leave owing (ie: I’ll receive approx. $AU1000/week for the first 7 weeks I’m away). So AU$27,000 total, which sounds like a decent amount. However, as I get older I’m feeling more and more pressured (by society) to put my hard earned savings towards buying a property! Therefore, I would like to scurry away AU$12,000 of this into a high interest savings account, leaving only $AU15,000 and yet to have even paid for an airfare (approx AU$2,000 return or AU$1,200 one-way) or travel insurance.
- The money situation looks OK on paper, but for how long can I last on this?? I will be doing the ‘budget’ backpacking thing with the odd bit of comfort along the way (a night or two in a hotel to refresh and I eat a LOT – I’m always hungry!! So food is something I know I will spend money on). I want to start in France for maybe a week in Paris (have found a cheap flight into Paris) then my rough idea is to spend time in Spain and Portugal whilst the weather is still warm – possibly 4-5 weeks, then head to Germany and eastern European nations (I have a very open itinerary and open to all sorts of suggestions).
- My dream is to be able to find work (any work) after a month or 2 of travelling – preferably a large city that is well connected with transportation, and with a vibrant gay scene where I can base myself for 3-4 months. Berlin would be absolutely ideal!!! But I have been told (by German’s themselves) that finding work without the ability to speak the language will be tough – even if it is just bar work. As I have already used my once-off UK working holiday visa, UK cities are not an option. As for Ireland – I’m not particularly keen on living there.
- Any suggestions would be great! Whilst I have never done bar work before, I am going to do an RSA (Responsible Service of Alcohol course) before I leave, and I have even considered doing a TESOL course – there is currently an online deal available for the next week to do a TESOL course for only $250 ($600 saving!) I need to decide whether to take this up or not. Would I even get teaching work in Europe without experience? Teaching would be a last resort as I don’t think I’d make a great teacher – but I don’t want to limit my options either!!
- Finally, I’m interested in hearing people’s thoughts on “societal pressures”, particularly those in their late 20’s/30’s. I feel like at this stage of my life I should have a defined career path and at the very least be saving hard for a house/unit deposit (or even have one by now). I feel like such stop-out. I used to mock those people who were young and saving for retirement or property in their early 20’s, whilst anytime I managed to save $5,000, I was off on an adventure overseas – only to come back with nothing and start saving all over again. For how long can one do this? I’ve saved well to get to $20,000 and is it really worth spending it all on just 4-6 months travel??? How have you managed you travel habit in the past, whilst also being sensible about securing your future?
- Obviously the easy answer in my situation is to just go away for a two or three months break and then return – but I know this won’t satisfy me – I need to be gone for a least 6-12 months and really want to base myself somewhere and live on the European continent.
- I guess the resounding message is that I just want an adventure!!! And I am reasonably flexible in how I go about doing it.
Wow long post – thanks for reading this far Any thoughts, ideas or inspiration will be much appreciated!
Ps. I’m posting this on another prominent travel forum, so apologise if you have to encounter this twice!!
Sorry, so long a post I lost interest in moments and I apologise.
Solely based on your subject heading.
Are you aware of the Schengen agreement?
Are you aware of the unemployment situation everywhere in Europe?
Are you aware that in many countries in Europe the employer must justify taking you on rather than someone from that country or Europe?
You may somewhere in your post have shown you are aware or addressed these points, in which case I apologise again.
As above, check out the details for the Schengen Agreement.
If you are intending to work for any period of time, please note tourist visas don't generally allow you to engage in any employment. This is from Wikipedia:
Australia has reciprocal Working Holiday maker arrangements in effect with the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Republic of Ireland, Republic of Korea, Malta, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Hong Kong, Finland, the Republic of Cyprus, France, Italy, Belgium, Estonia and Taiwan of China.
Check out the options that are available to you through these countries. I would be inclined to use a WHV while still possible to maximise the length of your stay and fund further travels as necessary.
Sucks that you've already used your UK WHV, though at least that means you should have a very decent idea of what to expect. Money-wise the current exchange rate favours you (compared to a couple of years ago). Nearly 12,000 euro (based on the AUD 15k); should last you 3, maybe 4 months.
Language makes things difficult. There *are* jobs for people who only speak English, but unless you have specific skillsets, those jobs tend to be not very inspiring (from what I've heard; as a local, I only have second-hand experience through friends who immigrated). The Netherlands and Scandinavia are probably your best bet when going by how easy it is to get around using only English, though Germany might make a better bet through sheer scale. (If I were in your position, I'd reconsider Ireland; work there to stock up on money, and then spend it travelling the rest of Europe. Then again, you sound as if you've been there and it really didn't click for you.)
I don't know if the RSA course will have any value here. I know - from advice frequently given on the Australia forum here - that it doesn't in the opposite direction, and has to be done locally. Check that out before you spend the money there. As for teaching; I'm only vaguely aware of the subject, but know that at least the Netherlands and Germany are rather strict with what kind of qualifications they accept; you generally need to have a higher education in teaching before being allowed in front of a class at a regular school (there's 1-year "fast track" studies for people with university degrees, and you're allowed to teach while doing them, so there's some leeway; but not a whole lot). Though I guess there might be possibilities as an "assistant teacher" or private tutor, or teaching English to adults.
If it's just new sights and experiences that you want, your money might last a whole lot longer in South America or SE Asia.
Finally, career-wise... It sounds like you're not ever going to lose the travel bug. So I'd strongly recommend looking into ways to make travel a sustainable part of your life. You might still be able at this point to blow through half your savings and be okay, but that won't keep on working. So either on this upcoming trip or around it, try to really explore different options for what it is that you do, in a way which can include travelling.
For me personally, I've done that by becoming a freelancer (and by being really, really good at what I do, really caring about it, so that I can be actually successful as a freelancer). I travelled for two years after university, and since then I've travelled for three months almost every single year, just waiting for the next big project to end before hitting the road again. It's become a bit more sedate now that I'm a few years into my 30s (though currently plotting a six month RTW trip), but it's still a necessary part of my life; without costing me the rest of my life.
Don't know if freelancing is a viable option in any of the fields you have experience in, but I doubt my way would be your way, anyway. It's just an illustration of one possible way to make travelling a sustainable part of your life.
Hope that helps you at least a little bit, and is the kind of feedback you were hoping for! Try not to be too set in your thoughts about what you want and how you want it; frequently there's a third way you haven't considered yet. Good luck with it all!
[ Edit: Edited on 07-Jun-2012, at 15:46 by Sander ]
Firstly, sorry about the original long post - I just started writing and off I went
Thanks for the thought-provoking questions WomBatt - I understand it's tough economic times across much of Europe, but I didn't realise employers were required to justify hiring a person not from their home country. Really makes me wonder whether I'd have any chance at all... but I guess the best way to find out is to be over there and amongst it. If worse came to worse and I didn't find work... I'd just head home (maybe via Thailand for a month on Ko Phi Phi or somewhere similar
Sander, thanks for taking the time to reply! You're right, I am at a stage where I can blow half my savings and it won't mean total financial distress. But I do think I'm at an age where it's "now or never" to do the nomadic extended back-packing-thing.
You have made me reconsider Ireland as a possible base - I actually have never been, so I guess I shouldn't completely dismiss it. There's just nothing that 'draws' me to it. And I've been told the employment situation is particularly bad there as well.
I have an Aussie friend who arrived in Berlin last night and is going to be looking for work (any work), so her success in finding employment will largely determine whether I try my luck as well.
Firstly I would like to say that 28 is not too old to be blowing your savings and adventuring! haha. I work in New Zealand amongst all the travellers doing seasonal work and travelling around going wherever they want on extremely tight budgets, and it is VERY rear to find a traveller under 25 ! The majority of them are from 25-30, even older. And also, I have met Doctors, Lawyers and Archaeologists that left everything to go on an adventure for a few years. So hopefully that makes you feel any better haha.
I am 19, and have actually been the same as you, whenever I save a bit of money I get online and book flights to anywhere I want. And in July, I am leaving to Europe for 3months and then over to the USA for 1 month, I only have about 6k, and Im going to do it! Im not going to look for work (you are) so I will probably be very poor the whole trip but thats what makes it an adventure so it doesnt matter about the funds, you will have more than plenty.
Also, I have been in contact with people from NZ that got jobs in Portugal, Spain and even Italy just selling products in the markets and some in Restaurants, and they say it is very easy to get them.
One other thing I can possibly help with is that last year I actually started this trip and I travelled through England, Scotland and spent 2 months in Ireland, and I can tell you now that Ireland is a nice place buuut not really a place you would want to spent you European adventure haha. It does get quite dark and gloomy, and cold. But it probably depends on what you are into. In my opinion, I would choose a place like south west france or spain.
Anyway, hope I helped a bit. Have a sweet trip!
It looks like your best bet is applying for a WHV - Australian can get them for several European countries and I know many Australians come to Germany on a WHV. It frees any potential employer from proving that your job could only be done by you and not by any EU citizen. If you get the WHV, definitely tell any employer you don't need a work permit. They'll be glad to be rid of the paperwork.
If you don't get a WHV, don't forget the Schengen rules - 90 days out of 180 in all of the Schengen area and no working.