What to do if you run out of money: Around the World in 80 Years

Hey guys… After a long hiatus, I am finally back to this travel series! The past couple of months have been some of the busiest of my entire life… I started teaching a new course that required my full attention for about 15 hours a day, all while moving back and forth between six different countries… So my apologies for being out of touch!

I’m still on the road though, and I haven’t forgotten about you guys.

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Last night I had a conversation with a fellow traveler out here in Asia… and one thing that struck me about our talk was the word “real world”. He was often talking about going back to his home town London, which he referred to as more real than Asia. And I thought it’s interesting how we often feel like the place where we happen to be born, by pure random chance, is somehow more “real” than other places.

But what’s more, he was actually worried about going back home… he has been on the road for almost five years, and he was concerned about being forced to go back in case his income dries up. He likes Asia better than England, and he likes traveling better than being “stuck” in one place… so that’s a real concern of his.

Which brings up a question I get asked frequently… What can you do when you run out of money while you’re “out there”?

This has happened to me more than once, especially early on during my travels… And I’ve long since figured out how to deal with it. You see… One thing I’ve always believed is that success leaves clues. If you want to be successful at something – languages, travel, a sport, a career or anything else at all – the best way to get there is to get instructions from someone who has already pulled it off… someone who has already been successful.

And back when I was a kid, I made it a habit to approach people who had traveled a lot… And I asked them about their life style. I asked them to tell me stories of their adventures, but also about challenges they faced and how they overcame them. And one of the stories I heard back in the day had such a profound impact on me that I will never forget it… Even though it has been so many years since I first heard it.

I was working at a factory at the time, saving up for my first big trip, and one of my fellow workers had spent many years traveling through all kinds of countries. And here’s what he told me: “Just take risks and don’t pass up on the things you really want to do… because life will always go on.” I asked him what he meant, and he elaborated in the form of a story… and told me about one of the greatest challenges he ever faced on the road.

He was in Norway at the time… it was winter, and he had run out of money. All he had left were 3 Euros… not enough for a meal, and definitely not enough to rent a room. But what’s more… It was so cold that he wasn’t able to keep his hands out of his pockets to even carry his bag… the cold was too painful. So he was walking along the streets of Oslo, tense, cold, broke and hungry, kicking his bag in front of him as it started to get dark and the shops around him began to close for the night.

And this is where he learnt that life will always go on… no matter what. He went into a flower shop to warm himself up for a couple of minutes, and got into a conversation with the lady who ran the shop. She invited him to join her for dinner, and as it turned out, she needed some help. The next day, he started working for her for a couple of weeks, saved up some money and continued his travels.

Life always goes on.

I have been in similar situations, and his story was always an inspiration for me. And the fear of challenges like this one is one of the reasons why many people don’t follow through on their dream of traveling the world.

But what can you do if you get stuck somewhere without any money?

The most obvious answer is to teach English. It’s pretty amazing, really, but in almost every country in the world, you can find work as a language teacher… There are only very few exceptions, such as Singapore or the Philippines, where English is (one of) the official language(s). And the second most obvious answer is working as a waiter. Those two jobs are like magic buttons that you can push almost anywhere in the world and make at least enough money to survive until you can figure something else out.

But there is a third way to keep traveling once the money runs out… And I learned about it the same way I heard the story about that cold winter in Norway. During one of my first months on the road, I ran into a guy who had been traveling the world for many years already… and so of course I asked him how he was able to fund this life style.

The answer: Work in tourism!

Most cities that attract tourists are seasonal… which means there is a lot of work to be done during certain months of the year, but no work at all outside the season. You can work as a ski instructor, diving teacher, or even as an animator in a beach hotel for 6-8 months per year and really save up… and then you get several months off, so you can use that money to travel at your leisure for the rest of the year.

It’s going to be a bit of a rough ride, especially if you want to work a lot of overtime to really save up… But you’re working in paradise… and you get paid to be in a place that other people can only dream about visiting for a week or two per year.

Which brings me back to my friend who was worried about going back to the real world… leaving South East Asia and heading back to the cold and the rain of London for mind-numbing work in an urban, materialistic society. And this is what I told him… go to Vietnam to teach English… or simply head back to Europe to work in tourism for a while. One place is no more or less real than the other… and fortunately, we live in a free society where we can choose our place in this world.

It’s really pretty amazing, actually.

I can’t believe how long this article has gotten again, there are a couple more great tips I wanted to share here but I want to keep this below novel-length for today… so I’ll have to leave the rest for the next edition of “Around the World in 80 Years.”

Guys, it’s good to be back, and I look forward to exchanging some ideas with you again in the comments, and in the forum… And please do leave me a comment below and let me know what else you would like to read about.

Greetings from Asia and my best to you all,

~ Frank Florida ~

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Frank Florida

Frank Florida é professor de idiomas desde 1994 e fala oito línguas. Viajando o mundo por 11 anos, ele visitou umas 300 cidades em mais de 50 países. Ele se graduou da High School nos EUA, se formou em didática na Austrália e é criador do site Fórmula Fluente.

18 comentários

  • 30/01/13  
    Rafael diz: 1

    That’s a fantastic story Frank! Each story you tell gives more strength to keep my adventures plans! thanks!

    • 31/01/13  
      Frank Florida diz:

      Glad you like it, Rafael. You’re right, it’s all about the *inner* game… keep going!
      ~ Frank Florida ~

  • 30/01/13  
    sandrom diz: 2

    Frank,

    Welcome again!

    Valuable tips, but something come to mind after reading your post. There are a lot of countries that working is illegal for tourists.

    Can you tell us in which countries you can work without special license or an specific kind of passport? And in what countries you had been that it is prohibited?

    thanks in advance

    cheers

    Sandro

  • 30/01/13  
    Fabiano Almeida diz: 3

    Nice story Frank! Whether I opened my wallet and saw it only three euros I go mad. I haven’t stomach for this. However this was motivator for all of us. Like: “Don’t be afraid. Go for there and live. Just live, day after day”. Inside me, your story created an encouragement that I didn’t had. So, thank you so much and good lucky in your travels around the world. Hugs!

    • 31/01/13  
      Frank Florida diz:

      Thanks Fabiano… God knows I know what that feels like haha. I’ve gone broke a couple of times during my travels as well, but you know… you dust yourself off and then keep going. I wrote a couple of other posts about money on the road as well, especially Part #2, #4 and #6… have a look:

      http://www.englishexperts.com.br/author/frank/

      Cheers!
      ~ Frank Florida ~

  • 30/01/13  
    Leonardo diz: 4

    Hey Frank!
    I like your post, don’t know if you talked about it already but last year a friend introduced me to the website workaway.info wich is a very good way to help when in run out of money on a trip.

    keep traveling!
    Cheers!

    • 31/01/13  
      Frank Florida diz:

      Hey there! Yes, it’s one of the pages I recommend as well, definitely a good resource for working abroad or on the road. Thanks for sharing!

      Always the best,
      ~ Frank Florida ~

  • 30/01/13  
    João B. L. Ghizoni diz: 5

    Frank, thanks a lot for one more piece of excellent writing. What a brush up for our English your texts are! Thanks a million! And about the topic itself, it sure gave us some ideas about how to make money abroad. I’ve been abroad (to English-speaking countries) only twice, but never worked. But working sure is a great way to make some money while we’re “out there”.

    I’m definitely going to share your text with some colleagues of mine who have studied in the US and they will certainly be amazed at the ideas you bring up. Thanks again, man! And good luck in your new job! (By the way, can you tell us something about this new job? If not, that’s okay.)

    • 02/02/13  
      Frank Florida diz:

      Hey João, you’re welcome, always glad to help. More and more of my friends are buying one-way tickets to foreign countries… because it’s just getting easier and easier to live this kind of life style. In a near future it will probably be considered to be pretty normal. Give it ten more years. ;)

      It’s not a new job I was talking about, it was an online course I’m teaching… There’s a link in the blog post, if you scroll up to the beginning. You’re welcome to check it out.

      Cheers,

      ~ Frank Florida ~

  • 30/01/13  
    Luis diz: 6

    Hi, Frank! It´s been a long time without hearing from you! Welcome!
    As always, I loved your article and – again – I agree with you about the majority of your ideas. But, like Sandrom, I think not always we can stay or work easily in any places. Now I´m in Brazil, but when I was studying in England, in 2011, talking with a friend from Switzerland about job, she offered to talk with a ski resort in her country. And she got the job for me. So you´re right, there are opportunities. But I couldn´t get the job because I´m not an European membership, I´m Brazilian. Of course in others situations you can get a illegal job as waiter and things go well, but not always. But just this remark, I agree with all you have said.
    By the way, this is a philosophical article: what´s more real? What make somewhere more real than others? I think the reality is always where you are, doing what you do. You can desire other thing, but this is imaginary. Just because it doesn´t exist yet, you can turn it in reality ou going on dreaming of it. However this doesn´t change your “real” reality. Your friend wanted change his real word for a possible (so imaginary) another one. Do you agree with me? Sorry for my novel. Hugs!!

    • 02/02/13  
      Frank Florida diz:

      That’s an interesting point. That said, I believe there is always a way if you’re committed. Maybe you run into obstacles… but there are ways around any obstacle. The question is, what’s the price you have to pay for your dream, and is it worth paying? Everyone will have to find their own answers to those questions.

      What is reality… that certainly is a deep question and the answer can be very complex. The most simple answer, in my opinion, would be that we can control our reality to a larger degree than many people are aware of – by changing our circumstances, and, if circumstances can’t be changed, by changing our perception. But I guess that topic might fill an entire article… or maybe even an entire book. ;)

      Cheers Luis, thanks for your comment!

      ~ Frank Florida ~

  • 31/01/13  
    Janilson diz: 7

    Frank, his articles are the best thing of this web site. I like it so much. Thanks for share your experiences with us. But, travelling around the world, you don’t have time for things like love, right? Can you tell us your experience about it? A world traveller can be a world lover? Or is a “forever alone” person? (LOL)
    Another thing, what about make short video for show us the place where you are?

    Thanks a lot for all buddy.

    Take care.

  • 08/02/13  
    Pei diz: 8

    oh i really miss Arond ithe World in 80 years!!!! i’m glad u back haha

  • 09/02/13  
    Gustavo Monaretto diz: 9

    Hi, frank, some time ago you posted about fear people feels about the life, I left a comment about, that I would like one day live that way, live my life traveling, but I had a fear…

    Well, after you posted about that, I decided start do it. I hang out of my house in Minas gerais, Brazil, and I’m living right now in south of Brazil, Rio grande do sul..
    And right now, in this post, you’re talking about jobs and what we can do to make money, so I realized that you’re right when you said “life always goes on”, I’ve noticed people here has a admiration with strangers, they help us, but a most of part need to come inside of us, we got to go out there and walk, walk, walk so much…

    Ok let’s go a question..
    Early I start to thing about live traveling,I never worked with any important job, I just work with supermarket, driver, or paint, so I don’t know if I go out of country if it will help me, I don’t know the others culture, and now I’m planning live in Bariloche, Argentina. Cuz I’ve heard very good about there, one man who lives in that country told me there they need Brazilians cuz a lot of tourist goes there are Brazilians, so I just want to get some information about there or about other pretty places that I could go.. I can’t find any people from that city to talk, and even in English to improve, all I’ve learned was about in this site, or some chats, but the conversation I never did… Next week I’ll back to Minas Gerais, save up some money and back to the road again… But I’m thinking hang out and continue always go place to place. Back home, just in the future to visit… What can you tell me about your lifestyle?

    I’m leaving some address you can find me

    name skype: Monaretto
    Email: Monaretto@hotmail.com

    Facebook:facebook.com/gustavo.monaretto.7?refid=7

    Sorry about my English and boring text, my English is poor.

  • 20/02/13  
    Rildo. diz: 10

    Thanks for your tips.
    Is always good read your story, we learn a lot.

  • 02/03/13  
    Nancy diz: 11

    Frank, thanks so much for your excellent clues about traveling around the world!
    BYE.