Justify traveling. It’s easy – any reason will do. Finding the means to travel is a bit trickier. However, along my way I’ve met a variety of people who have found a creative means through which to sustain their traveling, extending their dreams into the sphere of social change.
Take Sarah-Marie Hopf, a German-American girl, graduate from Dartmouth College who has taken the idea of global social change to a new, more serious level. She sought far and wide to find an organization that matched her wide spectrum of interests, landing on an organization called 17 Triggers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 17 Triggers is an ambitious agency that uses behavioral science and marketing to make a social impact in developing countries. For example, Sarah-Marie’s current project reaches out to nearby communities and, through effective rhetoric, communicates the advantages of using latrines and sanitary waste systems. Change is slow but apparent as businesses eagerly jump on board in an attempt to show their sophistication and advancement.
Another, very popular opportunity to travel and yet make an impact is through teaching English abroad. Claire McLeland, an American-Vietnamese girl, showed me exactly how prosperous and fulfilling teaching English can be. I sat in on one of her classes at ILA, “Vietnam’s leading English Language training organization.” The children raced and laughed during a version of the game “Duck Duck Goose.” Claire introduced pictures and new vocabulary which were mastered through writing competitions. The class concluded with an excerpt from the movie Frozen, in which the boys out-voiced the girls with their passionate singing abilities.
I’ve met many other people who have taught English in Southeast Asia. The business is lucrative, allowing for Native English Speakers to live a life of luxury while granting them time and a venue through which to travel. However, being able to speak English does not qualify you to teach it, so if you are interested in this opportunity, I recommend taking a TEFL or CELTA course.
Maybe you’re not into teaching, and maybe social change isn’t your priority at the moment, can you still find a way to sustain traveling? Absolutely.
At many of the hostels in which I’ve stayed, the bar tenders or front desk clerks are just travelers. The hostel gives them a free bed and free meals in exchange for working just a few hours a day. I met an artist who sent pictures of his travel paintings back to studios in London. If someone wants one, he mails it, and the royalties are put into his account upon arrival. Some people have scored deals with local businesses, getting paid small wages to edit the English on their advertisements and brochures.
When it comes to finding a way to travel, creativity is key. Never more than when traveling is this saying true, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”