How I got ‘rich’ from travelling around the world

We’ve heard it all before – ‘I quit my job to travel the world’, but what is it really like when you are actually doing it? When you stop earning a guaranteed salary and start travelling without a wage? We decided to ask someone that knows all too well (and who also told us when the RIGHT time was to quit your job to travel ) how to really live off pennies, and the rewards that come with doing Workaway exchange. We hand you over to our one of our fabulous bloggers Sarah Ricard:

Sarah Richard from Coffee With a Slice of Life

Sarah Richard from Coffee With a Slice of Life

The Decision

I was 19 when I started working in a bank, the money lured me into a false pretension of happiness – that and naivety. To be fair, I enjoyed it for the first few years; I could afford a car, nights out and new clothes, all while living at my parents house. Looking back now it was probably the richest I have ever been. It wasn’t until I turned 22 that I realised there was more out there than the comfort of my guaranteed salary, my hungover Sunday’s and unnecessary shopping splurges. I started to research if it was possible to work abroad. Back then (ok, we are only talking 5 years ago, but still) travel blogs weren’t really a thing, so I couldn’t find much information. I eventually stumbled across Workaway, and sorry guys, but a fairly crazy looking website – that after a bit of navigating I realised was exactly what I was looking for. I remember the day I handed my notice in and my boss telling me I could really have worked my way up in the company. He could have offered me a million pounds right there and I still wouldn’t have taken it, I knew already how much more rewarding travelling and volunteering in other countries would be compared to continuing doing something I didn’t love just because I was too scared to get out of my comfort zone.

The Action

how-travelling-rtw-moneyI used to spend hours looking at Workaway – like a kid in a candy shop – I couldn’t believe there were so many options, in so many countries. As soon as I knew what I thought I wanted to do another host would pop up; I would go from wanting to look after baby bunnies in Maine to being a mountain tour guide in Costa Rica on an hourly basis. I then decided to let the opportunity choose me and sent out emails to all of the hosts that looked interesting and see who came back first. I knew I wanted to go to South America, but I didn’t really mind which country to start in, but when a host came back from Argentina it seemed like the obvious choice. I had savings from working so long in the bank, so I felt comfortable not earning, plus knowing the Workaway hosts gave housing and food eased my mind. I figured I would just come back home when the savings ran out (SPOILER ALERT – it’s been 5 years and I never moved back home).

The Volunteering and Travelling

workaway volunteering abroadAs I said before I was up for it all really, nothing was too hard (or too easy). I started off on a farm in Argentina, just an hour from the wine region of Mendoza. I learnt how to milk a cow – which proved way too much fun – how to make cheese, and how to sit around a table with people from 4 different countries, where the most common language was Spanish (which I spoke about 5 words of at that time).
I then went to an English School in Chile that turned into a month’s love affair with the school, kids and the country. I taught locals of all ages English in a relaxed setting, which usually involved eating, drinking and laughing.
Next was a hostel in Peru where I spent Christmas with travellers from all over the globe. Then onto a children’s charity in the North of Peru which proved challenging and emotional to see so many kids without families.
And finally, onto the mountains of Ecuador to work in a guesthouse helping with their social media. This was a big one for me – I ended up staying for a good 5 weeks and it is where I set up my blog.
After travelling for 6 months purely on Workaway and Couchsurfing I had barely touched my savings and wanted to share my experience with everyone. Some 4 years later this turned into a full-time paid job – which all started in the whirlwind of my Workaway volunteering experience!

The Reality of Working Abroad

travel-jobs-money-experienceHonestly, it’s better than you could really imagine. The amount of hours I spent laughing couldn’t even compare to those working in an office. During my travelling I felt ready to burst with happiness on a daily basis. However, one of my most valuable lessons was money is just an object. Yes, we all need money to survive, but you would be surprised at how little you really need. I hardly spent anything in my year in South America – and I didn’t earn a penny, but that year using Workaway was hands down the best of my life. It also gave me the opportunity to discover what it was I really wanted to do and was the catalyst for my current job and the reason I never moved back home, and will never work in a bank again!

To Job or not to Job

While travelling using Workaway is not working abroad – it’s an opportunity for you to learn from other cultures as well as discovering yourself – it helps you find a new kind of ‘rich’. Rich in happiness, experience, laughter and lessons. I would not recommend doing this if you are looking to continue earning an income while you travel, rather to do this if you want to see the real world – from outside the office block.
memory travel bag

30 replies
  1. Kristina Mi
    Kristina Mi says:

    You can always find remote work Or work on the spot.
    Or take a year off to do just traveling. My company offered that after 2 years of work but instead i quit because i was going to change countries

  2. henri
    henri says:

    That is great and inspiring, but it is very difficult when you figure out that you don’t have enough money to buy plane bus or train tickets and so you say ok I will work one month more but you can never save money in this society!

  3. Laura Grobler
    Laura Grobler says:

    Goals. 🙂
    Thx for sharing. Can’t wait to use my workaway account to its full potential in the future.
    I think it’s an amazing way to travel rather for experience than to earn money. 🙂

  4. Maria Carmela Rossetti
    Maria Carmela Rossetti says:

    I totally agree with what Sarah has written…I am a workaway host and I have had the pleasure to meet such wonderful people which have volunteered to come help me with gardening…I have had volunteers from different parts of the world and just like Sarah, each experience has made me become so rich in knowledge exchanging and receiving information about our countries of origin..It’s also a great feeling to know you have so many friends distributed throughout the world and many of them have promised to come back too!!

    • Lisa
      Lisa says:

      I agree with the responsibilities part, but I didnt start Workaway until I was 43! It was the best time of my life. Did it for 3 years throughout Canada and the US.

  5. AmandaFaye Prosser
    AmandaFaye Prosser says:

    Great ideas, but the issue lies with travel cost to the other countries to begin with. Plus, hard to do with little to no savings. And even if you did have some savings…what would be enough cushion to start off with? Of course…back to the travel cost to other countries issue….it would take it all to get there.

  6. Ehab Mohamed
    Ehab Mohamed says:

    Traveling is such a tremendous thing to do .but, it’s only for these people who can afford it ,,and not for someone like me who is a fresh student that have just graduated,,I mean how can I travel without money and if have the money to travel how can I move crime one place to the other ,,there is a lot of things that will come up to tour mind to do it once you finish the work that you’ve involved yourself into it ,,,or you’ll tell me that you’re going to do it all day long!!!!!!!!

  7. meetinginzdonov
    meetinginzdonov says:

    Nice topic! A bit romantic in its story though, it can be pretty hard to travel, especially on your own. Homesickness is known to kick in after about three months and can be killing. Going home isn’t the finite solution, it helps for short, one can’t unlearn the beauty of travelling. Travelling is quite similar to sailing. You have to prepare for nasty weather that may or not may be ahead. It becomes easy to trade your help for a living once you are open to new solutions for your very individual experiences. Music, cooking, building, gardening, applied art, health care skills trade well. With one of those your horizons will expand endlessly and the way to reach them starts at your own front door.

  8. Ethan Poltrack
    Ethan Poltrack says:

    The freedom it entails, not having to get in the car in the morning and be someplace at a certain time day in and day out.

    They say that each time you leave for work in our 9 to 5 job you throw 20 bucks out the window. Its the worst tax bracket to be in. Own your own business. My good friend Jim Rohn once shared that wages will make you a living while profits will make you a fortune.


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