In an earlier post, Long-Term Travel/No-Cost Travel, Redux, I listed two types of working vacations I would NOT be discussing in this blog–long-term positions and volunteer tourism. Their exclusion was not because I see them as unimportant or foolish; on the contrary, they are superb ways of combining work and travel. Their omission was simply because most professionals do not wish to leave home for an extended period, and most of us cannot afford to head overseas without being paid.
I now wish to add another exclusion to that list, one inspired by a review of travel blogs made in the hope of exchanging posts with like-minded scribes. I was looking for blogs focusing on short-term overseas employment for professionals and their families. Instead, what I found were descriptions of people enjoying life styles most of us would consider totally unrealistic. What I encountered were a multitude of sites I would place in a classification called “Abandoning The Rat Race And Seeing The World.”
One author blithely states the idea of regular employment gave her the “heebie-jeebies” so instead she decided to head overseas and has been traveling ever since. Another blogger describes how life is too short to wait for the next adventure so she left her job and embarked on a personal “odyssey of discovery.” A third encourages its readers to abandon the cubicle and see the world as he and his partner have done for the last few years. I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Nowhere in the discussion of these exotic travels is there an answer to the obvious question “But how are you paying for all this?” (Although one site states they partially fund their adventures by playing the guitar in subway stations!)
I am happy these individuals have jumped off the work/family treadmill they so fear and despise, but many professionals like myself actually like what we do; many skilled workers are happy with their lives; the majority of specialists really don’t want to abandon their cubicle, laboratory, lecture hall, court room, or operating theater. They are happy with the salary they earn and are thankful for the comfort and convenience it affords.
However, many would also be pleased to add short-term adventure travel to their lives to modify their daily routine and “spice things up” a bit. That is the group for whom I am writing. The purpose of my blog is not to describe how to run away from family, job, home, and friends; it is not to teach you how to escape overseas to avoid relationships and responsibilities; it is not to explain how to have an “odyssey of discovery” by gutting your savings, spending your inheritance, soaking your ex, or living off your parent’s largesse. Instead, it is for skilled professionals who want a “temporary reassignment” whose costs can be met through meaningful contributions to a host country and which does not require anything as drastic as giving up their day job.
Although the blogs I described above make great “escapist” literature, most of us, in all honesty, are not going to quit work and head to exotic destinations while blogging for readers eager to live vicariously through our travels. However, it is totally realistic, as well as financially sustainable, to plan and carry out the kind of short-term working vacation I have been and will be describing. In the long run realistic always trumps escapist.