Take it from a long-term travel addict. When your budget starts getting depleted and you have borrowed all you can from friends and family back home, the dread of the reality of The Return Flight gets ever closer. If you are actually just on the road for a set period, then you’ll probably be glad to get back to your old bed. But what if you don’t have somewhere to be in September? What if you want your travel to last as long as possible? There are ways to make it last.
First on the list can be getting there. Shop around online for the best deals and don’t book lots of connecting trips in advance. All across South-East Asia and Europe you can find really cheap flights from budget carriers. And you might find that you want to stay in Barcelona, Boracay or Berlin a lot longer than you had planned. Always make sure your return is flexible too. While the option of flying as a courier between major cities has dwindled somewhat, it still exists in the major hubs. Look around, but don’t get sucked in to paying a membership fee. I have flown return to Berlin for $100 from New York, although my luggage was limited to carry on and I had to go home in 6 days. It’s a great deal but just remember your time will always be limited and you’ll only get carry on luggage.
Secondly, slow down. When you find a place you like, skip the hotel option and find a flat. It is easy to find short or long-term ones online. If you share with a friend or 2 it’s even cheaper. Plus, you’ll have a kitchen, so your food budget goes down 300%. If you just take your time and live like the locals do, you’ll not only find the best prices on everything, but you’ll immerse yourself in both the culture and language. Do you ever pay the “tourist price” for anything back home? Of course not, because you actually LIVE there. Most places I have rented don’t require a major security deposit and most have all the creature comforts.
Last, try to get a job. Ok, so you are not on the road to work, but to holiday. And I am not talking a “real” job here. In the 80s and 90s you could find work anywhere. Hostels, local pubs and tourist resorts. Nowadays, you probably will need a work visa. That is one option if you seriously want to stay, but there are other ways. If you play an instrument you can still busk your way across Europe, but be careful in big cities. You can always be a tour guide or have a go at being a “living statue” too. I also made handmade jewelry for years and sold it in beach areas throughout the summer. If you are a certified diver, many places will take you on to work in the shop doing bookings, and you get to dive for free, get your dive master certifications for free and eventually start getting paid. Many smaller beach resorts will also allow part-time work too, just be aware that it’s not technically legal. Just be creative, ask some of the other lost travelers that have stayed on. But be warned – according to the law you’ll need a work permit.
Remember, if you find a place you like, try to make it home, be it for 2 weeks or 2 years. Even as a traveler, when you actually live in a place, you will find opportunities that most others pass right by.
I Spent many years wandering around the planet, working where ever I could. I did end up getting into a drama a few times with over-staying or lack of a valid work permit. My suggestion is to do it legally if you can. It is still quite easy if you are under 25. It is not for everyone and certainly never easy, but it can be a huge learning experience if you allow it to.