Travelling to another country, going sightseeing and visiting fascinating places, meeting new people, experiencing flamboyant emotions and just getting away from your daily boring routine – what can be more enjoyable and desirable?
However, not everyone can afford flying on a plane every now and then and spending hundreds and thousands of bucks on accommodation and holiday expenses. In fact, in the United States an average international traveler is a retired person in his 60-s who finances his trips by the savings he has made during previous decades of working. If you ask a middle-age American if he likes travelling, he would most probably reply: “Yes, I have travelled a lot, I’ve been to Chicago, Texas, Florida and so on”, not realizing that the question was not about domestic journeys. In Russia, for instance, only 5% of the population travel to another country at least once a year (source in Russian), in Europe this number is obviously a bit higher due to open frontiers, good transportation system and a variety of Europe-wide educational programs.
So, how can you be able to travel around the world at least 4-6 times a year without having large sums of savings?
My formula is find a company that will sponsor it!
What I mean is get hired to a local company in your country which runs international business, i.e. either sells its products abroad or imports goods from other countries, and become a liaison between this company and its foreign partners or customers.
The job might be named “Import/Export Coordinator” or “International Sales Manager” or anything like that. As a rule, such work requires frequent business trips abroad either to meet with customers, partners, suppliers or to participate in international trade exhibitions and fairs. Not all companies require candidates to have similar previous work experience, in some cases a good knowledge of a target foreign language suffices.
I’m giving this advice based on my personal experience. When I applied for a vacancy of an export manager in a large Russian company, I only had a couple of years of previous work experience and not in export industry. However, I possessed to a different level of proficiency a couple of foreign languages which were prerequisite to this position. Before joining the company, I had been abroad only two times to participate at some university conferences. Within 4 years of my consequent work as an export manager, I travelled to more than 25 countries in Europe, Africa, Middle East, Americas and East Asia. I stayed in one of the best hotels (Intercontinental, Marriot, Hilton, Best Western, Four Seasons, Hyatt, etc) and all my expenses were covered by my company. Besides, I was given daily travelling allowances in foreign currency to cater for my daily needs abroad, which I mostly saved).
Taking into consideration that I come from a middle-income family, hadn’t I joined this company as an export manager, for sure I wouldn’t have visited in my lifetime such countries as Burma, Nepal, Namibia or South Africa.
My takeaway is that if you can speak a foreign language at at least an intermediate level of proficiency, do try to apply to similar positions in your local companies which deal with foreign markets. You will have more chances to be hired if you have studied in a foreign university or had some sort of experience of sales abroad, but sometimes it’s not a mandatory requirement. As a student, you can participate in different international conferences or exhibitions which take place in your country and town as a translator or assistant. And you can mention this experience in your resume, which is what I did when applied to work after my graduation.
And do not get upset if you are not offered a job straight from your first application. Usually it takes about several months (and sometimes more than a year) to send your job applications to hundreds of companies, pass dozens of series of interviews until you land your perfect job.