The methods that Thibault and I use to sustain our travels usually stem from just turning up in a city and putting in the leg work to make connections and get the job we want. Even though there are thousands of sites these days to help you find work, sometimes we just prefer not to and take more control. It all comes down to what your objective is, your time frame, and your budget.
The best example I can use for this is when Thibault and I went to China. China was already a ridiculously random decision, but we essentially wanted to wing it the whole way. We’d researched teaching jobs and other various roles prior to arriving in Shanghai, but we’d read almost everywhere that you are offered pretty crappy deals doing it this way. They haven’t met you, so they don’t know you from adam – neither do you know the company. A lot of these teaching companies pray on peoples ignorance and make out that if you don’t sign a contract with them immediately, you’ll lose the “fantastic opportunity” they’re giving you that’ll be sure to never pass again.
This is complete rubbish.
You’ll almost always get a significantly better deal by just turning up and meeting the owner of the company. We were offered ridiculously low salaries for some jobs when applying from back home, which now seem totally laughable – I’m talking as little as 800€ per month in one of the most financially demanding cities in the world. Hop over to our teaching page to find out more on this!
When we arrived, we had no idea what to do. We’d turned down multiple jobs prior to arriving in Shanghai, so the job hunt was well and truly on. We scoured tons of job hunting sites for expats living in Shanghai, but 99% of them were to teach – something I was totally not excited by. I ended up finding my role as Project Manager with Dragon Group Asia simply by talking with our AirBnb flatmates over dinner one night and finding out they knew a friend of a friend who recently left their role at this particular company. I jumped online, got their e-mail address, and sent over a copy of my resume and photo. I was asked in for an interview a couple of hours later, and had the job within the fortnight.
For Thib, he found his role as a Marketing Intern on one of the popular expat sites in China, called Smart Shanghai. After the internship was finished, Thib found a job as a Teacher in one of Shanghai’s upper-class residential areas, teaching English to 4-7yr olds.
In places like China, turning up and finding employment on arrival just totally worked for us. It meant we were able to choose our neighbourhood based on our work location, and everything fell into place a lot more on our terms rather than some employment agency’s.
I also found winging it the best method when I was travelling around South East Asia and Indonesia. I found my Bar and PR work simply through talking with other travellers, finding out about the area, and approaching different places with my resume and a smile. It’s incredible how easy it is to find work when your in the right mind – employers especially like to see your strength of will and determination for knocking on unknown doors!
Isn’t it scary?
Fuck yeah! But its also exhilarating, exciting and amazing! When you decide to ‘wing it’, you are letting go of all control of the situation at the same time as having to manage and direct your own path. It sounds completely terrifying, but turning up in a city that you don’t know anyone or how your going to make money, is almost life confirming. It makes you feel alive, and forces you more than anything else to leave your cosy comfort zone and make shit happen!
But where do I start?
HERE AND NOW! Where have you always wanted to go? What’s the place that always puts a smile on your face when you think about it? The place that makes you feel tingly, excitable and anxious all at the same time? Guess what – it’s waiting for you. Book a flight, pack your shit, and bloody wing it. When you arrive, you’re going to feel every single human emotion at once, and it’ll hit you hard. Check into a hostel, talk to locals, hang out in bars and make yourself known. You deserve to be there just the same as everyone else, so let people know your there to stay!
Can I do it alone?
Of course! In doing so, you’ll become courageous, fearless and ultimately the best possible version of yourself – I kid you not. Winging it alone allows you to complete your bucket list without the need to consult anyone, your experiences somehow become even more meaningful, and your confidence will skyrocket to the point it no longer scares you to eat alone in a busy Bangkok restaurant.
As they say, the best plan is no plan. If your the kind of person who usually plans everything down to the tea you’ll be slurping at the hotel breakfast, it’s time to break free from your own chains. Your increasing heart-beat, your sweaty palms, and your heightened senses will solidify this nerve-wracking trip into the deepest parts of your memory, to share with friends and family in years to come.
You’ll learn that your parents weren’t always right when they instructed you to avoid strangers – some strangers are literally friends you haven’t met yet.
Bite the bullet and put yourself out there – you’ll surprise yourself at how good you are at it.
How do you best wing it when you travel? Let us know!