Why don’t Americans travel more?

It’s a question we’ve seen a thousand times. People are wondering why one of the strongest nations on earth, with the people who have the most opportunity, and a strong currency, don’t travel.

I used to be one of those people and I understand why Americans don’t travel.

But now, I’m hoping to change that.

Travel and Live Abroad Opportunities for Americans

Here are the tops reasons we don’t travel with a short, witty, slightly sarcastic but very true answer.

  1. We don’t have enough money.

Because we spend money on stupid shit when we could be saving. A new iPhone takes priority over a flight. Why? Because we will look cooler. Don’t get paid enough money at the job? Please tell me why there’s a new car in the driveway then.

  1. The world is SOOOO scary.

Eh hem… Yeah. And our country is the most peaceful place on earth where bunnies and unicorns run around handing out lollipops and kisses all while singing kumbaya under a rainbow. No bad guys here!

This excuse is a joke now more than ever.

  1. We don’t get enough vacation days.

Truth! We get VERY few vacation days. This is a problem. Buuuut I’m sure using five sick days on a Monday because of a hangover from Sunday could have been put to better use. Also, going back to point #1, alcohol = money. Money that could have been spent on a flight. Just sayin! People need to become savvier with those days off that they do get. Oooorrrr….. They could just work abroad… Wait for it…

  1. I can’t live abroad or travel for long-term because that’s way too expensive and it’s not what I’m supposed to do.

Uhm, we have some excellent options for living and working abroad as Americans. You know what the real problem is? They aren’t advertised! Nobody knows about them! They aren’t spoken about! They are thought of as a waste of time because you should be getting that “real life” 9-5 job that you’ve been told you should get.


#4 is a problem and I intend on screaming from the mountain tops the opportunities that aren’t being shown to us or that are looked down upon. For whatever reason (not going to get all political here, but ya know… I’m pretty sure I know some of the reasons why) these opportunities just aren’t “out there” enough and we just scoot on by in life never knowing about the heaps of potential travel opportunities at our fingertips. Even more so, there are people around the world who don’t even have half of these opportunities and would DIE to be in our shoes.

…And here we are wasting them NOT EVEN KNOWING THEY EXIST!

I don’t blame anyone for not knowing about these opportunities. However, I need YOU to help me with my mission of making these opportunities more widely known.

I’m not talking about your average 10-day vacation, by the way. We all know we can do that with some savings.

I’m talking about taking a year off to travel, taking a journey to the other side of the world to pursue a degree, hopping on a plane to discover a new artifact because it’s your job to do so, flying to another country and being able to live and work there, going around the world and helping those in need, and even getting an “average joe” job but in another country so you can experience what life is like over there.

For me, I never knew about these opportunities until I started traveling, with the exception of teaching English abroad. I NEVER knew I could live and work in Australia or New Zealand, study in Dublin, or get paid to live and work in another country who needs my skills. These aren’t really advertised or sought after because people don’t know about it.

I’m hoping this changes things, I’m hoping you help me in getting the word out there for our fellow Americans.

We can travel more, we can live abroad, we can work abroad… We have so many opportunities…

I’m hoping to help at least one person find an opportunity they didn’t know existed but happens to be the perfect opportunity they were looking for. Maybe that person is you? Maybe it will be a person that you share this article with? These opportunities NEED to be known.

So here you go my friends, here are ways for Americans to live and work abroad, and they NEED to be talked about.

Take a Gap Year

It’s a huge thing in Australia and Europe. But not the USA. Why? Social pressures? Mommy and Daddy said no? We are scared? College MUST be completed ASAP after High School, no questions asked?

Yes to all the above. That’s the American way. Going abroad is scary, it’s not the norm, mom and dad said go to college now, and that’s what happens.

That’s what I did. That’s what most of my friends did. That’s what America does.

Let’s change it. Gap years are essential to reboot your mind, body, and soul. Academic burnouts are so prevalent, yet a gap year could easily reset your mind and you would be ready for college. Not wanting that gap year at 18? At least take a gap year after college before you settle in that job.

A gap year should be just as popular in the States as it is in our fellow western world countries. It should be a norm and not looked down on. DON’T listen to anyone deterring you not to go. If you really want it, please do it. It’s not “suicide” for your future or career, that’s a fib. Instead, it will open so many doors, please take advantage of it!

Study Abroad for Cheap / FREE

With so many choices for universities, I’m sorry to add even more to your list, but you should definitely know that studying outside the USA is a possibility! From Germany to Brazil you can find yourself in a classroom on the other side of the world working towards a degree while living in a foreign country. Pretty cool, huh?

Now there are probably certain requirements and things to think about before running to a college abroad, such as how the degree will transfer over to the USA and student visa obligations prior to jetting off, but I’m sure the homework will be worth it.

Oh, and did I mention the costs of these universities are often less than some fees in The States and sometimes FREE. Yep. I said Free.

Check these two websites out to start: Website | Website

And if you’re too afraid to live that far from home, why not study in Canada, our friendly northern neighbor? Don’t forget to pack your parka.
Things to do Around Sulawesi and Maluku liang beach ambon

New Zealand Working Holiday Visa

Age: 18-30

Duration: 12 months

Cost: $0-$150 USD (I have met people who have had this fee waived – at the discretion of NZ!)

Official website

The land of sheep and kiwis need people like you to come over and work! How incredible would it be to live in New Zealand? This country is still so new, there are more sheep than people. No joke. The landscape is indescribable and you’d be one lucky ducky to live here. My boyfriend did this working holiday visa, here’s a video to entice you to go…


Bunac –  Working holiday visa for New Zealand

Age: 18-35

Duration: 12 months

Cost: $400 USD

Official website

Don’t worry, “oldies” like me can still go if you’re under 35! I plan on taking advantage of this working holiday visa since I missed out on the one offered by the government.

Australia Working Holiday Visa

Age: 18-31

Duration: 12 months

Cost: About $350 USD

Official website

Work in Australia! Hello! How cool would that be? This is perfect for those who think “living abroad is scary,” because Australia is very much like the USA. Like, besides the accent and some of their critters, it’s the same place.

I have an extensive post on Australia’s working holiday visa.

South Korea Working Holiday Visa

Age: 18-30

Duration: 18 months

Cost: $45 USD application fee

Official Website

A tiny place with a HUGE beating heart and vibrant soul, South Korea would be an insanely cool place to work and live!

Ireland Working Holiday Visa

Age: over 18

Duration: 12 months

Special requirement: Must be enrolled in school full time.

Cost: About $350 USD

Official website

If you’re in school, you’re in luck! You can get a working holiday visa for Ireland! Tell me what it’s like to see the other side of the rainbow and share that pot of gold with me too! Please?

Singapore Working Holiday Visa

Age: 18-25

Duration: 6 months

Special requirement: You must be a graduate or undergraduate of a top 200 university.

Cost: $150 USD

Official website

Check out Singapore in the best possible way! By living and working there. This tiny island packs a lot of punch.

The next few on this list might be slightly familiar to you, but again, are not given as much credit as they are due. Please consider these options as REAL options. They are not out of your reach. If it’s what you want, go for it!
pai huay dimi lake thailand

Teach English Almost Anywhere in the World

The usual requirements to teach English in a foreign country:

  1. Have a bachelor’s degree in any subject.
  2. Obtain a TEFL certification (Remember to check out MyTEFL, a fab and highly recommended online TEFL certification company. Use Nina35 at checkout for a 35% discount)
  3. Be a native English speaker.

Resources: My extensive post on teaching English abroad and the link to your TEFL certification (Nina35 – discount code at checkout)

Many people in the USA would easily tick these boxes. Working as an English teacher is an incredible way to integrate yourself into a community and learn more about a culture while making money abroad. If you choose wisely, you could end up saving loads of cash for your future travels. A popular country to bank in is South Korea. There are plenty of stories of people SAVING $30-40k in two years.

I’ve taught in Thailand and made very little but was still able to save money to travel around the country!

Once you’re established as an ESL teacher, you can even look into getting a teaching job online. Yes, I said ONLINE! A job that’s super portable and rewarding. I have plenty more information regarding becoming an online English teacher in this post.

NOTE: The requirements for becoming an English teacher will vary from country to country. There’s no set rule for the world, you’ll have to see what the rules are in the country you desire to teach in. Some countries will accept individuals who have very good English skills but aren’t native, and some will require much more of you such as tests, background checks, and even a masters in English. It all depends on the country, and then even further, the school you apply to.

Au Pair

Website: There are so many, here is Aupair and AuPairWorld

You’ve heard of this one! Like kids? Awesome, go take care of kids in another country. BOOM. You’re abroad, with money, and an opportunity to get involved in another community and culture.



Waaayyyy too many to name and point out. This one you’ll have to look into yourself because there are a plethora of organizations who are looking for good-hearted individuals who have certain skills to join the team…somewhere in the world. Check it out, this could be your calling to really help our planet!

Specialized careers

This one is a bit more difficult for you to just “fall into.” These jobs are for the people who are going to school / have gone to school for a specific area of study that will eventually have them getting on a plane to research, discover, and learn more about.

Perhaps you’re into ancient archeology and you’ll be needed in Greece or Egypt? Maybe you’re an anthropologist who will need to go to some crazy island nobody has heard of to discover a tribe that hasn’t seen the outside world?

Maybe you will work for the government as a special agent and you’ll need to take jaunts around the world to compile your cases. Perhaps you can become an immigration officer for the United States Embassy in ____*insert country*___.

If you want to travel AND you happen to be fascinated with a career that will involve you traveling, go for it! Always go for what you really want. It might not be the easy route, but if it will bring you a life of happiness and fulfillment, wouldn’t it be worth the rough road to get there?

RELATED: Here’s how I tried living the American Dream and failed. I took the long road to happiness, but it was so worth it!

Boo!!! These options SUCK! I want more!


So these options are for ANYONE. American, Indian, Moroccan, Brazilian, maybe even alien? Whatever. Here are heaps more options:

  1. Do you have a skill that’s “freelancable?” Essentially, can you do a job that requires a computer and internet connection only so you can do it from anywhere? Awesome, start freelancing.
  2. What about using one of these tactics to travel and live abroad for practically free?
  3. Or maybe you want to take a look at these other jobs you can get abroad.

OK, Nina… You’re talking a lot about working and studying, this isn’t traveling!

I get it, I get it… I know that when you see WORK and STUDY visa, you’re not thinking about sipping coconuts on the beach, but I’m telling you, there’s nothing quite like working and living abroad to HELP you travel.

When I was teaching in Thailand, we took trips all the time on our long weekends. When school was done, I had a pocket of money to wander around with. AND since I lived in the country, I knew how to get around in the local language, I knew what scams to avoid, I compiled an awesome list of places to go from my new friends I met, and I had a substantial amount of time to travel as opposed to a 10-day vaca.

ALSO, so many people express that they can’t travel because of money. Well, this kind of takes care of that problem, doesn’t it? Making money at your “vacation destination” certainly helps the wallet out.

You’re also not obligated to work the entire time. You’re welcome to come to the country, work and save for a few months, then take off the rest of the time to travel. It’s all up to you.

You can even do what I’m doing and not travel AT ALL…yet. I’m currently living in Australia and I haven’t traveled very much. Instead, I’m taking my entire one-year working holiday visa and only working. I’m saving a ton of cash which can only mean one thing – epic adventures to come!

Want to have a taste of what a year of only working abroad will bring me? Let’s just say I could go live in Southeast Asia for two whole years with the money I’ve saved. Yeah… I’ll let that sink in.

Lastly, when you live in a destination, let’s take Thailand for example, visiting the neighbors becomes a hell of a lot cheaper and easier. Laos was a night bus ride away, Malaysia was a $60 plane ride away, and seeing the majestic complex of Angkor Wat in Cambodia could be done in a weekend if I wanted to.

Imagine flying across the world in three separate flights from the USA to see those three countries. Yeah, we’re talking THOUSANDS of dollars instead of a few hundred. Not to mention you’d have to probably take those vacations over the course of two to three years because of your vacation day restraints and needing to save way more money.

Which way sounds more appealing, cheaper, and adventurous to you?

JUST TRAVEL! You are so LUCKY to be American! Here’s why:

If you’re dying to travel and live abroad and don’t take advantage of some of these opportunities, then I’m sorry, but you’re crazy.

Now if some of these opportunities are just a tad too intense for you, then I get it, maybe you just want a small jaunt. No worries, go do that first!

You are SO lucky to be from the USA. Despite all the drama our country might be in the spotlight for and the downfalls we may have (all countries have them!) we have an awesome country to call home for three simple (travel-related) reasons, and if you don’t appreciate them and use them to your advantage, yep, you guessed it, you’re crazy!!

  1. Our passports are powerful. In fact, we have one of the most powerful passports in the world. With this little blue book, we can go to over 150 countries without a visa. Be thankful for this passport, USE this passport, this passport is your key, all you have to do is turn it to unlock a world of incredible possibilities.
  2. Our currency is also strong. Perhaps not the strongest, but it’s damn strong. Which essentially means you have more of the local currency when you go abroad with that dollar in your hand. Again, we are so lucky for this! Use it to your advantage!
  3. Your native tongue is English. If you haven’t been abroad, you haven’t had that feeling yet. The feeling of, “Holy crap, I’m so freakin happy I speak English! Everyone has to speak English to communicate in the world! OMG I’m so lucky!” You have NO idea how necessary English is and how incredible it is to have this language as your native tongue. It makes life so much easier and you will appreciate English so much more once you realize how many opportunities it brings you.

There are surely tons of other reasons why we’re lucky to be Americans, ya know, things like having running water, advanced infrastructure, and not being war-torn etc… but I think you understand why I highlighted what I did! Let’s not digress.

So, I urge you my fellow Americans PLEASE, for the love of macaroni and cheese, PLEASE go travel.

Go study abroad.

Go live abroad.

Go do something, anything abroad, just once in your life.

It’s not scary, remember that people are mostly good, and if you’re open, you will have an amazing, life-changing time.

Where do you plan on taking advantage of your “American-ness”?

Did I miss an opportunity for us that should be on this list? Tell me!

Have you done any of these options? What can you share with us?

Not done reading?

In case you miss some of the links…

Here’s how I’m saving THOUSANDS abroad.

Here’s how you can live and work in Australia LEGALLY and SAVE money.

Here’s info on how to teach abroad.

Here’s why living the American Dream isn’t for everyone, and how I totally failed at it.

You should probably PIN this so your friends can see it!


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