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 by showing you opportunities for working holiday visas for Americans and other work abroad possibilities.
So Why Are Americans Not Really Traveling?
Here are the tops reasons we don’t travel with a short, witty, slightly sarcastic but very true answer.
(Yes, there are other reasons, I am well aware, but I want to talk about these in particular!)
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 your job? Please tell me why there’s a new car in the driveway then, or why you go out for drinks every weekend, or how you afford to get your hair and nails done every month…
PS – Almost no excuse will work on me with this one. I worked three jobs to make my travels happen. So if I can do it, so can you.
2. 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.
3. 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 few random Mondays 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…
4. 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—It’s called getting a Working Holiday Visa for 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.
This CAN Be Something You Can Do!
#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.
RELATED: How I tried living the American Dream and failed
For me, I never knew about these opportunities until I started traveling, with the exception of teaching English abroad (which I only stumbled upon while Googling circa 2007).
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 that needs my skills. These aren’t really advertised or sought after because people don’t know about it.
I’m hoping this post 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. 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 all the Working Holiday Visas for Americans, plus some bonus info below—and they NEED to be talked about.
Working Holiday Visas for Americans
Below you’ll find six different opportunities for working holidays visa for Americans for five different countries. Do note that they all have some requirements, particular age requirements. Don’t worry though! If you’re aged out of these opportunities, keep reading, I have a few more to share with you that don’t have an age limit!
1. New Zealand Working Holiday Visa for Americans
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.
- Age: 18-30
- Duration: 12 months
- Cost: $35 USD
- Official website
2. BUNAC – New Zealand Working Holiday Visa for Americans
Don’t worry, “oldies” can still go live and work in New Zealand. With this alternative working holiday visa for Americans people who are older than 30 and under 35 can still get this visa.
- Age: 18-35
- Duration: 12 months
- Cost: $400+ USD (Please read my guide below for more info regarding fees)
- Official website
Read my guide to the New Zealand Working Holiday Visa for more info (including more about BUNAC!)
3. Australia Working Holiday Visa for Americans
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 (Same for New Zealand too). Like, besides the accent and some of their critters, it’s the same place.
Working in Australia was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that I will NEVER forget. Oh, and I also happen to save THOUSANDS of dollars during my year there. Here’s all my info on living and working in Australia.
- Age: 18-30
- Duration: 12 months
- Cost: Around $400 AUD
- Proof of $5000 AUD in the bank
- Official website
Read my guide to Australia’s working holiday visa
4. South Korea Working Holiday Visa for Americans
A tiny place with a HUGE beating heart and vibrant soul, South Korea would be an insanely cool place to work and live!
- Age: 18-30
- Duration: 18 months
- Cost: $45 USD application fee
- Official Website
5. Ireland Working Holiday Visa for Americans
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?
- Age: over 18
- Duration: 12 months
- Special requirement: Must be enrolled in school full time.
- Cost: About $350 USD
- Official website
6. Singapore Working Holiday Visa for Americans
Check out Singapore in the best possible way! By living and working there. This tiny island packs a lot of punch. It’s not the cheapest place though, so save some cash before heading over.
- 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
RELATED: The Longest Tourist Visas for U.S.A. Citizens, How to Extend Visas, and More.
7. Canada Working Holiday Visa for Americans
You don’t have to go too far from home to have an amazing experience living and working in another country – Canada has a working holiday program available for Americans that want to live and work there.
- Age: 18-35
- Duration: 12 months
- Special requirement: U.S. citizens need the support of a Recognized Organization to be approved for this visa.
- Cost: $795 USD
- Official website
More Options For Living and Traveling Abroad as an American
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!
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 with some homework, you can figure it out.
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.
Don’t forget, some of the working holiday visas for Americans REQUIRE you to still be enrolled in school!
RELATED: Study Abroad Tips and Tricks
What If I’m Too Old For The Working Holiday Visa for Americans?
Oh, I got you! Trust me, I know what it’s like. I was there! I JUST BARELY made it to Australia before aging out. In fact, I turned 31 in Australia, talk about cutting it close…
It’s a real thing. By the time we figure some things out, our opportunity has passed. Or has it?
Beyond working holiday visas for Americans, there are actually other opportunities to work abroad that are just as amazing! I’ve done most of them, so I can tell you, they are 100% worth it. Now forget about your age, and take advantage of these opps below.
Teach English Almost Anywhere in the World
The usual requirements to teach English in a foreign country:
- Have a bachelor’s degree in any subject. (If you don’t have a degree, read this.)
- Obtain a TEFL certification (Don’t get one without reading this first!)
- Be a native English speaker.
Resources: My extensive post on teaching English abroad and the link to get your TEFL certification.
Make Sure You Choose The Right TEFL Program!
There are tons of TEFL programs out there and it’s hard to sift through which are actually worth it! In fact, I nearly got screwed out of my TEFL certificate! And I paid WAY too much for it too. 😭Luckily I got you covered. Check out the best and cheapest online TEFL programs so you can teach English around the world and travel!
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 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!
RELATED: 19 Countries to Teach English in—Salary vs Cost of Living
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 of information regarding becoming an online English teacher.
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 master’s in English. It all depends on the country, and then even further, the school you apply to.
Make sure to read my resources above to help you decide.
Au Pair / Travel Nanny
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.
Websites: There are so many, here is Aupair and AuPairWorld
RELATED: How to Be a Travel Nanny
Waaayyyy too many to name and point out. This one you’ll have to look into yourself because there are a plethora of organizations that 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.
Website: NGO directory
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 lifetime of happiness and fulfillment, wouldn’t it be worth the rough road to get there?
RELATED: How to Work Abroad WITHOUT Experience
Meh, I’m Not Sold. Got Anymore Options?
Actually, yeah, I do. If you’re still not totally sold on doing a working holiday visa as a US citizen or the other opportunities that I’ve presented, there are many more.
See why I was so pissed above that hardly any of my friends, or friends or friends, know about these!? There are so many and we are ALL IN THE DARK.
So these options are for ANYONE. American, Indian, Moroccan, Brazilian, maybe even alien? Whatever. Here are heaps more options:
- 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.
- What about using one of these tactics to travel and live abroad for practically free?
- Or maybe you want to take a look at these other EASY jobs you can get abroad.
- I compiled over 70 jobs you can do abroad or online here.
- And here are over 20 digital nomad jobs you can go for!
That should keep you busy and get some wheels turning… Those are over 100 options to work abroad or online! *Mind. Blown.*
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 me talking about a WORKING holiday visa for Americans, 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 vacay.
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.
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 on four 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 the need 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!!
- 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 (unless we want a working holiday visa for US citizens then, of course we need one!). Be thankful for this passport, USE this passport, this passport is your key, all you have to do is turn to unlock a world of incredible possibilities (OK that was a bit cheesy but you get where I’m going with this).
- 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!
- 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, 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.
And if you’re not over the age, I can’t encourage you enough to GO use those working holiday visas for the Americas! THEY ARE GOLD!
More Working Holiday Visas
Which country would go to with a working holiday visa? Let us know in the comments!
Nina Ragusa is an adventurer, messy bun master, breakfast fan, and full-time travel blogger. She’s been abroad since 2011 and blogging on Where in the World is Nina? for nearly as long. Nina helps people like you move around the world while making money. She loves talking about how to work abroad and online to travel longer!
Thanks for sharing Nina, I just love reading your articles.
Thank you <3
Thanks so much for this post. An awesome collection of such very useful info in addition to those points which are all spot on.
Thanks so much, Thomas!
Great article Nina! Have you come across anyone in your travels who is a W-2 employee at a U.S corporation but is a “digital nomad”? I have heard Chiang Mai is a hub for digital nomads in the IT/dev community because of the strong wifi. I currently work as a W-2 in IT/computer area for a corporation that allows you to work virtual/telecommuting and I’m trying to find some people in similar situation who are true digital nomads. The Vast majority I have come across are 1099 independent contractors. I love your blog! Thanks for all the cool tips
Thanks so much James!!! Well, that specific info doesn’t really get discussed lol. I’m sure there are and I’ve probably met a few but I never asked if they are on a w2 or 1099. CM is a great community to start in, def join some of those Facebook groups and I’m sure you’ll find your own little community.
This is great, as a fellow American just getting started in the world of travel it can be pretty scary at times to take a leap especially when society is telling you to get a 9-5 job, acquire things and property, etc etc. It’s nice to see there are people rejecting that old way and embracing living & working abroad.
Thanks for the list of places & visas, it opened my eyes up to a few places I hadn’t even thought about before!
So good to hear this helped! 🙂 <3
Well, came up with your webiste, its amazing to find someone who have the same hobbies. Traveling all the way to wonders and still do not fade up with the world, its an amazing experience. I am going through your blog and i hope it will give me a new inspiration to find new places. I will keep you posted with my experience as well. Cheers
Thank you, Tanzeel!!
Just found this blog today- amazing. Question though- I’m a late bloomer, I’ll explain, I’m currently 37, have a high paying job with a great company and climbed up the corp ladder, but this is not the life for me. I know I need to travel, live and eventually work abroad. I understand I will make much less, but that’s ok.
Anyway- since I’m “old” at 37, I plan to save more to have at least 3-4 years of living expenses in the bank to give me the opp to travel w/o worrying about money for a year +. All these travel blog authors are mid twenties and I guess for lack of a better term “don’t have much to lose” when I quit, I’m quitting a 6 figure income job and money that’s going into my 401k so a bit more riskier. Since you’re out and about, is it rare to see someone like me out there and job searching. I’ll be close to 40 when I make the move, but wondering about the opportunities for guys like me. I think before I make the plunge I’ll get my TEFL just incase. Or maybe just take the class in Thailand. Any feedback would be appreciated.
PS. Have no idea where my home base will be, after the year of travel should have a better idea where I want to look for work. I know it will be SE asia, including S Korea, HK, phills and potentially Saudi Arabi
Thanks and sorry for the long question. Will continue to follow your blog with interest.
Thanks Thomas! And seriously, don’t even worry about age. I’ve seen families with their six year old who have been to more countries than me to people in their sixties carrying their life in their backpacks. Travel and working abroad has no age cap. Go for it! TEFL would be wise as it’s always going to be needed (teaching English that is). I even taught online after getting experience under my belt and you can get some good gigs paying pretty decent! Not six figures but certainly enough to pay for a great life nearly anywhere in the world. Age is not going to be a problem and there are plenty of people doing it 🙂 hope that makes you feel better.
Also- have you thought of asking if you can go remote with your job? No idea what you do, but a lot of companies are becoming more open to it! Could be something to start hinting towards? Or maybe apply to another company in your field who is moving in that direction, at least you’ll be stuck behind a desk in any country you choose…? 🙂 that way you don’t give up that steady pay check and get to travel. You get to have your cake and eat it too. Isn’t that what we all want? Cake!! (Jk,kinda) :-p
The working holiday visa seems like so much fun, Nina! I especially love freelancing as it is a great way to travel and work at the same time!
It’s the BEST! And yeah, freelancing is great as well. Thanks for commenting, Agness! 🙂
I want to do BUNAC so bad! However, I am on the brink of being too old! I totally agree with all your points about the US, not enough vacation days, the world is scary, people being ridden with student loan debt with crappy paying jobs out of college that want you to miraculously have 10 years of experience to even get the job. Besides all of that don’t get me started on health care costs. Being in the US is a money trap. I would love to try another temp year or so job in another country. Teaching english in Korea was godsend for saving money.
In the category of “jobs you don’t just fall into”, I’d like to add teaching in an international school– any subject. These jobs are competitive; you need to be a qualified teacher in your home country and have a few years of experience under your belt, but they are an awesome way to see the world. The teaching schedule is pretty rigid and you’ll be expected to put your job first, but the quality of life abroad as a teacher is far beyond what I had in the states. I’ve been working as an Expat Teacher in Switzerland for 4 years and I’ve travelled all around the world on my holidays. I started a blog to chronicle my adventures and will soon be moving on to an even bigger one. I agree that most Americans don’t think to do something like this and people definitely think I’m breaking the mould. I don’t care. I’m happy, my life and career are fulfilling and I can take care of myself. What more could I want?
Yes but that only goes for international schools and for certain countries. Overall, esp for American, teaching English is extremely easy “to fall into” as almost literally no experience is needed—as I’ve outlined in detail in my teaching abroad posts. Glad you’re enjoying the teaching and traveling life!
Hi Nina, i’ve been reading you a lot these days.
I’m 49. this fall my two kids will be attending university out of town.
I already saved for their education.
I want to study, travel and work, like you do. (I had enough of 9-5 office work)
Do you have any options for “older” people like me? who wants to “reborn” again?
thanks in advance
There are plenty of ideas under my work abroad tab!
I absolutely love this post. We’re definitely on the same wavelength. Americans need to travel more and learn more about the world. See what’s outside of the U.S. This planet is HUUUGE and incredibly interesting! No many different cultures to experience. I’m an international traveller. I’m not big on travel in the States. And also, I’m of the opinion that the U.S. is one of the most dangerous countries in the world. But a lot of Americans have the nerve to say don’t go there or there because it’s really dangerous. Well have you been there? And look at all the atrocities that are going on RIGHT HERE!
Yep! Thanks for the comment, Kenneth!
So happy I found you!! My concern is I am 63 ( such a beautiful age ) worked 30 plus years some college… I want to travel, teach, learn .. basically live abroad.. Thailand/Cambodia/Portugal Options!!!????
Enrolled in the 120 hours program.
You are awesome person, thank you for your knowledge
USA – Texas
Thanks Patricia! Luckily age doesn’t matter for teaching abroad OR online for that matter. I’d definitely start there and if you have skills that can translate to any other job online, that’s another avenue to explore (of course, learning new skills for a job online is still an option too!). There are lots of jobs that can be done online nowadays and teaching abroad/online is a great “in” bc it’s pretty easy to get into. Start there and see what else you can find online along the way! Def look at my other posts for more ideas on keeping costs down etc like you could also do housesitting for example! And yes, Thailand and Cambodia are great countries to start in bc they are cheap! And Portugal is the cheapest of the western European countries to start in too! So good job with your country selections! Best of luck 🙂