To live adventurously, you don’t have to sell everything you own and live on the road in a van. (Although you certainly can do that — van life is the path to an adventurous existence for many people.) Inviting adventure into your life can be whatever you want it to be, from microadventures to bold changes. In case you need a little inspiration, here are a few ideas for making life more exciting.
Extreme Ideas for an Adventurous Life
These ideas require a major lifestyle change — possibly uprooting your life. But sometimes, that’s exactly what you need.
Work Seasonal Jobs
I worked seasonal jobs for five years, in Alaska and Colorado, until I grew tired of moving around all the time. Still, I miss it. Working seasonally was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Working seasonally means working in places that need employees only during certain times of the year: National Parks, ski resorts, and other tourist-driven locales that have an influx of visitors when the weather is prime. Many people work one seasonal job in the summer and another in the winter, and use the in-between time (usually a couple weeks to a couple months) to visit home or travel the world. By saving most of my paychecks during my summers in Alaska (an incredible place to explore in itself), I was able to fund fall trips to Europe and Southeast Asia, and get back to the states in time for another seasonal job over the winter. I made amazing friends along the way and had a sense of freedom that can be hard to find in a more routine life. But I do have to say, this unconventional lifestyle isn’t for everyone. I wrote more about seasonal life in a longer post here.
Teach English Abroad
I have many friends who teach English in other countries, mostly in Asia, and they love it. It can be hard but incredibly rewarding. Even if you’re not trained as a teacher in your home country, there are ways to teach in other countries as a paid staff member. And don’t worry, you don’t have to be fluent in the other country’s language, although that can be helpful. If you are seriously considering teaching English abroad, do your research before making the leap. Different countries, and often individual schools, have different requirements for their foreign English teachers. Some countries are easy to secure a job in before your arrival, and some are easier to find a job in if you’re already there. The amount of information online can be overwhelming, so I’d recommend Nomadic Matt’s guide "How to Teach English Overseas" for $10. He knows his stuff.
Become an Au Pair
If you’re single, don’t have kids (but love them), and want to live abroad, becoming an au pair is a great opportunity. An au pair is essentially a traveling nanny. “You go abroad, live in a family’s home, and take care of their children when needed — which is only 30 hours per week maximum,” said 23-year-old Kiana Donahue, who’s an au pair in Iceland. You become a part of the family, joining their daily activities and travels, while earning spending money. “I am from Tucson, Arizona, and before coming to Iceland, I had never traveled outside of the United States,” Donahue said. “Being an au pair, and choosing Iceland, is by far one of the best decisions I have ever made. I came here thinking I would only be here for 3 months, but I fell so in love with this place that I decided to stay for one year.” There are many ways to become an au pair. A popular method (which Donahue used) is to create a profile on AuPairWorld, a site that connects au pairs and host families. Donahue said that after creating her profile, she had several messages the next morning from families around the world.
Work in Australia or New Zealand (30 or Younger)
If you’re a U.S. citizen under the age of 30, you can apply for a one-year working holiday visa in Australia or New Zealand. (Citizens of select other countries can apply for this visa, too.) This is a good opportunity to immerse yourself in local culture for an extended period of time, with the ability to keep yourself afloat by finding employment. Keep in mind that this may not be an easy breezy experience. Some cities are expensive and hard to find work in. Also, living across the world, away from friends and family, can be lonely. But if you’re ready to throw yourself into a challenging adventure, a working holiday visa could be a wonderful choice.
Everyday Ideas for an Adventurous Life
You don’t have to drastically change your life to use these tips.
Explore Your Destination in the Off Season
When you travel somewhere in the off season, you are able to get a more authentic look into what the place is like for locals. Sometimes that means braving undesirable weather, but it can be a lot more interesting and adventurous to travel when and where most people aren’t. Plus, you’re likely to get cheaper prices during the slow seasons. Ever had the urge to travel to Alaska? The summer there is hard to beat and I highly recommend experiencing that, but the winter is pretty magical too.
Open a Savings Account Just for Travel
In addition to daily budgeting, opening a separate savings account for travel can help you accomplish a savings goal for a particular trip. After deciding how much money you need to save and how much time you have to achieve that, figure out how much money you need to be adding to your account per day. See if your bank can automatically transfer money from your checking account to your savings account so you don’t forget to keep up with your goal.
Get Involved with Couchsurfing
Couchsurfing is a fun, easy, and free way to invite adventure into your life. Whether you’re traveling and want to meet new people, or you have a couch or extra bedroom in your home that you’re willing to share with a traveler, couchsurfing can introduce you to amazing people from around the globe. I couchsurfed a few time in Europe and had fun, authentic experiences because of it. I was able to meet friendly local people and discover cool places I never would have known about if I had stayed in a hotel, or even a hostel. On the other hand, by hosting a traveler, you can bring new people and perspectives into your home, and (time permitting) act as their local guide. It’s rewarding to know that someone’s travels were made better because of your hospitality. Plus, you never know — you may just make a friend for life.
Host an Exchange Student
Want to go further than hosting someone for a night or two through couchsurfing? Host an international student for a few weeks, or even a few months. Most cities and towns have some sort of opportunity to host international students, whether they be high schoolers, college students, or adults wanting to further their education in a different country. Students typically come through a school or a nonprofit organization such as AFS for one week to one year. Though adults without children are often qualified to host, this opportunity is especially fitting for families with kids or teens. Your children will love having a new “sibling” around to do fun activities with, and all the while they will be building cross-cultural understanding and improving their communication skills. It’s a win for everyone!
Adopt an Adventure Dog
You might think adopting a dog would tie you down. But for people who enjoy road trips, outdoor activities, and traveling locally, a dog can bring more excitement into life. I adopted my first dog a few months ago, and since then, I’ve been getting out of my house more than I usually would. He’s an energetic little guy, so I need to make sure he gets enough exercise and isn’t cooped up at home all day. Even when I’m feeling lazy, his exuberance motivates me to take him on hikes, walks, and other outdoor activities. In the few short months that we’ve known each other, he’s explored places all over Arizona with me, from the Grand Canyon to various Phoenix locales. It takes a little more planning to bring a pup along on adventures, but it’s a lot of fun, and I feel happy knowing that one less dog is waiting for his forever home.
Rack Up Airline Miles
A few years ago, I traveled to Europe round trip for $27.70 — the cost of the obligatory flight fees. How? I used airline miles that I’d collected primarily by signing up for a credit card with a huge mile bonus. There are cards like these coming out all the time, with various signup bonuses and requirements for qualifying for them. Even if you don’t make or spend a lot of money, there’s bound to be a card that’ll help you get a (mostly) free flight. Cards for Travel is a great resource for this form of travel hacking. Writer and adventurer Chris Guillebeau also has a lot of tips for travel hacking, a skill he honed while traveling to every country in the world.