By Graci Woodworth, Storage.com
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Is there anything more awakening than the unfamiliar sights and sounds of a place you’ve set out to explore? In our opinion, not much can compare. If you’ve already got a case of wanderlust, than you’re very much aware that travel is the only cure. Packing up and heading out into a world unknown is something that people of every age long to do, but very few actually take the plunge and act on it. Answering questions like “Where will I stay?” or “How will I get around?” can lead to endless circles of research, and often times, the mere logistics can be overwhelming enough to scare a person out of their plans to travel abroad long-term.
So when it comes to the what-ifs and how-tos of taking “the leap,” we’re just as curious as you are, and wanted to learn more from someone who can actually say they left it all behind for travel. Storage.com recently visited with Sarah Kehm, a veteran vagabond, blogger of Wear Is She, and soon-to-be flight attendant, gave us her insights on everything from budgeting tips to what to do with your stuff when you leave. After leaving her PR job in Los Angeles to live and work in the Czech Republic, Sarah quickly became accustomed to what it takes to be to a successful world traveler. If you are in need of a little extra push toward your travel plans, read through our Q&A with Sarah to learn some helpful tips.
To start off, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where do you live now and where did you live abroad?
I am originally from Northwest Iowa and graduated from Iowa State University in 2013. I had the opportunity to study abroad while in school which sparked my obsession with living in a foreign country. After graduation I worked in Los Angeles at a fashion PR firm for almost a year and a half. I made the decision to move to the Czech Republic in March of 2014 where I got TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certified and landed a job teaching at an international school.
As of this weekend, I am living in San Francisco. I recently decided that I wanted to be a Flight Attendant. I start training with a major airline on Monday!
How did you make the decision to leave it all behind and travel the world?
For me, the decision was not a difficult one. I’m drawn to challenge and adventure. The thought of moving to a foreign place where I’m faced with all sorts of obstacles is one that entices me. I did my research and found a school called The Language House in Prague to obtain my TEFL certification. Within a matter of a week I had put down a deposit, turned in my final date of work in L.A., and was making travel arrangements for the Czech Republic. I’m constantly reminding myself that now is the time to “go for it” and take exciting chances that pushes me in all sorts of directions.
What did you do with all of your personal belongings?
I packed up all my belongings and put them in a storage unit in L.A. All of my furniture and most of my clothes are actually still there waiting for me. I have been a vagabond for the last couple years. I’m looking forward to the day that everything is in one place.
How did you decide what to pack and what to leave?
In terms of packing, I only took the bare minimum. It’s not easy lugging around big suitcases from country to country, so I only took what I would absolutely need. Versatile clothing, things that can be layered, easy to wash, and can handle some wear and tear were all on my “To Pack” list. When it comes to products and essentials, I always start out with the carry-on sizes to get me by the first couple days. I find it to be strangely enjoyable deciphering labels in a new country and trying new products.
Did you start budgeting for your trip beforehand?
Budgeting beforehand is a necessity. For all I knew, I may not have landed a job and would have been running on empty. I ensured that I would have enough for the first couple months rent, necessities, and padding for a flight home, if need be. The wonderful thing about the Czech Republic is that it is so affordable! Rent, food, and activities were all a lot less expensive than what I was used to.
Do you have any tips for traveling on a budget?
I think my biggest tip is to be open to anything. Some of my best experiences have come from just winging it. It’s important to know that the “touristy areas” like town squares and near central locations are more expensive. If you plan to go out in these types of areas, know that you will be spending more. Take the public transport versus taxi or Uber. A lot of times taxis will take advantage of you not knowing exactly where you are and charge a higher rate. Enjoy the hostel lifestyle too, it’s cheap and easy. I’ve enjoyed making friends from all over the world and getting tips from other travelers. My boyfriend and I actually first met in a hostel in Munich, Germany in 2012!
What is it like to work abroad?
Working abroad is unlike any other job experience I’ve had. It’s important to understand cultural norms and how the country functions. I had to learn to be patient with language barriers, open to odd jobs, and flexible with scheduling. It was enjoyable seeing how cultures handle situations with their own quirks and tricks, unlike we’re used to in the U.S.
What did you enjoy most about living abroad?
My favorite part of living abroad was definitely the people. It is an incredible experience being able to meet people from all over and learn from and about them. Working at an international school was great too because not only was I dealing with Czech students, but many from Germany, Turkey, Russia, Korea, Malaysia, Spain, and others. I loved seeing all these cultures work together.
Is there anything you missed about the United States?
It’s hard not to miss the comfort of home every-so-often. You grow up learning everything one way and form a specific way for which you live your every-day life. Moving abroad really shakes that reality, and sometimes it’s inevitable that you will miss the confines of your comfort zone. It’s so easy now to stay in touch and be connected with people back home. But I did enjoy disconnecting every once in awhile; it was nice to just unplug and fully enjoy each moment for what it was, without having a glowing screen to distract me.
What would you say to someone who wants to travel the world, but is afraid to take “the leap?”
As cliché as it is to say, tomorrow is never guaranteed, so it’s important to take advantage of opportunities while you can. So many unknown factors play into our future that you can never know if it will work out six months, a year, or five years from now. I’m a huge advocate for just taking the leap and going for it.
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Have any tips for how to travel abroad cheap for long-term trips? Let us know in the comments!
All images have either been provided by the interviewee or are licensed under the Creative Commons.