Traveling is a fun way to know yourself and the world around you. By traveling you experince a lot of things that you might not experience while you’re at home.
When you start having a „normal” life, usually a routine settles in. That’s quite a natural thing to happen. It’s nothing to freak out about. This routine settles in and then you might not have the chance to see the world through different points of view. That’s where travelling comes handy.
All my life, up to 22 years old, I knew the same story as most of you probably know: „you need a lot of money to travel”. And that’s true, as long as you don’t know any alternatives.
At 22 I found out about the alternative way of travelling called “work exchange” – you volunteer in exchange for food and accommodation. I decided to embark to this lifestyle for a while and see what I can get from it. And my god, I got and I am still getting a lot of things.
Since then, I found out that there many are other ways of travelling.
This is my first article, out of a whole series, about alternatives to travelling, others than “you need a lot of money to travel”.
Each article will show you various ways of traveling, from the most comfortable to the most extreme ones.
For some of the methods you won’t even need money at all, for others you might need a light budget, but not thousands of euros.
In this article I will talk about the great gifts that the European Union offers us regarding travelling. And not just simple traveling, but traveling and learning something while doing it.
If you are a student, or you were one, you might’ve heard about “Erasmus”. Until recently Erasmus was a scholarship for students.
Now it all changed and there is this huge European project called “Erasmus +”.
Erasmus + has different branches that are not for students only. Here are just a few of them: Erasmus, youth exchanges, EVS.
- Erasmus is for students who have good grades. Not exceptional grades, but good ones. Through this project you can go and study abroad for one or 2 semesters. You will attend a university as the one you’re attending in your country and the courses will be recognized(this might vary from each University). From what I know, you have to sign-up for the scholarship one year, or one semester, earlier.
I haven’t took this opportunity when I was a student because I was focused on other volunteering and I didn’t hear about it only when was too late.
I heard that you’ll receive a monthly allowance that you’ll have to administer by yourself in order to cover for your rent and other stuff. If I am not mistaken you are covered for your trip all the way to the destination and back.
A lot of the people who go studying with Erasmus are partying a lot and stuff. This is what I heard.
My advice would be to try and get as much out of that experience, not just partying.
This experience will firstly introduce you to a new culture, to other languages and to independence. You will learn how to deal with things on your own. You do have a contact person there, from the organization, but the life situations and other things you will do it on your own. And that is great! It’s the first layer to a foundation of a strong and independent person. And you will lay this foundation while you’re studying what you love, in another country!
- Youth exchanges are another great way to see the world, for free, and learn some new stuff.
This program is aimed for a big group of people, from youngsters of 15yo, up to young adults of 28 years old. These youth exchanges are happening all the time, all over Europe.
For this you don’t have to be a student or to be signed up to any educational system. This is a tool for learning and for building skills.
They usually last for 10 days, but they could be 7 days long or even 20. Groups of usually 5 or 6 youngsters from different countries(3-5) get together to work for a project. Usually something for the community they’re going into, but not necessarily.
To apply for a project like this you’ll have to find it first. In order to do that you can look for groups on facebook called “youth in action” or “youth exchanges” or any other combination of those words.
This is not the only way!
Another way to find them, is for them to be delivered to you in your inbox. Look for your National Agency for “Youth in Action”(translated in your language) and submit your email to them. You will get notifications about the exchanges where your country is partner.
You can also search them on google. It’s not that hard.
These exchanges are for free(only e few ask for a participation fee). You have everything covered, from food and accommodation to the transportation too. For the transport you are refunded a specific amount of money, depending on the distance you are traveling. If you can find a way to get there without spending more than the amount that you’ll be reimbursed, you’ll be going for free.
Yes, you have to pay for your ticket, but you’ll get your money back!
Applying for a project like this will give you lots of benefits. I have been in 3 exchanges already and I can tell you that they are great. Besides the fun you’ll have while working on the project, you have the chance to learn new languages, make new friends and also gather the information from the workshops.
I had lots of fun while learning new techniques for building a better team, or problem resolving or even for improving communication inside a team.
For me, these projects, are a great way of learning new stuff while visiting and discovering a new country. A great way of traveling, for free!
- EVS is the last program that I will talk about in this article.
It’s aimed for youngsters between 18 and 30 years old. This could also be a long-term project.EVS is short for European Volunteering Service. This is a project where you go and volunteer in an NGO from a different country of yours from 1 month up to 12 months.
You can opt for a short-term EVS (up to 2 months) or a long-term(more than 2 months).
Be aware that you can go on a long-term project only once! You are allowed to go through EVS only 12 months in your life-time, but you can go short-term and after that long-term, not the other way around.
My advice for you would be to go once, on a long-term.I’ve been in a long-term EVS in Slovenia for 9 months and I loved it. You will sign a contract with the NGO regarding your tasks and all the details. You will have to volunteer around 6 hours per day in the NGO and the best thing about it is that you have everything
When you sign-up for the EVS you know the details about your job and tasks before leaving your country. You will not have to pay for anything and you will have a contact person(from the NGO) in your home country.
When you’ll get to the hosting organization you will get a mentor who will help you around during your project.
There will be a person responsible for the project and your tasks.
Also, you will get your travel costs covered from your home to the hosting organization and back. You will have a place to stay arranged for you(so you won’t have to look for accommodation) and also money for food and pocket money.
Basically your ass will be taken care of, big time!
For me, the money and everything were more than enough, but I was also used to live with less than 1 euro per day, hahah.
While you’ll be doing your EVS you will get a training at the beginning of your service and a mid-term evaluation, if you stay more than 6 months.
You’ll also get days off and vacation as well.
It’s basically like having a job, but not having to worry about not being paid. The money are there for you and even if your personal projects won’t reach its goals, you will still get your food money and pocket money and all.
Oh, you’ll have a medical insurance too, and language lessons provided for you.
Personally I recommend EVS to everyone, especially to pupils who just finished high school. I consider this the best way to know yourself and your skills. I recommend this project to people before they go to university in order for them to discover the things that they are good at and that they like to do, so they can study what they like.
For me, my EVS life was great and it showed me the things I’m good at and also built some new skills, and strengthened the ones that I already had.
This is an article showing you that you can travel if you want to. It’s just up to you. Now you will have fewer excuses and more options.
I didn’t know about some of these ways of traveling either, now we both know and we can take advantage of them.
Let me know if you took any of these opportunities and how was your experience with them.
Make sure to spread this information to the people you know that want to travel, and especially to those who cannot afford to do it!
My story was featured on Jetsetter Jobs, the first website for young travelers and backpackers who want to find work abroad to travel cheaper, longer and have a more local experience.