Last year I wrote a post titled “Why You Don’t Have to Quit Your Job to Travel“. It went mini-viral, generating a lot of feedback from readers who were inspired by advice on how to travel more while working full-time. I still believe in that post and continue to travel a LOT while working 9-5. But the truth is, I don’t really love my job anymore. I spend my days day dreaming about a life of travel and hope to one day trade my cubicle for a backpack and a nomadic lifestyle. And I know I’m not alone.
There are many of you out there, dreaming of traveling the world, crippled by the big scary question, “How could I ever afford it?” No matter how much you save, no matter how cheap you travel, eventually the funds would run out and you’d find yourself on the plane back home. But what if we you didn’t have to?
Welcome to the “Work and Travel Abroad“ Series! In this series, I feature weekly stories of travelers who have managed to find ways to earn money while traveling by working jobs that don’t resemble a typical 9-5 routine. They share their experiences, give their advice, hopefully inspiring many of you to believe that paying your bills and saving for the future while traveling the world IS POSSIBLE!
Today, I’m excited to share my Q&A with Jeremy from TravelFREAK, who shares his experience working as a Cocktail Bartender.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, I’m Jeremy, a 29 year-old with a penchant for exploration, adventure, and expensive tequila. I quit my desk job in IT at the ripe age of 24 and, ever since then, I’ve been traveling the world as a blogger and a cocktail bartender. I’ve visited more than 15 countries on five continents, generally moving at a slower pace, just working and enjoying as I go.
Q: What was life like for you before you embarked on your big adventure?
I had this revelation one day, in my drab, gray cubicle outside of Boston, that if I kept doing what I was doing, my life was going to pass me by. In receiving so many job offers and contracts, I realized how easy it would be to just continue on down the same path and, 30 years later, I’d have nothing to show for it except a bigger belly. I decided, then, that I needed to do something different, and the best way to do that, especially in the midst of a recession, was to start over fresh in a new part of the world. I took off with a one way ticket and never looked back.
Q: Your journey on the road to becoming a traveling cocktail bartender started in Australia, right? Can you tell us a bit about how that came about?
It’s a little convoluted to be honest. The short story is that I went to travel in Australia and, after I had spent all of my money and maxed out my credit cards, I had little choice but to get a job. I started working in nightclubs, then cafes, then beach bars, then hotel bars, then strip clubs, and then cocktail bars. I kept moving around, working in different places, until I finally found the niche that I truly enjoyed–craft cocktails. Now I work in craft cocktail bars wherever I travel to.
Q: What was your first job like? Did you like it?
My first job was at a dirty nightclub in Cairns, Australia. The type of place where people are dancing on the tables and they have a wet t-shirt contest every Wednesday night. Yeah, it was tons of fun for a 24 year-old cubicle escapist! I wasn’t bartending, though–just cleaning and barbacking. It got me a start in the industry, though, and it’s what got me to where I am today.
Q: What motivated you to stay and keep climbing up the ranks in the hospitality industry?
You know, it’s funny, I didn’t even realize that I was “climbing the ranks” until about two years in. I looked at my career history and I realized, “Wow, every position that I’ve held was better than the last.” It dawned on me that I was actually getting better at what I was doing, and that it was a very realistic way for me to travel and see the world at the same time.
Q: Did you have any prior experience bartending?
Prior to my first job? No, but my resume said I did 😉
Q: Was the pay enough to cover your living expenses? Were you able to save anything and continue traveling?
This is the great thing about working overseas–you get paid a local’s wage, meaning you never have to deal with poor conversion rates. In Australia, spending American dollars felt like a waste, but once I was making Australian dollars, and Australian wages, everything evened out, meaning I was able to live comfortable and save enough to continue traveling. After a few more months on the road, I settled down in another place for a few months, where I did the same thing!
Q: What other countries has your new “career” taken you to since your time in Australia?
Since then I’ve worked at beach bars in Australia, whiskey bars in New Zealand, cocktail bars in Beijing, and speakeasies in New York City. I can’t wait to see what my next adventure will look like!
Q: Would you recommend a career in bar tending to someone who wants to wants to quit their 9-5 routine and explore the world? What advice would you give them?
Absolutely. Whether you want to become a career bartender and do it forever, or you just want to use it as a way to travel for a while, both are possibilities. As a career bartender, you’ll climb ranks. As a way to make money while you travel, you’ll take any decent job, have fun, and move on. There are bars of all types, so you could work in a pub if that suits you better, or a fine dining restaurant, or a hotel bar, or a Japanese grill, or a speakeasy, or whatever. It’s a great way to see the world and interact with locals at the same time!
Q: What’s next for you?
Well, at the moment things are a little up in the air! I’ve just left the speakeasies of NYC for travels in South America, and I’ve got Brazil, Beijing, and Berlin all on my radar for the near future. Woah, that’s a lot of B’s.
Huge thanks to Jeremy for taking the time to answer my questions and share his experience with us! Follow Jeremy’s adventures on his blog TravelFREAK, or connect with him via Facebook, Twitter or Google+
Does being a Cocktail Bartender sound like something you might want to do to help you travel the world? If not, why not check out other posts in the “Work and Travel Abroad” Series?