How to take Advantage of an Economic Downturn The economy is poor in America, workers are being laid off in droves, companies want more from their employees while paying them less. Seems pretty bad . . . But it is my impression that this is the perfect time for a person to work in the [...]
How to take Advantage of an Economic Downturn
The economy is poor in America, workers are being laid off in droves, companies want more from their employees while paying them less.
Seems pretty bad . . .
But it is my impression that this is the perfect time for a person to work in the USA, save money, and then travel the world. I see no reason not to take an extended vacation as this recession slips into the abyss of history.
What is the point of wallowing in the pits of an economic downturn when you can scrap the dregs for enough bean money for a long sabbatical abroad?
It is not too difficult to do, really.
Jump the expense/ income ratio by working in the USA and then living abroad in cheaper countries. With a tight fist always placed on your wallet — and a lot of compromises in comfort — you can make enough money to travel the cheaper regions of the world for years off of 6 months of making $10 an hour in the USA.
It is possible. I am doing it. I have always done it.
Move back in with your parents, happily work jobs that don’t offer any sign of a “future,” don’t spend any money, and then escape.
It is sometimes rough going, but entirely possible.
The young builders of an economically stable future in the USA are being left without any materials to build with. It is my impression that you can either fight against the tides of the economic downturn and try to make a living, buy a house, get health insurance, and earn a retirement fund as your parents did — and struggle uphill every step of the way — or you can go with the flow, live in the present, take what you can get, and then leave the USA.
It is my impression that there is not really a lack of jobs in the USA as much as there is a lack of good jobs. The one time fat avenues of employment have been starved rail thin; jobs that once offered retirement funds, health care, and good wages are now paying $10 without any benefits. A person with rent to pay, pricey car payments, internet – cable – cellphone bills, student loans, and a plethora of other expenses cannot live on $10 an hour.
But a traveler can. If your expenses are radically simplified, anybody can.
All across the USA — and much of the world — companies are laying off large parts of their older, high salaried work force and replacing it with new hires, who are willing to work for less pay and fewer benefits. In point, they are getting rid of the employees who put in years of service and replacing them with just out of the box, fresh faced university graduates — who are willing to work for ten dollars an hour.
As with the old glory days of the labor movement, companies are essentially hiring scabs to fill the positions of their striking employees. Be a scab.
It is my impression that the economy is now in a perfect condition for a traveler to dabble in the one time “good” jobs, take what they can get, and then boot out of the country.
Be a scab. Look for companies who are laying off large chunks of their experienced work force and offer to work for a penance. Find companies who laid off their workers and contracted out their labor force, and apply for a job with the contracting firm.
Try to fill in the corners that are being cut. Businesses still need employees to work for them, they just cannot afford to pay them as much as they once did. The people who once worked for these business cannot take the cut in wages, but you may be able to.
There is no fighting against this “economic downturn,” but a person on the bottom rung of society could use it to their advantage.
Be a scab. Fill the positions left vacant by these one time “professionals,” keep them until you have enough money to travel, then quit.
I find no reason to show any sort of loyalty to a company who would enact such business practices. Lie in your interview, make them think that they are able to break the bank by hiring you for a relative penance, and don’t let on that you plan on quitting 3 months down the Road.
It is my impression that the spit bubble blowing, text messaging, fresh off the university boat, lackluster employee is currently in high demand in the USA. There is much less a lack of jobs, than a lack of good jobs. If you can stagnate your expenses, you can find work that pays you more than what you need to save money to travel.
Life is changing in America. The dream of living in single family homes, each adult owning their own car, employer sponsored health care, and having a life savings is fading fast into the past. This is OK, the world is always in a perpetual state of flux. We are entering new times in the USA, and a new model of living is needed. To stay with the old ways is to grumble and complain and bang your head against a wall.
The old ideas of cause and effect – work and reward – no longer seem to be viable. The people of the USA now seem to live in a “take whatever you can get” sort of economy. Similar to most other places in the world. As any old timer will probably tell you, “Things are not the way they use to be.” It is my impression that this is OK if you can adapt.
Evolutionarily successful organisms are as such because they were able to adapt to ever changing circumstances. The most ferocious and well adapted beasts of prehistory have been collected into the annals of paleontology, while the lowly cockroach lives on. Many super educated, highly paid employees are finding themselves collecting unemployment, while the dregs of society are slipping in through the backdoor to take their places.
The cockroach adapted well to the rise of human civilization, as it will thus adapt to its fall. The traveler must be like a cockroach: adapt your model of living to suit your environment and times. This is never more pertinent than when trying to make money to travel.
If employers are laying off their long term, highly paid staff in search of people willing to work for $10 an hour, then work for $10 an hour. If you can no longer afford to live in your apartment, then share a home with your family. If you can no longer afford your car payments, then ride a bike or buy a cheap used vehicle. If you can not afford to live in the developed world, then live abroad in cheaper countries.
It is possible. It is possible to cut your living expenses and work for less. It is possible to save money for 6 months in the USA and then travel for more than a year. It is possible to adapt your life to meet the current tide of economics . . . and live like a king.
The templates have been scrambled. We can no longer live on the same premises as our parents did. Trying to work your way up the employment ladder is proving to be ever more futile. The rewards for a life of labor are now bone thin.
I see no better time than to strip down and travel.
It is my impression that if a person tries to make their reality fit their expectations, then they will always be struggling against the tide. Float on with the waves, live your times.
Now is the perfect time to travel the world. Capitalize on this economic downturn, fill in the spaces left vacant, own nothing more than your boots and backpack, and sit dry inside of your tent, enjoying the thunder showers as the storm passes.
Editor’s note: this is just an idea, a suggestion. I have no way of knowing how correct I may be. The entries on this travelogue are meant to be more firing pins of inertia than efforts of proving fact. If you can use this information — good — if not, then don’t. If you have anything to add to this, please take the time to leave a comment. Thank you.
During the summer and early autumn of 2009 I am doing a project that demonstrates how a person with no special education can save enough money to travel the world.
This project is essentially a collection of ideas, suggestions, and examples of what I do to save money to travel. It may prove helpful to read and follow, or it may not.
To read more about this project go to
About the Author: VBJ
I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. I’ve been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China and have written for The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. VBJ has written 3678 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.
VBJ is currently in: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii
July 18, 2009, 9:58 am
What a great post!!! I agree, bad economic times are the best times to take the kind of chances that you would never take when times are good.
You wrote: “if a person tries to make their reality fit their expectations, then they will always be struggling against the tide.”
But I NEED the $500k house. I don’t care if I only make $50k a year…….. What a great statement. Unfortunately, I see a lot of people that could be very happy with what they have, if they would only stop trying to be so unhappy with what they don’t have.
I like to tell people something to the effect of: “try to live like you are going to die tomorrow, but ALSO like you might live until you are 90.” The advice can be adapted, I think, for all types of lives. People like you who travel continuously as well as people who are living the long term career type of life. Save a little, spend a little, live a little, take care of your health. Take care of your health is probably the biggest thing. Basically, take everything in moderation, don’t take anything too seriously.
July 27, 2009, 7:50 am
the Economic Recession has been pretty hard on us. some of my friends lost their job because of the massive job cuts. i just hope that our economy becomes better in the following years.
August 1, 2009, 10:30 pm
the economic recession has been pretty hard on us. there is some good progress on the economy this year. i just hope that the economy will continue to recover in the following months and years.
August 6, 2009, 4:51 pm
You should have a function to email these posts to friends.
I would love to email this entry to some friends.
Let me know if it is possible abd I just missed how to do it.
August 7, 2009, 9:14 pm
youbetterwork, Don’t forget that if you want to send a link, highlight the address then use Ctrl-C to copy, and Ctrl-V to paste it into your e-mail. Depending on your e-mail program, you may also have to create the link if you want the receiver to be able to just click on it, without having to copy/past it into the address bar.
December 8, 2009, 4:32 am
Our country was also hit hard by the Economic Recession. At least we are seeing some signs of economic recovery now. I hope that we could recover soon from this recession.
February 18, 2010, 11:17 pm
during the height of the economic recession, our online and offline business in the US have suffered some major drop in sales. now our sales are getting slowly back to normal.
June 7, 2010, 6:36 am
I completely agree with your post that there is not a lack of jobs per se, but a lack of “good” jobs that can give one a basic living, especially, with the cost of education with its piling debt and no guarantee of a fruitful, financially secure future unless if one enters healthcare so it seems.
Ironically, it seems as though there might be some benefits for the low man on the totem pole.
January 20, 2012, 5:42 pm
2.5 years after posting this article is still very relevant… well done and thanks for that! 🙂
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