Make Travel and Work One: The Seasonal Nomad

There’s more than one way to kill a cat than choking it to death on peanut butter…

A very senile, obviously sadistic math teacher used this phrase at least once per class to explain mathematical concepts in my sophomore year of college. Although I was certain I would never reuse the inhumane analogy… well, here we are. There’s more than one way to get out and travel than killing a cat with peanut butter. I mean, there’s more travelling cats than there are types of peanut butter. Whatever, look, there are alternatives to the daunting task of saving up a small fortune only to spend it in 6 months on plane tickets, local beer and souvenirs.

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I’m not about to tell you how you can travel the world and make millions off some pyramid scheme or give you unrealistic motivation. I am going to tell you how you, as a totally average joe/jane, can travel the world, develop meaningful relationships and come home with money in your bank account. Beware, it involves the dreaded “W” word, (work) and it involves you being willing to get out of your comfort zone. Seasonal work is your relatively free ticket to a new destination. Guest resorts need adventurous, naive young souls who are willing to work a rather unfulfilling job for low pay, shoddy housing, no benefits and the express intent of leaving the job in 4 months or less.Seasonal work gets you to a vacation destination, provides a source of income while you’re there and allows you to call that place home for a while. Enter stage right, the Seasonal Nomad.

A Brief History of the Seasonal Nomad

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The Seasonal Nomad is a feral creature, often located in North America but also scattered across the globe. It’s natural habitat is usually the West coast, but it can be found anywhere there is a short-term job that provides a place to live and doesn’t require drug screening. The Seasonal Nomad is an evolved species that once roamed the cyber fields of Instagram searching after #wanderlust and #mytravelgram to feed its soul. It then realized it was financially burdened by everyday life and would never graze the pastures it feasted its eyes upon. The species languished in self-doubt and faced extinction. Alas, after many moons, an adaptive species emerged that had developed an affinity for the use of tools. One of these being short term work in environments it found desirable. This allowed the cannabis smelling species to get out and “live the dream”. It developed dreadlocks. It can be heard in the midst of the night screeching like a peregrine falcon and howling “shaka” as it slides down snow laden mountains on pieces of wood strapped to it’s lower appendages. It has found an environment in which to thrive, and thrive it shall.

One moment, one decision can change the entire trajectory of your future.

I love people who “do”. People who act on their dreams instead of complaining about their current situation. Seasonal work was my trajectory shifting decision made out of discontent with circumstances in my life. If you aren’t willing to change a situation, then you aren’t allowed to complain about it. If you want to get out and travel the world, but are immediately deterred by thoughts of finances or traveling solo, then seasonal work just might be your golden bullet.

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All you need to get started on a seasonal job is enough money for gas and a few cans of beans to get you through the first two weeks without a paycheck. Seasonal work has been my bread and butter for the last couple of years and has helped me achieve financial stability (sort of) and also fulfill my desire to get out and see the world. The beautiful thing about seasonal work is the opportunity it provides to travel and earn a living, simultaneously. In my opinion, it’s the best way to get out of your hometown and into a new experience, quickly.

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The most daunting aspect of travelling is the financial stability it takes to go out for that year-long, ‘Round the World Trip. It takes some doing to save up that much money and when you return a year later from your travels, you’re back in the exact same spot in which you began: in your hometown, broke and wanting to travel more. With seasonal work you’ll take on a transient existence. I kind of hate to use the buzz word “Nomad” , but that’s really what it is. You’ll minimize your life to probably 2 backpacks and the trip can go on for as long as you like. In some cases, you earn excellent wages for brutal work. In most cases, you hardly earn anything, but you get  3-4 months in unfamiliar territory, maybe learn some job skills and  make some lifelong friends. The most important thing to consider before you create an application blizzard is your mindset and your expectations of what seasonal work will be.

Get Your Mind Right

The term seasonal work has an important element to it, work. Many readers will click off this article in T-minus 3,2,1. Gone. Good, didn’t want the lazy bastards here anyway. Yeah, it’s a job dude. What did you expect? You will be serving tables, cleaning rooms, shuttling passengers, unstopping toilets, providing information, cutting grass etc. You will likely be underpaid, overworked and have poor housing conditions. You will answer the same question a dozen times per day by a dozen different guests, all of them wearing tasselled cowboy hats. There will be days when you loathe your job with the intensity of a thousand suns. In that moment, stop and ask yourself why you are where you are. You’re not here to be a professional sheet folder; you’re here to experience unfamiliar things, shred some powder runs, explore your new backyard, party underneath a full moon above desert canyons, you know, that kind of thing.

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You’ve made a decision to be a vagabond, and like anything in life it has pros and cons. That being said, I can guarantee you it has way more pros than cons. If you wait to travel until you have a nice nest egg stored away, until your tech startup can be sold for millions or until your great-uncle dies leaving you untold fortunes, you probably won’t ever leave the 50 mile radius you were born in. If you’re ok with that, excellent. I’m not sure why you’re still reading this, but I wish you all the best. But don’t you complain about it naysayer, cause you got options.

If You’re Going to Work an Ordinary Job, Why Not Work It In an Extraordinary Place?

In essence, you’re earning your freedom through your sweat. Notice I said freedom, not temporary relief. Seasonal work can be a one time gig or it can be a lifestyle. Either way, it provides you the ability to live in places that the majority of people spend ridiculous amounts of money to visit. I once worked at a ski resort where the average family of four would spend around $35,000 in one week . That’s the average vacation. I don’t think I’ve made that in the last three years combined. I, on the other hand, was paying $350 a month for rent, making $12.30/hour and getting at least 3 days of snowboarding in per week at some of Colorado’s best resorts for free. At the time, I was working as a Maintenance Technician, so I was learning about heat-pumps, ventilation, basic electrical troubleshooting, plumbing etc. To add to that, I was a part of the community. I frequented my favorite coffee shops and breweries, I had friends to kick it with and the gas station attendant knew me by first name.

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So, quick recap: awesome location with extracurricular activities, relatively stable source of income, cheap place to live, enhancement of skills and a solid community. That sounds like a pretty freaking sweet deal to me. The majority of seasonal work at guest resorts are entry-level jobs that anyone with a relatively functional brain can do (That’s you!). There is a good likelihood that your job is not going to be a career path, but it will provide you with some opportunities that you wouldn’t have had if you were just traveling through.

Ah, The People You Shall Meet

The social component of Seasonal Work is one of the best aspects of this type of travel. I get excited even writing about it; some of my best memories are from seasonal jobs I’ve worked and the excellent people I’ve met at those seasonal jobs. In theory, you’ll meet awesome people you will stay in touch with for a long time. That guy you worked with in Montana, now lives in Seattle and is more than happy to have you crash on his couch when you’re in the area. The like-minded individuals you work with create something of an instant social scene that you are admitted into. There is a strong likelihood that your co workers are interested in similar things, have similar outlooks on life and are looking to have a good time just like you are.

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You are absolutely certain to meet a few socially awkward nomads with substance abuse issues. They will leave the job exactly as they arrived at the job, with no money. You will definitely have one terrible roommate at each job who drinks your beer and is a recent convert to Nudism. You will probably find a romantic interest which will make your season much more enjoyable as you can escape the presence of your terrible roommate for days at a time. You will probably part ways with your new love at the end of the season or perhaps you’ll gallop off into the sunset. Who knows, either way, the people you work with will likely enrich your life in one way or another. You should also make an effort to network with the guests you encounter along the way. There are a multitude of high-ranking members of society that you’re likely to rub shoulders with. You never know, that fellow with the fluorescent green cowboy boots could be a job connection when you’re ready to settle down for a bit.

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And in Closing…

Be a decent human. Show up to work relatively on time and sober. I guarantee you that if you perform at 75% of your functional capacity you will be a fragrant flower among a septic drainage field. If you hate your job, focus on the fact that you’re here for the weekend. Your work ethic should be strong enough where you can still thrive in a place you don’t necessarily enjoy. If it is absolutely unbearable, consider looking for new work, put in a formal resignation and proceed to your next job. More than a few guest resorts will exploit seasonal workers, so know your standards. And absolutely most of all, have a good time. Don’t sit in your room looking at Instagram. You’ve evolved, remember? Get out and get into the mountains, have some adventures and whether you do it for a summer or a lifetime make the most of the experience while you can. Don’t wait around killing time, for it’ll surely die on its own accord. Also, don’t kill cats with peanut butter, felt like I should clear that up. Get out there.

‘Til Next Time,

Mike

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