World traveller and successful blogger Turner Barr (30) started his hugely popular website Around The World In 80 Jobs two and a half years ago. The American travels around the globe and tries out all kinds of jobs. From inspiring fun professions to downright strange ones.
“When I finished school I didn’t really have a firm grasp of what I wanted to do in life,” Turner admits. “Where I’m from in the United States it’s generally ‘you go to school, get the best grades, get the best job possible and make the most money possible’. That’s sort of the progression. But to me it feels like not a lot of thought has gone into questions such as: what are you good at? What are you interested in? What are your values? You can’t truly know what your values are, because they are derived from experiences and that is something you kind of reap in your twenties.”
Exploring all avenues
“But young people are expected to make important career choices when they’re in their twenties. Some people know from a young age what kind of profession they’re interested in, but I didn’t. So I came up with the idea of doing all kinds of different jobs around the world, to see what I like and don’t like. That way you know what you can deal with and what you can’t handle. The same rule sort of applies to dating, actually! I think people should do the groundwork and find out what makes them happy. There’s enough time to do serious work, why not explore your avenues now? At this point I’ve been traveling for seven years off and on, I just had to figure out how to make ends meet. Approximately every six months I come back to the United Stated and stay for a month, to visit family and friends.”
Turner is back in the States during the interview, but going to Brazil in a few days, despite the fact he doesn’t have a job lined up yet. “Sometimes I go to places with a specific job in mind, something I really want to do. With Brazil I’m not sure, I’m going there because of the Soccer World Cup, see what’s going on, especially since there’s a lot of controversy around it,” Turner says. “But I don’t have a particular job in mind, I don’t know what it’s going to be or how it will manifest. That’s the way I do it sometimes, let it unfold naturally,” he explains.
The American globetrotter is thirty years old now and although you can hardly say he’s ready for retirement, he does notice changes when traveling. “The dynamics have changed a bit since I was in my early twenties,” he says. “When you just start out, you’re able to stay in crappy hostels and situations for a longer period of time. The people who are traveling and staying in the hostel environment usually have the same maturity level. As I get older, I notice I don’t feel like sharing rooms so much anymore and I connect less with young travellers, because I’m on a different level of maturity. But it’s interesting to see how it progresses.”
“Also when you first start traveling, you’re kind of excited just to meet anybody and you think everybody is cool. But as you get older you realize that merely because someone is from a different country, it doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she is an amazing person. So you connect less with other people, but the people you do connect with… those relationships are much more meaningful.”
I was on the Galapagos Islands for three weeks and that was amazing, because I’m a huge animal lover. The islands have been isolated for so long and there aren’t that many natural predators, so the interaction with the animals there is incredibly different. It is also a very surreal environment, because of the magma it sort of looks like the moon. Not very tropical, but it really is a magical place! I also like Columbia, where I stayed a couple of years ago and I very much enjoy being in Europe. You can visit all these places that are situated quite close together and see all the differences. I would like to stay long term, but I guess I’d have to find a nice European girl to marry, because it’s quite tough to get in there otherwise,” he jokes.
Having spent time in many European countries, Turner has done a lot of different jobs. But the best gig was one of the more unusual ones. “My favourite job I’ve ever done was playing the Krampus in Austria,” he grins. “It’s basically an Austrian sort of Christmas tradition from the Alpine region. On December 5th ‘the Krampus’ descends upon Austrian villages and punishes children who haven’t behaved as well as they should’ve. There was an opening for one of the spots and I got to play that role for the day. It was an amazing experience and it was so unique because I think I’m the only foreigner to ever have done that!”
With a resume that’s so diverse, is there still something Turner hasn’t done? Something he might consider to be a dream job? “I would love to do more with video, like a travel show, exploring different and edgy issues around the world,” he muses. “Or go to South Africa to work with endangered animals. When I was in Thailand I dealt with elephants and tigers and found that quite fascinating…Working with Husky dogs in Finland is on my list as well. You never know what kind of jobs are out there, but at this point I would like to do the more adventurous ones.”
A/N: I’m pretty sure many more great adventures await Turner in the years to come! Check out his website http://www.aroundtheworldin80jobs.com for his latest endeavours abroad!
Advice for aspiring travellers
“Take a leap and figure it’s going to work itself out. People often imagine the worst of a situation, but very rarely those fears will come to fruition. And even if it did, it’s not nearly as bad as they thought it was going to be. People are very adaptable,” Turner clarifies. “You could just start for instance as an English teacher, if you’re a native speaker. Maybe that will give you some confidence to try and do other jobs. Usually you look back and regret the risks you didn’t take. People tend to overestimate how big of a failure something will be.”
“Besides, the whole thing of job security and following a certain path is kind of ridiculous, especially with the direction the world is going in. It’s not like the generation of our grandparents in which people work for the same company until their retirement. Nowadays many people start somewhere and end up somewhere totally different. You might find out as you go along that the thing or job you like best, is something you didn’t even think of when you started out on the job market.”
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