Study abroad or exchange programs are the obvious option that comes to mind for someone who wants to see a little more of the world while they study. However, these are not available for all courses and in all cases. They can also be prohibitively expensive. What if you are looking for a more flexible and independent style of travel and perhaps a cheaper way to complete your degree?
Online learning could be the ideal choice for you. Online courses can often be substantially less costly than a traditional college education, and there is now a myriad of online degrees delivered by respected and recognized Higher Learning Institutions.
A growing number of colleges now have an online counterpart to their brick-and-mortar courses, with the same content and equivalent access to materials and expertise. This means that you don’t need to sacrifice the quality of your degree to study online.
It also means that you can study on the move and from anywhere in the world. After all, what better way to expand your understanding of The Inca Empire, during your Anthropology degree, than with a trek across the Inca Trail culminating at Machu Picchu?
Making the Decision
First thing’s first, you will need to find the course that’s right for you. In some cases, you will be able to complete a proportion of your learning remotely but will need to commit to spending some time in a lab or a lecture hall. In others, you may be able to do the whole thing from a hammock in Bali. A Marine Biology Bachelors, for example, might require an aspect of lab-learning and field research; however, other courses, such as an online associate of arts degree, can be completed 100% remotely.
If you’re going to travel while you study, you will need to do some preparation and planning. A fast-and-loose approach probably isn’t going to cut it if you want to come away with a degree or some progression toward your chosen career. However, with the right forethought and some adherence to the below guidance, it is possible to combine your education and travel goals.
Plan for Disruptions
Traveling is an adventure and sure to involve lots of excitement, but there’s also the possibility that it will entail some unforeseen events, flight or bus delays, unexpected weather, lost luggage, power cuts or changes to your itinerary.
Be mindful of important deadlines and try to keep to a schedule. If you know you have a big essay due at the end of the week, make sure you have lots of wiggle room for if your planned study time is disrupted. Leaving it to the last minute is going to be a lot riskier when you’re traveling.
The Wi-Fi might go down at your hostel, you could have a problem with your laptop in a place where you can’t make a quick trip to the Apple Store, or there could be a power cut. This might be the worst-case scenario, but you don’t want to be caught out.
There will be an ebb and flow when it comes to traveling while you study. There will be times when you need to focus on your work even though there is a beach fifty feet away or everyone else in the hostel is going to a party. Be realistic and plan for when you can study and when you can let loose.
Know Where to Find Reliable Internet Access
Travel has boomed in the last decade, and it is becoming increasingly popular to travel while you work and study. No matter where you go abroad you are likely to bump into a ‘digital nomad’; someone who is location-independent and able to work from their laptop virtually anywhere, allowing them to roam around the world at their pleasure. Sounds pretty good, right?
Businesses small and large, the world over, are increasingly becoming wise to this growing phenomenon and recognizing that a decent internet connection can be a key selling point, drawing travelers in droves to a hostel, a cafe, or a restaurant.
In many popular travel destinations, you can now find purpose-built workspaces designed to cater to digital nomads or to anyone who is traveling and looking for a space with powerful Wi-Fi and no distractions. You can even find backpacking hostels for the budget traveler which have designated workspaces.
Get Travel Insurance and Back Your Work Up
It’s not unheard of for items to be lost while traveling. If you’re regularly moving around with your belongings, the chances are just higher that something will go missing, so be cautious and be prepared.
If you’re studying or working while you travel, you will probably have a laptop with you and perhaps some other costly items. Don’t neglect to get the appropriate travel insurance to cover any items you don’t want to shell out to replace.
However, insurance isn’t the only precaution you need to take. Your course essays, notes, research, dissertation etc. cannot be replaced by an insurance payout. You need to ensure that you are diligently backing up your work to a cloud or other portal that you will be able to access from an alternative device should yours be lost or stolen. Get into the habit of backing up regularly; don’t risk the heartache and headache of losing hours, weeks, or months of work.
With all this in mind, traveling has never been easier, and in many parts of the world, there is a fairly well-trodden path meaning that with a little research you can often find what you need to work and study while you’re on the move. So, go ahead and find the course that’s right for you, and then get out there and learn what the world has to teach you that you just can’t find in a textbook.