I personally don’t think so.
However, I tend to receive the occasional email from people who feel that creating a life of travel would be significantly more difficult for someone who is not from a Western, English-speaking country. I certainly understand how that may appear to be the situation but I really believe that, in reality, it isn’t the case.
Usually, the emails I receive about this subject refer to the ability to earn money overseas and the author almost always points to the several methods I’ve used over the years to earn an income. It is then suggested that they, because of their nationality, would not be able to pursue or obtain similar employment, and therefore, not be able to survive out there in the world.
My response to these emails is generally the same. While certain aspects of my lifestyle would indeed present a bigger challenge to some (such as obtaining visas and facing higher expenses based on one’s home currency), I honestly don’t think that earning money while traveling or living overseas is one of those aspects.
Work At Sea
Just look at working on board cruise ships. On the last ship I worked on, there were only 14 Americans out of 1300 crew members. The overwhelming majority of crew were from countries such as the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Ukraine, Mexico, Colombia and Romania, which is the case on almost every single cruise ship out there. And while most of these crew members are indeed forced to start off in positions that pay significantly lower than the position I had, every crew member has an opportunity to move up the ladder. Nationality plays little role in this. One’s willingness to work hard, on the other hand, plays a significant role.
If I hadn’t worked hard myself I would never have been given the position of Tour Manager. And the same goes for any of the Tour Staff on my team, many of whom came from countries such as Bulgaria, Hungary, Russia, Poland, Nepal and South Africa. They were all doing quite well for themselves on board once they landed a job in the Tour Department. And as a result of the money they saved, quite a few went on to travel extensively.
In terms of earning money online, the answer is simple as well. Anyone can do it, regardless of where they are from. All it takes is some serious dedication, long hours in front of a computer and a willingness to learn a ton of information. If you can manage that, your nationality will not stand in the way of you being able to earn money online. Had I not locked myself in a room for several months and worked non-stop, day and night, on my laptop, I would never have earned a single dollar online. Again, it was the effort that made the difference, not my citizenship.
In The Classroom
Finally, there is teaching English. And yes, it is of course true that as a US citizen, getting such jobs is naturally much easier than if I were from a non-English speaking country. Anyone who is a native English speaker can often just show up in any number of countries and find a teaching job within a short period of time, even if they don’t have any teaching experience whatsoever.
However, it is important to realize that English is not the only language people want to learn. Even here in Mexico I’ve seen signs advertising German, Mandarin, Russian and Arabic classes, all taught by native speakers of those languages who happen to be living or traveling here as well. There are options, you just need some creativity and the confidence to take a few steps into the unknown.
These are just a handful of examples. But even if there is only one way to earn money while traveling available to you, that’s really all you need to make a life of long-term travel a real option, no matter what country you call home.
And I truly believe this because if I spend a few minutes right now thinking of all the people I’ve met on the road who are living lives of travel as well, people from Bulgaria and Serbia and Indonesia and India and China and Turkey and Venezuela and Costa Rica and Argentina and Nigeria and Zimbabwe come to mind, right there alongside people from the Western, English-speaking world.
After some further thought and in light of some of the comments, let me restate my stance. Okay, perhaps this nomadic lifestyle is somewhat easier for me due to my nationality. As I mentioned in one of the comments, perhaps it would have been better for me to state that a life of travel is not easy to sustain at all, not even for me. My point is that everyone, regardless of where they are from, does have an opportunity to make this lifestyle happen. While we each are required to face our own unique set of challenges in order to make it a reality, it doesn’t change the fact that the opportunity to make it happen does exist.
That definitely better explains my thoughts and my apologies for any confusion.
I’d certainly be interested in hearing your thoughts. What do you think?