CorpGov loves when you take your week or two of approved vacation then return to drudgery while receiving ever more worthless US dollars and worse benefits. Many times, you go spend your savings paying extortion level daily rent to hotels to some place far away only to stay there a hurried few days while not even experiencing the real place (only the marketed, touristy, high priced areas designed to take money). Screw them all, we are on vacation for life!! Get off the beaten path, hitchhike on an airplane, bike through Asia, hop protests, and live on gifts and bartered craft work!! Maybe you could do some accounting or flip burgers for a vacation.
Here are some scams they you can use during your down time from your down time. Getting a free vacation is tough these days. However, if you want to persist and push, you can get freebies out the wazoo just by looking like a middle-class suburbanite who is not happy (although the wage slaves in that area may start to hate your guts!).
We also go over travel jobs and some real observations on them.
Las Vegas Myths
Some old timers may talk about Las Vegas. Much of what you're heard about Las Vegas isn't valid any more. Nearly all the mid-priced hotels on the Strip have been, or will be, torn down and replaced with luxury set-ups. The cheap buffets are a distant memory (the buffets are there, but they're no longer cheap), the drinks are over-priced and the lounges have been replaced with over-hyped nightclubs. See the entry "Free Las Vegas" for more information. However, there are cheaper places to stay Off-Strip, such as on Boulder Highway, or in the nearby city of Henderson, but you'll need a bus schedule to get around if you don't have a car. Get one from the Regional Transportation Commission's website: []. Or better still, do what many people who live in Las Vegas do and take their vacations in Laughlin!
A word should be put in on hotels: It is still possible to get a hotel for "free" in many cases. Using a canceled (NOT expired) credit card can often work. Be forewarned, the computer system will often lock you out of your room after midnight, so get in and stay until you run out.
You can more frequently get a room at middle-class hotels (Holiday Inns, Comfort Inns etc) by finding out a company that has a direct bill service set up with the hotel. Make a reservation (using your name or a phony ID) the day before, then come in looking like you just got off a plane/out from a meeting and that's it! Usually ID is not taken for these direct-bill type reservations, so you're in the clear.
You can often get a comped room just by complaining! Many chains (Marriott, Hilton, etc) offer 100% guarantees if you find your room is not up to snuff. Perhaps start off by swiping the nice alarm clock by your bed, stuffing it in your duffel bag, then calmly telling the front desk "There isn't an alarm clock in my room". They'll set up a new one. Then, perhaps drop a few roaches or something that looks nasty in the bathroom, call the front desk and demand your free room...claiming there is (insert nasty thing here) in your bathroom. They can't dicker on the price, they are required by corporate to give you a free room. Keep in mind, however, that many hotel staff members are ripe for conversion into the revolutionary movement...so don't give them a hard time unless they are total assholes.
The same comp idea can be used at theme parks (Anheuser-Busch, Universal, and Disney are the best to do it at). While you may not get a free ticket, items like snacks, dinners, clothing, and more can be had by complaining or simply telling a staff member some BS excuse (my ice cream fell on the ground...waaaaaah!)
If you ever go to Disney/Central Florida, look at the "FREE Tickets to Disney/Universal/Sea World/Armageddon" places. They are a dime a dozen around the tourist traps. Find out what the rules are, but usually its a half-day chat about trying to con you into a shitty timeshare in the boonies. They do pressure you into getting a timeshare (obviously) but just insist you have to talk it over with your S.O. Furthermore, BE SURE you give them phony info so they don't call you constantly.
Permanent Vacation/ Drop out
Of course, you can always go on a permanent vacation or be homeless by choice. It is simple, and it is a valid choice regardless of what CorpGov wants you to believe. All you have to do is arrange storage or give away all your stuff, break down everything you own except for what you can carry, and simply walk or ride away.
Have some cash stored up and grab a light tent and a good bike and you have a recipe for an epic adventure. Of course, family members and close friends who are firmly brainwashed into the wage slave and working drone mentality may view this decision with disdain, think you need your head examined, or may secretly be envious of you.
There are many drifters and hobos who only work temporarily on occasion, live very thrifty, and move wherever their heart's compass tells them and not what Corpgov wants.
BE Mindful and do research, though!! This wiki, while not meant to be a "drop out" bible, has many articles that can be applied directly to dropping out and being free. Dropping out is not just for the young and idealistic or folks on the run from some powerful entity. Do this, if even for the space of a year or two, and you will be a strong revolutionary and be forever resistant to mind control. If you ever look into a real traveler's eyes (not the bored and wealthy), you see a powerful soul.
Peter Jenkins was one such guy that did this. In the 1980s, he set off from a state far up north with only himself, a hiking backpack, and his dog to walk across Amerika. He would only occasionally stop in towns when he ran low on cash to work. Over time, his journey gained the attention of publishers like the National Geographic who paid him to write articles. He even met a wife at the half way point in New Orleans who traveled the rest of the trip with him! But, Jenkins did research, got himself in shape before doing this, and had good equipment.
However, do not be unprepared or know when to stop and cash up. Chris McCandless was a famous drifter and survivalist. He adopted the nickname "Alexander Supertramp" and alternated between months of wilderness hermit life and periods of cashing up by working odd jobs. After several successes under his belt, he chose to do an Alaskan survival adventure where he would support himself through only Hunting and Foraging. He also, stupidly did not bring basic survival items like a good map or a compass which the local rangers say could have very well saved his life. Unfortunately, the area he chose which had an abandoned bus he used for shelter did not have enough food to support him and he died of starvation and plant misidentification, resulting in poisoning, after 113 days in the wilderness.
Working Vacations/ Travel Jobs and Agencies
Not everyone will qualify for this, but it is possible to be paid to travel. Travel agencies typically pay your way out there along with a stipend for either an extended stay hotel or apartment. Pay can be a bit higher as well and some may offer bonuses. There is a catch, however. Legit travel opportunities are limited only to those in certain fields who have very specific degrees, certifications, and verifiable work experience. While travel jobs also appear time to time for ex-military for security or off shore, the most common fields are medical and education.
Avoid these travel scams for fund raising or to cold sell products that occasionally pop up. They have been known to leave folks stranded out in far flung places if quotas are not met and pay horribly if anything at all. Even supposedly eco-radical groups like the Sierra Club have been known to get folks to go to other cities to canvas for donations promising them money then telling them they only get 5 USD for 2 days work because they only brought in 400 USD!
One trick that was popular with Yuppies in the 1980's was to leave resumes at various places on their vacation in order to deduct some of the traveling costs as "job search expenses". These deductions are still available from our research. Just keep the lodging, plane, bus, or train receipts.
Medical Field Travel
Allied Health has the most travel jobs of any industry. Unfortunately, this is almost exclusively limited to folks with at least two year medical degrees with at least a year or two of verifiable experience and a valid professional license. There are a very few for those without that requirement or with other health certifications, but this is very rare. Be wary of rip off agencies.
Most of these offerings may require NO major criminal record (some states FBI fingerprint check), ability to pass a urine or blood drug screen, negative TB skin test, valid health care provider CPR, valid certificate or license, current vaccinations, and ALL paperwork up to date. Nursing tends to be stricter than therapy on the requirements. Most agencies DO NOT pay unemployment, however, when the assignment ends (and work can end abruptly).
Occupations that can travel and the requirements:
- Registered Nurse. Two year degree plus a year of prerequisites. Some are four year programs. No felonies or serious misdemeanors. Must pass a national exam called the NCLEX and get a state issued professional license. Agency may require you transfer the state license to the state you are being sent to.
- Nurse Practitioner. Masters Degree (will be a Doctorate in a few years), two years floor experience in a hospital before the Masters degree is gotten, state license, and no serious misdemeanors or felonies.
- Respiratory Therapist. Two year degree and a national license.
- Physical Therapy Assistant. Two year degree and a national license.
- Occupational Therapy Assistant. Two year degree and a national license.
- Occupational Therapist. Master's degree and a national license.
- Speech Therapist. Master's Degree and a national license.
- Physical Therapist. Masters Degree and a national license.
Travel jobs for lower level medical like Licensed Practical Nurse (a year and a half certificate and a state license.), Certified Nursing Assistant (a few weeks or one semester and a state certificate), and EMT - Basic (a few weeks or one semester and a national certificate) are almost nonexistent. In fact, there are quite a few scams. However, there are per diem agencies that will take you if you show up and change your license over to that state. Some states are easy to transfer to and some are not. The board of that state is where you need to look. You are also on your own to get out there.
It can be quite an experience if you qualify. We have known folks end up in Hawaii, places in Alaska that are only accessible by plane,and many other exotic places.
Asian countries like China, Thailand, and South Korea often look for native English speakers to teach high level classes. Somewhat ironically, it is viewed as an advantage when you don't know the local tongue. After all, the whole point is that these schools want the students not to be able to function in the class unless they know full English that can pass around a native speaker.
There are definite requirements, though, and you can not just apply off the street. First, you are going to need a Bachelors Degree from a decent (not rip-off like ITT/UoP) college. It does not matter what the degree was in, but degrees in English or Secondary Education will usually get priority. Second, you must be able to get a passport and have no criminal record. Third, you may need a letter of approval from the consulate of that country after an in person interview. Do not worry, you should not have to travel far to speak to a consulate. Consulates often have offices in many regions of the country other than Washington DC. Many times, you just travel to the nearest extremely large city in your region. ONE WARNING THOUGH: We did know someone who got turned down at the Japanese Consulate in New Orleans for not wearing black and white with a tie even though he had a BA in Linguistics! The consulate saw it as an insult! Be sure you know the expectations and culture of the place you want to go to!
Once you get past those hurdles, you usually sign a commitment for a year or less. They pay your way out there and put you in a small apartment. Depending where you get hired you may also get paid quite a bit more than if you were teaching in a school in the United States although places like Seoul and Tokyo can be very expensive even with free room.
The Carnival/ Fair (Not the circus)
Unlike the medical stuff or being flown to an Asian nation to teach, the amusement companies and the companies that cater for them do not care if you have a degree, if you are an ex convict, or even drug test sometimes (but this varies according to job). Most amusement and carnival companies travel all throughout the United States.
If you are in an area and a large state fair or carnival pulls through, you may be able to go with them when they leave. Do not go at night to get the job, go off-peak when hardly anyone is at the fair. The larger the fair, the better the chance. Large fairs like a state fair may have 2 companies that have all the rides and another 4 or 5 that just run food trailers.
"Carnies" as they are known amongst themselves are a pretty rough and tumble crew. The job consists of running rides while the fair is there, taking everything down, then moving to another location. There is also the possibility of doing the rigged games or working in a food booth. Usually, your housing and rides are paid for at least through the season when they are busy.
One warning, though. The work is pretty physical and has long hours. We have known some that have done it for a few years, but most eventually burn out.
If you do not mind near fascist drug testing, being away from home, and making money off Amerika's crack petroleum addiction working offshore may be something to consider. During the time you are out on an oil platform or barge, all your food and housing is taken care of. When you come back to shore, you will have a sizable sum of cash. The more skilled job you do, the bigger the wad of cash.
There are several options to choose from. The easiest to get is galley hand or steward. Galley hands wash dishes, help at meal times, and do anything the actual cook is too busy to handle in the kitchen. Stewards wash clothes and make beds. Each rig may feed or service 60 to 300. You can also go out as a roustabout or roughneck, but that is very hard work and not for wimps. If you have some certifications like EMT-Basic, Electrician Certs, Welding, or Diving you will be making silly money.
The job comes with definite disadvantages, though. 90 percent of the jobs are for males only, so ladies may be out of luck. Being cooped up on some oil platform way out in the Gulf, away from home, and nothing but work drives folks batty. If you are in a relationship, it tears relationships apart. There is a saying amongst the Cajuns, "If you are not an alcoholic when you leave, you will be one when you come back". It also really helps if you reside in an oil producing state or the Gulf Coast. Having a vehicle really helps. Most of the companies on the Gulf are deep in Cajun Country in Louisiana where no Greyhound bus goes. You must apply there in person. Most companies will not take you from the city where the office is to the port where you have to disembark. Sometimes they will only give you 12 hours notice to be there or be fired. If you have no car, you must either carpool or pay a transportation company (basically a rural cab) up to 150 (or more!!) USD to take you there. The dispatch areas are often in marine areas in the middle of nowhere and can be very hard to find, so be prepared and get good directions or someone who knows where some remote helipad or dock is.
Your paperwork needs to be in order, as well. You need a TWIC (Transportation Workers Identification Card) card at minimum. Most companies will not even talk to you without a TWIC. TWIC is an expensive piece of RFID equipped plastic, costing around 130 USD to get. The card is issued by TSA, the same Nazi bastards that work at airports feeling up crotches and fondling breasts in the name of catching "terrorists". To work on a vessel as crew, you are going to need a Merchant Marine Card (also called Z-card). Merchant Mariner requires the same as TWIC but needs valid Driver's License plus a few stricter guidelines. Certain felonies such as rape, murder, treason, or any felony level crime involving transportation can keep you from getting any of these cards. Some companies are also wanting expensive safety classes like ServeSafe, SafeGulf, and OSHA related stuff many times out of your own pocket so be wary and talk to many places.
Smart offshore workers that did not spend all the money on hotel rooms, booze, and domestic violence fines can leave out with a huge stockpile of cash to set themselves up nicely after only a few years. Just be smart if you go this route.
'If you cannot hack it or it turns out bad, try to at least stick out your obligation. Also, DO NOT BRING DRUGS or contraband on the rig or vessel. If you get caught or they have to haul your ass back to shore, you will be messing with the Coast Guard. They also typically take ALL your pay to cover the helicopter ride back to shore. We have heard real life stories of folks being docked the entire paycheck and stranded out in the middle of nowhere with no cash!
Bear in mind also, that oil is a commodity that fluctuates like any other. The industry is known for layoffs when the price of oil dips and mass hiring when oil sky rockets. Be sure to have a back up plan if work dies.
Unfortunately, most cruise lines like Carnival and others are mostly foreign flagged and almost exclusively hire from third world countries for lower wages. Most of the time, they require you to be bilingual as well. Even on the cruises that are strictly US to US (like Alaska cruises), you may find it really hard to get on due to this fact.
Not that you would miss anything. The quarters are horribly cramped, the hours are very long and tedious, and the pay is very low unless you are in a tipped position and luck out with an excursion loaded down with good tippers.
Check out our chapter Sail Away for a short bit on stowing away.