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Semi-retired IT Professor G Michael Schneider shares how he has traveled the world 'on the other guy's dime'.

His book is very readable, and also very helpful for anyone else considering similar working holidays.

 
 
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On the Other Guy's Dime

A Professional's Guide to Traveling Without Paying

What do London, Nairobi, Kathmandu and Jerusalem all have in common?

These are just some of the places around the world where author Schneider, his wife, and sometimes his children too have traveled on paid working holidays.

 

 

Who among us doesn't enjoy traveling?  And who among us wouldn't love to do more, but can't due to a shortage of both time off work and spare money to fund our travel passion?

What if there was a way you could be paid to travel?  Would that help?  Of course it would!

This new book lifts the veil on some of the little understand opportunities to get good temporary assignments in far away lands; temporary assignments that may pay your travel costs, your living costs, and give you a salary on top of it all, too.

As such, On the Other Guy's Dime is a fascinating book that many of us may be able to benefit from.

Recommended.

About the Book

The paperback book measures 8 1/4" x 5 1/2", and is 5/8" in thickness.  It has 218 pages and comprises about 78,000 words, with moderately sized and well spaced type.  It was published in November 2010.

The book is printed onto lower grade off-white paper, and has maybe a handful of low quality black and white photos sprinkled throughout it.  It is printed in black only.

The book lists for $18.95, but can be purchased on Amazon for currently $14.21, and is also available in Kindle format for $7.99, and due to its black text only (and black and white low resolution picture) format, it is well suited for reading on a Kindle.

The book has fourteen chapters, plus a Preface.  It loosely follows more or less chronographically the author's travels over a 30+ year period.

About the Author

Professor G Michael Schneider is these days a visiting Professor at Columbia University (which is itself an interesting concept he explains in his book).

He retired from 25 years teaching IT at Macalester College in St Paul in 2007, and had spent eight years at the University of Minnesota prior to that.

During more than 30 years, he reports :

My wife, children, and I had the good fortune to live and work overseas fourteen times - Australia to Zimbabwe, Mauritius to Mongolia - for periods of 1 to 8 months.

We have gazed at Everest, ridden camels in the Gobi, walked with elephants in the Serengeti, visited the indigenous tribes in Borneo, and lived on a tropical island paradise, all without ever reaching into my own wallet and without ever once giving up my regular day job.

And that is pretty much what his book is all about - how he transitioned from a neophyte who had never even been far into Canada or Mexico, to taking his first international assignment - three months in London, complete with his wife and two young children - to continuing to travel subsequently with increasing competence, skill and comfort, to places that were increasingly exotic.

But, and here is where the book becomes truly captivating.  The focus of the book is not on himself and his family.  It is on you and your family, and how you can now emulate his own past travels.

What the Book Contains

On the Other Guy's Dime is a book about how to get and enjoy short term (paid) working vacations, running in length from perhaps one month minimum (but more commonly two) up to perhaps 12 months maximum (but more commonly six).

This is very different to volunteer tourism (where oftentimes you'll actually have to pay for the privilege of working for free) and is also very different to the concept of a student style working holiday where you take low paying jobs with dubious immigration status as you backpack your way around a region.

If you've ever wondered about how some people go on working holidays around the world, getting a job in some exotic foreign locale for anywhere from a few weeks to the better part of the year; and - more to the point - if you've ever thought that it might be something you'd like too, then this is the book for you.

The book is very well written, with good clear content and an easy to follow logic and flow to it.  Perhaps this is the result of his 30+ years teaching (and of the other books he's written, although they are scholarly text books rather than generally pitched travel books, as in this case).

Two Parts to the Book

Although seamlessly interwoven for the most part, this book has two main parts to it.  The first part encourages and equips you to find overseas postings, giving you a series of both obvious and far-from-obvious suggestions as to how to go about pursuing this wonderful dream.

The second part applies to you after you've succeeded at the first part and have secured yourself an international assignment.  Now you can turn to the book for practical help on everything from what to do with your home back in the US (or wherever else in the world you are) to how and where to locate suitable accommodation overseas.

Want advice on how to get the best value rental car for an extended period of time?  He offers some good ideas, although doesn't mention the popular concept adopted by some travelers - buying a car outright with a pre-arranged buy-back at the end of a period of time.

Want to see twice as many countries for the same overall cost as one?  He tells you how to do that?

And should you travel first class or coach on your way to and from your assignment?  He has an excellent reason for the choice he advocates, and with which I completely concur.

And so on and so on, through 218 excellent pages.

A Bonus Third Part Too

In addition to being an excellent reference/resource for people planning and preparing for overseas postings, the book is an enjoyable read as a 'travel yarn' too, recounting some of the experiences and impressions of the author, his wife, and their family on their travels around the world.

There is also a theme running through everything he says - staying in an area for more than the typical tourist timetable of a couple of days will vastly enrichen your experience, allowing you to see and experience a great deal more, and to eventually move on with a true understanding and affinity for the region you visited.  As such, you have surely become a Traveler rather than merely a tourist.

Not For Everyone

Unsurprisingly, Schneider's main focus is on how academics such as himself can get short term paid postings in foreign countries.

And, for sure, it is particularly easy for academics to take advantage of such opportunities, what with extended summer breaks, sabbaticals, and a fairly generous approach by many faculties to allowing their staff to participate in such activities.

The other enabling part of such activities is the flip side of the coin - a welcoming attitude by many other educational institutions to having short term staff members, and it is easy to understand how such cross-pollination of people can enrichen both the host institution and the visiting professor.

People who are not firmly ensconced in the academic world do not have so many advantages or opportunities; instead, they have much greater constraints.  For example, if you're an attorney, you may have work commitments and clients stretching forward months or longer into the future.  If you're eg a marketing manager, you may have new product launches.  And if you're an accountant (or any other professional) your skills may not translate directly into those needed in a foreign country (tax laws are very different everywhere, but so too are legal systems, medical practices, building codes for architects, and so on).

If you're more a tradesman or 'blue collar laborer' there may be good news and bad news for you.  Your skills are probably more portable than those of the professional, and/or there would be less time in cross-training you in the unique variances in a host company and country.  But, the downside is that there are very much fewer opportunities for tradesmen to be assigned international projects.

On the other hand, never say never, and nothing is impossible.  Particularly in some of the more arduous and rapidly developing nations, some trades skills may be even more valuable than 'book learning' - most countries first want to feed and house their people before they want to then pay for them to study the humanities at universities!

His underlying advice - network and be creatively pro-active - holds good in all cases, and when you do get any type of international assignment, the balance of his advice, on how to make the most of your posting, is fully relevant.

What's Missing

The book is good, and there's little in it I disagree with.

But it is not a complete coverage of every possible aspect and little known way of finding paid work overseas, and in particular, the reference section at the end is, as he says himself 'far from complete' and his cop-out excuse for not giving a more exhaustive listing of resources is, alas, pretty much exactly that

I would have loved to end this book with hundreds of web sites containing working-vacation prospects neatly sorted by country and field of specialization - one click and you are on your way - but that scenario is not a possibility since each specialization will have its own unique assortment of foundations, grants, agencies and programs.

Hmmm.

One of the most significant omissions is the International Executive Service Corps.  I know people who have enjoyed assignments through this organization, and you should be sure to include this as part of your researches.

A word of advice, too which is also absent but important.  If you're seeking a paid job as a cornerstone of your travels, be extremely wary of websites claiming to be able to find you wonderful and lucrative assignments in glamorous locations, but which seek some type of fee from you up front.

Not all of such organizations are fraudulent, but some most definitely may be.

As always, and particularly on the internet, be very careful before parting with your money up front in exchange for vague promises somewhere down the line.

Visit Schneider's Blog, Too

If you'd like a further taste of some of the material in the book, and additional information as well, you can also visit the author's blog.  In February 2011 he posted three interesting articles on the topic 'What the Heck is a Working Vacation' that gives you a quick overview; and most of his other recent posts are based on content in his book too.

I'm not saying there's no need to buy the book if you read the blog, though!  The book is much more complete and well ordered.

Summary

On the Other Guy's Dime is an excellent book, suitable for three types of reader.  First, it is an enjoyable travel yarn about the experiences of author G Michael Schneider and his family as they travel around the world and learn from their experiences.

Second, it is an excellent (but not fully encyclopedic) 'how to' resource for how to find overseas postings yourself.

Third, it is a very useful book to help you prepare for and then get maximum benefit from your posting and your time in your host country.

With a list price of $18.95, and available on Amazon for currently $14.21, or in Kindle format for $7.99, this is a good value good read.  Recommended.
 

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Originally published 1 Mar 2011, last update 19 Dec 2013

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

 
 
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