- Veronica Pulido left her hometown at the age of 25 because she felt it was impossible to find a career there.
- Pulido has been traveling around Europe for two years, providing funding along the way.
- She lives out of a suitcase and uses sites like WorldPackers and WorkAway to find work.
This told essay is based on a conversation with Veronica Pulido, 27, who has been traveling full-time for nearly two years. This essay has been edited for length and clarity.
Immigrating from Venezuela was one of the easiest decisions of my life.
My country is not in the best economic situation and I always felt like there was nothing to do here. I felt really depressed and unhappy. It wasn’t my home. Yes, I’m from there and my parents still live there, but it wasn’t my place.
In 2021, a year after graduating from university, I learned about a girl who used a travel platform called AuPairWorld to find a host family in Switzerland. Her posts had titles like “How I moved to Switzerland without spending money, getting a sugar daddy, or selling photos” and I was hooked. I’ve always wanted to go on one of her trips, so when I saw her story, I thought, “Maybe I can be like her.”
I logged into the website and connected with a family in Prague, Czech Republic. I talked to my parents and loved them right away. Without this family, my story would have been very different.
It took all of my savings for two years to buy a one-way ticket to Spain, where my sister lives. I was 25 years old at the time and had no money left after arriving in Spain. broken. zero.
I spent a week with my sister before moving to Prague and my journey started from there. I worked as a live-in au pair for a family with young children. My family was very kind and my job was simple. I had to take care of my child for four hours in the morning from Monday to Thursday. I stayed with them for two and a half months.
From there, I was able to visit Romania, Germany, Switzerland, and most of the Balkans.
How to finance your trip
I often see backpackers online telling others that they need to have a certain amount of money ready before they start their trip. Traveling has been central to my life for the past two years, but I disagree, especially if you want to have more flexibility in your work.
For me, the biggest expense is accommodation.
I don’t have a home base and usually move every 2-3 months, my longest stay being in Croatia for 3 full months. I brought one beautiful airplane-sized purple suitcase with me from Venezuela, and I’ve been living out of it ever since.
I found that “volunteering” in hostels, guesthouses and yoga retreats was a good solution. I offered to help clean rooms and create marketing content at some of the places I stayed in exchange for room and board. I often find myself living like a queen, with my own room and amazing restaurant food.
In other cities, I accepted a job with a world school education facility for children studying while traveling. In the Bulgarian ski town of Bansko, I worked in a program called Kids Club, where we took children on cultural tours and taught them about the city and the language.
In expensive areas like Switzerland, a live-in nanny is more sustainable.
problems along the way
As a Venezuelan national, I can only stay in the Schengen area for three months at a time. This means that you must travel to a non-Schengen country, such as Romania or Bulgaria, every 90 days to continue staying in Europe.
I use sites like Worldpackers and Workaway to find work. At one time, the only job outside the Schengen area was in Sofia, Bulgaria. I lived with a disabled elderly man and had to help him.
The first week was amazing. But he became rude and grumpy and made fun of my Latin Spanish, which he said was not the correct way to speak the language.
The living conditions were also unpleasant for me. I basically slept on the mattress next to him. He was also a painter of nude women and asked me to model for him. I stayed there for three weeks before trying to find another job.
The happy ending to this story was that I was able to find a friendly host family in another city in Bulgaria, and it turned out to be one of my favorite experiences.
It was the only job I took without a video call, so I’m now careful to always call the host and ask for a tour of the property. He also tries to have two or three options in each city, so it doesn’t feel like it’s the only place.
Thoughts that helped me
Despite the difficulties, I have never felt homesick and have no intention of going back. Countries that weren’t included in our plans ended up being the most amazing trip.
I am currently in Germany and am applying for the following job. If all goes well, I hope to explore Asia soon.
I tell myself and the people I meet: “Just do it.” You don’t have to wait for a lot of money. Make sure you have as much money as you need in case of an emergency. I keep 400 euros, or $435, in my fund and pretend I don’t have that money until I have an emergency.
Pushing myself to be creative with my work also helped. I studied media in college and always ask restaurants and small businesses to shoot commercials and social media videos, and it often works out.