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Book Review: On the Other Guy’s Dime: A Professional’s Guide to Traveling Without Paying

Is it actually possible to travel for – gulp – free, even in these dreary economic times? On the Other Guy’s Dime: A Professional’s Guide to Traveling Without Paying, a how-to guide written by professor G. Michael Schneider, promises to teach the reader how to accomplish just that. Professor Schneider arranges working holidays in different countries across Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Middle East mainly through universities at little to no cost to himself or his family.

As an educator in the United States, he has ample time to pursue long-term travel during his summers off. Yet the book makes it apparent that there is a wealth of opportunities for other professionals, students and resourceful individuals to make their dreams a reality, as long as they are willing to take a little time in planning, applying and thinking creatively. For example, Fulbright fellowships are available to a variety of nonacademic professionals, retirees, students, artists and specialists. Schneider also suggests checking the U.S. State Department’s website for listings and links to K-12 teaching positions overseas at American schools or those that serve the dependents of Department of Defense employees overseas. Doctors Without Borders also recruits nonmedical professionals in related fields such as administration and water and sanitation engineering.

Schneider and his wife have participated in a total of 15 working vacations through universities for free. In each country, he teaches a class or consults on curriculum, while his wife volunteers in various capacities. However, although working vacations may sound glamorous, they do require a certain amount of real-life grunt work and never involve non-stop travel or sightseeing, in contrast to cruise vacations or package tours. Travelers are advised to have a realistic approach in their expectations towards this type of travel.

For those who are motivated, “a long-term working vacation is a wonderful way to combine the relaxation of a holiday with the intellectual growth and excitement of interacting with and learning from local residents and professionals,” Schneider notes.

On the Other Guy’s Dime is a reader-friendly, humorous, engaging, inspirational guide to traveling literally for free to exotic locations from Kenya to Palau. In each chapter, Schneider explores in depth how he financed each trip. Schneider describes cold-calling various colleges to acquire modest donations in the form of plane tickets or stipends, leading alumni trips as well as lengthy applications for Fulbright grants which offer the grantee much higher pay and better accommodations.

His chapter “It’s Your Turn Now” is chock full of resources, service projects and programs that offer opportunities for the would-be working vacationer. Schneider’s insights, practical tips and detailed reflections on his experiences working abroad are sure to inspire even armchair travelers to get out and chase their fantasies of working their way around the globe.

“One fact that has become clear to me after all these overseas trips is that there is no shortage of working vacation opportunities, only a shortage of motivation to go after them,” Schneider writes. “The real trick to creating a working vacation is not so much knowing exactly where to look but knowing exactly how to respond when an exciting travel/work opportunity presents itself.”

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