How to apply for jobs abroad that don’t exist

A lot of people ask me how I went to travel blogging as a full-time job and looking back, I can remember all the crazy things I did just because I didn’t want to go home.

Sorry mum, that was the case. I was in South America, broke AF and didn’t want to go home. I wanted to stay.

Even if I didn’t have any idea how to pull it off, I TRIED. The urge of not quitting the life I was living was getting into me. Again, I didn’t want to go home.

That urge lead me to a few discoveries on how I was able to sustain myself. Like most things, nothing comes easy but today, I’d like to share with you what pushed me to stay and travel forever aside from not wanting to go home.

Just to clarify, the ‘jobs abroad’ I do are not jobs that require a working visa. The jobs I did before were short-term. It helped me sustain my life on the road. This post applies best for long-term travelers and backpackers.

When translations go wrong

South America is where I learned how to speak Spanish fluently and when reading restaurant menus, I cringe. Their English translation is fcking wrong.

“Sirred aunt in lemon citron suace.”

What the fck is this? I don’t want to eat my aunt! NEVER! I mean, my aunts are pretty annoying (but really really cool) but I would never want to eat them!

This translation sucks. The funny thing is, I observed this wrongly translated menus in top restaurants. In small eateries or street food, I would understand.

But something that’s labeled ‘top’ on TripAdvisor? Come on! I walked to the reception/hostess and asked: “Excuse me? May I speak to your manager?”

“Sorry, madam, but the manager is out. I can give you her card.”

I got her card and sent her an e-mail the next day. I was already fluent in Spanish at that time so I wrote her in Spanish. Below is the English translation:

Dear Miss Melissa,

Honestly, your English translation in the menu sucks. Last night, I was fortunate enough to eat at your restaurant (I’m broke AF but I always make sure to eat great food!) and I noticed that most of your English translations are not correct.

There were Australians, British, and Americans dining with me and we all said the same – it sucks. Now, I am no native English speaker (I hail from the Philippines) but I’d like to believe I am a really good writer.

Along with that, I am also fluent in Spanish so maybe, just maybe, I can help you translate your menu? Now, this comes with a price but I am sure it’s nothing you can’t afford.

If you are interested, please feel free to e-mail back. You can check my work at (Back then, this was my domain name)

Within an hour, she replied.

“Dear Trisha, I’d like to meet you this week to discuss this possibility. When will you be available?”

That same evening, I found myself browsing the menu in her office, shaking my head multiple times, looking at it like it was something that couldn’t be repaired.

Imagine, how many people have seen this menu? Although I am not a part of their employee brigade, I felt ashamed for them.

“So tell me, how much should I pay you to make all these right?”

It was my first time to walk up to someone like this and I didn’t have any idea on how to charge.

“$500 USD. I blurted. Not entirely sure about this but yes, five hundred freaking dollars.”

“Show me your work and we’ll see what it’s worth.”

I went back to the hostel where I was volunteering and immediately worked on the translations. I e-mailed it to her and the next day, she transferred $500 USD to my account. I got it just like that.

Lesson of the story

Do not ignore little things. I am sure I wasn’t the only one who noticed the poorly translated menu. But what made my move differently?

I walked up to the management and offered what I can do. The menu translation is just a sample and I can’t honestly tell you specific non-existing jobs abroad you want to apply for but you get the picture?

You don’t have to look for it! It can happen in your daily long-term travel routine! All you have to do is to actually do something about it.

Don’t keep your mouth shut if you think you can do a difference. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid if they tell you that you are wrong. JUST DO IT.

What if a top brand/company’s Instagram account is so ugly you keep wondering why people follow it?

What if you are really good with Google keywords and you notice that Brand A doesn’t get the traction that they deserve?

What if you are a photographer and you know that Brand X has a budget and you can do so much for them?

Jobs abroad need not be posted on Craigslist, Indeed, LinkedIn, etc. You can find something by yourself through analysis.

Create your job posting (according to your specialties) and pitch it to brands! We are the mighty millennials – we can do whatever we want.

Let’s not focus on looking for jobs abroad to sustain our travels through job postings. Do not limit yourself because you know you can do so much better than that!

My will to not go home pushed me to be creative with what I do and continue a life of travel.

What wouldn’t you do to fulfill your dreams?

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  1. How I love your gut, Trisha! And the honest to goodness concern to make a difference in small ways. Must be why you’re attracting the right opportunities… or maybe, we all attract good opportunities, it’s just that not everyone has eyes opened and hands ready to open doors.

  2. I love this story, haha there have been so many times I have seen poorly translated menus that give me a chuckle. Not once did I think about seeing if they wanted to have it translated for them. I would feel so nervous saying your menu sucks, but I like your assertiveness at getting a job by just putting yourself out there like that!

  3. Hahah love how bold you are in your writing and also how you implement this to real life situations. I agree that taking advantage of these loop holes are the way to go.

  4. Great story. The best job is the one you create yourself.

    I’ve been meaning to do something like that in my native Slovakia where, dare I say, English translations might be even worse than what you experienced (though probably not as bad as what I saw in Thailand). But Slovaks are cheap (I know, I’m one of them), so I always doubt it would work. I might just go for it next time!

  5. That’s quite an inspiration as many of us, that includes me, didn’t see the opportunity to get some jobs out of the things we basically just laugh about…like the ones you did!

  6. Well done on having the guts to be a go getter. I think you have proved that there is no harm in approaching and making an offer. Really in the end worst thing that will happen is they say no. Best thing, you are US$500 richer!

  7. Those are one of my ideas when I used to travel short term, and at Cambodia and Bangkok… though it was more like telling myself “I wish they paid someone to translate that damn menu properly.”
    LOL. That’s awesome how you thought of just making a deal like that. WAPAK!

  8. What a fantastic idea. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen poorly translated menus. I often see poor grammar on tourism ads and signage too. I love the moral of the story- being proactive and not being afraid to ask when you see something that you can do to improve one’s business. It’s a win-win! Thank you for sharing your inspiring experience.

  9. That’s awesome- I always see signs that are poorly translated while I’m abroad, and knew there had to be a market for fixing them. Great to see you found it!

  10. You were very clever to create a job out of re-translating menus! That’s a great way to think outside the box, and yet, it is a very valuable service. I wonder if you could have done it for all the restaurants in town and made a pretty good living until it was time to move on? I like the way you think!

  11. Definitely a great thought! Never even thought about offering translation as a service like that! It’s always best to ask/offer because the worst they can say is no. I always love the silly translations on a menu but it’s definitely better for business and great if they can be fixed!

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