Unless you’re independently wealthy, traveling the world requires juggling free time and work. That is, unless you combine the two. If you spend most of your time at your day job dreaming of where you’re going to be traveling next, maybe it’s time to find a job that actually pays you to jump from one place to the next. Not sure how to get started? Here are a few options to get you on the path to being paid to travel.
It’s hard work, long hours, and you’ll meet your fair share of customers who make you want to pull your hair out, but you’ll get to see the world. Your long hours on planes and in airports will be offset with plenty of time to explore all of the exotic (and not so exotic) destinations you find yourself. Work as a commercial pilot is highly competitive, but the salary and benefits are excellent.
If you always longed to be a civil servant (and who hasn’t really?) and have a thirst for challenge and adventure, you might want to consider a job as a diplomat. Diplomats typically move between countries every two-four years and they don’t get the final say in where they end up, but you’ll have a chance to see the world (or at least a few corners of it) with a comfortable salary and great benefits. You may even get one of those cool metal briefcases.
Ok, sure, you may begin to feel like you’re stuck in the movie Groundhog Day as you tell the same stories over and over again, but you’ll get to meet new people every day and it’s a great opportunity to share a place you love with other people. Some areas have stipulations about hiring local tour guides only, but there are often opportunities to work with tour group operators (based in your home country) who need an extra hand on a trip. This is particularly with adventure travel companies.
It helps if you’ve gotten your TESL or TEFL certifications, but there are plenty of programs (particularly in Asia) that do not require this certification and ask only for native English speakers. The pay is better if you’re certified, but even if you’re not, there are some pretty sweet gigs.
Not the easiest job in the world to live off of (at least at first), but relatively easy to get started. If you’ve got a flair for words, a computer, and an Internet connection, you are ready to get started. There are a few travel sites that pay bloggers and writers anywhere from $25-50 for a travel post and these are great for freelancers just starting to get their feet wet. If you’re serious about it, you might consider getting an internship with a magazine (like National Geographic) or taking the Matador travel writing course.
Cruise Ship Worker
While it’s more fun to be on a cruise ship as a guest (hello margaritas by the pool in the boat in the middle of the ocean), working on a cruise ship is a great way to travel to some amazing exotic destinations. Jobs can range from yoga instructors, massage therapists, lifeguards, tour guides, chef and food servers, to DJs, dance instructors, childcare, and cleaning staff. Pay can vary widely, but your living expenses while on the ship are pretty minimal.
This is not the most glamorous job in the world, but it’s a great way to learn a language (kids are pretty diligent about correcting you) and an amazing chance to get an intimate glimpse into a culture as–generally–you’ll be living with the family. It helps a lot if you have a background in childcare, but it’s not always necessary. In addition to your salary, your room and board and travel expenses are generally covered as well. Be warned though, when you get a good family, saying good-bye is hard to do.