I spent a lot of time researching jobs and careers that would allow me to travel as I entered college. For the most part, I found the same few opportunities. I could volunteer for a few years with Peace Corps, become a travel blogger or social media star with a big enough following to turn a profit, or enter the travel industry directly. These are amazing ways to see the world, no doubt about it, but I felt limited. I had other career interests and aspirations that didn’t necessarily relate to travel and overwhelmed having to “choose” between this theoretical career path and seeing the world. Were there no explorers with careers toward which they felt passionate? No working women who held down jobs they loved as they curated global adventures for themselves?
There are. Fortunately, I’ve met scores of people along the way who’ve shown me this “forced choice” I was facing was fabricated. Plenty of people have been doing this for years, decades, centuries. Many, many working women who also love to wander exist. It’s true – most careers won’t allow for 365 days of travel the way working on a cruise ship might. Nonetheless, there are plenty of careers which allow you to work in the field you are passionate about and still explore! Here, I’ll show you six career fields not directly related to travel that still offer numerous opportunities to see the world.
Careers in Education
I always thought education was a profession where you just couldn’t make enough money to travel, but this is far from true in many cases (especially for budget-travel). At the primary level, elementary, middle, and high school teachers may not make large salaries (at least in the USA). However, they get summer breaks and long holiday breaks every year where more extended travel is possible. There are also a lot of opportunities to lead trips for school as chaperones, attend professional conferences in other states or countries, or teach abroad. Those with a teaching background have a leg up on any others getting certified to teach English abroad, and if you have secondary language skills you’ll find plentiful opportunities to teach other subjects as well.
If you go on to be a professor teaching at the secondary level, international travel opportunities are even more extensive. Most college professors conduct research on the side in addition to instructing courses. If your research topic involves people abroad or any sort of international collaboration, it’s not difficult to finagle some international travel in the name of work. Many teachers have received grants for projects they want to do abroad, taken sabbaticals in locations around the world, or used their collegiate professor salaries to fund their vacations. Again, teaching abroad is always an option.
Laura is a student in graduate school right now and has travelled to other states with her professor for conferences. I have also been to conferences in four states and spent three weeks in Costa Rica for work related trips when I was a student. If you’re interested in hearing from a teacher who has traveled during her career, you’ll love this W.O.W interview with Leana. She’s a retired educator who continues to have crazy adventures like trekking in the Himalayas post-retirement.
Careers in Global Health
As the name implies, this field offers a variety of locations and plenty of opportunity to travel worldwide. Whether you are researching, coordinating programs, volunteering with an organization, collecting data, or advocating for your cause, there are communities around the world that need global health workers. You can often find jobs which involve time overseas on week-long or month-long assignments, if you want shorter commitments. Of course, there are plenty of more permanent arrangements too.
Tahvi has had extensive experience in this field over the past few years and can attest to this opportunity for travel – in her W.O.W interview she talks about her time in Guatemala working with women and children in health clinics there. Aside from becoming a medical practitioner, there are a host of ways you can get involved in the field. To name just a handful of examples, these roles include technical logistician, water and sanitation specialists, researchers, health promoter, and humanitarian affairs officer.
Careers in Art
This is a really broad category with a ton of options. Interested in film production? If it’s in the budget, make your backdrop somewhere international or join a project abroad. You’re a photographer? There are obviously places you can photograph in all corners of the globe. (If you haven’t seen Marie’s incredible travel photography then you need to check out Suitcase Six on Instagram! I’ve been sharing tons of her photos from our trip through S.E. Asia.)
If you’re an author, bring your laptop or a notepad and paper so you can write anywhere. This works great for freelancing as you can obviously do your work whenever you choose, however you choose. However, there are also opportunities to have contracted projects which might pay for your travel. Think taking photos for National Geographic, writing for travel agencies, or creating promotional videos for tour companies.
Careers in Nonprofit
Nonprofits exist all over the world and their employees do all kinds of work. It doesn’t matter if your interests lie in saving the planet, helping children pursue education, or fighting for women’s rights. Each nonprofit organization has a variety of roles that need filled. If you set your sights on a nonprofit based abroad, you’re almost guaranteed some adventure!
I work in juvenile justice for a mentoring program that will someday be a registered non-profit. While we primarily work with students in Indiana, we have also worked with students in Costa Rica and are planning a trip to Norway to explore the criminal justice systems there (more on that trip here). Next May, I plan to continue working for HOPE Mentoring remotely shifting my role from Mentoring Director to a consultant/support role.
Careers in Business
There are many business positions that don’t relate directly to travel but which interact with clients who may live abroad. For example, businesses whose customers extend beyond their own country’s borders may need sales representatives. These people must be willing to go abroad to promote their product to foreign clients. Other positions like consultants work with client companies abroad, and can sometimes work remotely.
Melissa is working for Accenture and travelling the world with a program called Remote Year. She’ll be doing the same projects for Accenture as she would from her base in Chicago, but instead working a month in twelve different countries this year, starting in Croatia. Her company has employees in consulting, technology, strategy, security, digital, and operations. The Accenture website boasts having clients in 120 different countries, so obviously plenty of options! Read Melissa’s W.O.W. interview for more details on what she’s doing. Her awesome itinerary is below.
Careers in Medicine
Slightly overlapping with global health, there are many positions in the field of medicine in which you can travel. If you’re a nurse, travel nursing might be up your alley. Travel nurses work six-month rotations in different states or countries, which Anna mentions in her W.O.W. interview . If you’re a doctor, surgeon, pharmacist, nurse, or any other specialist, your skills may be needed by organizations who do service work abroad like Doctors without Borders, Red Cross, or Peace Corps. Some of these opportunities are few weeks in duration, and others up to several years, if not permanent positions.
Careers in Travel – More than Meets the Eye
Clearly there are more ways to see the world through work than simply becoming a travel blogger. Again, there is nothing wrong with that! I myself am travel blogging and would love to be able to make money from it someday. However, this may not be an option for many people, and it may be undesirable or disinteresting to others. For those who want a “non-travel job” with opportunities to see the world, I highly recommend exploring these fields. Brush up on your foreign language skills and dust off your resume. Its time to start researching how to pack your business clothes in a suitcase!
To leave you with a little inspiration, here are a few photos from women featured in the S6 Woman of the Week interviews. All of them have jobs or are students, and are shown here in locations from nearly every continent!
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