I spent a lot of time researching travel careers and jobs that allow you to travel as I entered college and for the most part found the same few opportunities: volunteering for a few years with Peace Corps, becoming a travel blogger or social media star with a big enough following to turn a profit, or entering the travel industry directly as a flight attendant or cruise ship worker. These are amazing ways to see the world, no doubt about it, BUT I felt like these choices were limiting. I had other career interest and aspirations that didn’t necessarily relate to travel and I felt overwhelmed by having to “choose” between a career I really felt passionate about and traveling the world.
Fortunately, I’ve met a lot of people along the way who’ve shown me that this isn’t the case and I should fret not. It’s true – many careers may not allow for 365 days of travel the way working on a cruise ship or being a profitable travel blogger might, but allow you to work in the field you are passionate about! Here are six career fields not directly related to travel that still offer numerous opportunities to see the world.
I always thought that this 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 school, and high school teachers may not make much but you get summer breaks and long holiday breaks every year where more extended travel can be possible. There are also a lot of opportunities to lead trips for school as chaperones, attend professional conferences that may be 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 opportunities to teach other subjects as well.
If you go on to be a professor and teach at the secondary level, the opportunities for international travel may be even more extensive. Most college professors do research on the side, and 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 with her professor for conferences, and I have 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 someone who has done this, you’ll love this W.O.W interview with a retired educator who has travelled the world (and continues to have crazy adventures like trekking in the Himalayas post-retirement).
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 suffering from serious health issues that need global health workers. You can often find jobs which involve time overseas either on a temporary assignment of weeks or months, but 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 through jobs such as technical logistician, water and sanitation specialists, researchers, health promoter, and humanitarian affairs officer.
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: working six-month rotations in different states or countries as Anna mentioned in her W.O.W. interview as potential future plans. 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 can be for longer term – up to several years, if not permanent positions.
This is a really broad category with a ton of options. Interested in film production? If it’s in the budget, why not make your backdrop somewhere international or join a project abroad? If you’re a photographer, there are obviously places to be photographed in all corners of the globe. (If you haven’t seen Marie’s incredible travel photography, then you have 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 and 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 a tour guide company.
There are nonprofits all over the world, based in every country, doing all kinds of work. No matter what your interest is, be it saving the planet, helping children pursue education, fighting for women’s rights, or raising awareness about a cause, each nonprofit organization has a variety of roles that need filled. If you set your sights on a nonprofit based in the country other than your own, 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 (read more about that here). Next year, I plan to stay on with my organization but work remotely, shifting my role from Mentoring Director to more of a support staff for projects, events, and consultation.
There are lots of positions in business that don’t relate directly to travel but which require interactions with clients who may live in countries other than yours. For example, any business whose customers extend beyond their own country’s borders may need sales representatives who are willing to go abroad to promote their product. Other positions, such as consulting or analysts work with client companies abroad, or 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 she would if at her base in Chicago, but will be instead working a month at a time in twelve different countries this year, starting in Croatia. Her company has employees in consulting, technology, strategy, security, digital, and operations and their website boasts having clients in 120 different countries. Read Melissa’s W.O.W. interview for more details on what she’s doing.
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 not be desirable or interesting for many others. For those who want a “non-travel job” with opportunities to see the world, I highly recommend exploring these fields and many others. Brush up on your foreign language skills, dust off your resume, and start researching how to pack your business clothes in a suitcase – where there’s a will, there’s usually a way.
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