I spent a lot of time researching travel careers and jobs that require 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 I was overwhelmed having to “choose” between this theoretical career path and seeing the world. Were there no explorers with careers outside the travel industry 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 “travel 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 travel careers whose fields are not directly related to travel that still offer numerous opportunities to see the world. In fact, in many of these fields, there are jobs that require travel, not just jobs that allow you to travel in your free time. I’ll also introduce you to the women behind the Suitcase Six and their stories, as they’ve inspired the blog through their individual work and travel habits.
TRAVEL 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. Your subject of expertise can ensure you have a job that requires travel.
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.
Case studies in education jobs that require travel
Laura, one of the girls behind the Suitcase Six inspiration, is a student in graduate school right now. She’s travelled to several other states with her professor for conferences, which is an expectation in the field of academia. I have also been to conferences in four states and spent three weeks in Costa Rica for work related trips and conferences, typically with my professors, when I was a university student. Most recently, I led a trip alongside two university professors that took us all the way to Norway.
If you’re interested in hearing from a teacher who has made teaching a travel career and wandered the world extensively through her work, 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.
To recap, here are some of the best education jobs that require travel:
- English teacher (teach English abroad just about anywhere)
- Teacher in high school (chaperone or lead trips, teach abroad)
- Foreign language instructor (tutor online, teach abroad)
- Skill instructors (scuba, yoga, health & safety)
- University professors (conferences, research)
CAREERS IN GLOBAL HEALTH
As the name implies, this career 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 on Suitcase Six she talks about her time in Guatemala working with women and children in health clinics there. Recently, she met me abroad in Berin after a work conference in Amsterdam too. In September, she’s headed to South Africa for a practicum through her master’s program too! That’s three different continents in a handful of years, all for her work in the global health field.
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.
To recap, here are some of the best global health jobs that require travel:
- Research coordinator
- Project manager
- Events specialist
- Health promoter
- Humanitarian affairs officer
- Water and sanitation specialist
- Technical logistician
TRAVEL CAREERS IN ART
Photos Marie took during our time in Singapore.
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 shared tons of her photos from our trip through S.E. Asia last May. She’s a student at film school right now, and not traveling for her work directly. However, she always finds inspiration and gets incredible material for her projects when she’s traveling.
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.
To recap, here are some of the best art jobs that require travel:
- Wedding photographer
- Travel photographer
- Graphic designer
- Camera operator
- Art historian
TRAVEL 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.
Recently, I shifted my role within HOPE Mentoring from Mentoring Director to a consultant/support role. (Edit: as of August 2018, I’m 3.5 months into a 6.5 month trip working in this very same job! I’m typing from a small town in the middle of no-where Russia, on a train on the Trans-Mongolian Railroad.)
I wrote an entire post about how working in a prison helped me travel the world if you want to read about how this unique job has offered untold travel opportunities. All this to say it’s never a field I’d have found if I’d been searching for traditional travel careers, yet it’s given me more freedom than I could have imagined, without giving up any of the passion I get from doing the actual work itself.
A few more photos from a week in Russia working remotely (Moscow & Irkutsk).
To recap, here are some of the best nonprofit jobs that require travel:
- Administrative assistant
- Web consultant
- Social media manager
- Volunteer coordinator
- Grant specialist
- Security officer
- Donor services representative
TRAVEL 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 interview for more details on what she’s doing. Her awesome itinerary is below:
To recap, here are some of the best business jobs that require travel:
- Technology support
- Financial analyst
- Marketing director
- Product manager
TRAVEL 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.
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.
To recap, here are some of the best medical jobs that require travel:
TRAVEL CAREERS – 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-traditional travel career with opportunities to see the world, I highly recommend exploring these fields. Brush up on your foreign language skills and dust off your resume. It’s 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 these have travel careers, jobs that require travel, or are students. They’re shown here in locations from nearly every continent! Most don’t have traditional jobs in the travel industry but use their creativity to make travel work a part of their regular work. You can too.
Thanks for reading!
Looking for more suggestions on jobs to travel the world? Head to the work and travel archives.
Join the Suitcase Six mailing list and you’ll get access to 3 freebies to help you plan your next adventure!
After you sign up, you’ll start receiving the following freebies: 50 Practical Travel Tips from Solo Lady Backpackers (a 6-page PDF), 20 Tips for Sustainable Travel (a checklist), and 30 Jobs to See the World.
You’ll also get access to the Global Directory, where I recommend top posts (written by other female travelers) for every country.