If you wish you could travel more but cannot afford to quit work, the perfect solution is to find a job that allows you to travel.
As a travel blogger, I am grateful to live the reality of having the freedom to travel. But being a blogger is definitely not the only way (nor the best) to achieve this kind of freedom. In this article, I hope to inspire you to consider all your opportunities.
But, consider carefully, as not all travel jobs are as good as they seem…
Bad travel jobs
Should you do an online search for ‘jobs that let you travel’, the first suggestion is often to become a flight attendant.
Sorry, but this is truly the worst advice. Have these writers ever even spoken to a flight attendant?
It’s the perfect example of a travel job that only sounds good on paper.
Initially, a flight attendant may travel back and forth to the same destination. Often they don’t see much beyond the inside of an airport hotel. When they do get to spend some free time in a new city, it may be less exciting because it is often not the destination they would choose to visit. It’s not really “living the dream”.
Once, on a longtail boat tour in Bangkok, everyone else in my group happened to be part of a KLM flight crew. I mentioned to a pilot how I’d really enjoyed the tour. “Eh, it’s alright, I guess,” he said. “Actually, this is the seventh time I’ve done it.”
Flight crew members often just kill time in the same city and repeat the same activities. While Bangkok is incredible, I imagine it gets a bit old after the 30th visit.
Jobs like flight attendant or even cruise ship member aren’t that great for traveling. Here are some better ideas.
Working online while travelling
Truly the best travel job is to become a digital nomad — or simply someone who works online while travelling. While there can still be limitations, unlike a flight attendant, you’ll be mostly free to travel wherever and whenever you choose.
Imagine this: you’re co-living in tropical Bali one month, working from cute cafes in Lisbon the next before moving on to hang at the best surf spots in Costa Rica. Outside your work hours, you are free to explore and experience local life.
Some digital nomads travel all year-round without a fixed home. But that’s not the only way!
You can also just travel some of the time. I know quite a few nomad who live like migratory birds, leaving the US winter to work from sunny Mexico while subletting their apartment.
To become a digital nomad, you’ll either have to work for a remote-friendly company, be a freelancer or have your own business that you can manage from the road.
Nomad jobs you can do online
|Marketing & PR
|Writing and translation
|Blogging & vlogging
|Social media management
|And much more…
I’m often surprised by the exciting ways in which people make a living online. For example, I met online English teachers, online therapists, people who sell crafts on Etsy, an online dance instructor, and even a travelling architect.
Finding a remote-friendly job
If you already have skills that could allow for online work, you could actively seek employment at a remote-friendly or fully remote company.
Many startups or online companies set up in an entirely distributed way. Other companies may have physical offices but allow some employees to work remotely.
When browsing these job boards, you may notice that a lot of positions are for software developers. But there are also plenty of other job types to be found, the majority are in coding.
Learning to code is still the most reliable tried-and-true path to going nomadic. This is because most IT companies or startups are the most likely to be remote-friendly, coupled with the constant strong demand for freelance developers. I would also add that being a coder enables you to consider developing your own online business.
A great way to learn to code is to take a coding bootcamp. You can usually spend around two months learning topics such as web development, software architecture, or data science at such coding schools. They have campuses in amazing places around the world; Bali, Barcelona and Buenos Aires are some examples. This means that as a student, you can get a feel for the nomadic lifestyle.
Learn to code
Sites like Code Academy and code.org have excellent and free interactive courses for numerous programming languages and frameworks. You could consider a coding Bootcamp, such as those offered by Ironhack, Le Wagon, or Codeworks.
Apart from the remote job boards’ opportunities, many companies have been taking a more flexible approach around remote work since the pandemic.
Some big names that have confirmed that they will permanently allow remote positions include Amazon, AmEx, Microsoft, Airbnb, Ford, and many others. The only issue is that this is usually a provision for working from home, not working from various points worldwide.
To be truly location-independent, it may be easier to be a freelancer or work for yourself.
By working as a freelancer online, you can work for clients while keeping your own schedule. You decide where to work from. Yes, you could be working from a beach!
Having a specific skill set is definitely a big plus when establishing yourself as a freelancer. Some jobs allow you to be more of a jack-of-all-trades, and this may get you started faster. For example, you could find work as a VA or “virtual assistant,” which means remotely assisting with administrative, email, or customer service tasks. Another blog has a great tutorial on how to become a VA.
Online teaching is another interesting freelance option. I know a few digital nomads who travel the world while teaching English to Chinese kids online. The working hours aren’t always ideal because of varying timezones, but flexible work lets them travel as they please. You can check out this guide on how to start teaching online.
Creating an online business
Although freelancing allows you to be your own boss to some extent, you are still working for external clients. The advantage of starting your own (online) business is that you can be truly independent in setting your work schedule and location. And if your business really takes off, you may even find it possible to work fewer hours or achieve the ultimate by gaining an entirely passive income.
The Four-Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss (who is now a famous podcaster) became the holy book for this approach. I, too, read his inspirational page-turner way back in 2012; it helped me decide to become a full-time blogger.
The specifics in Tim’s book may now be a little outdated, but it does get you pumped on the idea of creating an easy-to-manage online business that gives you more free time to travel. I think it’s still a great read.
Be wary of ‘get rich quick’ type courses and schemes. In recent years there’s been a huge hype around dropshipping in particular. It is a term used for creating an e-commerce store selling rebranded goods from China, supposedly with near-zero effort. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Often the guys raking it in are the ones teaching you how to “get rich”. While successful dropshipping businesses do exist, they take a lot of effort to create.
Blogging and online business
Another way to create a location-independent business is to become a blogger or vlogger. This is the path I chose and I now benefit from various passive income streams related to my blog. This is a dream come true, though I should mention that it took a good two to three years before I started seeing any results. I wrote a guide on how to start your own blog in a way that’s set up for success.
The key challenge with starting your own online business is that you may end up pretty broke for quite some time, while you build up your business, whereas freelancing or finding a job that lets you travel will give you an income right away.
One option to consider is to do some freelance work or take up travel jobs and develop a ‘side hustle’. The sites Side Hustle School and Indie Hackers offer many inspiring examples from people who created small online businesses.
A site that helped me enormously when I was starting out as a blogger was Fizzle. At a low monthly cost, they offer video course materials along with a community where you can ask questions and help one another get started. It’s a fantastic place to learn about online entrepreneurship, blogging, and e-commerce.
Finding ‘analog nomad’ jobs
Finally, with all the attention on working remotely online these days, I think a seriously underrated alternative is… to work offline. (Audience gasps.)
Yes, it’s true. If you want to travel around the world for some time, you might not need to build an online career!
For example, you could work in hostels, teach English as a second language, become a tour guide or a scuba diving instructor. Some people travel the world while volunteering on organic farms with organisations such as WWOOF or Workaway.
This might not sound as glamorous as some well-paid web developer living the digital nomad lifestyle, but there are fewer entry barriers to these travel jobs.
Many of these offline jobs are known as volunteering or backpacker jobs. You could be earning just enough money to pay for food and accommodation while exploring the world as a budget traveller. You can find these types of jobs on sites like Working Traveller, Job Monkey, Worldpackers, or the Backpacker Job Board if going to Australia, which is a big travel job hotspot due to its attractive wages.
Some of these ‘backpacker jobs’ can actually offer an excellent salary. One of the most popular and financially rewarding jobs abroad is to teach English as a second language. Becoming an ESL teacher requires being certified, which takes about a month. You will then be qualified to teach English classes almost anywhere.
Don’t underestimate this opportunity. An English teacher in South Korea will certainly be earning much more (and more reliably) than the average newbie nomad trying to strike it rich with dropshipping in Bali.
You can do TEFL courses all over the world. For example, friends of mine took one in Guatemala so that they could teach while travelling through Latin America.
Become an English teacher
To teach English abroad as an EFL (English As Foreign Language) teacher, you most often need a TEFL certificate. This requires following a course program of around 120 hours, after which you can begin applying for TEFL teaching positions. You can browse courses at TEFL Academy or MyTEFL.
As an ESL teacher, you can make some good cash in countries like United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. I’ve heard figures of $2000 to $2500 a month for South Korea, which isn’t too shabby, especially considering the local cost of living and cheap flights to all over Asia. Quite a few now-famous travel bloggers started off teaching English to pay the bills.
I think the analog nomadic ways are sometimes overlooked. My favourite example of an analog nomad is my sister and brother-in-law. They travel all over Europe in their van, finding free accommodation in house-sitting assignments. Their business is to buy vintage or second-hand furniture that they sell on Etsy.com for a good profit. They can’t quite travel to Fiji with this set-up, as it’s local to Europe, but they combine work with travel in a pretty awesome way.
Working while traveling is still a compromise
It’s incredible to be able to see the world while earning an income. It’s even possible to save money by travelling to cheaper locations. When you’re paying, say, $300 per month for a nice apartment in Mexico or Thailand, but earning an income from Western clients, you can literally save while you travel. Sites like Nomad List and Numbeo help you discover cheap but good destinations.
However, as someone who’s done some long trips around the world without any work obligations, I still want to point out that nomading or working while traveling is not necessarily the best way to see the world. It’s just hard to be focused on work and focused on discovering the destinations.
If you truly want to see the world, the best way to do it is to go as a backpacker or on a round-the-world trip. You save up enough money in whichever job you have and take a career sabbatical. This way, you can truly travel without any compromise.
Even now that I’m totally free to work from anywhere as a travel blogger, I keep work and travel mostly separated! When I travel I completely focus on cultural and travel immersion. When I get back home I do the work at my own desk in my own home office. I find that this is the ultimate combination of productivity and travel enjoyment.
Travelling without work is, to me, always the ultimate way to travel. I wrote a book, Travel the World Without Worries, that teaches you how to travel like this. Whether you decide to work while travelling or take a career break, my book can help you out. It’s filled with hard-won advice on how to save money, reduce your expenses on the road, plan, pack and prepare, and become the kind of fearless adventure traveller who will make that dream trip a reality.
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