It’s an incredible blessing to travel and work from anywhere you choose. I can say this from experience, as I’ve been living this dream for 10 years!
Do you wish you could travel more but cannot afford to quit work? Well, the perfect solution is to find a job that allows you to travel while you work.
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.
Luckily, today there are more and more jobs that let you travel. 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?
I think 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, often due to time constraints. While Bangkok is an incredible place, I imagine it gets a bit old after the 30th visit.
So my conclusion is that being a flight attendant or even a cruise ship crew member might be a good job with a good salary. But as far as travel jobs go, I think we can do a bit better.
So let me give some more realistic ideas!
Working online while travelling
Suppose you want to earn a living while travelling the world. In that case, I suggest the most obvious path is becoming a digital nomad.
A digital nomad is simply someone who works online while travelling.
Of course, just as a flight attendant has to put in their hours, a digital nomad has to work. The key difference is that they’re also free to travel wherever and whenever they choose.
Imagine this scenario: 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. They don’t have a fixed home but live in various locations around the world. Wherever there is WiFi, there you can find them.
Other digital nomads escape only for a while. I know some who live like migratory birds, leaving the US winter to work from sunny Mexico while subletting their apartment.
This kind of lifestyle used to be a crazy novelty. That is, until the COVID pandemic forced so many to work from home. Now, the idea of potentially working from anywhere has become a little more obvious.
Still, going nomadic is easier said than done, especially if you’re a dedicated 9-to-5’er. Only certain types of work fit into this style, but let’s consider some ideas.
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
|Developer/programmer||Marketing & PR|
|Graphic design||Writing and translation|
|Blogging & vlogging||Social media management|
|Virtual assistant||Customer service|
|And much more…|
As remote working becomes more popular, 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.
The possibilities and opportunities for working online may be greater than you might think.
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 a fully remote company.
There are startups or online companies set up in an entirely distributed way, without having a head office and with all employees working from different locations. Other companies may have physical offices but allow some employees to work remotely.
The best way to find such job openings is to check job boards that specialise in remote jobs.
Applying for remote jobs
Try searching for open positions on dedicated remote job boards. The two biggest that I am aware of are Remote OK and We Work Remotely. Another site that includes full-time and part-time work is Flexjobs. Each job opening indicates if it’s partially or 100% remote.
When browsing these job boards, you may notice that a lot of positions are for software developers. Although 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 go 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!
If you’re not already established as a freelancer, you may be able to find your first clients on sites like Upwork or Fiverr. These sites act as marketplaces connecting clients with freelancers in numerous job categories.
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. If your business really takes off, you may even find it possible to work fewer hours or achieving the ultimate in 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, though. 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.
The best way to travel?
It’s incredible to see the world while earning an income. You get to travel without the constant worry of a shrinking bank account.
In fact, you could save money by travelling.
This counterintuitive fact sometimes blows people’s minds. Actually, by staying in cheap countries, you can save compared to your costs back home. When you’re paying $300 per month for a nice apartment but earning an income from Western clients, you can literally save while you travel.
This is why so many digital nomads go to places like Bali in Indonesia or Chiang Mai in Thailand. Sites like Nomad List and Numbeo help you discover cheap but good destinations. I also compiled a list of 22 cheap countries that may help you save money while travelling.
Ultimately, though, the best travel job is one you can quit.
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.
In my opinion, it will always be better to travel the world with a bag on a stick and a bongo under your arm than with a laptop and the constant clamouring for a WiFi signal.
I started travelling long-term after a mass layoff at work. I used the severance money to travel all over Southeast Asia for nine months. After realising just how cheap budget travel can be, I spent another year travelling from Mexico to Argentina. It was one of the most liberating times in my life.
How much do you think a month in Southeast Asia would cost? Well, in most places there you can travel for about $1000 a month, including travel activities and three restaurant meals a day!
Saving up several thousand may not be equally easy for everyone. Then again, you don’t have to be filthy rich to travel the world, at least if you’re from a high-income country. By travelling without working, you’ll experience a kind of freedom you may never feel again until retirement.
This, to me, will always be 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 offers some great guidance. 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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