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Get Paid to Explore the World: The 10 Best Jobs for Travelers
Do you work hard just to squeeze in a week of vacation once or twice each year? That's better than nothing, although some might argue these rushed trips make you more of a tourist versus a traveler. And either way, if you truly love to travel, a week or two each year might not be enough, right?
So if you find yourself always daydreaming about your next travel destination, you might want to consider getting a different job — one that lets you travel. There are two types to consider:
- Jobs that require travel as a normal part of the job description.
- Seasonal jobs that allow you to live in different places for a few weeks or months at a time.
If you want a solid, predictable income, you'll probably want the first kind. If you want more variety, you budget well and you like occasional long stretches between jobs, the second kind might be more appealing. We’ll look at a few options from both categories in this list of jobs for travelers.
1. Flight Attendant
As a flight attendant, you get to travel the world or the country, depending on the airline. But how much time you'll actually have to explore those exotic destinations can vary. Talk to attendants at your target airlines to see where they typically go and how long they get to stay between flights.
If you have customer service experience, you might be hired with just a high school diploma or GED, but airlines prefer applicants with some college. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the median annual wage of flight attendants is $48,500.
Now for the bad news: Projections show slower-than-average job growth in the future.
2. Commercial Airline Pilot
If you like the idea of having two- or three-day stays in cities around the country or the world, but want a better paycheck than a flight attendant gets, learn to fly! Apply to airlines that have routes servicing the places you want to see.
This is the highest-paid position on our list: The median wage for airline pilots is $105,720. Future job growth for commercial pilots is expected to remain about average for years to come.
As a geologist for an oil company, you usually travel extensively, going anywhere in the world where there might be oil. The same is true when you work for mining companies. You might be looking for gold in Brazil one month and copper in China the next month.
This job has the second-highest pay of those on our list. The BLS includes it in the category of “geoscientist” and says the median annual wage is $89,780. It also notes that employment growth for these positions is expected to be faster than average. Typically you'll need at least a bachelor's degree to be hired.
4. TEFL Teacher
Teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) provides a way to travel to many destinations, but usually for long stays. LanguageCorps.com says their teachers get four weeks of training overseas and often have six-month contracts, although some assignments are shorter. Use a job site like Indeed.com to search for offerings in specific countries. Enter “TESL” and or “TESOL” (Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages) and under “where” enter the name of the country. You may get referred to a country-specific job search site.
You might find jobs just because you are a native English speaker, but GoAbroad.com says “the vast majority of employers who are offering a reasonable salary and good working conditions now expect their teachers to possess some form of qualification.” The standard qualification is a TEFL certificate, which you can get through online training. Some programs start for under $200. Whether or not you'll also need a college degree varies by employer.
5. Cruise Ship Jobs
Want to travel the oceans of the world, from Alaska to the Mediterranean Sea? Get a job on a cruise ship. Here are just a few of the many different positions you might find onboard, according to CruiseShipJob.com:
- Casino dealer
- Entertainment director
- Retail clerk
- Dance host
There are more cruise locations than you might imagine. My brother worked briefly on a day-cruise boat in Japan, and my neighbor used to work on a ship that traveled through Antarctic waters seasonally.
The qualifications and pay vary by position, of course. As a former blackjack dealer, I know a few casino workers who did well on cruises that left out of Florida. You can find these positions posted on CruiseShipJob.com as well as general job websites.
The opportunities for working in new locales are almost endless if you're a bartender. It's one of those positions that offers relatively high-pay (in the right place), and yet has high turnover. The latter means you can find a job almost anywhere if you have experience and keep applying. To travel, try to tend bar on a cruise ship or just pick your favorite places on the map and go find a job for a few months.
How much you make depends on where you work, which shifts you get and how good you are at getting tips. Bartender Mike Kopczynski, who tells me he's tended bar in five different states, made more than $760 in one epic shift at a Margaritaville restaurant in Glendale, Arizona.
7. Truck Driver
The hours are long and sometimes lonely, but as a long-haul trucker, you definitely get to see the country. NationalTruckDrivingJobs.com lists job openings by state and for different categories, including tanker jobs, flatbed jobs and several more. They even have a special section for drivers who have graduated a trucking school but have no experience.
The median wage for tractor-trailer truck drivers is $41,340 per year, but you can expect that figure to grow as the current driver shortage gets worse. Right now, the industry needs tens of thousands of truck drivers, and the shortage may increase to more than 240,000 drivers in the years to come, reports Reuters.com.
8. Peace Corps Volunteer
If you want to travel to foreign lands and help people while you're there, joining the Peace Corps may be ideal. You normally sign up for a two-year stint, and you may spend much of that time in one location, so this is not a way to “see the sights” as much as a way to get to know another part of the world.
This is a volunteer position, but you do get pay and benefits, and a great entry on your resume. In addition to a living expense stipend you receive while in the Peace Corps, you get health care, student loan help and a readjustment allowance of more than $8,000 when you finish your 27-month assignment.
9. Travel Nurse
If you're working in healthcare, you have a number of opportunities for travel. For example, my friend works as a physical therapist for a company that assigns her to different locations around the county for a few months at a time. But nurses are perhaps the most in-demand for traveling positions.
TravelNursing.org lists positions for registered nurses all over the country, and says “most travel nursing jobs last between 8-26 weeks, with the majority of the positions being offered for 13 week terms.” They say you can make up to about $10,000 per month, and you choose the location. Good benefits are the norm and can include free housing during your assignment.
10. Railroad Jobs
“America’s freight railroads expect to hire more than 15,000 people in 2015,” says the Association of American Railroads (AAR). Their website lists rail companies that hire for positions “ranging from engineering and dispatching, to law enforcement, information technology, industrial development, and more.” They're based in cities from Alaska to Florida, but if you get the right position, you'll be traveling all over.
The AAR says, “Freight rail employee compensation, including benefits, averages $109,700 per year.” That average includes a lot of different positions, so the ones that are on the trains or require frequent travel may not pay anywhere near that much.
More Travel Jobs
Here are a few more online resources to help you find jobs that involve traveling:
- CrewSeekers.net: You'll find listings here for yacht-crew jobs.
- Be a Seasonal Forest Firefighter: Our guide to working in the wilds.
- Busking: Not exactly a job, but street performing can pay for your travels.
- CoolWorks.com: Their section on ski resort jobs always has listings.
- Work as an Au Pair: Work with kids and see Europe!
- RoadieJobs.com: Hit the road with your favorite band as a stagehand.
Finally, in addition to jobs, freelance opportunities allow you to work from anywhere, as long as you have an internet connection. The Penny Hoarder has covered many of these over the years, including freelance blogging, slogan writing, travel photography and more.
Steve Gillman is the author of “101 Weird Ways to Make Money” and creator of EveryWayToMakeMoney.com. He's been a repo-man, walking stick carver, search engine evaluator, house flipper, tram driver, process server, mock juror, and roulette croupier, but of more than 100 ways he has made money, writing is his favorite (so far).