The dream of quitting your job and travelling around the world is probably one you’ve fostered on many Monday mornings. While this is definitely possible, and no - not by abandoning work and draining your bank account, but it will require major lifestyle changes on your part.
"Be realistic about what it really takes to be location independent and know what suits your personality - if you're disciplined, focused, determined, adaptable, and adventurous you'll love it. If you like comfort, routine, great infrastructure and a sense of organization and security it's probably not going to be ideal."
Is Travel Work Right For You?
Before you even think about boarding a flight to Borneo or Bucharest, consider if this is actually a lifestyle choice you want to make. Travelling for leisure is quite different from travel work.
You Must Be Resilient
Long-haul flights are brutal to your body, and jet-lag can cripple your productivity while you acclimate to your surroundings. Flights, especially budget flights with many connections along the way can stretch for up to 48 hours long.
Travel delays, traffic, crowds, and oversold flights are all stressful... and that's just what it takes to reach your destination.
After spending two or three days in transit, you will typically require a day to feel functional again, and a full week to feel normal.
After that factor in awkward language barriers, cultural differences, punishing treks, low quality amenities, and food-borne illnesses, and you get an idea of what it's really like to travel beyond the Western world.
You Must Be Tolerant
The deeper you travel to distant lands, the more varied the cultures you will encounter. It can be fun and intriguing to meet individuals of vastly different cultures but it can also be alienating and even dangerous.
You are likely to be exposed to ill-treatment of women, child labour, animal abuse, and poverty in the streets while exploring other foreign cities. Tolerance is necessary to access these places and live and work according to the realities within them.
However, you are always free to effect social change through volunteering and community service where you see fit.
You Must Be Flexible
The more willing you are to travel at a moment's notice, the more opportunities you can access. Day jobs will limit travel, so will mortgages and car payments. Photojournalist Lynsey Addario recently wrote about being 7 months pregnant while on an assignment in Gaza in 2011. Consider your lifestyle, and how much time you're willing to spend away from home.
Being able to travel with just a suitcase and an open mind while being available and flexible will make a monumental difference to your career.
Different Kinds of Travel Work
Not all “travel” jobs are created equally. If you crave the safety of a permanent job, while also living in a different country, then simply working abroad in a regular full-time type position might be best.
Otherwise there is work available for different backgrounds, skills, and comfort levels.
Keep in mind not all of these jobs are suitable for everyone. If you have a university degree, you might not be as willing to pick berries on a farm.
Or maybe you are?
Travel According to how you Want to Work
If you can work from your computer or laptop then as long as you have access to the internet, you can earn a living. This makes you largely location independent. If this is the kind of work you engage in, you are free to travel at will, working from coffee shops or hotels.
You might run an Online Business which would only require online management. Make sure this is not the kind of business which requires you to carry around heavy equipment or constantly stay on the grid.
If you are able to automate and systemize your business operations then you are free to explore. You could run the online business as long as you have an occasional internet connection.
If you engage in Freelance Writing, then you are not required to stay in one place. However, you have to be a great writer to do this first of all . You also need to learn about networking, pitching to editors, and all the other parts of the writing business.
Once you understand these aspects, then it’s possible to write for magazines, newspapers, websites, or travel guidebooks. Copywriting and other types of writing are also options.
If you are fluent in a second language, you could work as a Translator. The opportunities are as open as your imagination. Restaurants pay to have their menus translated. Tour company sell tours to tourists who speak foreign language, you could even offer freelance translation services online. The more fluent and versatile are you are, the more money you can make.
One of the most common jobs for traveling workers is Graphic or Website Design. All you need is your computer, an eye for design, and knowledge of software programs and online platforms. Talent for writing code helps too and you can learn on your own with tutorials.
This is how Adam works and can be found working, traveling, and exploring at 18° North of the equator, in places like Chiang Mai, Thailand or living in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.
He says “We started our blog design and redesign business to support our travel lifestyle. Web & graphic design is something we have a passion for. It’s the perfect blend between the creative and the technical sides of the brain. It’s also something we can do anywhere in the world.”
You might choose to work as an “expatriate”. This means that while you are a citizen of one country, you are choosing to live and work in another country. Expat jobs are only related to travel in that you’re working in a different country from your own.
You can work in a Corporate engaged in the field of your interest, this might allow you to continue your career while also letting you stay in a foreign country. This would be traditional 9 to 5 work, however you would be living in another city and getting to explore a foreign culture. You may choose to live in that country for months or years at a time, and you can travel to local destinations in your spare time.
Working for the Foreign Service or an intergovernmental organization (IGO) allows you to experience life in a different part of the world. Most of these jobs require you to have university degrees, knowledge of foreign languages and require you to pass tests for different positions. This work will also require you to stay put in one place for long periods of time and your travel plans are usually decided by the government, not you. There will also be a security screening that includes physical and mental health exams, as well as extensive background checks.
If you want to become a Travel Nurse, you need to get a degree as a registered nurse which can take two to four years. After that, it’s possible to apply for temporary travel nursing jobs which can last up to 13 weeks. Sometimes these jobs come with the perks of tax-free income, free housing, medical coverage, rental cars, and more. There are travel nurse staffing agencies that specialize in helping you locate a job overseas too.
If you have some experience with stock markets, you could work as Day Trader. It is important to remember that you can’t just jump into the stock market without any prior experience and expect to get rich. However, after a few years of experience (and losing some money in most cases) it starts to pay off. A background in finance and some spare cash to invest helps too.
Twenty-three year old Tim Grittani took a crash course in investing. Tim Grittani spent the next few months learning how to trade stocks. After he felt he had learned enough, he wanted to start trading. But he didn’t have enough money to open up a brokerage account.
The brokerage account he wanted to use required a minimum of $12,500, but he didn’t have that much money. So he reached out to his friends and family and borrowed the difference.
But there was one big stipulation that his friends and family gave him…
Tim wouldn’t be able to trade with the borrowed money. The money had to sit in the account. He was only to trade with his portion of the money, which was $1,500 at the time.
Because of his limited capital, he decided that he was going to focus on buying penny stocks.
Within the first six months, he made over $40,000. At one point, he made $11,000 in 15 minutes. He bought the stock AGRT at 40 cents and sold it at 70 cents… all within 15 minutes.
Over the next 12 months, Tim was on track to making even more money… $250,000 in profit.
The job of a Virtual Assistant is relatively new. It is the result of advancements in office technology and firms’ desires to reduce employee costs. Today businesses are increasingly looking to hire virtual assistants who can work from home (or anywhere for that matter).
Social media scheduling, responding to customer enquiries, calendar management, and all sorts of other tasks can be taken care of by a competent virtual assistant with a laptop sitting anywhere in the world.
Hands on Work
Another possibility to make money while travelling is to undertake “alternative” travel jobs. This type of work usually does not require a computer, instead you may rely on a more hands-on approach. Pay might sometimes be under the table.
Working as a Traveling Chef in a kitchen gives you the opportunity to work anywhere in the world. Hours may be long, irregular, and stressful. You can land jobs at traditional restaurants, hotels, cruise ships, private yachts, food trucks, or in a private households. Other than having a knack for cooking (obviously!), past experience helps your chances.
Daniel has worked in many different kitchens in the US and Australia. From fine dining to hotel banquet, from molecular gastronomy to down-to-earth Southern cooking, from outdoor barbecue street food vendor to plated gastro pub service. He has been in roles from sous chef to station lead to dishwasher
Bars, nightclubs and restaurants are popular worldwide and the job description of a Bartender or Server is pretty much the same everywhere. You would be required to speak the local language and popular tourist destinations will be easier to find work in. Plus the more experience you gain as a bartender, the more connections you will make opening up more opportunities, with potentially higher pays.
For example Jeremy talks about how in the middle of the recession he quit his IT job, sold his car and bought a one way ticket to Australia. After 4 months of struggle he got his dream job of bartending on a beach. He also worked under one of the most prolific London bartenders in the world at one point in New Zealand and now plans to start his own joint.
A job that allows you to travel the world while making money is working as a Fitness Instructor. If you have knowledge or experience with pilates, yoga, zumba, dance, you could offer classes in the country of your choice. You could also provide services as a personal trainer if you have enough experience and are willing to spend the time. You can approach local gyms to strike deals allowing you to use their facilities and attracting their existing clients.
This couple said that “We both travelled to India with the intention of becoming Yoga Alliance Certified Teachers, so that we could practice something we love, pass on the knowledge to others and earn money at the same time. We lived in an Ashram in the south of Goa while we practiced and studied Tantra Hatha Yoga and walking massage with teachers and students from around the world. We spent 3 months in India in total. When we arrived in Peru, we held donation only Yoga classes in the garden of the hostel where we volunteered, then we did the same in Arequipa.”
If you have absolutely no preference for the kind of work you’re doing and are just looking for a way to make some money, Seasonal Work may be perfect for you. The number of jobs in this category are countless. Construction, school teachers, commercial fishing, oil workers, electricians, ski resort staff, etc. Working depends on what skills you currently possess or are willing to learn. You would be required to work during the season however at off-season times you would be free to travel and spend the money you earned the rest of the year.
This is how Brian likes to travel-work and he’s engaged in everything from construction to waiting tables to being an au pair to teaching english.
Work According to How You Want to Travel
Are you exceptionally good at a particular sport or consider yourself a fitness freak? Why not share your knowledge with others and get a job as a Professional Sports Instructor. Look at skiing, scuba diving, skydiving, rock climbing, kayaking, tennis, sailing, mountaineering, etc. You can find work amongst nature where people come to train or work out. You will earn an income doing what you love while traveling.
Antonio and Amanda worked in the dive industry allow us to work and travel to Honduras, They described it as a chance to introduce people to the underwater world, expand their comfort zone and help them discover an activity that they love.
If you’re a Christian who wishes to travel for the purpose of evangelizing and providing humanitarian services, why not be a Missionary? You will travel to remote and rural destinations and be involved in a variety of church projects. You will be constantly working to raise more money for these projects while also interacting heavily with the local populations. Depending on the church or board you wish to be a part of, a bachelor’s degree may be required.
Another way to make money while spending all your time outdoors is to become a Photographer. In order to sell your photographs as a professional will take years of hard work. Before you land a gig with National Geographic or any high class magazine you will need experience. Running guided photography tours and selling online tutorials are additional ways to make money and gain experience.Brendan is a 30-year-old travel journalist from Canada and over the past 5 years, he worked as a digital nomad around the world. Over that time he visited around 80 countries on 6 different continents.
Working as a Travel Agent typically requires having first-hand knowledge of what you’re trying to sell, which means visiting plenty of new places. You will need experience dealing with hotels, airlines, tourism bureaus, and other travel agencies. Some sort of training in vocational schools or community colleges may be preferred by the employer.
The life of a Flight Attendant may seem perfect for a traveller. But it’s hard work too. The training is tough, the hours are long, and all the moving around can get lonely. However, if you are up for it, you get to constantly jet around the world, usually to popular tourist destinations, party in different cities, explore different cultures every week, heavily discounted travel, and cheap rates at hotels.
Sea or Coastal Travel
Traveling the world while working on Private Yachts or massive Cruise Ships is an awesome way to see some exotic islands and far off seas. There are different types of positions available: deckhand, stewardess, chef, tour manager, entertainment, engineer, and more, depending on your qualifications. Food, accommodation, transportation, and insurance is all provided for you. Since cruises are seasonal, they also provide plenty of vacation time to travel on your own.
No matter what your education or income level, one way to explore the high seas is to Join the Navy. You’ll be taken care of in terms of health benefits and insurance, and at the end of the service, you’ll have a multitude of options waiting for you. And you’ll absolutely get to see the world.
Work According to How You Want to Stay
Working at Backpacker hostels in exchange for free room and board is an easy way to travel on a budget. Backpacker hostels frequently hire on a short term basis to fill positions from the front desk to housekeeping or bartending. People skills and knowing the local language is essential.
If you are travelling between the same cities constantly, you could work as Importer/Exporter. There is a fine line between legal and illegal in this line of work so study up on the local laws to stay out of trouble. Try to become an agent for a manufacturer. Most firms allow agents to take a cut of the proceeds when doing this. This is one of those travel jobs for someone with experience with or interest in marketing.
You don’t have to be a big name performer to Work at Festivals around the world. There are side-stage acts, installations, event staff, and food vendors too. Festivals always bring on lots of staff before and during the events. You will constantly need to stay up to date and network to always to catch the next festival.
Kellie went to volunteer at Summer Camp Music Festival in Chillicothe, Illinois with a company called Peace Love Tacos and was able to travel all over the US.
Medium Duration Stays
You could consider getting a job as a Local Tour Guide for an international company. As a part of the organization, you can be assigned to either a single popular location or larger multi-destination tours. Knowledge of the local culture is a must and if you think you have what it takes, you could even start your very own tours!
If you plan to stay in one place for a while and enjoy making handicrafts you could work as a Street Vendor. Jewelry is the most popular item to sell, but you could also deal in art, clothing, and leather goods. You will need to find a location with lots of tourist traffic. Setting up as a vendor requires supplies, possibly meaning a longer time in one location, but if you’re going to spend a season in one place it can be worth it.
Sorina spent a summer in Granada, Spain-making beautiful necklaces, earrings, and bags out of colorful leather scraps she finds around town. She sold her custom creations to tourists for €5-€10 each.
Do you have any special talents? Acrobatics, painting, fortune telling, playing an instrument, break dancing, henna art? In that case why not entertain to make a buck. This is known as Busking and you could use your best talents to make some money from tourists. Many cities require a permit for busking, so make sure to do your research first. If you’re successful you could tie up with a restaurant, cafe or establishment giving you a lot more exposure.
Long Term Stays
You could work as an Au Pair, This is like a professional live-in babysitter or nanny hired by a family to help their kids. It would involve teaching the child and some household chores in exchange for room, board, and a weekly income. This would also require you to demonstrate some amount of loyalty to the family employing you meaning the work might be on a long term basis. You will need to know the local language as well. This would let you experience the culture first-hand while making some money and having your stay and food taken care of.
After college, Ashley moved to Paris to work as an au pair where she earned €80 a week and was able to make enough money to then backpack across Europe, India and Asia for a year.
If English is your first language, you might choose to work as an English Teacher. Professional English teachers are highly sought after around the world. However just understanding the language isn’t enough, you generally need a college degree and a TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) certification. This work would require you to follow school timetables and schedules. But you would also get your free time during summer and other holidays.
Drew had this to say about his trip to Korea. “Teaching English in South Korea was the best decision of my life. It’s one of the most adventurous and unique life experiences that anyone can do for himself. I highly recommend teaching in Korea to anyone and everyone who meet the basic requirements”
Volunteering with the Peace Corp or a Non-Governmental Organization is another way to travel the world. Volunteer work is a full-time job and the money may not be great. However your time is likely to be rich with experiences and you will grow as a person.
An unconventional way of earning during your travel is to Rent Out Your House. Services such as AirBnb let you do this while also enabling you to stay in other people’s homes rather than hotels on your travels. You could be making decent income from this while not actually engaging in any work per say. For maximum efficiency you should automate the process so you don’t have to be there in person each time you get a new tenant. Of course you will constantly need to be travelling as once you decide to head back home, the gig is up.
Travel Working is no simple feat. It takes tremendous skill, hard work and requires you to constantly be enterprising and on the look-out for opportunities.
But it is not impossible.
There are no easy ways to make lots of money while traveling without prior skills, time commitment, and experience. So while you might not be earning thousands of dollars or living in luxury, you will get to travel. The experience of living this way affords its own set of rewards. You will be exposed to all aspects of a country and will really need to integrate into the culture.
I hope this article has demonstrated that there are plenty of ways to “live the dream” and make money while traveling.