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Drinking wine in Manhattan, New York City, 2015

How to make travel your career

I’m one of those people that just can’t sit still.

Staying in the one place seems pretty damn boring to me and I know I’m far from the only one who feels this way.

Last week I received this comment on one of my posts:

“I’ve recently decided to take up blogging, and travelling has always been an interest. But as I’m still a college student I can’t really afford to travel much. My parents are constantly telling me to work towards becoming a nurse or a doctor, but I’ve always wanted to travel and I’m not quite sure how I could take it up as a career as well as convincing my parents?”

This is a great question, and one that many of us have struggled with at some time or another. How do we deal with this constant wanderlust and juggle a career at the same time? Can we incorporate travel into a job, so that we’re never tied down to the one place and can make money doing what we love?

If you are in a situation like the one above, you might be pleased to know that you don’t have to choose between a career and travel. It’s quite possible to have a decent job and still be able to see the world!

The key is to have transferable skills, or find a job that is location independent. You may be surprised at how many industries are versatile enough to find work abroad. Here are three ways you can incorporate travel into your career.

New York City, USA
New York City, USA – 2015

1. Do your current job in another country

You might be surprised at how easy it is to do your current job in a different location.

My cousin and his wife both work in the health industry as a nurse and paramedic. They just left their jobs in Australia to move abroad and take up similar roles in London. Over the next 2 years, they’ll be working and using London as a base to travel throughout Europe.

So for my commenter, starting a career as a doctor or nurse doesn’t mean you can’t travel. Jobs in the health industry are available worldwide! The only restriction is that you might have to base yourself in English-speaking countries.

If you enjoy your current job or don’t particularly want to change careers, ask yourself:

  • Does your company have offices in other countries that you could transfer to?
  • Could your current job be completed in another country?
  • Could you ask your company working remotely is a possibility?
  • Could you quit your current job and apply for something similar in another country?
Sydney, Australia
Sydney, Australia – 2014

2. Create your own career

Creating your own career is not as impossible as you might think. By figuring out what you’re good at and what you enjoy doing, you can turn your skills into freelance work.

Some of the things I’m good at are travel writing, social media, content management, and photography, so I use these skills to make money freelancing.

The best thing is that this online work allows me to work from anywhere in the world. During my three months in Europe, I would do an hour or two of work in the mornings and evenings, and go out sightseeing during the day.

There are so many skills that can be turned into freelance work. My husband works is a web developer, and there have been numerous times where he has taken up freelance work when we’re travelling, as all he needs is a laptop and internet connection.

Self-employed travellers often go for one of these options:

  • Blogging or travel writing. Not everyone is able to make a full income from writing so it’s often used as a side income as well as doing other work.
  • Creative jobs can often be done from anywhere, as long as you have the equipment (camera, laptop, and wi-fi connection). You can read about how I used my creative skills to freelance in my post on becoming self employed.
  • Online consulting is super versatile, and can include advising on social media, marketing strategies, or travel planning.
  • Freelancing or contract work. If you already work in your industry of choice and want to go freelance, get some contacts in your industries that you can ask for work.
Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok, Thailand – 2012

3. Do odd jobs abroad

This one probably won’t apply to my commenter, but if you just want to travel long-term and make money at the same time there are plenty of options. Here’s a few to get you started:

  • TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) is popular in many Asian countries and is a great way to get a few months of work. Here’s a helpful article on teaching abroad.
  • Hospitality jobs are often easy for foreigners to get. If you have any skills working as a barista, in a bar, waiting tables, or as hotel staff, you may find these jobs advertised on hostel job boards.
  • Cruise ship jobs are a great way to see many parts of the world without paying for accommodation and transport. I’ve known someone who worked on a cruise ship as a nanny, but there are plenty of other jobs available. Search for opportunities at All Cruise Jobs or Cruise Job Finder.
  • Fruit picking and farm work is sometimes available on farms in remote areas, who often employ foreigners for seasonal work. Many travellers will go for this option if they’d like to live in a different country for a while and use a remote area as a home base to then travel the country later. Check out WWOOF (which stands for Willing Workers On Organic Farms) or Help Exchange to find opportunities.
  • Volunteer work is available in many countries. Each program is different but many will offer board as part of the program. Work will often be in conservation, childcare, construction, healthcare, or teaching. See the volunteer section of Go Overseas for opportunities.
  • Au Pair jobs are common in many countries in Europe or North America. Do a web search for nanny jobs in the area you wish to visit.
  • Seasonal jobs such as working at summer camps or in ski resorts are really popular in USA and Canada. I know many Australians that have done this for a summer or winter season.

Want more ideas? Check out this list of 12 expat jobs that will help you travel the world!

Kastellet, Copenhagen
Copenhagen, Denmark – 2016

Honestly, I feel that there are plenty of options for making travel your career. Most of us aren’t tied down to any one job, or any one place. If we want to travel and work at the same time, we can do it! All it takes is a little forward planning.

If you think that none of these options will work for you, then as a last resort you can extend your annual leave by taking unpaid leave. Save up as much money as you can, take a few weeks or months off to travel, then save up and do it all over again.

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